Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 8 full review

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is a powerful but specialist phone with niche features and a stylus. It dwarfs even the big Galaxy S9 Plus and has an even larger screen than before. But how different is it to 2017’s Note 8?

Here we take a look at the quite similar phones to see what Samsung has changed for 2018 and help you decide whether to fork out for the Note 9 or get a now discounted Note 8 and save some cash.

Galaxy Note 9 vs Note 8: Price and availability

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 starts at £899. This gets you 128GB expandable storage and 6GB RAM. An eye-watering £1,099 version comes with 512GB on board.

In the UK, the Note 9 is available to buy now from Samsung, Carphone WarehouseEE, and Vodafone.

The Note 9 is available to order now with Samsung in the US. The official release date is 24 August.

The Note 8 originally retailed for £869/$930 but you can get it for much less now from Amazon UK and Amazon US. These prices are likely to go down even more as the Note 9 goes on sale.

The Note 9

Galaxy Note 9 vs Note 8: Design and build

In our Note 8 review we marvelled at the huge display and slim bezels that the Note 8 had, yet the Note 9 takes it further with even slimmer bezels and a larger screen. This isn’t immediately noticeable though, and the two phones look virtually identical from the front.

Samsung staunchly remains one of the few major Android manufacturers to not have any phones with a notch, and we commend them for it. The front and back glass of both phones is Gorilla Glass 5.

The cosmetic differences are in the S-Pen and cameras. The former sticks to the colour of the phone if you opt for the black or copper models, but a blue Note 9 comes with a bright yellow stylus.

It stands out, and a bit like new iPhone colours each season it’s a way to show the world you have the brand-new Note 9.

The rear cameras now have two distinctly different sized lenses, with the fingerprint sensor moving to below them rather than at the side of the cameras where it awkwardly sat on the Note 8.

Otherwise much is aesthetically the same – the S-Pen is stored in the phone on the bottom right as you hold it next to the down firing speaker grille, USB-C port and (hooray!) a headphone jack.

Galaxy Note 9 vs Note 8: Features and specs

Samsung saved the differences for the internal specs. Most notable here on the Galaxy Note 9 is the 4,000mAh battery, up from the Note 8’s 3,300mAh. One of the major downsides to the Note 8 was its poor battery life, which wasn’t surprisingly given the size of the cell and the huge 6.3in AMOLED display.

The Note 9 will hopefully fare better with a larger battery powering its 6.4in AMOLED. Also inside the newer phone is an upgraded processor. Depending on your region this will be the Exynos 9810 or Snapdragon 845 compared to the Exynos 8895 or Snapdragon 835 of the Note 8.

We found the Note 8 slowed down a touch over a year of use so hopefully the newer silicon is enough to keep the Note 9 zippy.

The Note 9 also comes in two different SKUs – either 6GB RAM and 128GB storage or a mad 8GB RAM and 512GB storage. With microSD expansion up to 512GB this means the top end Note 9 can technically hold 1TB, a first for a major smartphone.

The Note 8 has 6GB whether you get the 64GB, 128GB or 256GB version. The Note 9’s cameras best those of the Note 8 too, so while on the outside the phones look similar there are enough upgrades to keep you happy.

The S-Pen has Bluetooth for the first time with the Note 9. Using Bluetooth Low Energy, you can use it to take group shots if your phone is perched somewhere, flick through slides or play and pause music or video.

Here’s a full comparison of the specs of both phones:

  Galaxy Note 9 Galaxy Note 8
Operating System Android 8.1 Oreo Android 7.1.2 Nougat (upgradeable to Oreo)
Display 6.4in Quad HD+ (2960x1440) 18.5:9 SuperAMOLED Infinity Display 6.3in Quad HD+ (2960x1440) 18.5:9 SuperAMOLED Infinity Display 
Processor Exynos 9810 or Snapdragon 845 Exynos 8895 or Snapdragon 835
Memory 6GB or 8GB 6GB
Storage 128GB or 512GB 64GB (expandable up to 256GB via microSD)
Primary Camera 12Mp + 12Mp dual-camera, dual-OIS, ISOCELL Plus Dual 12Mp rear-facing cameras with OIS
Front Camera 8Mp 8Mp
Video Recording 4K @ 60fps, Super slo-mo 720p @ 960fps, HDR UHD 4K (3840 x 2160)@30fps
WiFi 11ac dual-band 11ac dual-band
GPS Yes Yes
Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX 5.0 with aptX
NFC Yes Yes
Fingerprint scanner Yes Yes
Wireless charging Yes (fast-charging)  Yes (Fast-charging)
Colours Ocean Blue, Lavender Purple, Metallic Copper, Midnight Black Midnight Black, Maple Gold
Ports USB-C, 3.5mm Headphone jack USB-C, 3.5mm Headphone jack, S-Pen housing
Waterproof IP68 IP68
Dimensions 162 x 76.4 x 9mm 75x163x8.6mm
Weight 205g 195g
Battery 4000mAh 3300mAh

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Samsung Galaxy Note 8: Specs

  • Android 7.1 Nougat
  • 6.3in Quad HD display (2960x1440), 521ppi
  • Dual curved edge Infinity Display
  • Exynos 8895 octa-core processor (Snapdragon 835 in some markets)
  • 6GB RAM
  • 64GB internal storage
  • Micro-SD card slot (up to 256GB)
  • Dual 12Mp rear-facing cameras with OIS
  • 8Mp front camera
  • Pressure sensitive home button
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • Iris scanner
  • Heart rate monitor
  • 11ac dual-band Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • GPS
  • NFC
  • 4G LTE Cat 16
  • Headphone jack
  • USB-C
  • 3300mAh non-removable battery
  • Wireless charging
  • IP68 dust & waterproof rating
  • 75x163x8.6mm
  • 195g

Samsung Galaxy Note 9: Specs

  • Android Oreo 8.1
  • 6.4in 2960x1440 Super AMOLED, 516ppi
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 or Samsung Exynos 9810
  • Adreno 630 or Mali-G72 MP18
  • 128GB/512GB storage
  • 6/8GB RAM
  • 12Mp dual cameras, f/1.5-2.4 and OIS, f/2.4
  • 8Mp f/1.7 front facing camera
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • 4G LTE
  • Dual nano SIM option
  • GPS
  • NFC
  • 4000mAh battery
  • IP68 waterproof
  • 161.2 x 76.4 x 9 mm
  • 205g