The Galaxy Note 9 is the best big phone you can buy
We use our phones every day, and use them hard. When it comes to getting the most done with your phone, you want a huge screen, and Android has plenty of options that fit the bill. Some are better than others, though, so we narrow down the choices to only the best.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is the biggest and best phone Samsung makes, and that also makes it the best overall big-screened phone. Its 6.4-inch display is the best in the business, and it wraps around a beautiful metal and glass exterior. You can take advantage of the huge screen with top-end specs and the S Pen stylus that’s truly unique in the smartphone world. It’s expensive, but it’s available both unlocked and from just about any carrier or retailer in the world.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9
- $930 from Amazon
- $999 from Samsung
A massive screen with every spec and feature needed to back it up.
The Note 9 is the do-it-all smartphone, with every feature and spec you could want. And you get to use those features with an amazing best-in-class 6.4-inch display and top-end internals to back it up. It’s hard not to like the design as well..
Who should buy this phone
When you’re looking for the biggest and best phone, look no further than the Galaxy Note 9. It has a big screen, and better yet it’s also a great screen with excellent colors and brightness even in direct sunlight. It also has the highest-end specs possible, with an optional 512GB of internal storage if you need it. Then you get all of the nice-to-have features like wireless charging, a headphone jack, waterproofing, an SD card slot and more. It’s a “more of everything” approach that works well in the big-screened phone market, and makes the Note 9 a fantastic buy.
Is it a good time to buy this phone?
The Galaxy Note 9 is new, and will be the best phone available from Samsung until the Galaxy S10 is announced in February or March 2019. You can buy the Galaxy Note 9 and be confident that you’re getting the best big-screened phone available for the next several months.
Reasons to buy
- Massive screen is the highest quality in the industry
- Top-end specs across the board
- Has S Pen for writing and drawing
- Great pair of cameras
- Headphone jack and wireless charging
Reasons not to buy
- More expensive than the competition
- Glass is more fragile than metal options
- Samsung’s software, including Bixby, is a bit overbearing
The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is the best phone with a big screen
When Samsung made the Galaxy S9+, we were impressed. Six months later, we got the Galaxy Note 9 that turned all of the knobs to 11. It’s been a few years since the Note was considerably better, and in no ways worse, than the latest Galaxy S, but we’re glad that’s the case again. You start with the core fundamentals of the Galaxy S9+ in the processor, RAM and hardware features, and that’s a great place to build from — you get all of the latest and greatest specs and hardware features like waterproofing, wireless charging, a headphone jack, stereo speakers and an SD card slot.
But then the Note 9 goes further. You get a base of 128GB of storage, optionally spec’d up to 512GB. You get an even larger display, now 6.4 inches, that’s the brightest and most colorful you’ll find in a phone today. Then Samsung bumped the battery up to 4000mAh, giving you effortless full-day battery life and lasting longer than most phones out there.
The Note 9 does it all, and gives you a huge screen to experience it.
And of course, you get the S Pen stylus. With extreme accuracy and precision you can write or draw all day — and now it works wirelessly to control the phone within Bluetooth range, to trigger the camera or move through a slideshow presentation. It just shows that the Note 9 is designed to do everything you need, which you’re looking for if you want such a large screen.
Samsung’s software isn’t the best in the business, but it’s amazingly customizable and if you’re willing to work with it it can be an amazing tool to complement such wonderful hardware. The original Galaxy Note really defined the “phablet” segment all those years ago, and now the Note 9 is a modern take that’s still the best available.
Alternatives to the Samsung Galaxy Note 9
The Galaxy Note 9 is the absolute pinnacle of modern-day phablets, but it isn’t the only big-screened phone out there. There are solid alternatives that also have large screens but won’t break the bank at nearly $1000. The Galaxy S9+ is a really good alternative for a couple hundred dollars less that simply doesn’t have an S Pen, and the OnePlus 6T is a great choice for a couple hundred dollars less still. Huawei also deserves a shout with the new Mate 20 Pro Pro.
Google Pixel 3 XL
- $899 from Google Store
A big screen with simpler software to use
The Pixel 3 XL focuses on having the fastest, simplest, and most helpful software experience, running on simple and powerful hardware with a big display. It accents everything with an amazing camera and a handful of features that make it stand out from the competition.
