Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review: Stunning design with a reinvented S-Pen – but an eye-watering price to match

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Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review: Stunning design with a reinvented S-Pen - but an eye-watering price to match

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After months of anticipation, Samsung finally launched its Galaxy Note 9 smartphone this week at the Unpacked event in New York.

The flagship device has many of the features we’d expect in a high-end device – including facial recognition, a dual-lens camera and almost edgeless glass display.

But what makes the device really stand out from the crowd, is the re-designed S-Pen, which is now Bluetooth-connected.

This completely changes the way you use and interact with the device, and was a great move by Samsung.

I got my hands on the Galaxy Note 9 at an exclusive event in London – here are my thoughts.

Design

Measuring 162 x 76.4 x 9mm, the Galaxy Note 9 is fairly large.

However, the smartphone is remarkably light, and sits comfortably in your hand.

This large size also accommodates a huge almost edgeless display, which is ideal for watching videos or gaming.

It has an almost edgeless display
I tried out the Lavender Purple version, which was really pretty, without being too gaudy
(Image: Shivali Best)

Thankfully, the Galaxy Note 9 doesn’t feature the dreaded ‘notch’ and instead has a discreet bar at the top of the screen to home the front-cameras and sensors – a design I much prefer to the disruptive notch seen in other devices.

I tried out the Lavender Purple version, which was really vibrant and pretty, without being too gaudy.

However, I also spotted the Midnight Black version across the room, and that could be a nice alternative for people looking for something more discreet.

S-Pen

One of the best features of the Galaxy Note 9 is the updated S-Pen.

While previous versions were handy and allowed you to write on your smartphone, Samsung has upped their game by giving the S-Pen a Bluetooth connection.

This opens the door to a wealth of new ways to use the pen – including taking remote selfies, present slides and play and pause music.

One of the best features of the Galaxy Note 9 is the updated S-Pen
(Image: Shivali Best)

At the London event, I tested the S-Pen out by taking several selfies in a specially-designed low-lighting room.

The pen was instinctive to use (you simply press a button on the side), and linked up to the Galaxy Note 9 camera in milliseconds.

In a way, this new connected S-Pen gives you two gadgets for the price of one – I’m a big fan.

Camera

As expected, the Galaxy Note 9 has a dual-lens rear camera which takes impressively high-resolution photos.

However, it’s the new camera features that really piqued my interest.

The smartphone features a new Flaw Detection system, which will alert you if your photo isn’t good enough – including if it’s blurry or if the subject blinked.

The Galaxy Note 9 alongside the new Galaxy Watch
(Image: Shivali Best)

A handy notification pops up on the screen as soon as you’ve taken a ‘bad’ photo, meaning you don’t have the nasty surprise when you go to upload it later.

Other camera features that I liked included scene optimisation, with automatic detection of 20 different scenes, and the fact that you could take pictures remotely using the S-Pen.

Battery

One thing I hate about living in London is how much I rely on my phone – and how quickly this means that my phone runs out of charge.

But with the Galaxy Note 9, the days of having to carry around a portable a charger could be a thing of the past.

The smartphone features a whopping 4,000 mAh battery – much bigger than the 3,300 mAh battery in the older Galaxy Note 8.


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While I only tested the smartphone for 30 minutes or so, Samsung says that the battery will easily last all day, even when carrying out more intensive operations, including gaming and watching videos.

Fortnite for Android

I must admit that I’m not a regular Fornite player, but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to try the game on the Galaxy Note 9 – which is a first for Android.

While it did takes a few minutes to load, the graphics were clear and the game was easy to navigate (despite my lacking skills).

Fortnite on Android
(Image: Shivali Best)

Price

An annoying (yet completely expected) downside to the smartphone is the price.

The 128GB version costs £899, while the 512GB version costs an eye-watering £1,099.

This makes the Galaxy Note 9 one of the most expensive smartphones on the market.

However, considering the impressive features, as well as the fact that it comes with a connected S-Pen, I think this is a fair price.

If you have the money to spend, this would be a great option for your next premium smartphone.

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