The Note9’s been has been out for several months now, but unfortunately we never really did get to reviewing the phone. A big question from a lot of our community members that kept coming up is whether we’d redo testing of the Snapdragon vs Exynos models of the Note9, and see if there would be any major differences between these phones and the results we got earlier in the year on the Galaxy S9s.

While it took a while, I’ve finally got my hands on both variants of the Note9, and we can finally deliver on the results of our testing. This piece isn’t a full review of the phone itself; here there’s really no doubt about Samsung’s overall quality of the phone as the Note9 continues the excellent results of the Galaxy S9 in categories such as design, build quality, display as well cameras. For camera results I’ll refer to my more recent device articles such as the Pixel 3 or Mate 20s review where the Note9 is included.

Samsung Galaxy Note Family
  Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Samsung Galaxy Note 9
SoC (US, China, Japan)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 
4x Kryo 280 (CA73) @ 2.35GHz
4x Kryo 280 (CA53) @ 1.90GHz
Adreno 540 @ 670MHz
(Americas, China, Japan)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 
4x Kryo 385 (CA75) @ 2.8GHz
4x Kryo 385 (CA55) @ 1.77GHz
Adreno 630 @ 710MHz
 (Rest of World)
Samsung Exynos 8895
4x Exynos M2 @ 2.30GHz
4x Cortex-A53 @ 1.70GHz
ARM Mali-G71MP20 @ 546MHz
 (Rest of World)
Samsung Exynos 9810
4x Exynos M3 @ 1.8-2.7GHz
4x Cortex-A53 @ 1.76GHz
ARM Mali-G72MP18 @ 572MHz
Display 6.3-inch 2960x1440 (18.5:9)
SAMOLED (curved edges)
6.4-inch 2960x1440 (18.5:9)
SAMOLED (curved edges)
Dimensions 162.5 x 74.8 x 8.6 mm
161.9 x 76.4 x 8.8 mm
NAND 64GB / 128GB (UFS)
+ microSD
128GB / 512GB (UFS)
+ microSD
Battery 3300mAh (12.7Wh)
4000mAh (15.4Wh)
Front Camera 8MP, f/1.7 8MP, f/1.7
Rear Cameras 12MP, 1.4µm pixels,
dual-pixel PDAF, OIS
12MP, 1.4µm pixels,
f/1.5 / f/2.4 adaptive aperture,
dual-pixel PDAF, OIS
2x zoom telephoto
12MP, f/2.4, OIS
2x zoom telephoto 
12MP, f/2.4, OIS
Modem Snapdragon X16 LTE (Integrated)
2G / 3G / 4G LTE (Category 16/13)
Snapdragon X20 LTE (Integrated)
2G / 3G / 4G LTE (Category 18/13)
Samsung LTE (Integrated)
2G / 3G / 4G LTE (Category 16/13)
Samsung LTE (Integrated)
2G / 3G / 4G LTE (Category 18/13)
SIM Size NanoSIM
Wireless 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 2x2 MU-MIMO,
BT 5.0 LE, NFC, GPS/Glonass/Galileo/BDS
Connectivity USB Type-C, 3.5mm headset
Features fingerprint sensor, heart-rate sensor, iris scanner, face unlock, fast charging (Qualcomm QC 2.0, Adaptive Fast Charging, USB PD),
wireless charging (WPC & PMA), IP68, Mobile HDR Premium
Launch OS Android 7.1.1 Samsung Experience Android 8.1 Samsung Experience

We’ve covered the key aspects of the Note9 in our release article. This year, the two most notable features of the Note9 are the inclusion of a new bigger battery, coming in at 4000mAh as well as an increased maximum storage capacity of 512GB.

The new S-Pen also has gained wireless connectivity which allows it to control various configurable features on the phone. The new feature means that the S-Pen is no longer a passive component, but rather a powered one. Samsung implemented this in a very interesting way: the S-Pen now draws its power from a capacitor instead of a regular battery. What this allows the phone to do is charge the new pen in seconds when docked into the device, rather than the more extended charging times that are required for lithium batteries.

I could go on about the specifications here, but really the point of this article and what the majority of readers are interested in are the differences in internal hardware:

As in the Galaxy S9s, the Note9 is again dual-sourcing the SoC from Qualcomm as well as S.LSI. This has been a big discussion topic for me this year with our coverage of the disappointing results of the Exynos 9810 variant of the Galaxy S9. While over the last few years we’ve been used to seeing differences between the SoC variants, they’ve never been as great as this generation. We’ve extensively explained as to why this happened in our review of the Galaxy S9 as well as follow-up articles centring on the 9810’s software.

One big critique of the results back then was that I only had a smaller Exynos S9 versus the bigger Snapdragon S9+, somewhat blurring the differences to some people. Today’s results Note9 results are on the same device model, so hopefully comparisons will be more straightforward.

Battery life – Improved at a cost

Before we get to the more detailed talk of what has actually changes for the Exynos in the Note9, let’s just jump to the most critical results: battery life. On the Galaxy S9s, the Snapdragon variant was always consistently higher. Let’s see how the Note9 fares:

Web Browsing Battery Life 2016 (WiFi)

In our web browsing battery test, the Snapdragon and Exynos Note9 surprisingly end up within margins of each other. In absolute terms, both units showcase outstanding results just shy of 12 hours, only really being beaten by our more recent result of the Mate 20.

This is an excellent improvement over the results of the Exynos S9 back at release. In my piece altering the S9’s kernel and scheduler, I showcased that performance as well as battery life could be improved just by altering the behaviour of the software. The one thing that made the greatest improvements in both aspects was the removal of the 2.7GHz boost of the big cores.

