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September 27, 2018

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 battery review: Huge, but enough?

by John_A

In most metrics, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is an impressive flagship phone. It’s got a great camera, it’s very powerful, and it’s one of the best Android phones on the market. Perhaps most importantly, it’s got one of the best batteries in the Android ecosystem.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 specifications

Before we launch into how well the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 charges, remember this battery is powering one heck of a phone. A high-powered processor, integrated GPU, lots of RAM, and a bright screen all combine for some serious power draw. As far as components go, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 — like the rest of the Note series before it — offers the most comprehensive constellation of parts out there.

Display 6.4-inch Super AMOLED
2,960 x 1,440 resolution (Quad HD+)
516ppi
18.5:9 screen ratio
SoC Global: 10nm, 64-bit, octa-core Samsung Exynos 9810 (2.8 GHz quad + 1.7 GHz quad)

U.S.: 10nm, 64-bit, octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 845

GPU ARM Mali-G72 MP18 (Exynos)
Adreno 630 (Snapdragon)
RAM 6 or 8GB RAM
LPDDR4
Storage 128 or 512GB
microSD expansion up to 512GB
Cameras Rear: Dual camera with dual OIS
Wide-angle: Super Speed Dual Pixel 12MP AF sensor with OIS, f/1.5 and f/2.4 apertures
Telephoto: 12MP AF sensor, f/2.4 aperture, 2x zoom

Front: 8MP AF sensor, f/1.7 aperture

Audio Stereo speakers tuned by AKG, surround sound with Dolby Atmos technology

Audio formats: MP3, M4A, 3GA, AAC, OGG, OGA, WAV, WMA, AMR, AWB, FLAC, MID, MIDI, XMF, MXMF, IMY, RTTTL, RTX, OTA, DSF, DFF, APE

Video MP4, M4V, 3GP, 3G2, WMV, ASF, AVI, FLV, MKV, WEBM
Battery 4,000mAh battery
Non-removable
Fast wired charging compatible with QC 2.0
Fast wireless charging compatible with WPC and PMA
IP rating IP68
Sensors Iris
Pressure
Accelerometer
Barometer
Fingerprint
Gyro
Geomagnetic
Hall
HR
Proximity
RGB Light
Network Enhanced 4X4 MIMO/CA, LAA, LTE Cat. 18
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz)
VHT80 MU-MIMO
1024QAM
Bluetooth v5.0 (LE up to 2 Mbps)
ANT+
USB Type-C
NFC
Location: GPS, Galileo, Glonass, BeiDou
SIM Single nano-SIM
Authentication Lock type: pattern, PIN, password

Biometric lock type: iris scanner, fingerprint scanner, face recognition, Intelligent Scan

Software Android 8.1 with Samsung Experience
Dimensions and weight 161.9 x 76.4 x 8.8mm
201g
Colors lavender purple, ocean blue, midnight black, metallic copper

It’s not surprising the battery inside needs to store a lot of juice. By providing charge to so many power-hungry components, the Galaxy Note 9 needs a lot more to stay competitive. At 4,000mAh, it’s a beast of a power cell. However, it’s not the only phone with that cell. The Huawei P20 Pro and the Razer Phone both have enormous batteries

Battery size (mAh)

Higher is better

Even if it was a design necessity, Samsung packed a lot of power into that chassis. Though a couple competitors match the raw size of the battery, the Note 9 has a little bit of an edge — a little weird, given how packed to the gills it is with hardware.

Battery capacity 4,000mAh 3,300mAh 4,000mAh 3,520 3,500mAh 4,000mAh
Fast Charging Quick charge 2.0, 15W PD charger support Dash Charge Quick Charge 4 10.5W Quick Charge 2.0 Quick charge 3.0
Wireless charging Yes No No No Yes No
Removable battery No No No No No No

So what does all that mean for daily use?

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 battery charging tests

A high capacity battery usually means charging your phone fast enough to be used for a decent amount of time is a challenge. You might be thrown a bit to see that the Note 9 is merely compatible with Quick Charge 2.0 when competing phones are already on Quick Charge 3 or 4. But in actuality, the unit uses Samsung’s proprietary management called Adaptive Charge — which can exceed USB’s power specifications if you use Samsung’s proprietary chargers. Consequently, the Note 9 can suck down juice and store it very quickly. In our tests, the Note 9 outpaced all other phones except the Huawei P20 Pro.

Charging (mAh/min)

Higher is better

That fast charging doesn’t help the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 charge to full faster than other phones, though. It still takes quite a while — though for some reason the Pixel 2 XL struggles more, possibly due to the charge speed.

Recharge times (full)

Lower is better

It’s tough to knock the Note 9 for its charging, especially considering it’s much quicker than you’d expect. That extra waiting time translates into better battery life overall, especially with common tasks.

We were unable to test how fast the wireless charging unit performs, but given the difference in charging rates, use it at work or charging overnight.

Rundown tests

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 has more than enough to handle heavy daily use. Its battery rundown scores are excellent. The phone predictably handled tasks like video watching and Wi-Fi browsing quite well.

Video playback test (minutes)

Higher is better

The gigantic battery handled mixed tasks well too, and users can expect a great deal of screen-on time. If you fly a lot, the Note 9 seems like a logical choice to bring with you — especially if you need your phone to be both your in-flight entertainment and primary conduit to the world once you land.

WiFi browsing test (minutes)

Higher is better

All our battery tests were performed with default settings, and at the same brightness level of 200cm/m2. If you adjust the brightness higher or lower, your results will obviously vary. Additionally, changing the default resolution from the FHD setting to the WQHD+ setting results in a fairly predictable around ~5 percent drop in battery life. While the added capacity of the battery can easily absorb that kind of hit, it defeats the purpose a little bit, right?

We recommend only switching to that mode if you really need to watch a movie with your eyes closer than 16 inches to the screen. Unless you have better than 20/20 vision, you’re unlikely to notice the difference.

Among the Samsung lineup, the smaller S-series phones like the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus won’t keep a charge with high screen-on times as well, but they’re not bad. The Note 9 is just something special.

Conclusions

A photo of Lanh holding the Samsung Galaxy Note 9.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 has a stellar battery, and makes the most of its charge capacity. Because the phone has such a huge battery, it unsurprisingly has a similarly huge advantage in battery life over its closest peers too. Its main weakness — charge time — is head and shoulders above even some of the more popular mid-range phones out there.

There’s really no downside to the Note 9 as far as the battery is concerned.

Next: Samsung Galaxy Note 9 camera review

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