COMMENT:

Samsung's latest flagship arrives in the country today. The Galaxy Note 9 has both impressive battery life and up to 1TB storage capacity, but is it the best phone of 2018? Chris Tarpey spent a week with the Note testing the battery, camera, performance and overhauled S Pen to see if it can beat the iPhone X.

Samsung unveiled its latest line of smart devices in New York this morning.

The water resistant Galaxy Watch and Galaxy Home smart speaker was announced alongside the Galaxy Note 9 smartphone.

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"The Galaxy Note 9 is designed for a level of performance, power and intelligence that today's power users want and need," Samsung chief executive DJ Koh said.

The biggest applause was given to the Note's 4000 mAh battery and expandable memory configurations of up to 1TB potential storage. I'm sure nobody is going to miss those irritating "storage full" messages.

This premium smartphone has the same dual-camera system as Samsung's Galaxy S9+ but the updated software places the Note 9 in competition for best smartphone camera on the market.

I'm often sceptical when smartphone manufacturers boast about new "AI camera features" but the automatic scene recognition is surprisingly useful. An immediate notification appears if you have a dirty lens, the image is blurry or if your subject blinks. The dual aperture lens is particularly impressive in low light conditions.

The Note 9 isn't the thinnest phone smartphone on the market although I'm sure most are happy to make the trade-off for longer battery life and notch-less display. The bright Super AMOLED screen is complemented by stereo speakers, wireless charging, IP68 water resistance, 3.5mm headphone jack (yay) and a USB-C port. Build quality is excellent and the phone sits nicely in your hand.

How is it different from last year's model?

Apart from having both the largest display and battery on a Note device, the CPU is 33 per cent faster with a water carbon cooling system for improved heat dissipation. The fingerprint sensor is now positioned below the camera sensor instead of awkwardly sitting next to it.

The hit game Fortnite is finally coming to Android and will be a 30-day exclusive to the Note 9 and Tab S4.

The most exciting new feature on the Note 9 is the improved S Pen. I hadn't previously found much use for its writing and drawing ability but I could see myself using the new Bluetooth-enabled stylus.

It can now function as a remote control to take photos, change music tracks, pause videos or navigate between Powerpoint slides.

Plugging the phone into a monitor enables it to be used like a PC via the Samsung DeX (Desktop Experience) application, without the need for a docking station.

How much will the Note 9 cost?

It will come as no surprise that the Note 9 has a premium price tag. The 128GB model is priced at NZ$1699 and NZ$1999 for the 512GB model. The phone will be offered in Midnight Black, Metallic Copper and Ocean Blue (512GB Midnight Black only).

When will the Note 9 be released?

The Galaxy Note 9 will be available from today, August 24, on 2degrees, Spark and Vodafone.

Product Specifications

Display

6.4-inch Quad HD+ Super AMOLED, 2960x1440 (516ppi)

Camera
Rear: Dual Camera with Dual OIS (Optical Image Stabilization)
           - Wide-angle: Super Speed Dual Pixel 12MP AF, F1.5/F2.4, OIS
           - Telephoto: 12MP AF, F2.4, OIS
           - 2X optical zoom, up to 10X digital zoom
Front: 8MP AF, F1.7

Battery
4,000mAh - fast charging compatible on wired and wireless

OS
Android 8.1 (Oreo)

Body
161.9 x 76.4 x 8.8mm, 201g, IP68 (BLE S Pen: 5.7 x 4.35 x 106.37mm, 3.1g, IP68)

*IP68 certified water resistance for up to 30 minutes in up to 1.5m of water.

Memory
6GB RAM, 128GB + MicroSD slot (up to 512GB)
8GB RAM, 512GB + MicroSD slot (up to 512GB)

*User memory is less than the total memory due to storage of the operating system and software used to operate the device features.