The Galaxy Note 9 comes with a dual-camera setup at the back.
One camera comes with dual aperture mode – f/1.5 to f/2.4.
Up front, you get an 8-megapixel camera with auto-focus.
The highly anticipated Samsung smartphone of the year, the Galaxy Note 9 is here and it comes with nifty improvements over its predecessor. The smartphone features better cameras, a higher capacity battery and a Bluetooth-enabled S Pen, among other features. The Galaxy Note 8 was first Samsung smartphone to feature a dual-camera setup at the back, whereas the with the Galaxy S9-series, the company introduced the dual-aperture camera.
Now, with the Galaxy Note 9, Samsung is introducing AI optimizations to auto tune the settings, thus helping you capture better photos. It can identify 20 different scenes, such as food, sky, mountains, flowers, greenery, trees, sunrise and sunsets, pets, text, and more. The AI can also detect if the photo has turned out blurred, if someone has blinked their eyes, and even if there is smudging on the lens. I’ve been using the Galaxy Note 9 for close to a week now, and after clicking a lot of photos, here’s my camera review.
Watch: Samsung Galaxy Note 9 First Look
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Camera Specifications
As mentioned above, the Galaxy Note 9 comes with a dual-camera setup at the back, both having a 12-megapixel sensor. One sensor comes with an aperture of f/2.4, a telephoto lens, which enables portrait mode, and 2X optical lossless zoom. The other is a wide-angle lens with dual aperture ranging between f/1.5 to f.2.4. The camera supports 4K video recording at 60fps, and super slow-motion video recording at 960fps in HD quality. Normal slow-motion videos are also supported at 240fps, in full HD quality.
Up front, you an 8-megapixel selfie camera with auto-focus support. The front camera also supports AR Emoji where you can animate your face, turn them into emojis, and send to friends on chat apps, or share on social media.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Camera UI
To make things easier, the camera UI needs to be intuitive, and the Galaxy Note 9 offers exactly that. It is the same that is found on other Samsung phones, but here, you get some extra tricks – such as the scene AR Emoji and Super-slow-motion video recording. The on the top you have different modes – Food, Live Focus, Pro, Hyperlapse, Panorama and more.
Below the viewfinder, you have a shortcut to enter Settings, the full view mode and flashlight toggle, filters and an option to toggle between the front and rear cameras. Below this, you have the video recorder button, camera shutter and a quick shortcut for gallery. It’s really easy to understand how to use the camera app, even if you are using it for the first time.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Camera Performance
Yes, no matter the specifications, you’d want to know if the cameras are good or not. Well, over the past couple of years, Samsung flagship cameras haven’t really disappointed, and the same goes with the Note 9 too. So, without wasting much time, below are some camera samples that speak for themselves.
The dual aperture camera intelligently detects what time of day it is when you are shooting, and clicks photos either in f/2.4 or f/1.5. I clicked a few photos while in New York, the results have been excellent, like you can see below.
Now, this picture, I took in a moving car when on the bridge, and the photo has still come out good, without any blur. I had to crop tiny corners where the bridge structure was visible, but overall, it has turned out to be pretty good.
Most cameras struggle indoors, where the photo turns out to be decent, but there is noise, color accuracy goes for a toss, and more. The same isn’t the case with the Note 9, it takes really good photos, irrespective of the lighting conditions. Below are some samples.
The portrait mode, or live focus, as Samsung calls it, has been improved, especially the edge detection which works well. Below are some sample shots.
As mentioned above, the secondary telephoto lens on the Note 9 enables 2X lossless optical zoom capabilities. I tried it when at the New York airport to click a photo of a metro standing at a distance, and then took one with 2X optical zoom. As you can see below, there is no loss in detail.
Close-up and food
Close-up shots look sharp, with ample details and good background defocus. There is an AI-optimized food mode which makes the colors pop out. Unlike Huawei and Honor phones that tend to over-saturate colors, the Galaxy Note 9 keeps the colors subtle, which is something that I liked.
The dual-aperture camera helps in clicking excellent low-light photos that not only look sharp, but have very low noise levels too.
Another change that Samsung made was to optimize portrait mode to work in low-light, and the result is good. Below is one example. It’s not the best photo in terms of composure, but you can see it has kept the subject in focus, while de-focusing the background.
I recorded a couple of videos, one in 4K resolution with 60fps, which looks really smooth. The sensor is also able to retain details, despite the higher resolution. And then we have the 960fps super slow-motion video recording, which works really well. My only complaint is that it should have supported at least four seconds of slow-motion recording.
Overall, the Galaxy Note 9 packs one of the best cameras on a smartphone today. Sure, there are other smartphones like the Huawei P20 Pro and iPhone X that pack the best cameras in the segment. But if you are looking for a complete package, the Note 9 could be worth considering.