Do we have a good one for you today – the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 takes on the Huawei P20 Pro. The Note 9 is definitely the newer of these two smartphones, but did Samsung do enough to entice users to pick up the Note 9 over the likes of the Huawei P20 Pro? The Galaxy Note 9 is a ‘special interest’ device, meaning that if you are not into the S Pen, you may just stay clear of it and its high price tag of about $1,000. The only problem is that the $1,000 barrier, that was once taboo, is now becoming the new price of flagship devices – the Huawei P20 Pro included. This makes it much easier to pay the $1,000 for the Note 9 whether you use the S Pen or not, - as you do get a number of extra features found only on Galaxy Note devices.
There are a few similarities between the Galaxy Note 9 and the P20 Pro. We can start with the display both being close to the same size, the 18.5:9 – 18.7:9 aspect ratio, the Always-On display, and Gorilla Glass 5 for protection. Different manufacturers, but the same quality processor and GPU, the same 6GB of base RAM and 128GB of base storage – although the Note 9 has an expandable memory option, while the P20 Pro does not. Both devices use a multi-camera setup and a very capable front-facing camera (FFC). The Note 9 and P20 Pro both use a 4,000 mAh capacity non-removable battery and both offer fast charging. Physically, they are very close in size with the Note 9 weighing 21 grams heavier. They both have the usual suspects – LTE, NFC, Bluetooth (v5.0 on the Note 9 and v4.2 on the P20 Pro), a USB Type-C port for charging and data transfer, and Google Pay. In addition, they share a water and dust certification (IP68 in the Note 9 and IP67 in the P20 Pro), stereo speakers, a fingerprint sensor (rear-positioned on the Note 9 and front-positioned on the P20 Pro), and facial recognition.
Please take a careful look at the detailed specifications comparison chart below and 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 9
Galaxy Note 8 buyers were happy to see Samsung take its first step into dual cameras. Those cameras improved on the Galaxy S9 Plus and those enhancements followed to the Galaxy Note 9. The Note 9 is really a combination of the two – it looks almost identical to the Note 8, yet has the technology upgrades found in the Galaxy S9 Plus. The biggest changes are in the new dual aperture feature, stereo speakers, and the new Bluetooth S Pen. Samsung relocated the fingerprint sensor, which was already on the back, below the camera lens making it harder to accidentally smudge the lens. The upgrade to the S Pen allows you to click the pen like a remote control – click to take a picture, click to forward a presentation, etc.
The display increased ever so slightly from the Galaxy Note 8’s 6.3-inches to the Galaxy Note 9’s 6.4-inches. It retains the same near bezel-less Infinity Display, 18.5:9 ratio, the QHD+ resolution with 2960 x 1440 pixels, and 615 pixels-per inch (PPI). Samsung carries the Always-On feature from the Note 8 and Galaxy S9 series, which allows the user to quickly check the time and date or briefly see what notifications have arrived – this also takes a lesser toll on the battery. Gorilla Glass 5 covers the front and back of the Note 9 with a metal frame holding it all together.
The latest and greatest Snapdragon 845 processor and an Adreno 630, like the one used in the Galaxy S9 series, is in the Galaxy Note 9 and clocked at 2.8 GHz. In addition, 6GB of RAM and 128GB of base storage is also included. While those looking for even more can opt for a model boasting 8GB RAM/512GB storage - either option will result in a fast and smooth user experience. Samsung finally increased the battery capacity to a non-removable 4,000 mAh level so owners can expect this phone to last through an entire day. If you find that you need to charge it, you can pick from Samsung’s Adaptive Fast Charger or its quick wireless charger designed for both Qi or PMA formats.
The new Galaxy Note 9 takes its dual camera design from the Galaxy S9 Plus by using the same dual 12-megapixel Super Dual Pixel cameras offering 2x Optical Zoom. The main camera also uses the same dual aperture found on the S9 Plus. The camera uses 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 helps with bokeh, or what Samsung calls, ‘Live Focus’, effects. Samsung includes 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.
In the US, the Note 9 is initially available in Lavender Purple and Ocean Blue, but is also available in Midnight Black and Metallic Copper, depending on market and carrier – this isn’t to say that other colors will not be offered in the US at a later date. 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.
