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Note 9 vs Note 8: hardware, feature & design comparison



4 minute read

Last night, Samsung unveiled the Note 9, the successor to last year’s popular Note 8 smartphone. Here’s how the two phones differ, so you can see if it’s worth trading in your old phone to get the new hotness.

Samsung kicked off their reveal of the Note 9 with the phone’s design, so let’s start there too. The new phone is slightly shorter than its predecessor, but equally gradually wider and thicker; it’s also six grams heavier although it’s hard to spot the difference. The wider chassis and thinner bezels have allowed for a slightly larger screen too, with the Note 9 clocking in at 6.4 inches compared to the Note 8’s 6.3 inches. There are new colours available this year too, with the option for Ocean Blue, Frosted Lavender or Midnight Black.

Note 9 vs Note 8

In more exciting news, the S Pen has seen an upgrade. It now has Bluetooth functionality, allowing it to work as a remote control for music or taking photos. The rear camera has also been upgraded, gaining the same dual-aperture lens that appeared on the Samsung W2018 and Galaxy S9 late last year and earlier this year, respectively. Other features remain the same: a rear fingerprint sensor (albeit below the rear cameras this time), IP68 water resistance, USB-C fast charging and a headphone jack. However, new is the ability to plug the Note 9 directly into any USB-C to HDMI adapter to unlock the DeX desktop mode, instead of needing to buy a £100 DeX adapter to get the same functionality.

The bigger changes are all internal. Hopefully the most noticeable will be the battery, which has grown in size from 3,300mAh to 4,000mAh. Mathematically that’s a 21 per cent increase; hopefully we’ll see a corresponding leap in battery life. On-board storage has also grown, with 128GB being the new standard model and 512GB the new upgraded version. With the potential to insert a 512GB MicroSD card, total storage space has the capacity to reach 1TB for the first time on a phone - pretty neat! A yearly upgrade cycle means that a new processor is always expected, and indeed we see a leap from the Exynos 8895 to the Exynos 9810 and a corresponding increase in processor frequencies from 2.3GHz to 2.8GHz. The RAM count remains 6GB on the base model, the same as the Note 8, but the expensive 512GB Note 9 will also get a nice upgrade to 8GB of RAM.

Galaxy Note 9 Galaxy Note 8
Screen 6.4 inches (2960 x 1440) 6.3 inches (2960 x 1440)
Processor Exynos 8895 Octa (2.8GHz) Exynos 9810 Octa (2.3GHz)
Storage 128GB / 512GB + microSD 64GB / 128GB / 256GB + microSD
Rear camera 12MP dual-aperture wide + 12MP tele 12MP wide + 12MP tele
Front camera 8MP 8MP
Software Android 8.1 Android 8.1
Colour Lavender, Blue, Black Gold, Black
Price £899 / £1099 £839

In terms of software, you can expect a pretty similar experience between the two models - the Note 9 receives Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box and the Note 8 can upgrade to 8.0 Oreo in most territories. Of course, Google just released Android 9.0 Pie, so perhaps the Note 9 will be reach that particular milestone first. Both phones will be able to play Fortnite too, with the newly minted Android title to become widely available for Android phones before the Note 9 launches.

Other software upgrades include a new Scene Optimiser camera mode that automatically applies filters and settings adjustments based on what you point the camera at and a Flaw Detection feature that lets you know if a photo came out blurry, your subject blinked or the exposure was set too low or high. Bixby is included in both phones, but we can’t imagine that it will prove much more popular on the Note 9.

So we’ve got a slightly larger Note with a bigger battery, faster internals, more capable S Pen and minor improvements throughout. These small changes could add up to a pretty strong upgrade over the Note 8, even if the overall design and features have remained similar. If you’re convinced, you can pick up the Note 9 SIM-free for a princely £899, with the upgraded 512GB version costing slightly more at £1099.

This year, the giffgaff member Will Patridge had exclusive access to the Note 9 and brought us an exclusive first look at it with all the fine details, so check out the video:

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Written by wsjudd

Will is a gadget fanatic, working from cafes and gadget-infused mega-hovels to turn caffeine into technology articles. Follow him on Twitter @wsjudd and check out his newly redesigned tech review site!