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Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs Galaxy S9: What’s the difference?

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs Galaxy S9 – Which Samsung flagship should you buy?

We’ve known it was coming for a while, and Samsung has finally delivered its second flagship phone of the year: the Samsung Galaxy Note 9.

The majority of details regarding the Note 9 have been leaked in the past few weeks, leaving little surprise for the launch. Still, the Note 9 looks to be a good upgrade on an already great phone.

But how does it compare to Samsung’s other big flagship of the year? Let’s delve into the specs and features and see what sets the two devices apart.

Related: Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs iPhone X

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs Galaxy S9 design – A very similar design

Samsung has decided upon a common design theme for its high-end devices, and that can be seen in both the Note 9 and S9. Both handset sport a swathe of glass and metal, a sloping display and glass backs. The Note series is a little more angular and harsh around the edges, while the S series is curvier and softer.

The most obvious difference is size. The Samsung Galaxy S9 has a 5.8-inch screen, whereas the Note 9 ups that to 6.4 inches. This is a significant increase that makes for a much bigger overall phone.

Samsung Galaxy S9 front

Another differentiator is the S Pen. This stylus has been a hallmark of the Note series and works exceptionally well with the sizeable screen. For the Note 9, Samsung adds Bluetooth to the S Pen, so you can control presentations from across the room and use it to activate the camera.

Related: Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs Note 8

Both phones feature a USB-C port for charging; 3.5mm headphone jack on the bottom; and fingerprint sensors below the camera module on the rear of the device. They also feature iris scanners around the front and facial recognition.

An IP68 rating for water-resistance is also common among both devices, meaning they’ll survive a dunk in a meter of water for 30 minutes.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 S Pen presentation lifestyle press image

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs Galaxy S9 specs – Which is the most powerful?

There was a time when the Note 9’s internals would ape those of the S series, but this isn’t the case here.

Both phones are powered by either an Exynos 9810 or Snapdragon 845 (region depending), which are some of the fastest mobile chips on the market. The Note 9 does have slightly more RAM – 6GB or 8GB rather than 4GB – and the storage options run to 512GB.

Having a more generously sized body means there’s more space for a larger battery. Inside the Note 9 you’ll find a 4000mAh cell; the Galaxy S9 has a 3000mAh version. Obviously, the larger display will consume far more power, so it will be interesting to see how much longer the Note 9 lasts off a single charge. Both devices include fast charging and wireless charging.

Related: Best smartphones

Galaxy S9 Galaxy Note 9
Screen 5.8-inch, quad-HD AMOLED, HDR 6.4-inch, quad-HD AMOLED, HDR
Performance Snapdragon 845/Exynos 9810 Snapdragon 845/Exynos 9810
Storage 64GB + microSD 64GB/256GB + microSD
Rear camera 12MP (f/1.7 – f/1.5 – f/2.4), OIS, 4K video, Dual Pixel 2 x 12MP (f/1.7 – f/1.5 – f/2.4 – main), OIS, 4K video, Dual Pixel
Front camera 8MP, f/1.7 8MP, f/1.7
Battery 3000mAh, fast charge, wireless charging 4000mAh, fast charge, wireless charging
S-Pen No Yes (with Bluetooth)


The two handsets also share similarities in the optics department. Like the Galaxy S9, the Note ships with a main 12-megapixel camera that can dynamically shift aperture depending on the situation.

If you’re shooting in low light, the camera will switch to an f/1.7 aperture and allow more light into the sensor, giving you a brighter shot. At other times the camera will narrow the aperture to f/2.4. There’s also OIS (optical image stabilisation), 4K video recording and an 8-megapixel front-facing camera.

Related: Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs Galaxy S9 Plus

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 neck scarf woman drawing cropped press image

Where the Note 9 is slightly different is with the secondary sensor. This extra camera allows you to take 2x shoots – essentially allowing you to zoom without sacrificing picture quality – and improved portraits. There’s no secondary camera on the S9, with that feature available only with the S9 Plus.

Another new feature for the Note 9 is a software bump to the camera. It can now detect scenes – there’s 20 to choose from – and will tell you if there’s something visibly wrong with your pictures.

Related: Best Android phones

Samsung Galaxy S9

Even though the Note 9 has a significantly larger screen, the resolution is identical to that of the S9. With a 2960 x 1440 resolution, both support HDR and use AMOLED tech. The display on the Galaxy S9 is stunning, and we doubt the Note 9 will be anything different.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs Galaxy S9 price – What’s the cost?

Neither phone is cheap, although since the Galaxy S9 is the older device it can picked up for far less than the Note 9’s launch price. The retail price of the Galaxy S9 is £739; however, it’s possible to find it for less if you shop around or buy a refurbished model.

The Note 9 starts at £899, that’s for the 128GB variant, while the 512GB will set you back £1099. That’s pricing we’ve only really seen before on the iPhone X.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 woman in cafe lifestyle press image

Early Verdict

A decision over whether to opt for the Galaxy S9 or Note 9 will really come down to size. Are you looking for a device that’s easy to use in one hand, or one with a huge screen and pen?

Both have their strengths and weaknesses, and we’ll need to spend a full review period with the Note 9 to see what it has over its smaller brother.

Related: Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs Galaxy S8 Plus

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