Well, it’s time (or a little past time) for the 2018 slew of new phones. The first out of the gate is the Samsung Note 9. This isn’t the phone for everyone — the Note line never has been. But it is where Samsung stuffs all the new cutting edge tech to see how it fares in the real world before deciding what filters down to the Galaxy lineup. I would say that the Note 9 polished up the Note 8 rather than took giant leaps forward in tech.
So, here are some of the highlights of what they updated. The first has got to be the S Pen. Admittedly, I have no artistic skills, and in the month long test of the Note 9, only pulled the S Pen out once to jot down a recipe that a waitress was giving me. But in a pinch, jotting a note vs. trying to type quickly as someone rattles off a list of instructions was handy. But, the thing I did use the most with the S Pen was the ability to use it as a remote control — specifically for taking selfies. Just hold the phone up, click the button on the S Pen, and the camera snaps the shot. You can also use it for presentations, skipping around while playing music, and more.
Speaking of the camera, they have built AI into the dual camera so it will automatically adjust the settings to get the best shot, able to recognize many different types of scenes (people, nature, food, etc.). The dual 12 MP camera on back and 8 MP front took better pictures than any other phone in our group.
Next up was the massive battery. As my testing was done while traveling, the huge 3,300 mAh battery held up until the end of the day almost every day. And when it did drop to 5%, the battery saving mode helped get the last few hours until I could find a charger.
Finally, one of the better changes is the ability to hook the phone up to your PC and run it that way without dropping any money on the actual DeX station — all you need is an adapter and an HDMI cable. For those wanting a little more screen, plugging into a laptop but running your phone on it could be a big benefit. We did not have time to test this option ourselves.
One final note, they moved the fingerprint reader to the center of the phone below the cameras for a much more natural feel when trying to unlock via fingerprint. The Note 8 had it off to the side and it was more likely you’d stick your finger over the camera or flash first before finding the reader. This new location is much improved.
As we said, this isn’t the phone for everyone, but for those looking for a huge screen and especially those who would benefit from the S Pen, this is a worthy upgrade.