It has been quite a long since the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 launched. The phone was launched in 2018 and it has been 4 years since then. We have covered all the news after Galaxy Note 9 launch in India and pre-book started in Nepal. We also made a Galaxy Note 9 full review article and video after one month of use. Then we published a 6 months review of Note 9. Now as I have been using the phone for 5 years, I wanted to do Samsung Galaxy Note 9 long-term review. So let us see if it is worth it or not.
The question of the relevance of the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 in 2023 can be surprising but actually, it is very relevant. This is due to many reasons and we will dive into all those. The Note 9 is so popular and due to its wholeness, many fans still hold onto it. People are still buying refurbished and renewed Galaxy Note 9 to use as a secondary device. Some people are even buying it as their primary device because a flagship phone is sometimes better than an alternative mid-range.
In this Samsung Note 9 long-term review, we are covering some main aspects of this phone. This includes day-to-day performance, battery life, camera, software updates, degradation, and comparative feel. We also have to consider the alternatives, options, and the market. So in this review, I will try to share my experience so that you can decide how its journey has been and if Galaxy Note 9 is still worth it or not.
Design: Still Beautiful
In these years, the smartphone industry has seen many revolutionary changes in design. After the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, we have a lot of design changes. All these mainly revolved around the front camera and screen. The companies wanted to achieve more screen-to-body ratio and people also demanded bigger screens with smaller bezels. So various designs have hit the market.
The design options include screens with a notch, hole punch, pill-shaped notch, motorized pop selfie camera, sliding camera, rotating camera, and more. Samsung introduced a notch for the first time with Galaxy M10 and Galaxy M20. They also introduced Galaxy A80 with a rotating camera. Vivo introduced V15 Pro with a pop-up camera in the market. Among all these designs a simple notch has been the most popular. However, Samsung’s new flagship like Galaxy S22 has a hole punch design.
Now, if we see all that, Galaxy Note 9 still seems to be one of the most mature phones in 2023 because it has utility at the top. Samsung and other companies have ditched many sensors and features for design. However, Galaxy Note 9 still has a big display with an 18.5:9 ratio and there is no disturbance from the notch or another cutout. It is pure real estate for consuming content, watching videos, browsing the internet, and sketching with S Pen.
It is still a glass and metal sandwich design that looks ultra-premium. There is a curved front screen and back glass. Most importantly the screen is undisturbed so it looks really beautiful. Therefore in terms of design, there is no match. However, things that we miss are better protection such as Corning Gorilla Glass Victus+ and higher grade aluminum.
Software Updates: Less Love than Expected
Since the launch of the Galaxy Note 9, we have got 2 major OS updates. At first, there was Android 9 and then there was Android 10. These two OS updates have been big for the phone. Currently, the smartphone is running Android 10 with One UI 2.5. It didn’t get Android 12 or even Android 11 which is genuinely sad because it certainly is capable of running them. However, it is still getting security updates quarterly which is absolutely fantastic. At the time of writing, my device has July 2022 patch. In the UK, Note 9 even update in March 2023 with Security Patch Level 2023-02-01.
In these 4 years, Samsung has done a lot of changes and we have discussed that in our 6-month review too. In the Android 9 update, Samsung introduced One UI to Note 9 which brought Night mode or Dark mode. It also brought navigation upgrades, interface changes, icon changes, visual changes, design changes, and battery improvements. Then came Android 10 which brought One UI 2.5 and just a few changes. Along this update journey, Samsung has added features that were introduced on Galaxy Note 10 and Galaxy Note 20 products. Most of those are seen in software features and S Pen.
There have also been a few updates but not as expected. The Galaxy Note 10 and Galaxy S10 that were launched one year later are using Android 12 with OneUI 4.1. So we can say that Note 9 didn’t make the list of devices that were promised to get long-term updates. It is quite disappointing that such as capable device was not allowed to have better updates. So this is one downside with Galaxy Note 9 in 2023. It doesn’t have the latest Android 12, latest One UI, and latest features from Samsung.
Screen: Far Better Even Today
I did talk about the screen while talking about the design but there is some more thing to discuss. Samsung Galaxy Note 9 definitely has a really powerful screen at this time too. As the price of the phone has come down in the market, we can’t compare it with flagship phones. We have to compare it with mid-range devices that are in the same range. Actually, we can also compare the screen of the Note 9 with some high-end phones too.
