Review: Samsung Galaxy Note9 - TechCentral

Review: Samsung Galaxy Note9

Playing with Samsung’s Galaxy Note9 is enough to make you forget what happened two years ago with the Note7. The eight-point battery check introduced on the Note8 has proved that exploding phablets are a thing of the past, with the Korean consumer electronics giant boldly increasing the battery capacity to its largest ever on a flagship.

The Note9 has a gargantuan 4 000mAh power plant, a big step up from last year’s 3 300mAh, which should be good enough to last all day.

TechCentral has been testing the Note9 since its launch last week and found the battery gets through to at least 10pm with relatively heavy use before needing a recharge. That included streaming from Spotify, YouTube and Netflix, capturing video on Instagram, navigating with Google Maps, and even using it as a Wi-Fi hotspot. The battery was used in standard mode, without power saving enabled.

The Note9 is a large handset. The original Note’s screen was 5.3 inches, and today it has grown to a whopping 6.4 inches — but with narrow bezels. Its slim and elongated form fits in my grip, but it’s definitely a two-handed device — with the revamped S-Pen meant to assist you.

The Bluetooth-enabled S-Pen, now in bright yellow, was not weird to use as I thought it might be. But as someone who does not use a stylus daily, I found it a little difficult to switch to.

The S-Pen doubles up as a remote for the camera, releasing the shutter. This also works in the Instagram app if you want to make hands-free videos, and while it may seem “superficial”, it’s where I got the most use out of it. It also beats asking a stranger to take a photo of you when travelling.

For those who use the device as the powerful computer in your pocket it was intended to be — for mobile presentations, taking notes and creating annotations — it works a treat. The S-Pen pairs with selected apps such as the camera, gallery, voice recorder, media (music and video) and PowerPoint.

And the Note9 is certainly up to the job. It’s powered by an Exynos 9810 octa-core processor (in the South African variant), available in either 6GB of RAM and 128GB of flash storage or 8GB/512GB. The company touts the Note9 as being “1TB-ready”, expandable with up to a 512GB SD card.

Lights, cameras

The camera on the Note9 is the same as in the Galaxy S9+, with dual rear 12-megapixel sensors with optical image stabilisation and variable aperture that switches mechanically from f1.5 to f2.4 to control light. Unique to the Note9 are AI tweaks that automatically detect up to 20 scenes and adjusts accordingly — for example, to make the colour pop on a food photo or to notify you if your shot is blurry.

DeX mode is now simplified into a “plug and play” solution through a USB-C to HDMI cable (not included in the box) without the need for a dock to hook up a monitor. The experience is now meant more to be a second screen for videos and presentations rather than to turn the phone into a desktop.

Samsung went all out with a large battery and storage, but the stylus is what sets the Note9 apart from every other device. If the S-Pen is something you can’t live without, then the Note9, with its hefty price tag, is for you.

Pricing starts at R18 999 for the 6GB/128GB variant on prepaid, and from R799 on contract at various networks. It will be available on 24 August in black, copper and blue variants. The 512GB model will follow later, and is expected to cost between R23 000 and R24 000. — © 2018 NewsCentral Media

  • Now listen to the Cars & Gadgets podcast, where Nafisa Akabor talks more about the Galaxy Note9

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