Samsung's Galaxy Note 9 is a beast of a phone, with a large, 4,000-mAh battery, storage for days and a stunning 6.4-inch screen. And it's full of hidden features that might not be obvious at first.
The Note 9 brims with layers of software features, many of which are unlocked with the S Pen stylus, its single button and a new Bluetooth antenna inside.
If you buy a blue, purple or metallic copper Galaxy Note 9, you're able to write notes on the "off screen" in a signature color -- this is brand new to the Note 9. (The blue model writes in yellow, the other two write in purple and copper, and the black Note 9 writes in white).
However, if you're not a fan, you can jump into the S Pen settings to turn this off. Settings > Advanced features > S Pen > Screen off memo > toggle Use S Pen signature color to the off position.
You're not limited to just writing and navigating with the Note 9's S Pen. You can also use the button as a remote to do different things in different apps. For example, pause and play a YouTube video.
You can also take a remote photo, control a presentation, skip musical tracks and advance a photo slideshow.
Single click and double click control different actions.
You can also open any app on any screen by holding down on the S Pen.
Here, a press of the button takes a photo. Go to Settings > Advanced features > S Pen > S Pen remote > App Actions.
Go to Settings > Advanced features > S Pen > S Pen remote > Hold down button to... and select from among your apps.
If your screen times out while you're holding the S Pen, you can opt to unlock it with a click. Settings > Advanced features > S Pen > Unlock with S Pen remote.
This one's not new to Note phones, but a good one to remember. You can add shortcuts to this handy wheel, and completely customize which apps you open and where on the wheel they live.
Introduced in the Galaxy Note 8, Live Messages are basically animated GIFs you can make and share with friends. You can access it from the Air Command wheel and through the Samsung Messages app. They'll work with any sharing platform that supports GIFs.
Get to the settings through the on-screen gear icon when you're using the shortcuts wheel (which is called Air Command), or through Settings > Advanced features > S Pen > Air Command.
Brand new to the Note 9 is making a Live Message with an animated GIF of an avatar you make with the AR Emoji tool inside the phone's native camera. AR Emoji was introduced in the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus. I'm not personally a fan, but it's here if you want it.
Samsung rolled this one out for the ill-fated Galaxy Note 7, but it's still an underutilized feature that has its moments of extreme handiness.
First, get a video playing. Then open Smart Select from the Air Command wheel. Next, select Animated GIF...
You'll be able to drag a boundary around the area you're going to turn into a GIF.
Press Record and stop when you're done. You can pause, play and scrub along the video before recording, so you can get the scene you want.
If you get started on a note and need to duck out to do something else, you can come back to it by turning it (and many other apps) into a floating icon that you can move around the screen.
For example, after composing a new note through a shortcut setting, click the icon to minimize the window into the icon you see. Tap to revive.
Not a new feature, but one worth the memory jog. If you press and hold on the S Pen button while quickly double-tapping any screen, a composition window appears for you to write a new note.
You may not have also been aware you can pin a note to the always-on display. Benefit: It's there at a glance and you can delete it when you're done. Handy for shopping lists.
After writing it, press the icon of a thumbtack.
The message will remain visible for 30 minutes. After that, you can revive it any time by double-tapping the tiny icon of a thumbtack.
Once open, you can read it or delete it. You can only pin one note at a time, which means that pinning a new note will overwrite your old note if you give it the OK.
Another oldie and goodie (from this point on they all are). Press and hold the pen button to erase tiny mistakes without having to raise the S Pen to the on-screen erase control.
This is meant for correcting small errors. The on-screen control is still better for erasing larger swaths.
For a note you want to refer back to again and again, you might opt to pin it to the home screen.
This is a simple setting you access from the drop-down menu in a note file.
Here's what it'll look like when you're done.
One of my favorite ever uses of the S Pen is in taking precise screenshots of only the part of the screen you want. Every other phone requires you to screenshot the entire display and then crop down. This is a thousand times easier.
Choose Smart Select from the shortcuts wheel, and pick your rectangle, lasso or oval shape. Then just drag and drop to get your sample.
Screen write is another tool that lets you quickly take a screenshot of the entire window and then write or draw all over it. It's fast and it works.
Samsung has shut down your ability to make the Bixby Voice button (on the phone's left side) do anything but launch Samsung's digital assistant.
On the Galaxy S8 and newer, you were able keep the button from doing anything by going into the settings. No such luck here, at least for now...
The S Pen has nothing to do with this trick, but I'm partial to it anyway. Instead of receiving a pop-up notification, you can opt for the perimeter of the phone face to light up in a variety of color choices every time you get a message. It's a little disco, but who cares? Go to Settings > Display > Edge Screen > Edge Lighting > Edge Lighting style.
That's not all by a long shot. For more, see other hidden features that the Galaxy Note 9 shares with the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus.
And read our full Galaxy Note 9 review for all the phone's ups and downs.