Samsung Galaxy Note 9 – Still Notable

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Samsung Galaxy Note 9

What Is It? The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is their newest flagship phone. it’s big, it’s pricey. But it has just about everything you might want in today’s latest phone. And there’s the rub, today is just today. It has a huge 6.4″ display. That compares to 6.2″ on the Galaxy S9+, 6.3″ on last year’s Note 8 and 6.5″ on the very latest iPhone XS Max. The Note 9 has a 4000 mAh battery, 21% larger than its predecessor, enough to keep it going for pretty much a full workday.

The redesigned “S” pen which gives the Note its name has new functionality, able to serve as a remote control for video and slide presentations. The Bixby voice assistant has been improved, while all the features you may have come to know and love are retained including the programmable edge display.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 comes with 128GB of storage standard and you can get it with up to 512 GB.  (for a couple of hundred dollars more). It has a stunning display, good sound, great cameras, and a boatload of programmable functions.

Is It 50+ Friendly? With its note-taking capability and big bright screen, the Note 9 immediately goes to the head of the line in terms of being 50+ friendly. The edge display makes it easy to have your favorite apps and most used phone contacts right at your fingertip without having to look for them. Frankly though, I do find the new capabilities of the iPhone X make it easier to scroll through apps.

Now Hear This

As I mentioned, Bixby has been improved. The alarm can wake me up with gentle music, the current weather, and the latest headlines. But there’s still plenty of difference among the three major voice assistants, Bixby, Google Assistant, and Apple’s Siri. When I asked all three for the Yankees won and lost record only Siri read me a real number. Google told me how many games out of first place they were but no won & lost numbers, Samsung Galaxy Note 9while Bixby brought me to an online article – not great when you’re mobile.

As a second effort, I asked “How many Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives.  Bixby’s response, “I ran into a problem.” Siri came back with an online article that had the answer as did Google.

Third try. I asked all three: Where am I? Bixby came back with a map pinpointing where I am. Siri told me the exact street address. Google told me my map coordinates while also showing me a map – but no address.

So, the only thing this really told me is that if I asked all three the same questions I would get different answers. Not exactly a confidence builder.

Frustration Factor? There is nothing inherently frustrating about setting up and using the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, though it seems that setting up all the accounts and plowing through all the customizable settings makes the setup process too long. While it’s easier to move content over from another phone, it still doesn’t seem to shorten the setup process. But once you’ve taken up to an hour to get it all done, you have a phone that becomes easy to make your own.

Is It Worth The Money? When it was first introduced, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 was advertised for a retail price of a penny under $1000. Very steep for any phone, but Samsung Galaxy Note 9especially for one that has few major new features.  We’ve seen the 128GB version discounted to about $920, but not much below, though the various carriers are evidently cutting their own deals to move sales along.

But the bottom line is this – we all know that 5G with super fast speeds is coming next year and chances are the new Google Pixel 3 and even the Samsung Galaxy S10 will have it, as well as possibly features like 3D pictures. So why would you want to invest a grand in a phone that will be obsolete in months? Unless you are dying for the new “S-Pen” capabilities I don’t see any compelling reason to buy the Note 9,  Now, don’t get me wrong  This is a great phone with all the functions you could possibly want in today’s best phone.  But you know the next best thing is waiting around the bend and it’s only a few months away.

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Gary is an award-winning journalist who has been covering technology since IBM introduced its first personal computer in 1981. Beginning at NBC News, then at ABC News, Ziff Davis, CNN, and Fox Business Network. Kaye has a history of “firsts”. He was the first to bring a network television crew to the Comdex Computer Show, the first technology producer on ABC’s World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, the first to produce live coverage of the Solar Power International Conference, and the creator of the Fox Business Network signature series, “Three Days In The Valley”. Along the way he created the History Channel Multimedia Classroom. He has been a contributor to both AARP’s website and to AARP radio, as well as to a handful of other print and web-based publications where he specializes in issues involving boomers/seniors and technology. He has been a featured speaker and moderator at industry events such as the Silvers Summit and Lifelong Tech Conferences at CES, the M-Enabling Health Summit, and the What’s Next Baby Boomer Business Summit. His column, “Technology Through Our Eyes” appears in half a dozen newspapers and websites across the country.

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