Samsung’s Galaxy Note9 has retained the crown as the world’s best Android smartphone. As a bonus, it has an S Pen.

I have had the review unit for a few days, so this is not a review. It is my first look, and I have to say it lives up to the Note heritage and more.

For the past year or so I have used the Galaxy Note 8 as my ‘day phone’. By that I mean it’s the one that I set up exactly as I want it. It is as comfortable and familiar as an old pair of slippers.

I review phones too. About twenty or so this year so I use a different sim and set them up in a basic test mode. Without fail, I love coming back to the Note.

That is not to take away from excellent phones like the

I could enjoy any of them

If the Note did not exist my preference would be a Galaxy S9 Plus – I like 6.2” big screens. It has fast charging; Qi Wireless fast charging; 3.5mm audio jack; heaps of RAM and storage; a most powerful processor; a camera as good as any; Gigabit data speeds; and a 2960 x 1440 AMOLED screen to die for.

But the Note9 does exist

The allure of an even larger 6.4” AMOLED screen, even more RAM and storage, and the advantage of a few more months development time means it is ahead of the S9 Plus – for now. All up I can say without fear of contradiction that it is the best Android flagship bar none.

The allure of the S Pen is hard to resist

OK, I am a journalist! Words are my stock in trade. I use the S Pen to take notes at press releases, interviews and when thoughts pop into my head. I love it that you can write on a blank screen without having to turn it on.

But was Samsung satisfied? No. It added a Bluetooth 5.0 LE capacitor that allows a passive device to do more. For example, it can

  • Be the camera shutter button
  • A presentation clicker
  • Screen pointer
  • Select a portion of the screen to cut and paste
  • Annotate on images and websites
  • Translate words or phrases
  • Magnify and much more.
  • Via an SDK it will work with a growing number of Android apps.
  • It will even sound an alarm if you wander too far (about 10 metres) with the pen from the Note9.

The more I have an S Pen, the more I use it. Let’s face it – it is an S9 Plus with an S Pen. It is one of the primary drivers for the Note9.

Pure, unabashed raw speed

Wi-Fi AC MU-MIMO, 1024QAM, Wi-Di and miracast

At two metres from my reference D-Link AC5300 router it has 1.2Gbps download speeds. At five metres its 867Mbps – about the speed most other flagships achieve. But it hangs on – at 30 metres it is rock solid at 400Mbps. Sorry, no other smartphone currently can do that.

Enhanced 4×4, MIMO, 6CA/2CA, 256 QAM, eLAA, LTE Cat.18 (1200/200Mbps Down/Up)

It also has dual 4G sim capability so you can buy a pre-paid for data or have two numbers as well.

 On Telstra 4GX (standing outside its George Street offices) this device achieves nearly Gigabit speeds.

On Telstra four bar reception on the NSW central coast its 150/30Mbps. Again, well ahead of the competitors although the Sony XZ2 and HTCU12+ were not far behind.

Exynos 9810 2nd generation 10nm Processor

4 x Exynos M3 up to 2.7GHz, 4 x Arm Cortex A53 cores up to 2.8 GHz, Arm Mali-G72MP18 GPU