On Amazon USA, re-newed Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is available for $200. So in that range, we have to see budget and mid-range phones. The mid-range phones even in 2023 at that price don’t have a display as good as Note 9. Just to point out the Galaxy Note 9 has a 6.4″ Super AMOLED screen, 1440×2960 resolution, HDR10 rating, Corning Gorilla Glass 5, 710 nits peak brightness, and no notch or hole. So the screen looks amazing and the combination of all these is almost impossible to find in a new phone at the current price range.
It is not fair to just show pros because there are some things I miss too. The display sector has progressed a lot and Galaxy Note 9 definitely lacks a higher refresh rate screen. That is the only thing that matters if you are concerned about a smooth experience. These days mid-range smartphones come with screens that have higher refresh rates and touch sampling rates. So most of them have refresh rates anywhere from 90Hz to 120 Hz. Some flagship devices even have 165 Hz panels. So that is what we miss on this device.
Camera: Still Surprisingly Sharp
In the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 long term review, we certainly have to talk about the camera. This thing has seen many ups and downs in its life. Even just after the launch, a few updates came for improvement HDR, low light situation, and SNR. However, there have been a few major changes along with OS updates. At first, Samsung rolled out Android Pie which brought big changes to the camera interface with One UI. Then after a year, Android 10 was launched which again brought more changes to the table.
At first, Android Pie removed the “Pro Video” mode from the camera app. Along with the new interface, it also became difficult to take photos and videos from the same main screen. Now the One UI required users to change the mode from stills to video. However, in past, the button to record video was just next to the shutter button. By the way now with the new update we can take video by just continuously pressing the shutter button. In past, pressing the shutter button for a long time took burst photos but now pulling the shutter button to the downside does that job.
After a lot of media coverage and request from fans to reinstate Pro Video, Samsung brought it back with Android 10. The company also brought important features like Night Mode, frame rate selection in Pro Mode, AR, and other improvements to Note 9. So currently Samsung Galaxy Note 9 has a better camera app than before because the Pro Mode is back and there is addition like Night mode and additional settings.
Even in 2023, Galaxy Note 9 produces some of the finest photos and videos. The portrait photos or Live Focus shots are still beautiful. It is still a highly capable camera because it has super slow motion, 4K at 60 fps, optical image stabilization (OIS), variable aperture, and a great image processor. These things are hard to find on a phone at $250 range. However, if we are to look at the features it misses then we should say, it really misses on ultrawide angle camera and better zoom lens. Ultrawide is very important and I surely wish to have that on Note 9.
For other features such as HDR10+ video recording, raw video shooting, video blur, cinematic mode, and more fancy features, Note 9 is lagging on those too. But one has to admit that these features are only found in the current generation flagship and the Note 9 is now in the upper budget segment. So we have to see its price if we are just comparing top-level features. Therefore there is no denying it lacks features, but for price and its age, it has still a lot to offer.
Battery Life: Hmmm
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 took the game further in 2018 by packing a 4000 mAh battery. That was a very big upgrade considering battery of the Galaxy Note 8. In the past, the Note line of products were famous for its big screens, big battery, S Pen, and all the power. Note 8 was a slightly backward step for safety reasons but with Note 9, Samsung took back its path on right the track. 4000 mAh battery on paper looks awesome and for a phone with such a big 6.4″ display, it is a necessity.
In our first review, we were getting around 6 hours of Screen on Time (SOT). Then after new updates, we maintained that and even sometimes crossed that. However, the battery is now the Achilles’ heel. At least it is in the case of my phone or old phones. Please keep in mind that a certified, repaired or renewed phone will not have that because it will have a new battery. If you buy a re-newed phone or refurbished phone then your Note 9 should not have a highly used or worn-out battery.
However, in this article, I am sharing my experience with the Samsung Galaxy note 9. So as you have known that I am using the phone every day since its launch. I have made videos, used Note 9 for all day-to-day tasks, watched movies, downloaded files, taken many photos, scanned lots of documents, and exploited my battery to the limit. During my 2 years stay in India, I used at least 1 GB of mobile data every day. So my usage has been very high.
As of now, the battery is quite weak and it drops rather quickly. It definitely needs a battery change. Even though the battery is weak, my 4 year old Samsung Galaxy Note 9 gives about 4 hours of screen on time in 2023. The standby time is still more than 2 days if I don’t do anything. I use the phone on FHD+ resolution with optimized mode. In order to maintain battery health, I have also turned off fast charging.
