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Part Two of a review of the Samsung Note 9 by Franka Philip

If I charged everyone who slipped into my DMs to ask for a Fortnite skin whenever I posted about the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, I’d have a tidy sum by now.

What is a Fortnite skin? Fortnite is a hugely popular video game that has taken gamers by storm, according to Wikipedia “Fortnite Battle Royale became a resounding success, drawing in more than 125 million players in less than a year, and earning hundreds of millions of dollars per month, and since has been a cultural phenomenon”. The skins are the avatars you can play as and there are costumes, with some of the costume going for hundreds of dollars.

What does this have to do with the Note 9? Well, when Samsung launched the Note 9 it Samsung revealed that anyone who played the Fortnite Android beta on the phone would receive an exclusive in-game skin, hence the gamers on my timeline messaging me with appeals for this “skin”. That’s to show that Samsung is making a bold statement about the Note 9 as a phone for gaming, especially with the water-cooled Snapdragon 845 processor and gorgeous 6.4-inch, 2960 x 4000 display.

The new S Pen

In the first part of this review, I noted that everyone who has stuck with the Note range of phones over the years has done so because of the stylus, the S Pen. This version of the S Pen is quite fancy and functional. I think tech site Engadget summed it up best, “the stylus serves as a remote trigger for the Note’s camera, letting you launch the app, switch lenses and snap pictures from a distance. However, the new S Pen is not only a camera remote control but also a presentation clicker, a track skipper, a pointer and, at its heart, a very good stylus.”

 

The S Pen can control the note 9 camera remotely
The S Pen on the Samsung Note 9 can be used to control the camera remotely or can be used as a clicker for presentations.

I truly enjoyed being able to take photos without the awkwardness of tapping the button while trying to keep the phone steady or at a strange angle. I use the S Pen mainly for taking notes and scribbling ideas and it is really cool that even with the screen off, you can take notes. Once you put the pen back in, the note you’ve written automatically gets saved. The potential to use the S Pen as a “clicker” for presentations is also quite exciting.

So using the S Pen to control the camera is a great thing, and of course, the camera itself is amazing. I have a Nikon DSLR from 2006 and when I compare the specs, I realise that my camera has been made redundant in so many ways. The Note 9 has a 12-megapixel camera with a variable aperture (f/1.5 + f/2.4) same as the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus. Next to it is a second 12-megapixel camera, this time with a longer focal length for 2x zooming.

The Camera

I took several photos and made a couple of videos at the Kaiso Blues Jazz Club where the lighting isn’t great, and I was impressed with the quality of the photos, they didn’t get grainy as I zoomed in more. I also played with some of the new functions like scene optimizer which uses artificial intelligence to help the camera determine what kind of scene it’s looking at. The food mode caught my eye and I tried it out but I couldn’t actually tell how much difference it made.

For making videos, there’s a super slow motion mode that I was really excited about using and I certainly got a photography lesson after my video didn’t come out as I anticipated. In trying to capture a friend’s whisking of crepe mixture in slo-mo, I realised I also got a ghostly flicker on the video. Two photographer friends said the camera picked up the flicker of the flourescent bulbs and advised that it’s better to use the Super Slo-Mo in manual mode. Tip noted.

And after all the podcast listening, video taking, voice recording – what about the battery life? It is surprisingly good. The Note 9 battery went from full charge to 20 per cent after about 20 hours use – excellent by today’s standards.

The Verdict

The Note 9 is a great phone. If you’re a Note devotee, this phone will impress you. The speed, storage and great features, especially like the enhanced S Pen, make the phone a joy to use. The big sticking point would be the price. At US$1,000, this purchase would have to be considered an investment. But what an investment it would be.

This review was originally published as a part of a four-part series on Facebook. You can read the first part here.

 

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