Samsung made two killer phones in 2018, but here's why you should buy the Galaxy Note 9 instead of the Galaxy S9

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider
  • If you want a top-of-the-line Android smartphone that was made in 2018, Samsung has a few nice options for you.
  • The Galaxy S9, the Galaxy S9 Plus, and the new Galaxy Note 9 – Samsung’s premium flagship phones for the year – are all excellent devices.
  • If you’re on the fence, though, there are some subtle differences that make the Galaxy Note 9 stand out from the rest.

The Galaxy Note 9 features a larger display than the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus.

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A smartphone’s display is arguably its most important feature – it’s your main interface for both viewing and touching your content.

Having more screen real estate is generally useful. Videos and apps look bigger and better, and you have more space to type and work, among other things.

The Galaxy Note 9 features a 6.4-inch quad-HD Super Amoled display, whereas the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus feature smaller 5.8-inch and 6.2-inch screens.

The Galaxy Note 9 has a bigger battery capacity than the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus.

The Galaxy Note 9 has a massive 4,000-mAh battery, which should outlast the 3,000- and 3,500-mAh batteries in the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus.

The Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus get close to 11 hours of battery life, but the Galaxy Note 9 should get around 12 hours.

You can get way more storage in the Galaxy Note 9 than you can with the Galaxy S9 or S9 Plus.


If you’re always worried about having enough store in your phone, the Galaxy Note 9 is going to be the way to go.

The Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus both feature 64 GB of built-in storage, with a microSD slot that supports up to 400 GB.

The Galaxy Note 9, on the other hand, features either 128 GB or 512 GB of built-in storage, depending on which model you choose, and its microSD slot can support up to another 512 GB of space.

That means you could have over 1 terabyte of space in your Galaxy Note 9.

The Galaxy Note 9 comes with more RAM than the Galaxy S9 or S9 Plus — and RAM is important on a smartphone.

Tony Villas-Boas/Business Insider

The Galaxy S9 comes with either 4 or 6 GB of RAM, or random-access memory, which essentially helps with multitasking – the more you have in your device, the better it will be at juggling multiple apps simultaneously, so you can switch among them without interruption.

The Galaxy Note 9, however, comes with 6 GB of RAM to start, or you can opt for the high-end model with 8 GB, which also comes with 512 GB of onboard storage.

The extra RAM will help if you do a ton of work on your phone, but it will also come in handy for gaming, like if you want to use your Galaxy Note 9 to play “Fortnite.”

My colleague Tony Villas-Boas wrote an excellent explainer on why RAM matters in a smartphone.

The Galaxy Note 9 features a useful accessory the Galaxy S9 doesn’t have: the S Pen.

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The S Pen has been one of the main differentiating features between Samsung’s Galaxy S and Galaxy Note lines, and this year it’s much improved.

  • Water resistance: This year’s S Pen is water-resistant (up to 5 meters of water for 30 minutes) and can get 30 minutes of power in just 40 seconds of charge time.
  • Remote control: The S Pen supports the ability to use it as a remote to take photos, or to control music and video playback.
  • Photo and video editing: You can use the S Pen for drawing on top of your photos or videos, making GIFs out of your videos, or writing handwritten messages.
  • Note-taking: You can use the S Pen to take notes within the Samsung Notes app, which supports various brushes, pens, and colours so you can draw as well as write, and a cool feature called “screen off memo” lets you make notes right on the Note 9’s display without needing to unlock the phone.

You can also use the S Pen to switch between apps, zoom into photos or maps, translate words into different languages, or convert currencies.

The Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus do not support the S Pen, so all of these features are exclusive to the Galaxy Note series.

The Galaxy Note 9 comes with a newer version of Android.

Tony Villas-Boas/Business Insider

This isn’t a big difference, but if you care about owning the latest software, the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus are preloaded with Android 8.0 Oreo, while the newer Galaxy Note 9 is loaded with Android 8.1.

That said, Android 8.1 isn’t significantly different from Android 8.0, and neither phone yet supports Android 9.0 Pie, the latest mobile software from Google.

The Galaxy Note 9 is more expensive than the Galaxy S9, but you’re getting more for your money.


The Galaxy Note 9 has an iPhone XS-like starting price of $US999.

The Galaxy S9 has a starting price of $US720, while the Galaxy S9 Plus starts at $US840. You can probably find some deals for all of these phones around the holiday, but expect to pay more for the Galaxy Note 9.

Still, you’re getting more phone for your money: The Galaxy Note 9 offers more storage, more RAM, and more screen than the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus, and it has something those other phones don’t have: the S Pen, which can do more than ever this year.

The Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus are still excellent phones. But if you want the best Samsung has to offer at this very moment, you’re going to want to buy the Galaxy Note 9.

Stay tuned though: 2019 is right around the corner, and we’re expecting some great new devices from Samsung this year.

Aside from the successors to the Galaxy S9 and Note 9 lines, we’re also expecting the debut of Samsung’s foldable smartphone, which it teased late this year.

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