Over the summer following that article I had made some further improvements software wise, as well did some digging into the battery of the S9: For some reason, Exynos S9’s are shipping exclusively with a battery model “EB-BG960ABE” while the Snapdragon variants all exclusively were shipping with “EB-BG960ABA” batteries. The two models come from different factories. There was one discrepancy that bothered me here: the fuel-gauge on the small Exynos S9’s were consistently showing smaller nominal capacities than the Snapdragon S9’s while both have the same charger and fuel gauge IC. I ended up ordering a fresh set of both battery models and replaced them in my S9 unit, and skipping over a lot of technical details about how the fuel-gauges work, the end result is that the ABA models do seem to have a 5% better longevity over the ABE models.

Overall I managed to raise the battery results of the S9 in our web test from 6.8h up to ~8.8h all while improving performance. The Exynos Note9’s 11.66h here represents a 32% increase – something quite in line with the 4000mAh vs 3000mAh difference of the two phones, barring of course software differences and the fact that the Note9 has a much bigger screen.

Do keep these results in mind while we talk about performance on the next page.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Battery Life

In PCMark, the Snapdragon Note 9 retains a notable lead in battery life, with the Exynos Note9 coming in at 15% behind it. Again the Exynos Note9 fares 32% better than the small Exynos S9 on stock firmware, in line with the battery capacity difference but not in line with the screen size differences of both devices.

At first glance, it seems that Samsung has largely resolved the battery differences between the Snadpragon 845 and Exynos 9810 units of the Note9. However as I’ve hinted at several times now, things aren’t quite as straightforward as to what it cost to achieve this. Next up we’ll investigate the system performance of both Note9s.

System Performance
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • cha0z_ - Wednesday, November 28, 2018 - link

    Excellent work and article.

    One question tho, why the exynos note 9 fail so bad in the GPU sustain performance? The sd845 note 9 shows great gains over the sd845 s9+ variant, why the exynos note doesn't have any gains over the exynos s9? I was expecting that both note phones will have similar benefits over the s9 respectable variants due to the better cooling?
  • kukuhp - Wednesday, November 28, 2018 - link

    Great article Andrei, why not testing the standby drain?

    In my country, only available Exynos version of samsung flagship.
    And i always notice exynos samsung consume more power in standby.

    For example, In the same year-cpu-flagship between exynos and snapdragon, exynos will counsume at least 1% per hour in the night while i sleep, and the snapdragon about 0.3% per hour. And it will be worse in the work hour, exynos need charged in the middle of the day
  • cha0z_ - Thursday, November 29, 2018 - link

    I am getting ~3% in 8-9h sleep on my exynos note 9. Not bad at all.
  • 128bit - Monday, December 10, 2018 - link

    I’m using S9 plus Exyons 9810 and one plus 6 snapdragon 845, 8 gig of ram, 128GB of storage for couple of month now and noticed that snapdragon 845 good in gaming, but still has some overheating issue in heavy use, battrey life of plus still same as S9 plus Exyons, touch latency of one plus 6 in general not as good as S9 plus Exyons and noticed all snapdragon phones has some issue with touch latency including pixel 2xl.
  • zamroni - Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - link

    Conclusion: samsung should give up exynos
  • gregoryzeng - Sunday, December 16, 2018 - link

    Power consumption figures are easy, if you use the same hardware & software test tools on each tested smartphone.

    First charge to battery to 100 %. Then run tests via the input power source: external hardware cable, which will give accurate power use figures.

    Second, use power-use software. These vary imo by brands, versions & models, so are not reliable.

    I've used many in-line USB power devices; many brands, models, types, colors, etc. Only the test-laboratory-calibrated units, checked & used by professionals, will give true results.
  • cha0z_ - Monday, January 14, 2019 - link

    The test should be redone on android pie (or atleast stated it's no longer valid). Massive scores bumps on everything regarding the exynos version atleast. pcmark is from 5200 to 6000 points overall, small bumps on the web and video category and massive bumps in the other 3 (writing, photo, data). GPU is seeing notable performance gains in every test too (guess it's mostly new drivers related) - 3dmark, antutu gpu, renderscript and so on (eager to test in real world, but if approximation is correct, I would guess around 10-14% increase depending on the workload and that's not bad at all given the poor state exynos 9810/mali g72 mp18 sits).

    Not sure how the snapdragon version is doing on android 9 tho, maybe it's also up (but I doubt it will be or atleast by that much as it was really optimised on oreo already).
  • cha0z_ - Saturday, January 19, 2019 - link

    Correcting myself, web score is 6157 - a lot higher vs the android 8. :)
    Sad that this article was published before android 9 release. Not that it really matters+sd845 will always be the better SOC no matter what, but I am curious about the changes and to see scientific data about the current tuning as the exynos 9810 is closer to the sd845 in performance, but I think the battery took a hit even is slight.

    Also the GPU is seeing 15% more fps in tests like gfx high/mid aztec, manhatan is up too, 3dmark too, antutu gpu too, everything. Really curious about the sustain performance and if it's closer to the sd this time as I feel it allows slightly higher heat. Oh, well... I understand this will never happens as it takes a lot of time and the topic is kinda old + getting absolute with new generation of phones around the corner.
  • The_Quantum_Guy - Tuesday, January 29, 2019 - link

    Hey Andrei, I was looking forward to buy a Note 9. So according to you is it worth it to get an imported version from U.S. to India ???

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now