The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is the latest, and most powerful device on the market, coming in at a whopping geek bench score of 8438 for multi core CPU, 2452 for single core CPU and 12,149 in compute. Coupled with a battery that just wont seem to quit, the Note 9 is truly a powerful device, and this is coming from a historically iPhone centric user. The device is fast, the perfect weight, the right size and a very well built device by all accounts. I can safely say, this truly is the best Android experience I’ve ever had, and I haven’t had many to speak of (see my previous “first 24 hours” review here). For me personally, while I’m not a big fan of Android (personal opinion here, nothing wrong with Android, I personally prefer iOS) its a great experience, if you are an Android user.
For my experience, I decided to switch from my iPhone X to the Note 9, and while I can say its a come a long way, its just not for me. With all the praise I can give the Note, I do have some gripes. Lets start with the curved display, I think its a good concept (?) but I really don’t see the need to extend the digitizer to the sides. I often found myself activating the screen with the inside palm of my hand while reaching to the other side of the device. I also don’t really see the need to extend the digitizer to the curved portion of the glass, i think physically the glass should be curved but leave the digitizer area to the non curved portion of the screen, but thats just me. My next gripe comes from the bluetooth end. My vehicle was purchased in 2013 and has worked flawlessly with my iPhones over the years. After switching to the Note, I found that while making a call it would often lose the bluetooth connectivity, seemingly for no reason. After some testing, I found that the device was switching from bluetooth (and dropping the connection, for whatever reason) because it could detect my leg through the inside of my pants when it was in my pocket. If I take the phone out of my pocket, it works perfectly. Im not sure if this is a software flaw, or by design but it was extremely annoying for the first few days. The email app is my next gripe. The native email app is tough, really tough, to use. I ended up switching to the Microsoft Outlook app, but thats still not perfect. What I find most of the time is notifications for new email alerts are either non existent, or pop up hours later. I don’t typically close apps, I’ll generally leave them open unless I need to close them so I know the email app is running, and I’ve checked the notification settings several times over, no change. I also found this issue with several other apps including some corporate applications I use, so I don’t know if this is an application issue or an Android issue, but it drives me crazy. Considering this is targeted at the business and power user segment, email should work flawlessly, even with the native app. Sleep/wake is another area that isn’t a winner for me. Lets say your phone is sitting on the desk to the right of you, and you want to check the time. If you disabled the always on display to save power (I did) you would need to press the power key to power on the screen, you cant simply tap the screen to see notifications, or the time, or whatever, which is kind of a let down. My last, and probably biggest gripe is this, “Ok google”. Ok google is the simple way to perform commands and get information from the internet. Lets say you want to set a timer, a simple “Ok google, set a timer for 20 minutes” is all it takes. The issue is, if the device is locked, you must unlock the device to do this, which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me since setting a timer shouldn’t require the device to be unlocked. You can enable device unlock with your voice, at (per the setup page) a reduction in security. According to the setting page, it may be possible to play back your voice to unlock the device if your voice was recorded. This may not seem like a big deal, but to compromise security to set a timer if my hands are full is a deal breaker.
In conclusion, I think the hardware is perfect. It feels great, looks great, has plenty of storage (and its expandable), the performance sets the bar, I could go on and on a bout the hardware. The software on the other hand, its lacking. Things on the iOS side just work, they work for the most part very well. And considering a device like the iPhone X with nowhere near the specs can go toe to toe with devices released around its time frame shows that the software matters. Android isn’t bad, not at all. If you’re already a fan of Android, I don’t blame you at all, and as an IT guy I do like the flexibility of Android. That being said, Android and the Note 9 doesn’t have enough to really get me to switch. If you’re already using iOS, the grass isn’t greener on the other side, its the same shade of green you already used to, just a different feeling to it.