Google’s “XL” phones have followed the big phone trend, but the Pixel 3 XL is the first one to actually have a good screen as well. The 6.3-inch OLED panel doesn’t get quite as bright as Samsung’s, but in every other respect is fantastic. The big phone also packs all of the great features you expect in this class of device: loud stereo speakers, water resistance, a full spec sheet and wireless charging.
The only knock on the Pixel 3 XL from the perspective of someone who wants a huge screen is that it doesn’t have any extra software to take advantage of it like the Note 9 does. Android 9 Pie has multi-window support, but it’s clunky and doesn’t feel as versatile or powerful as Samsung’s. You just get a little bit more of everything.
$549 from OnePlus
Most of the flagship experience for a fraction of the price
OnePlus just keeps doing it: a flagship-level phone with amazing hardware, specs and capabilities for hundreds of dollars less. You get a big screen, top-notch internals, excellent battery life, and actually capable cameras for under $600.
For just $549, you’re getting a lot of phone in the OnePlus 6T: physically, and in terms of specs and features. Solid hardware and a full spec sheet rival the competition, and the 6.41-inch AMOLED screen is solid. The cameras are a step down from the competition, but they’re consistent and capable. And its OxygenOS software is a joy to use.
The OnePlus 6T isn’t perfect, and has many shortcomings when compared head-to-head with the other phones here. But with a price tag that’s about $350 less than the Note 9, it’s hard to complain too much. Given its price, it’s shocking how close the OnePlus 6T gets to the competition, and there’s a good chance you’ll be willing to forego a few nice-to-have extras to save so much money.
$750 from Amazon
Matching the flagship competition, but doing it in a fun and appealing way
There isn’t much beyond the triple camera that distinguishes the V40 from the competition. But it matches other phones in every respect, and offers an alternative option for a big phone that isn’t as heavy and cumbersome to hold.
LG’s fighting an uphill battle against Samsung’s dominance, but in the V40 has a legitimate challenger to the Note 9 — and it does so by using some restraint. The V40 is huge, and its screen and spec sheet match the Note 9 straight up. But the V40 is far lighter and easier to handle than its competitors, which is something you can appreciate when you pick it up.
The V40 hits all of the high points of a modern flagship, from the spec sheet to the extra features and all the way down the list. LG’s software has really improved in the last couple generations, and in many ways it’s simpler and easier to use than Samsung’s. LG’s triple camera, with a wide-angle shooter, is a blast to play with as well. This is a great option if you can find it on sale — which is inevitable with LG’s phones.
Huawei Mate 20 Pro
£880 from Amazon UK
Huge and feature-filled … unless you’re in the U.S.
Huawei aims straight for the highest end of the market with the Mate 20 Pro, going all-out in size, specs and capabilities. This 6.39-inch monster has a complete spec sheet, plus a downright massive battery, great triple camera setup and gorgeous color options.
Huawei is doing its best Samsung impression, going after the Note 9 in every way (except the stylus). The Mate 20 Pro is filled with plenty of features, every spec, a battery even larger than the Note 9’s, and one of the best camera setups available. But like Samsung’s latest phones, it comes with a software experience that’s a bit grating, if not entirely frustrating, to people who haven’t used a Huawei phone before.
But the real issue is that you can’t get the Mate 20 Pro in the U.S. unless you buy one from an importer or reseller. It’s a real shame, because the Mate 20 Pro is a compelling do-it-all option for people who want to break the mold of just defaulting to the Galaxy Note 9 when they look for a big phone.
For big-screen lovers, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 offers everything you want (and more). It’s undeniably powerful no matter what you need to accomplish, and its industry-leading display combines with the S Pen to give you a power-user experience unlike any other.
From top to bottom the spec sheet has everything you need, and more. It actually offers a headphone jack, which isn’t necessarily a given even on these big phones. The cameras are really good as well. You’ll have to pay dearly to get this whole package, nearly $1000, but when money isn’t the ultimate deciding factor the Note 9 is absolutely worth it.
There are other options out there for less money that offer a big screen and various other desirable aspects, from the Pixel 3 XL down to the OnePlus 6T. They’re all worth considering, depending on where your feelings land on Samsung’s software and the price tag.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Andrew Martonik is the Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central. He has been a mobile enthusiast since the Windows Mobile days, and covering all things Android-related with a unique perspective at AC since 2012. For suggestions and updates, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @andrewmartonik.
Daniel Bader is the Managing Editor of Android Central. As he’s writing this, a mountain of old Android phones is about to fall on his head, but his Great Dane will protect him. He drinks way too much coffee and sleeps too little. He wonders if there’s a correlation.