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TRIBUNE REVIEWS: The Galaxy Note 9 is a keeper

  • Published at 11:01 pm October 2nd, 2018
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Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Mahmud Hossain Opu

We tested the phone for a week; all the hype about it is real

It was mighty nice of Samsung to send us a Galaxy Note 9 immediately after revealing it to the Bangladeshi market. After a week of using the phone, we can assure you that whatever reviews you have read, barely do justice to the phone.

The technical specifications and platitudes are freely available anywhere. Hence, our topic today is whether it is worth spending Tk94,900.

We will begin by addressing the features that matter the most to a Bangladeshi audience.

Display and touch

The Note 9’s vibrantly-coloured, 6.4-inch WQHD display is a stunner, a key feature of all Samsung flagship phones. We tried lowering the display to basic HD resolution just to see how it would feel, and the downgrade was stark and offensive to the eyes. 

For those who whip out their phone outdoors to check notifications, the Super AMOLED display is crisp and clear, even in bright sunlight. However, it tends to heat quickly in direct sunlight. So, while you can read all the emails and messages, you would be best served using it away from the sun.

The touch sensitivity is top-of-the-line and velvety-smooth. Combined with the metallic back and its grooves, the Note 9 offers perhaps the best possible feeling of holding a smartphone, despite its size. We personally prefer phones to be under 6 inches for a better grip. We are just as afraid as anyone else of dropping the phone. However, the Note 9’s design is broken down in three segments – the curved edge display, the core body, and the non-removable battery in the back. This creates two distinct surfaces along the sides, allowing for a superior handheld experience.

Best S-Pen ever

The trademark feature of the Note series is its S-Pen. A throwback to the days of notepads or digital assistants, the S-Pen is a creator’s best friend. Also, it can be used as a Bluetooth remote to take photos, among many other creative ways you can think of using it. From drawing doodles to jotting down quick notes during a bus ride or an office meeting, the stylus does not buckle down. And the palm rejection software is a smart suite to throw in.

Using the S-Pen feels very, very natural - which has ensured it remains a cornerstone of the Note series’ selling point.

Battery and the hot issue

Samsung’s Note 7 battery fires were perhaps the biggest financial hit that a technological giant has taken since Yahoo. No other company but Samsung could have bounced back with such fierce tenacity to make their next iteration – the Note 8 – such a hit. There have been a handful of reports about the Note 9 also heating up. 

Throughout extensive communications usage – concurrently using Instagram, Messenger, Facebook, Gmail, and Chrome – we did not experience any heating. 

Note (pun intended), the phone does warm up slightly around the edges when you are playing Player Unknown’s Battleground (PUBG). But it is nothing alarming. After several hour-long sessions, the heating did not seem so untoward. 

The massive 4,000mAh battery supports Quick Charge 2.0 and can go two full days with extensive gaming, watching videos of YouTube, and shenanigans with the camera. We charged the phone only twice throughout the week and it still has 30% charge left. It also warmed up when charging for the first time, but gradually cooled.

Incredibly smart camera

Does the Note 9 have the best camera in the market? In a market that has the iPhone XS Max, Google Pixel 2 XL, and the Galaxy 9, the Note 9 is among the best. Samsung traditionally uses an array of vibrant colours to dazzle with their photos. The AI is incredibly intuitive and learns at a breakneck pace. 

The camera is a big reason to justify the hefty price tag. It picks up on a person’s best features and highlights them while staying true to their skin tone. A number of other flagship camera AIs have displayed a tendency to brighten the skin on selfies. The Note 9 does not paint you differently. It plays up your best features. 

You can create emojis of yourself, and tweak settings to take remarkable photos in any condition. The only aspect I found lacking was the low ISO range, maxing out at just 800.

Security

The fingerprint scanner on the back is barely affected by smudging, in stark contrast to a number of other smartphones. However, the star of the Note 9 is its facial recognition feature. The camera successfully completed identification in low-light conditions, with and without glasses. The iris recognition took a bit of time to process, but the facial recognition has them all beaten by a mile.

A gamer’s dream

To be frank, the massive battery, the lukewarm heating, and the WQHD display, all seemed to indicate that this phone aggressively targets gamers. Playing PUBG non-stop for two hours only drained 20% of the battery. 

Summary

Is it a good phone? It is a great phone. The Note 9 swings hard and fast in every direction and really sets the tone for what a flagship smartphone is meant to be in this day and age. 

Is it worth the buy? For Tk94,000, you get what you pay for – the cream of the crop among Android smartphones. For the dazzled but concerned buyer, there are plenty of EMI offers that can make the Note 9 your new phone.

Is it worth the hype? The Note 9 is a huge leap of improvement from the Note 8, and that statement is a testimony to how brilliant this phenomenal work of engineering is.