Huawei P20 Pro
Huawei can certainly design and build a beautiful smartphone, and its prices are reflected in its flagship devices. However, for that pricing, the company sometimes throw you a curve, such as including a notch in the display, using only an FHD+ OLED display, and not offering wireless charging even though it has a glass back. While many flagships are switching to dual camera smartphones, Huawei is introducing three camera lenses on the P20 Pro. The P20 Pro uses the latest HiSilicon Kirin processor with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of non-expandable storage. There is no 3.5 mm headphone jack, but Huawei does use their EMUI 8.1 – a light UI that allows the phone to run fast and smooth. Priced at €899 ($1,055), it is a little on the steep side, but then again the Galaxy Note 9 will cost you $1,000.
The Huawei P20 Pro does use a large 6.1-inch display. However, Huawei, like OnePlus, only wants to use an FHD+ resolution of 2240 x 1080 pixels that works out to be 408 PPI. Huawei’s version of an Always-On display translates to the current time and date. Huawei put a notch in the display that does not affect the viewing experience, as long as the apps are designed to take advantage of the unique aspect ratio. Gorilla Glass 5 protects both the front and back of the device.
The Huawei P20 Pro packs its own HiSilicon Kirin 970 quad-core processor, clocked at 2.4 GHz, and is paired up with a powerful Mali-G72 MP12 GPU. The P20 Pro packs a hefty 6GB of RAM, but only 128GB of non-expandable internal storage. Powering the P20 Pro is a large 4,000 mAh battery, easily enough to last the entire day. If you find yourself needing a charge, the P20 Pro does include Quick Charge 3.0, but there is no wireless charging in spite of the glass back.
The Huawei P20 Pro sports three rear-facing cameras that use Leica Optics. The main camera sensor is a large 40-megapixel RGB sensor with an aperture of f/1.8, both laser and PDAF, an LED flash, and 3x optical zoom. The second sensor adds a useful Monochrome 20-megapixel sensor with an f/1.6 aperture for great B&W photos. The third camera is an 8-megapixel camera that uses an RGB sensor, an f/2.4 aperture and a telephoto lens. The FFC is a huge 24-megapixel sensor with an f/2.0 aperture that should produce great selfies and video chats.
When a smartphone costs over $1,000, you expect perfection in about every area. The P20 Pro does not permit Wi-Fi Calling nor does it include the latest Bluetooth version. There is also no 3.5 mm headphone jack, only an IP67 water-resistance level, and no wireless charging. It does include NFC for mobile payments and an IR Blaster. The camera area is one of the best on the market, and it includes the addition of a monochrome camera, zoom features, and Night Mode. The device measures 155 x 73.9 x 7.8 mm and weighs in at 180 grams. It comes in Midnight Black, Twilight Purple, Black, and Pink Gold. Retail pricing ranges from $900 to $1,055, depending on where you purchase from.
...And The Winner Is...
The Final Word
Picking the Galaxy Note 9 as the winner of this comparison was easy – they both cost the same amount, yet you are getting so much more for your money with the Note 9. You get a slightly larger display, the Super AMOLED display, and a QHD+ resolution. You get expandable storage and have the option of a 8GB RAM/512GB model. You are only getting two main cameras, but you have the dual-apertures, and the FFC may be fewer megapixels, but it has its own autofocus. They have the same battery, but only the Note 9 offers quick wireless charging. It offers Samsung Pay, a 3.5 mm headphone jack, DeX, Samsung Connect, Intelligent scan, a heart rate monitor, SpO2 sensor, Bixby, Samsung Knox, S Pen with Bluetooth, and the ability to play Fortnite.
The Huawei P20 Pro is a formidable device – but it only has an FHD+ resolution, no expandable storage, though it does pack a terrific tri-camera setup and a large, 24-megapixel, FFC. It offers no wireless charging even though it has a glass back, lessor version of Bluetooth, no 3.5 mm headphone jack, only facial recognition, and no Wi-Fi calling – although it does support VoLTE.
With pricing on the P20 Pro coming in only slightly lower, you are better off going for the more feature-rich Galaxy Note 9...even if you don't get hooked on the S Pen.