In 2023, there is a new One UI that has more features. So Galaxy Note 9 misses on advanced battery protection health features such as limit that allows only charging up to 85%. It also misses new other optimization updates. As it is an old device, the availability of a battery pack in the future is a big question. Regardless of these, a renewed Note 9 in the $250 range is a great choice if it has a fresh battery. Even my old and used Galaxy Note 9 has so much to offer so I can say that it is a trustworthy device.
S Pen Feature Addition
Many reviewers tell that they forget the S Pen after quite some time. But this time it is not the case. The Bluetooth LE addition to the S Pen has given it a new meaning. I use my S Pen to take notes, sketch and take big selfies. The wireless remote function turned out to be a pretty amazing feature. This is my first personal device Note device, so I have integrated it more into my usage. I take more notes frequently and draw or doodle sometimes. It is helping me keep the work, rough notes, and other drawings easily organized way.
There are many other perks of this stylus as well. It is not just a writing, drawing, and picking tool. This helps a lot in finer works such as editing, minute selection, editing PDF, and singing them. Screen off memo is another great thing and it is very useful to take notes without unlocking the mobile. I also love the web page scrolling, zooming and screen write feature very much. The Galaxy Note 9 is a different phone and the S Pen integration can add a lot to the utility.
Till now Samsung has launched six Note devices which include Galaxy Note 10, Note 10+, Note 10 Lite, Note 20, Note 20 Ultra, and S22 Ultra. So all of them brought upgrades in S Pen. Many of the feature upgrades were hardware based and many of them were software based. One thing that is appreciated is that Samsung actually rolled out some new software updates that can benefit the S Pen of the Galaxy Note 9 as well. Samsung Notes app brought all the new fantastic features with its updates. So, many new features like handwriting to text, and better latency are here in Note 9 too.
Never Miss the Headphone, SD card, and Sensors
I don’t know what’s going on with the smartphone industry but in these years I have seen that features are being taken away and consumers are being forced to purchase another device. We all have noticed that smartphone companies are taking away 3.5mm headphone jack, micro SD card support, IR blaster, physical proximity sensor, and other sensors. Even Samsung has removed the headphone jack, IR scanner, blood pressure/heart rate sensor, and many other features.
If we look at Samsung Galaxy Note 9, it still has all those and that is what makes it a complete device. At first, there are stereo speakers and a 3.5mm headphone jack. So I can enjoy music and charge at the same time during travel. I don’t have to type in a PIN or open my mask to show my face for face unlock because there is a faster IR scanner. The rear-mounted fingerprint scanner is also easier to reach. I can also check my heart rate and blood pressure on Note 9 with sensors at the back. Samsung has removed those now and they are only available in watches.
So we can see that Samsung Note 9 may be old but it has all the bells and whistles to make it stand out in 2023. I really enjoy having it all and not making any compromises with features.
Conclusion of Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Long Term Review
Now after all this analysis, the main question which arises is that “Should you buy a Samsung Galaxy Note 9 in 2023?” That is a question that only you can answer. I just shared all things I have seen in these years and things that I am seeing now. But what is right for you depends on you. Also, this is a long-term review and not a sales pitch. I just wanted to show how a phone has aged and why I am sticking with it.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is one of the finest smartphones ever made. Many people would agree with me because this is a no-compromise device. It has a big screen, powerful processor, no notch or hole punch, it has a great camera, sensors, S Pen, and amazing looks. It still gives an amazing performance, good camera results and even the low light performance is just fantastic.
If you search on YouTube, Google, Facebook, second-hand marketplace, refurbished market, and re-newed market you can still see Galaxy Note 9 in the sale. This shows people are still preferring this smartphone as a secondary phone over other mid-range offerings. Even the famous YouTuber Linus Sebastian has said many times that he likes the Note 9 for its completeness. It has been seen in many videos that he still carries a broken Note 9 even when he could buy any phone in the world.
So I want to conclude my Samsung Note 9 long-term review by saying that it has been one of the most complete phones ever. It has set the bar very high for any flagship because it is hard to achieve everything and have everything. I am not saying that it has everything but rather I am saying that current flagships are missing a lot of things.
At the time of its launch, Note 9 was the best phone and as of now, it is still a great phone. All it needs is some software update and all it misses are some new high-tech features. But if you are in the market for a new flagship, go for the latest and greatest. If you want new features then buy a mid-range device with a high refresh rate and wide-angle cameras. But if you are sticking with Note 9, stick until it lasts. Finally, if you like Android and are considering saving money by buying a re-newed Galaxy Note 9 as a secondary device then go for it.