Do we have a good one for you today – the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is compared to the new Galaxy Note 9. We need to know if Samsung went far enough with its new flagship to encourage Note 8 owners to upgrade to the newer model, or if owners of other smartphones should upgrade as well. Samsung is probably counting on a few Note 8 owners jumping on the new Note 9 – but those few will be owners who simply must have the newest device. A number of Note 9 buyers will likely be those moving up from the ‘S’ series, although Samsung will be hoping owners of other branded smartphones will decide to pick up the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 as well. The Note 8 and Note 9 look very much alike from the front, and almost as alike from the back – the main difference being the placement of the fingerprint sensor, which is to the right of the camera and flash on the Note 8, but under the camera and flash on the Note 9.
The Galaxy Note 8 and Note 9 have many things in common – and that should not come as a surprise since they are both made by Samsung. The display only increased a 1/10 of an inch while all other specs on the display remained the same. They both use a Snapdragon processor and an Adreno GPU, only a year apart in design. Both use a base of 6GB of RAM and both have expandable storage. Both devices use dual 12-megapixel cameras, however, the Note 9 has some definite improvements, while both use the same 8-megapixel front-facing camera (FFC). The devices use different capacity non-removable batteries, provide Samsung’s Adaptive Fast Charging and quick wireless charging for both the Qi and PMA formats. They both have the usual items – NFC (Google Pay), Bluetooth v5.0, Wi-Fi, and a 3.1 USB Type-C port for charging and data transfer. They also have the usual Samsung features – Samsung Pay, Hi-Res Audio, IP68 certification, 3.5 mm headphone jack, DeX, Bixby, Samsung Connect, facial recognition, an iris scanner, heart rate monitor, Sp02 sensor, and an S Pen. Both are running Android 8.0 (Oreo) - the Note 8 was updated to 8.0 and the Note 9 is out of the box 8.1. Physically, they are very close in size with the Galaxy Note 9 weighing in only slightly heavier – 195 grams versus 201 grams.
Please take a careful look at the detailed specifications comparison chart below and here you will see just how these two high-end smartphones stack up against each other. After that, we will look at each mobile offering in more detail and point out some of its pros and cons. From all of this information, we will try to determine the winner based on overall specs, as well as the execution of design and functions.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8
After the Note 7 debacle in 2016, it was good to see the line return in 2017 with the Galaxy Note 8. This version included an 'Infinity Display' and eliminated the Home button in favor of on-screen buttons. The bottom bezel is void of any functions, making it extremely small, while the narrow top bezel handles the earpiece/speaker, indicator light, proximity sensor, iris scanner, and the front-facing camera (FFC) - also facilitating facial recognition. The fingerprint sensor was moved to the far right of the LED Flash to make it harder to smudge the camera lens. Samsung made some improvements to the S Pen and its software to make it more productive, yet easier to use.
Those that purchased the Note 5 (the last Note device still on the market) will notice many improvements with the Note 8. The display size jumped from 5.7-inches to 6.3-inches. The Infinity Display was included along with the 18.5:9 aspect ratio and the QHD+ display. This new display pushes out 2960 x 1440 pixels which translates to 521 pixels-per-inch (PPI). On the Note 8, you will find the same Always-On technology, while Gorilla Glass 5 protects the front and the back of the phone - just like the Note 9.
The Galaxy Note 8 uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 octa-core processor in select markets – the best that was available at the time and the predecessor to the SD845/Adreno 630. It is clocked at 2.35 GHz and uses an Adreno 540 GPU. The Galaxy Note 8 packs 6GB of DDR4 RAM that offers a smooth experience and fast multitasking. It has 64GB of expandable storage via a microSD card. To power all of this, Samsung included a non-removable 3,300 mAh capacity battery that should make it through the entire day. Heavy users that need to charge the Note 8 during the day can do so with its Adaptive Fast Charger, or its Quick Wireless Charging, designed for both Qi and PMA formats.
The Galaxy Note 8 received the dual camera setup before the Galaxy S9 Plus and the Note 9. It uses two 12-megapixel cameras with the main camera offering 2x Optical Zoom, a large f/1.7 aperture for low-light shots, PDAF, an LED flash, Auto HDR, and OIS. The secondary camera has a smaller f/2.4 aperture and can help with bokeh effects or ‘Live Focus’. Samsung uses a nicely-sized 8-megapixel FFC along with a large f/1.7 aperture, auto-HDR, and even includes its own autofocus.
The Galaxy Note 8 also has the usual Samsung Note goodies – Samsung Pay, Bixby personal assistant, Samsung Connect, Samsung DeX, a side panel (right or left – you pick) for quick access to your most 10 used contacts or apps. It has an IP68 certification, a heart rate monitor, and an SpO2 sensor. In addition to the S Pen and its associated software that makes it even easier to access the Note 8’s capabilities. With drawing apps you can create a real work of art, or just take a simple note and make a shopping list.
