Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review

Choosing a phone is a bit like dating. It's easy to be swayed by a pretty face, but it's what is on the inside that counts.

The Galaxy Note 9 - or 'the beast' as I like to call it - isn't that riveting to look at (mainly because it looks so much like its predecessor), but it is big and beefy and the heart grows fonder the more it's used.

It goes on sale here on Thursday and I've been trying it out since its launch in New York a couple of weeks ago.

AI-enabled camera

The camera is good and so it should be. Scene optimiser recognises 20 different scenes including portraits, sunsets and plates of food, to compensate for the skills of the amateur photographer. To be honest, that's to be expected on any high-end camera these days. It's turned on by default and mostly shots do appear to more vibrant and have more contrast, but if you're any good at taking photos you'll end up turning it off. 

A useful feature is the beefed-up flaw detection. A little speech bubble appears to tells you when the image is blurry or if the subject blinked. 

S Pen

I've never been that fond of devices with any kind of stylus but this time I really made myself use the Bluetooth S Pen. This was my favourite feature of the device overall. I particularly enjoyed playing around with it for taking notes and for using as a remote control for group shots and selfies.

The camera app opens with a click while a doubleclick switches the camera from rear-facing to front-facing.  Slotting it back inside the phone for 40 seconds gives it a quick recharge. Good for droning on a little while longer in those business presentations too.

Testing out the scene optimiser in Central Park
Testing out the scene optimiser in Central Park Photo credit: Newshub

Fast with good battery life

I tested the 128GB model with 6GB of RAM and Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 845 processor and it felt fast enough running multiple apps.

The 4,000MAh battery lasted more than 24 hours when I used it for browsing, emails etc, but seemed to drain quite quickly. It drained a bit faster when I watched some shows and played a few games but the device didn't get as hot, which must have been due to Samsung's new cooling system in this phone.

Colours are vivid on this night time shot of Times Square.
Colours are vivid on this night time shot of Times Square. Photo credit: Newshub

Plenty of storage space

If you need a phone with lots of storage you won't go wrong with the Note 9. It has more storage than the S9 range. There's a 512GB version available, and by adding a microSD card there's up to 1TB of storage.

Works well in low light.
Works well in low light. Photo credit: Newshub

Existing Note fans will love the Note 9 and it's even managed to tempt a few people in the office to consider swapping brands.

With a price range from $1699 to $1999, there's no denying it's an expensive phone but for those intent on the latest and greatest, that won't matter.

Emma Brannam covers tech stories for Newshub. She was provided with a Galaxy Note 9 to test.