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Galaxy Note 9 under the macro lens

You don't really know the Note 9 until you take a seriously close look.

Jessica Dolcourt
Jessica Dolcourt is a passionate content strategist and veteran leader of CNET coverage. As Senior Director of Commerce & Content Operations, she leads a number of teams, including Commerce, How-To and Performance Optimization. Her CNET career began in 2006, testing desktop and mobile software for Download.com and CNET, including the first iPhone and Android apps and operating systems. She continued to review, report on and write a wide range of commentary and analysis on all things phones, with an emphasis on iPhone and Samsung. Jessica was one of the first people in the world to test, review and report on foldable phones and 5G wireless speeds. Jessica began leading CNET's How-To section for tips and FAQs in 2019, guiding coverage of topics ranging from personal finance to phones and home. She holds an MA with Distinction from the University of Warwick (UK).
Jessica Dolcourt
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1 of 40 Angela Lang/CNET

The Galaxy Note 9 seems simple at first. You have a large screen. Elegantly curved sides. A digital S Pen.

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2 of 40 Sarah Tew/CNET

But when you really lean in to take a look is when you can really appreciate the engineering and precision that goes into creating such a powerful, beautiful computing device.

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3 of 40 Angela Lang/CNET

Like the pixels you can now see in this high-resolution screen.

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You can really begin to see how those curved edges meet along the phone's slim spine.

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5 of 40 Angela Lang/CNET

The speaker grille looks matte black when you see it from afar. Up close, you can make out the cross-hatch pattern set into the phone's glass face.

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6 of 40 Angela Lang/CNET

Peering in reveals the metal contacts on either side of the USB-C port.

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7 of 40 Angela Lang/CNET

Although the Note 9 has boxier edges than the Galaxy S9, there's still plenty of curve here.

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8 of 40 Angela Lang/CNET

Look at the way the edge tapers into the side.

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9 of 40 Angela Lang/CNET

From this distance, you probably can't see any scratches the phone picked up.

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10 of 40 Angela Lang/CNET

This close up, it's plain how the abrasion cuts into the Note 9's Gorilla Glass 5 cover glass.

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11 of 40 Angela Lang/CNET

Here you have the volume rocker and Bixby button, which calls up Samsung's take on the virtual sidekick.

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12 of 40 Angela Lang/CNET

You can almost see the finish next to the button.

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13 of 40 Angela Lang/CNET

The Note 9 is so reflective, that lighting can change the way the color appears. In studio lighting, this dark blue phone appears purple.

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14 of 40 Angela Lang/CNET

The camera mount isn't perfectly flush with the phone.

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15 of 40 Angela Lang/CNET

There's a bumper, a ridge even, that rims the camera module as it rises from the backing.

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16 of 40 Angela Lang/CNET

Your Note 9's camera is watching you.

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17 of 40 Angela Lang/CNET

Here's what the front-facing camera looks like up close.

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18 of 40 Angela Lang/CNET

You'd never guess there was so much texture on a smooth glass backing.

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19 of 40 Angela Lang/CNET

Here's what the S Pen looks like when it first pops out of its holster.

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20 of 40 Angela Lang/CNET

It must be perfectly measured and machined to fit.

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21 of 40 Angela Lang/CNET

The color on the blue pen top glitters with purple undertones.

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22 of 40 Angela Lang/CNET

You can see how the gap around the S Pen button could catch dust, crumbs and other gunk.

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23 of 40 Angela Lang/CNET

The S Pen's plastic pen tip looks almost fuzzy. It has 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity.

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24 of 40 Angela Lang/CNET

The S Pen isn't perfectly round. You can see the planes that help keep it from rolling off a table or desk.

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25 of 40 Angela Lang/CNET

The S Pen's empty holster looks like a deep, dark pit.

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26 of 40 Angela Lang/CNET

The Note 9 has a second speaker (the four vertical pill-shaped holes you see), just like the Galaxy S9 phones. This helps make audio like speakerphone and music playback loud.

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27 of 40 Angela Lang/CNET

Another look into the top of the S Pen (left), second speaker grille (middle) and USB-C port.

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Samsung is one of few phonemakers to keep the headphone jack. You can see the metal contacts inside.

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The area to the right of the two camera lenses contains the LED flash and the heart rate monitor.

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Here's what's really going on in there.

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Can you see the yellow X inside the lens?

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32 of 40 Angela Lang/CNET

Viewed from the side, the heart rate monitor has quite a bit of circuitry stuffed into a teeny tiny space.

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33 of 40 Angela Lang/CNET

While the fingerprint sensor feels smooth to the touch, you can see that it's not entirely slick.

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34 of 40 Angela Lang/CNET

You eyes can't focus this closely on the logo printed on the Note 9's back.

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35 of 40 Angela Lang/CNET

I did not expect to see all those horizontal lines to show through the smooth glass on top.

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36 of 40 Angela Lang/CNET

Pop! The SIM card slot once you've pushed in the SIM card ejector tool.

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This open slot could fit a microSD card, or a second SIM, in some markets.

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This is what the belly of your SIM card really looks like.

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The Note 9's seriously reflective.

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40 of 40 Sarah Tew/CNET

Get to know the phone even better in our full Galaxy Note 9 review and by learning these best Galaxy Note 9 tips and tricks you should learn right now.

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