The Note 8 is available in Midnight Black, Orchid Gray, Arctic Silver, Coral Blue, Maple Gold, and Rose Pink depending on market and carrier. It comes with Android 7.0 (Nougat) out-of-the-box, but has since upgraded to Android 8.0 (Oreo) and Samsung Experience 9.0 (UI). The device measures 159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1 mm, weighs in at 173 grams, and will cost you a sweet $750 since the arrival of the Note 9.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9
Galaxy Note 8 owners already enjoy the benefits of a dual camera setup, but to further those features the Galaxy Note 9 incorporates Galaxy S9 Plus upgrades – in fact, the Note 9 is a combination of the looks of the Note 8 and the technology of the Galaxy S9 Plus. That means it includes the Infinity Display’s narrow top and bottom bezels. The narrow top bezel handles the earpiece/speaker, notification light, proximity sensor, iris scanner, and the FFC. This time around the fingerprint sensor was moved directly below the camera (a la S9 Plus) to make it harder to smudge the camera lens. Samsung included yearly improvements to the display (from the Note 8 to the Note 9) and the new Bluetooth S Pen that can be used as a 'clicker' to advance through photos - similar to a remote control. The S Pen software also saw an upgrade to make it easier to use, while adding more productivity.
The display size jumped from 6.3-inches on the Note 8, to 6.4-inches on the Note 9 – hardly a huge increase, but detectable all the same. Beside keeping Samsung’s Infinity Display and the 18.5:9 aspect ratio, it also keeps the QHD+ resolution with 2960 x 1440 pixels giving us a 516 PPI. The Note 9 also shares the Always-On technology, designed to save battery life and to make it easier on the user to decide if they really want to turn-on their device to read notifications in full. Gorilla Glass 5 protects the front and the back of the Note 9 connected by a metal frame.
The Galaxy Note 9 uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 octa-core processor in select markets. It is clocked at 2.8 GHz and uses an Adreno 630 GPU. The Galaxy Note 9, like its predecessor, packs 6GB of DDR4 RAM that contributes to a smooth user experience and fast multitasking. It has an increased base of 128GB of storage expandable via a microSD card, although an 8GB/512GB model is also available. The greatest capacity battery Samsung has ever used in a Note device, a non-removable 4,000 mAh battery is included in the Note 9 and should be sufficient to get through an entire day. When you do need to charge the Note 9 you can with its Adaptive Fast Charger plugged in, or its Quick Wireless Charging, designed for both Qi and PMA formats
Many critics speculated that the Galaxy S8 would have dual cameras, but Samsung saved that distinction for the Galaxy Note 8, followed by the Galaxy S9 Plus, and now the new Galaxy Note 9. It uses the same two 12-megapixel Super Dual Pixel cameras as the Galaxy S9 Plus with the main camera offering 2x Optical Zoom. The main camera also uses the same adaptive aperture found on the S9 Plus. The camera will use a large f/1.5 aperture for low-light shots and adjust itself automatically to a smaller f/2.4 for bright shots. It uses OIS, PDAF, an LED flash, and Auto HDR. The secondary camera uses the smaller f/2.4 aperture and can help with bokeh, or 'Live Focus', effects. Samsung included an excellent FFC with 8-megapixels, along with a large f/1.7 aperture, auto-HDR, and even includes its own autofocus. It should produce some excellent selfies and video chats.
The Note 9 is initially available in Lavender Purple and Ocean Blue, but is also expected to become available in Midnight Black and Metallic Copper, depending on market and carrier. It comes with Android 8.1 (Oreo) out-of-the-box and the newest Samsung Experience 9.5 (UI). The device measures 161.9 x 76.4 x 8.8 mm and weighs in at 201 grams and will cost you a sweet $1,000 for the 6GB/128GB model.
...And The Winner Is...
The Final Word
I have to pick the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 as the winner of this comparison. There is just not enough of an upgrade to recommend purchasing a Galaxy Note 9 – especially when you consider the price difference which is close to $250 right now. Not to mention that gap will likely widen further once the Galaxy Note 9 hits the streets. The Galaxy Note 8 is still a Note 9 look-a-like, beautiful in every regard, and holds up well after a year on the market. Yes, it has the Snapdragon 835, but still packs 6GB of RAM with storage, resulting in a fast and smooth user experience.
It is true the Galaxy Note 9 has a slightly larger display, the SD845 processor, an S Pen with Bluetooth, improved camera experience, and the addition of stereo speakers, but is that really worth the extra money? If you need to have the latest and greatest device and money is no object, then, by all means, purchase the fabulous Note 9. If you own a Note 8 already, you are probably best off sticking with it until the Note 10 arrives.