How time has passed - we're at nine now. Seven years after the original, the Samsung Galaxy Note9 stands before us. The numbers don't add up, no, because Samsung chose to skip the 6, and it didn't really quite work out splendidly with the Note7. But that's all in the past and we're looking ahead.
What we see here are spec bumps, some more impressive than others. For one, it was about time a big-name top-end phone shipped with 128GB of base storage, and isn't the optional 512GB just plain overkill? With a card slot ready to offer an extra 512GB (a card that Samsung is yet to announce, and you're unlikely to be thrilled about the price, but still) you're looking at a potential 1TB of storage on your Note9.
Battery capacity is a generous 4,000mAh flat, some 20% more than the outgoing model and 500mAh than the Galaxy S9+ - you can say we're liking where the added 0.2mm of thickness went.
Samsung Galaxy Note9 review
The 6.4-inch display is now a whopping 0.2 inches larger than the current plus-size S-series model, as opposed to just 0.1 inches last year making for some slightly more meaningful segmentation in the lineup.
But in all fairness, all the segmentation you need comes with the S Pen, and it's a conceptually upgraded unit even if it does look just like the old one. This one is active and can interact with the phone from a distance via Bluetooth - think remote shutter release or a presentation remote, you get the drift. Of course, once you hover it over the display, it's still the good old stylus that makes the Note a unique proposition.
The rest is, more or less, a Galaxy S9+, indeed. No real surprises in the camera section where we see the familiar dual aperture main module, accompanied by a telephoto shooter (a seemingly different 1/3.4" vs. 1/3.6" sensor, what's that about?), and an 8MP selfie cam. All the connectivity you could ask for is also present, headphone jack included, and it's the first Galaxy Note smartphone with stereo speakers.
Samsung Galaxy Note9 specs
Body: Aluminum frame, Gorilla Glass 5 front and back; IP68 certified for water and dust resistance. 161.9 x 76.4 x 8.8 mm, 201g. Midnight Black, Ocean Blue, Metallic Copper, Lavender Purple color schemes.
Display: 6.4" Super AMOLED 'Infinity Display', 2,960x1440px resolution, 18.5:9 (2.06:1) aspect ratio, 516ppi; HDR10 compliant (no Dolby Vision).
Rear camera: Primary 12MP, Type 1/2.55" sensor, f/1.5-2.4 aperture, 26mm equiv. focal length, dual pixel PDAF, OIS; Secondary 12MP, Type 1/3.4" sensor, f/2.4 aperture, 52mm equiv. focal length, autofocus, OIS; 2x zoom. 2160p/60fps, 1080p/240fps slow motion, 720p/960fps super slow-motion video recording.
Front camera: 8MP, f/1.7 aperture, autofocus; 1440p/30fps video recording.
OS/Software: Android 8.1 Oreo; Samsung Experience 9.0; Bixby virtual assistant; Smart Connect, Smart Connect Home.
Chipsets: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845: octa-core CPU (4x2.7GHz Kryo 385 Gold & 4x1.7GHz Kryo 385 Silver), Adreno 630 GPU. Exynos 9810: octa-core CPU (4x3rd-gen Mongoose 2.7GHz + 4xCortex-A55 1.8GHz), Mali-G72 MP18 GPU.
Memory: 6/8GB of RAM; 128/512GB of storage; microSD slot for cards up to 512GB.
Battery: 4,000mAh Li-Po (sealed); Adaptive Fast Charging (same as S7/S8/S9); QuickCharge 2.0 support; WPC(Qi)&PMA wireless charging.
Connectivity: Single-SIM, Dual-SIM available in certain markets (hybrid slot); LTE-A, 4-Band/5-Band carrier aggregation, Cat.18 (1.2Gbps/150Mbps); USB Type-C (v3.1); Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac MU-MIMO; GPS, GLONASS, Beidou, Galileo; NFC; Bluetooth 5.0.
Misc: Bluetooth-enabled S Pen stylus with 4096 pressure levels and multimedia controls; fingerprint/iris/face recognition; stereo speakers tuned by AKG; 3.5mm jack; bundled AKG headphones; DeX dock compatibility.
If you're going to be upgrading from a Pixel 2 XL to a Note9, you'd be downgrading the Android version - the Note9 comes with 8.1 Oreo, though a Pie is surely in the making. As Qualcomm QuickCharges go, the Note9's 2.0 is pretty dated too - another non-dealbreaker, but a point worth mentioning. And... that seems to be all we can think of to complain about before ripping that box open.
Samsung Galaxy Note9 unboxing
Surprise, surprise - no surprises in here. You'd be getting the same Adaptive Fast Charging AC adapter, that's been around since S5 days (9V/1.67A and 5V/2A) and a USB cable to go with it. There's a couple of USB-C adapters (Type A and micro-B on the far ends), too.
Samsung Galaxy Note9 review
An AKG-branded headset with some nice braided cables is included to get you started. This being a Note, there are also replacement tips for the S Pen and a tool to get the job done.