Not so long ago, Samsung Galaxy Note phones were practically a circus act. Come forward, people, and party your eyes on the most gigantic, the most gigantic phone known to mankind! Now, when I pick up the 6.4-inch Galaxy Note 9, the latest model in the series, it feels almost normal. Somehow we got used to phones about the size of a sandwich.
In other ways, however, the Note 9 still protrudes from the sea of glassy rectangles. No telephone on the American market has more functions or power. It has an integrated stylus that is much more than a drawing tool, and enough processing power, storage and RAM to match your laptop: there is even software embedded that turns it into a PC.
The Note 9 does not really compete with other smartphones. Devices such as the iPhone X or the Pixel 2 XL are like luxury sedans, cool but still practical. Using the Note 9 is like driving a spaceship along the highway – if the international space station is on your agenda, great! Even Samsung says that most Note buyers tend to be the previous Note owners.
However, this is the problem when it comes to attracting new users: for the uninitiated it looks a bit like expensive overkill.
Power is hungry
The note 9 physically does not differ much from the comment 8 It is a thin, sharp, long rectangle, as if you have grabbed a smaller phone and stretched like taffy. It comes in two colors, lavender and blue. It has a headphone socket, a fingerprint reader, an iris scanner, three cameras, two speakers and a microSD card slot.
Inside, the Note 9 offers significant advantages over last year's model. It has a huge 4000 mAh battery; The largest Apple iPhone batteries are all less than 3,000 mAh. Apparently, two years after a huge scandal with burning phones, Samsung has enough confidence in its battery technology to pump back all the juice it can hold into its phones. The battery life of the Note 9 is also impressive: when I used it for normal phone calls, I got almost two full days between costs.
Except that no one buys a note 9 to make normal telephone calls. People buy one because there are up to 8 gigabytes of RAM and 512 gigabytes of storage at a price of $ 1,250 – which means they can run a dozen apps while playing games and listening to music and making 4K video, actually all at the same time. They buy one to play "Fortnite", which looks great on the big, sharp screen. So the battery of the Note 9 lasts only a day, but you can push it hard and still go to bed.
My tests of the Note 9 quickly ceased on the performance of the camera or the sharpness of the display. The Note 9 did well in all countries. Apart from the starting price of $ 1,000 and the fact that it does not come with the latest version of Android, everything on the spec spec sheet of the Note is a winner.
But even though the Note 9 is the best Note so far, it's not a must-have upgrade for the Note 8-which evokes the real question: Is a Note you're looking for?
Do the write thing
The Note 9 offers two ways to handle that most other phone does not. The first is the most striking thing – the S Pen stylus. It has always been handy to draw or annotate screenshots, and I like that you can quickly make it come true to make a note without unlocking the phone.
This new S Pen connects to the Note 9 via Bluetooth, making it also used when it does not touch the screen. It is just like any other Bluetooth remote control except that it is always with you. You can click the button to turn slides in a presentation, to control music or to take a picture. It charges in seconds while it is stored in the phone.
I have found that the S Pen is a handy tool in combination with one of the best features of the Note 9, called DeX. By connecting the phone to a display via an adapter or cable, you can convert the Note into something that looks like a desktop. The dock from last year is no longer needed.
All of your apps are still running, but they open on the external display in an environment that is more like Windows, with a toolbar and plenty of room for multitasking. Some apps are adapted to the larger screen, including Microsoft Office Adobe Photoshop Express, even Google's Chrome browser. Connect a keyboard and mouse via Bluetooth or use the phone as a trackpad. You can even unlock the phone and use it as a telephone while it drives the desktop environment.
The amazingly versatile Note 9 comes closer than anything I've tested to fulfill my dream for the real computer. But Samsung does not always implement these functions properly.
When I pull the S Pen forward, the Note 9 offers six things to do, with dozens more available in settings. I get multiple notifications and warnings every time I open DeX. Apps often have to close and re-open to work on the larger screen.
I have long complained about the unnecessary duplication of Google apps from Samsung, but the bigger problem of the Note 9 is that I have not left me in the past week. It bombed me with pop-ups, warnings about new features and options that I apparently had to turn on.
Samsung says the barrage is an attempt to help Note users find their powerful new device, and the pop-ups eventually disappear. But even when I clicked the first wave, I still felt bullied: the Note card of the Note fills with status reports about things I do not care about.
In the end there are telephone people and then there are Note people, and never the two will meet. If you are of the type that thinks a car is something that takes you from A to B, the Note 9 may be too much. But if you like stick driving and make your hands dirty under the hood, you'll probably love how much you can play with the Note 9.
Write to David Pierce at [email protected]
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