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September 28, 2018

Common Galaxy Note 9 problems and how to fix them

by John_A

The stunning Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is the jewel in Samsung’s mobile crown. It’s exceptionally powerful, comes with an amazing camera, and has even improved the Note’s signature feature — the S Pen. But it’s not perfect, and every device has its share of problems and issues.

If you do run into a problem, don’t cry or throw your phone in the bin — we’ve dug around to find some of the most common Galaxy Note 9 problems and issues, and the fixes that’ll keep your device running smoothly.

Issue: Navigation keys unresponsive

A number of users are reporting that the software-based navigation keys at the bottom of the Note 9’s screen are freezing and becoming unresponsive. Users have reported that the issue is intermittent, but when it occurs it can take up to 10 to 20 taps to push through a command — and often the issue doesn’t go away until the phone is restarted.

It seems that the issue is restricted only to devices using Samsung’s default Samsung Experience launcher — one user using Nova Launcher said he only had the issue while on his Note 9’s home page.

The root of the problem is apparently a recent update to Samsung Pay — which explains why the issue hasn’t been around since the Note 9’s launch.


  • It seems that a restart of the phone will clear the issues, at least for a time.
  • One user reported that changing his Note 9’s theme through the Samsung Themes app solved his issues. This is highly anecdotal, but it’s worth a shot if you’re getting the issue consistently.


  • Since the problem is linked to Samsung Pay, setting up Samsung Pay is apparently enough to solve the issue. It seems that some form of invisible pop-up from Samsung Pay is blocking the keys, and that box goes away once Samsung Pay is set up. It’s a weird solution — but apparently it works.
  • Samsung is also working on an update that solves the issue. If you don’t want to set up Samsung Pay, then waiting for that update is your only way to solve the problem.

Problem: Camera lags or freezes for a few seconds

Users on the official Samsung forums and XDA Developers have been complaining of lagging and freezing while using the Note 9’s camera. This issue seems to happen both when taking images and recording video, and clearing the cache, changing the MicroSD card, and restarting the phone have had no impact. The “Camera failed” warning also seems to be linked to this issue.

Samsung is aware of this problem, and a moderator on the official Samsung forums has stated that Samsung is working to find out the root of the problem.


  • Unfortunately there’s no fix for this yet, and if the problem is really getting your goat, then your only recourse is to reach out to Samsung a request a new phone.

Problem: Volume lowers during media playback

Some users are noticing that video volumes are lowering several minutes into media playback. The problem is occurring on YouTube and other video apps, including Samsung’s own video app, and it seems to happen exclusively several minutes into playback. The issue persists into safe mode — which indicates the problem isn’t caused by a third-party app.

One user has relayed information from a Samsung technician that indicated a software update could fix the problem — but this is at odds with other advice from one of Samsung’s official moderators who recommended a replacement unit.


  • It’s currently unknown whether this issue is software or hardware-based, and Samsung seems none the wiser as to what’s causing the issue. Contacting Samsung and getting a replacement unit may be your only solution at this stage.

Problem: Top speaker is inconsistent during calls

The Note 9 uses a lower speaker and the earpiece at the top of the phone to deliver stereo sound. Unfortunately, it seems that the earpiece at the top of the phone is working inconsistently for some users during speakerphone mode in calls. According to some posts, the top speaker will work sometimes when the phone is moved, but will cut out at other times.

This is a particularly interesting problem because, as some users have pointed out, the top speaker is only meant to work for music and videos and shouldn’t kick in for speakerphone at all. It seems the sensor at the top of the phone is cutting out the earpiece speaker when blocked, causing the intermittent service.

Potential solution:

  • It’s probably worth running through Samsung’s troubleshooting guide for speakers. It may or may not work, but it’s worth a shot.


  • There’s no official solution to fix this yet, so unfortunately your only real solution seems to be to get your phone replaced.

Issue: Quiet notifications

Many have expressed concerns that the Note 9’s ringtone and notification volumes are quieter than other comparable phones, and especially when compared to last year’s Galaxy Note 8. It seems that while the earpiece kicks in for music and video, only the bottom speaker is used for notifications and ringtones.


  • Unfortunately there’s not much that can be done to fix this on a hardware level — it’s simply how loud the speaker is. However, some users have suggested using an app to boost the volume. Volume Booster GOODEV is recommended.

Problem: S Pen not registering on certain parts of the screen

The S Pen is a wonderful addition to the Note 9, with some great new features being added to the latest version of Samsung’s huge phone. But it’s just another piece of the phone that can go wrong, and some users are having issues with the S Pen not working on certain parts of their Note 9’s screen.

Possible solutions:

  • Are you using a protective case with a magnet? Many wallet cases use magnets to hold the cover closed, and those magnets can interfere with the S Pen and the Note 9. Try taking off the case and trying again.
  • If that doesn’t work, you may have a defective screen or S Pen. Contact Samsung about a replacement.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 9: Everything you need to know
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs. Huawei P20 Pro: Two high-end phones clash
  • Here’s everything announced at Samsung Galaxy Unpacked
  • From snapping photos to scribbling, here’s what the S Pen can do on the Note 9
  • The best Samsung Galaxy Note 9 screen protectors

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