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Review

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Long-Term Review: Does it withstand the test of time?

6 months later, is the Galaxy Note 9 still the beast? Here’s our long-term review.

samsung galaxy note 9 review s pen shutter

Highlights

  • The Galaxy Note 9 price starts at Rs 67,900.

  • It comes with up to 8GB of RAM and 512GB storage.

  • The smartphone packs a 4,000mAh battery.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 was one of the most powerful smartphones when it was launched in August 2018, and the same is true even today. You get a beautiful design, powerful hardware and cameras, a big 4,000mAh battery, and a Bluetooth-enabled S Pen stylus among other things. With Samsung set to launch the Galaxy S10 soon, we took a look back at how the Galaxy Note 9 fares.

With MWC 2019 around the corner, a lot of new flagship smartphones are set to debut. But if you’re a fan of the S Pen stylus, you’ll have to wait until August for the next-gen Note-series. So, does it still make sense buy the Note 9 now, or go for the S10 or wait for Note 10? I’ve been using the Note 9 as my primary device right from the launch day, and below my long-term review.

I’ve already talked about the hardware, the design, features and camera performance in my review, and nothing changes there. However, for the long-term review, I want to focus on three key aspects – performance, battery life and software.

Watch: Samsung Galaxy Note 9 First Look

Galaxy Note 9: Long-term performance

Be it an Android or an iOS smartphone, there is one thing that holds true for all platforms. A few months later, you don’t get the peak performance as you get right out of the box. This is especially true with low-end, affordable smartphones that aren’t powerful enough to withstand the test of time. But it’s different when we talk about flagships. When you have the best hardware onboard, and when you’re paying a premium, you don’t want the phone to give up on you. And well, the Note 9 won’t disappoint you.

Back in 2017, I started with the Galaxy S8, then I switched to Note 8 and now finally Note 9. I briefly used the Galaxy S9, but there’s something in the Note-series that has got me hooked on to it. I have a total of 179 apps installed on the Note 9, which includes the likes of digital payment apps such as Paytm, BHIM, Google Pay. Then there are games, the ones that I play on a daily basis – PUBG, Fortnite, Asphalt 9: Legends, and Monument Valley 2 among others. I also have a few travel apps such as Jet Airways, Emirates, United, Yatra, MakeMyTrip, Skyscanner, Booking.com, and more.

Then there are the essential apps, Facebook, Slack, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp and Telegram, all of which are my daily lifeline. Now, even with soo many apps, some running in the background, a Bluetooth that is always connected to my smartwatch, I barely notice any hiccups in day-to-day use, and that’s what I liked about the Note 9. This wasn’t the same with the Galaxy S8 (long term review) and Galaxy Note 8 (long term review). Samsung has definitely improved the basic foundation to ensure a premium experience.

Galaxy Note 9: Battery life

After the Note 7 fiasco, the Note 9 was the company’s first flagship smartphone to come with a massive 4,000mAh battery, 700mAh more than the Note 8. And of course, that does translate in ba etter backup. With heavy usage, where screen resolution is set to QHD+, 4G LTE is always connected, 5 email accounts in sync, and so does the social media accounts, the Note 9 does offer a screen on time just above 4 hours.

On a more controlled usage, I’ve even gone above 6 hours, but those were really rare occasions. But considering my kind of usage and the number of apps that keep hogging the resources, I’d say that the battery life is pretty good. There is fast charging, but it isn’t as fast as some solutions offered by Huawei or OnePlus, but still, from an empty battery to full top-up takes about one hour and 45 minutes, which is not that bad. Of course, there is wireless charging, but that is slow, and takes close to three hours.

Galaxy Note 9: Software 

Let me be completely blunt and say that software isn’t a strong point for Samsung, at least when it comes to updating its smartphones to the last Android version. But things have certainly changed. A few years ago, it used to take about 9-10 months to rollout the software updates, but now the company has rolled out the Pie update in under six months, which is acceptable, but not impressive.

Credit – Rehan Hooda

The Android Pie update was released by Google just a couple of days before the Galaxy Note 9 global launch in August, and it has got the stable Pie update just a couple of weeks ago. Of course, there is a benefit of the doubt that has to be given, considering Samsung has to port features like DeX, AI additions, Bixby, and other over the top elements that come as a part of Experience UI skin, and now, a part of One UI.

OnePlus and Nokia has an impressive track record when it comes to a faster rollout of the software update. But there are a few things to note, the Nokia phones run on Android One program, with just a couple of apps from Nokia, whereas the OxygenOS is also a near stock Android with addition from OnePlus in the form of customization tweaks that you otherwise get on custom ROMs.

Then there is Huawei, the Chinese smartphone maker that has dethroned Apple to become the second largest smartphone maker, and this is all without the US market. In India, when it comes to low-end segment, the likes of Asus, Realme, Oppo, Xiaomi and Vivo are a threat to Samsung, but on a global scale, you never know when Huawei may just surprise you and even mange to dethrone Samsung from being the world leader.

Shipments aside, Huawei has done a commendable job in keeping the Huawei and Honor smartphones updated with not just the latest security patches, but also, the company has been quick in rollout out Pie update. And this is despite having a heavy EMUI skin on top of Android. It’s a wakeup call for Samsung – if Huawei can do it, then there’s a lot of catching up to do.

I have no problems with the monthly security patches that Samsung rolls out on time, but when we talk a premium price for the Note and S-series, one would definitely want the taste of latest and greatest Android OS without having to wait. Else, there’s no point paying a premium for design, specifications and features when software doesn’t go hand-in-hand.

Verdict

To conclude, I would like to reiterate the fact that the Galaxy Note 9 is still a beast of a device. The S Pen fans will appreciate the fact that the smartphone allows them to jot down quick notes, doodle or even use it to remotely control media playback, click photos and selfies, control presentations, and more. The cameras are great, even if not as excellent as the Pixel 3. If Samsung can focus a bit more on the software part, it will get an added advantage and the required boost.

  • Published Date: February 18, 2019 9:29 AM IST


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