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Labo – The Galaxy Note 9’s Photo Performance


Best at Samsung

Yet on the side of the photo, Samsung has changed things quite a lot. Diving into the photographic arcana of the new high-end Korean.

Just announced, the Galaxy Note 9 has already arrived at the editorial staff of Digital to pass our battery of intractable tests. It is on this last aspect that we will focus today.

Samsung is absolutely not hidden, the Galaxy Note 9 embeds exactly the same equipment as the Galaxy S9 + released earlier this year. We thus find a main camera composed of a sensor of 12 Mpx with photosites 1.4 microns and a variable aperture lens f / 1,5-2,4. The second module on the back serves as a zoom 2X (focal length of 52 mm against 26 mm on the main) and includes a sensor of 12 Mpx and a fixed lens opening at f / 2.4. Finally, the front-end module is limited to 8 MP, but benefits from an opening at f / 1.7. A lot of interesting data and figures, but what about in practice?

The magic software recipe?

Well, let’s say it right now, if the S9 + had a little disappointed on the front of the photo earlier this year, this Galaxy Note 9 is doing rather well. Proof again, that the true recipe for success today is much more software than hardware.

In ideal light conditions, the differences with the S9 + are not obvious. We just notice a color rendering a bit more accurate.

The real change is at night

As is often the case, it is not when the light conditions are so good that we really manage to make a difference, but rather when the light runs out. On this front, Note 9 also comes out with honors, even if there are still more small things to blame him. In order to keep the digital noise below an acceptable threshold (which it does very well) Note 9 also tends to apply a somewhat forced smoothing. Result, on the densest areas in information, one loses in precision.

Faced with the Galaxy S9, Note 9 manages to capture more light and thus preserve more details. The contrast is also slightly more pronounced. A cocktail of improvements that makes the scene is slightly clearer and more legible.

A nice comeback for the Korean manufacturer who seemed to have lost some of these days. We find here what made the strength of the company’s time Galaxy S6 and S7.

The opening at f / 1.5-2.4

And if by day the difference is not obvious, we are happy to find the opening at f / 1.5 as soon as the light runs out. The fault with the rise in ISO (1000 to f / 2.4, and 400 to f / 1.5) and not to a specific treatment to the pro mode, since at similar opening the photos of the pro and auto mode are the same. In summary, let the auto mode choose.

Zoom 2x

Unfortunately, except for the color rendering, nothing has changed compared to the Galaxy S9 +. And the second module of Note 9 remains passable in full light and not terrible in low light.

Still, facing an iPhone X, the result is still better in terms of the return of details and colors, even if we talk about two really unflattering renderings. Avoid using this second module as much as possible.

Conclusion: the best photophone of the year?

In the end, hard not to be impressed by the photo performance of this Note 9. While on paper we could expect something similar to the S9 +, the magic of the software operated at Samsung and made of this Note 9 probably the best photophone of 2018. Even against the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S that had impressed us a few weeks ago, the Note 9 is doing better.

But Samsung may not keep his crown very long. Indeed, the return will be an opportunity for many major manufacturers to unveil their news and the next iPhone or mobile Huawei will probably give a hard time to the new device from Samsung. In the meantime, this Note 9 is starting strong. See you next week for the full test

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