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Samsung Note 9 vs Samsung Galaxy S9: Comparing Samsung’s flagships

With Samsung's Galaxy Note 9 hitting the market soon, which of Samsung's big-ticket devices should you buy?

The Samsung Galaxy S9 is one of the best Android smartphones on the market today. In fact, its only real rival so far has been its own big brother, the Galaxy S9 Plus. Now, however, there’s another challenger for the Android crown – and once again it’s from within the Samsung stable.

The outsized Galaxy Note 9 looks quite distinct from the Galaxy S9, but both phones run Android 8.1, and offer many of the same features, including Samsung’s Bixby voice assistant. Once the Note 9 hits the shops later this month, you might find yourself torn between the two.

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Fear not: we’ve done the legwork so you don’t have to, pitting the devices head to head to help you make an informed decision. Here’s our in-depth comparison of the Galaxy S9 and Note 9, along with all the key information about their prices and availability.

Samsung Note 9 vs Galaxy S9: Price and release date

The Galaxy S9 has been available to buy since March, while the Note 9 – unveiled at Samsung’s annual “Unpacked” conference in New York on 9 August – isn’t yet on sale. You can preorder it now, however, ahead of the 24 August release date.

As for pricing, the Galaxy S9 will officially set you back £739 for the 64GB version, from retailers including O2 and Three. However, you can find a SIM-free handset on Amazon for as little as £526.

The Note 9 is a bit pricier. For the 128GB version – which is the cheapest option – you’re looking at £899, while the 512GB model costs a whopping £1,099. To offset the cost, you can trade in your old phone for a discount of up to £300 for the Galaxy S9, or up to £400 for the Note 9.

Samsung Note 9 vs Galaxy S9: Design

The Galaxy S9 looks a lot like last year’s Galaxy S8, but it brings a few design tweaks, including shaved bezels and an even larger screen-to-body ratio. It’s one of the most eye-catching and stylish phones around.

As with the S8, the display is an 18:9 panel measuring 5.8in across the diagonal, with a Quad HD+ (2,960 x 1,440) resolution – representing an ultra-sharp pixel density of 570ppi. It uses Samsung’s Super AMOLED technology, so it looks great too.

The Galaxy Note 9 also looks similar to its predecessor, although again it has slimmer bezels and screen edges than the Note 8. Here, the edge-to-edge Super AMOLED panel measures 6.4in, but it has the same resolution as the Galaxy S9. That means a slightly lower pixel density of 516ppi, but the difference won’t be visible to the naked eye.

One obvious difference between the Galaxy S9 and the Note 9 is size. The S9 measures 148 x 69mm, with a thickness of 8.5mm and a weight of 163g; the Note 9 measures a rather larger 162 x 76 x 9mm, and weighs a more substantial 201g. That larger chassis does however accommodate a handy slot for the included S Pen stylus, which you can use to handwrite notes and draw on the screen – something the Galaxy S9 lacks.

Both devices are available in three colour schemes, but the selections are subtly different. The S9 can be had in midnight black, lilac purple and coral blue, while the Note 9 is offered in midnight black, lavender purple and ocean blue – with the latter version including a striking yellow stylus.

Samsung Note 9 vs Galaxy S9: Specifications

The Galaxy S9 and Note 9 have basically the same internals: US models get a Snapdragon 845, while over here we get Samsung’s superfast eight-core Exynos 9810 processor, clocked at 2.9GHz.

Storage options, however, are quite different. The Galaxy S9 comes in 64GB, 128GB and 256GB versions, while the Note 9 starts at 128GB and goes up to a whopping 512GB. Still, if you need more space on the Galaxy S9, you can always add a microSD card – capacities up to 512GB are supported.

The cameras are different too. The Galaxy S9 has a similar setup to the S8, with a single 12-megapixel camera at the rear and an 8-megapixel front-facing camera. The key upgrade over its predecessor is the much wider f/1.5 aperture on the rear.

The Note 9, meanwhile, features a dual-lens rear camera like the Note 8. One lens is the same as the S9’s, with an aperture that automatically switches between f/1.5 and f/2.4 according to lighting conditions. The other is a f/2.4 telephoto lens with optical zoom. A neat new touch with the Note 9 is that you can use the S Pen as a remote shutter, so you can trigger the camera from afar. At the front, meanwhile, you get the same 8-megapixel camera as found on the Galaxy S9.

A final difference is battery size: the Galaxy S9 has a 3,000mAh battery, while the Note 9 gets a 4,000mAh unit. You can thus expect the Note 9 to last longer on a charge, although the larger screen will eat up some of that extra power.

Finally, both phones come with Gorilla Glass 5 front and back, a 3.5mm audio jack, an iris scanner and rear-mounted fingerprint scanner.

Samsung Note 9 vs Galaxy S9: Verdict

The main appeal of the Galaxy Note has always been its huge screen and S Pen stylus, but the latest iteration scores over the Galaxy S9 in a few other ways too – namely a larger battery, a more versatile rear camera and more generous storage space options.

All that comes at a price, however. At launch, the cheapest Note 9 model will set you back £363 more than a Galaxy S9 (assuming you shop around for the latter).

Remember too that the big screen makes the Note 9 more unwieldy: it’s larger than the Galaxy S9 by 14 x 8mm, and 38g heavier. It won’t exactly weigh you down, but if you like your phone to be light and pocketable, those aren’t plus points.

For those reasons, the Galaxy S9 is likely to be a better bet for most people’s everyday smartphone needs: you get stunning design, and performance that’s as good as the Note 9, in a more compact and much cheaper package.

If you’re looking for the biggest, most luxuriously appointed handset on the market, however, the Note 9 is the one to go for – and it has enough advantages to sweeten, if not entirely justify, the extra cost.

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