Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs Note 8: Should you upgrade?

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs Note 8 – Should you upgrade?

At a lavish launch event in NYC, Samsung just announced the latest in its Note lineup. The Note was the original device to really kickstart the phablet craze. So what can the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 do to stand out?

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (512GB) + 512GB Memory Card Black Friday Deal

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (512GB) with 512GB memory card

The phone alone would set you back £999. For not a penny more, you can get your hands on a memory card worth £227.99 too.

Like many phone releases these days, pretty much every detail of the Note 9 has been leaked in the weeks and months leading up to the event. We’ve had spec dumps, renders, even official-looking images and pre-order bonuses.

Related: Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs Galaxy S9

All that aside, the Note 9 still looks like a great device. As we saw with the jump from Samsung Galaxy S8 to Samsung Galaxy S9, the changes are iterative and look to tweak the formula rather than rip it up and start again.

If you’re looking to upgrade from the Note 8 then there’s plenty to think about. Let’s take a closer look at what’s new.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs Note 8 design –What’s changed?

The Note 8 received a huge visual overhaul in the same way that the Galaxy S8 did. The bezel surrounding the display was slimmed right down, the fingerprint sensor was repositioned around the rear and the sloping display made far more prominent. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 was, and still is, a gorgeous phone.

So it’s hardly surprising to discover that Samsung is sticking with, what is, mostly the same design for a second year. There are a couple of changes that should make the device a better to use phone overall.

Related: Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs Galaxy S8 Plus

One of the most obvious changes is the new position of the fingerprint sensor. Instead of sitting awkwardly next to the camera module, it now sits below. It’s a simple change but one that fixes a big issue.

While the Note 9 is a similar size to the Note 8, the screen is actually larger: 6.4 inches as opposed to 6.3 inches. Reducing the size of the bezel allows for this.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Both phones are constructed from glass, with a metal rim sandwiched in-between. USB-C ports sit along the bottom, with a headphone jack. Seeing as Samsung kept hold of the 3.5mm port for the Galaxy S9, we always expected it to be here too.

The real key feature of the entire Note series sits beside the USB-C port: the S Pen. For the Note 9, Samsung has upgraded the included stylus to feature Bluetooth, as well as offering it in a range of colours.

Bluetooth seems an odd addition, and we’re not yet sold on exactly the functionality it will bring. Samsung says you’ll be able to control presentations from across the room and use it as a remote camera shutter – neither of which sound particularly interesting.

Water-resistance remains, and the use of the glass body ensures the Note 9 will charge wirelessly.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs Note 8 specs and features – How much faster can it be?

Inside the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, you’ll find plenty of upgrades over the outgoing model. The Exynos 8895 has been replaced with the 9810, giving faster overall performance, better graphics and improved connectivity. That Exynos version won’t see a release in the US, however. Instead, the US version of the Note 9 will pack a Snapdragon 845. Again, this is an upgrade over the Snapdragon 835 used in the Note 8.

Note 8 Note 9
Screen 6.3-inch, quad-HD AMOLED, HDR 6.4-inch, quad-HD AMOLED, HDR
Performance Snapdragon 835/Exynos 8895 Snapdragon 845/Exynos 9810
RAM 6GB 6GB/8GB
Storage 64GB + microSD 64GB/256GB + microSD
Rear camera 2 x 12MP, f/1.7 (main), 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 3300mAh, fast charge, wireless charging 4000mAh, fast charge, wireless charging
S-Pen Yes Yes (with Bluetooth)

 

A big push for the Note 9 is gaming. This is the first Android phone on which you’ll be able to play Fortnite, so expect a fluid experience. Fortnite will come to other phones in the Galaxy family after a month, with other Androids joining the party later.

RAM remains at 6GB (plump for the 512GB model and you’ll get 8GB RAM) – the ideal amount, in our opinion – and storage options now go all the way up to 512GB. There’s a microSD slot, too, so with the right card you have more than a terabyte of storage with the Note 9.

Even though the Note 9 has a larger screen than the Note 8, the resolution of the AMOLED panel remains at 1440 x 2960. Both phones also support HDR; expect support for this from Netflix, YouTube and Prime Video.

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The upgrade that could make the Note 9 a much better phone is the 4000mAh battery. The Note 8 struggled in terms of endurance, and during our original review of the phone, it struggled to get beyond a day of usage. For a large device such as this, that just isn’t good enough. Including a bigger cell inside the Note 9 should offset such issues and, fingers-crossed, there won’t be any Note 7 meltdowns this time around.

In terms of the camera, Samsung has pretty much taken all the good bits from the excellent Galaxy S9 Plus and jammed them into the Note 9.

Related: Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs Galaxy S9 Plus

You have the same dual-aperture lens, which will switch between f/1.5 and f/2.4 depending on the light. Also included is dual-pixel focusing tech and a secondary sensor for 2x zoom. The biggest difference between the Note 8 and Note 9 is that clever shifting aperture, as the outgoing Note itself had a secondary sensor for improved zooming.

There are a couple of camera features that remain the same. The front sensor is still an 8-megapixel f/1.7 unit, 4K video support up to 60fps remains, and OIS is present on both cameras.

The Note 8 already ticked pretty much every connectivity box, so there was little for Samsung to add aside from the faster LTE speed afforded by the improved silicone inside. Both phones have NFC, Bluetooth 5, GPS and can be hooked up to a monitor via Dex.

Related: Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs iPhone X

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs Note 8 price – How much does it cost?

Right, let’s get this out of the way quickly – neither of these phones is cheap. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 retailed for £869/$899 when it was first released, although you can now pick one up for less than £600 on Amazon.

The Note 9 is pricier than the Note 8, starting at £899. If you want to have that 512GB storage then be prepared to pay £1099.

Early Verdict

The Note 9 isn’t a huge step forward for the series. Instead, it tweaks and fine-tunes the formula to hopefully make a better device. The biggest upgrade is the battery, which could take things to another level.