Big phone: Galaxy Note 9, 10+...or something else?

Discussion in 'Smartphones and Tablets' started by rlk, Jul 2, 2020.

  1. rlk

    rlk Notebook Evangelist

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    General
    1. What kind of device are you looking for (phone/tablet/both)? Phone
    2. What country are you in? USA
    3. What carrier(s) are you interested in (or will you pick the carrier based on your choice of phone)? Sprint, may consider changing
    4. What mobile OS is acceptable (Android, iOS, other)? Android
      For Android phones, what release do you consider acceptable as a minimum? 9.x
    5. How long do you intend to keep your device? ~3 years
    6. Are there any brands you particularly like?
      Dislike?
    7. Will you consider a refurb/used device? Yes, pref. refurb
    8. Do you intend to play games and if so, what? No
    9. Do you expect to watch video extensively? Somewhat
    Basic Device Characteristics
    1. What size screen are you looking for? You can be specific or general. Big, preferably less extreme aspect ratio. Would prefer width at the cost of height (e. g. 16:9 rather than 18:9)
    2. What are you looking for in battery life/capacity? Full day, long-term longevity more important
    3. Do you want a replaceable battery? Yes, but good luck.
    4. Do you want the ability to use a microSD card to expand storage? Yes, unless phone has 512GB
    5. Do you have a preference between a USB-C and traditional USB micro-B connector? No
    6. Do you want a 3.5" headphone jack? Preferably
    7. Do you want wireless charging? No
    8. Do you want fast charging? Yes, but don't need extreme
    Aesthetics
    1. Do you have color preference: No
      Prefer?
      Avoid?
    2. Phones: prefer wraparound screen or bezel? Bezel
    3. Buttons: prefer soft or mechanical? Mechanical
    4. Other aesthetic preferences? Reasonably thick, although in a big case may not matter as much (big hands, and prefer something with heft)
    Camera and Screen
    1. Do you care about the device's camera? Some, have other cameras for "serious" photography.
    2. Minimum megapixel requirement (front/rear), if applicable? 10
    3. Do you require 4K video? Nice to have, but not really
    4. Other desired camera features? Very wide angle lens would be convenient
    5. Minimum screen resolution? 1080p
    6. Do you require AMOLED or similar screen technology? Preferred
    Other
    1. Are there any other features you particularly want in a device? Availability of armored (Otterbox Defender-type) case, available screen protector, FM radio, fully GSM/CDMA unlocked, minimal bloat
    2. Are there any particular features you do not want? Don't need any biometric sensor, as I plan to use a password
    3. Do you anticipate rooting your device (if you don't know what that means, the answer is "no")? Probably not
      If so, any particular ROM you're interested in?
    It's time to get off my fanny and replace my Galaxy Note 2. There's entirely too much stuff it can't run by now.

    The phones that look most likely to fit what I want appear to be the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 or 10+ (not interested in the 10). I'd like to by a factory-unlocked phone off eBay rather than pay retail. I'm not interested in a trade-in either now or beyond; my principle is that once I put anything into storage whose encryption isn't under my control that I never sell, trade in, warranty, etc. Both of these phones appear to be available with both CDMA and GSM in the same phone and claim that those ones will work on any US network. A true all-band, dual SIM, factory unlocked phone also won't have carrier-branded junkware.

    My ideal device -- if it existed -- would probably be a true 7" tablet with narrow bezels, except that it would have the voice/text capability of a phone. A true "phablet", in other words. But I don't think such exists.

    Here's my tradeoff assessment:

    Note 9:

    Pros:
    • About 40% or $300 cheaper for the equivalent phone on eBay. $650 on a phone is a lot. $350, not so bad if I can get good life out of it.
    • Less extreme aspect ratio
    • Otterbox offers a screen protector compatible with it in addition to a Defender case
    Cons:
    • Older generation
    • Battery itself is likely to be older, with less lifespan remaining
    • 512GB version (which I wouldn't need a micro SD for) is harder to find and a lot more expensive
    Note 10+

    Pros:
    • Newer, likely more battery life left in any given phone and might get one more OS upgrade
    • Bigger (although only .11" wider).
    • Wide angle camera actually is wide.
    • Fast charging is even faster, albeit needs a separate charger (and I suspect isn't very good for the lifespan of the battery).
    Cons:
    • A lot more expensive, although there are carrier-locked phones on eBay that aren't quite as bad.
    • No Otterbox screen protector for it (they obviously assume everyone wants to use the fingerprint).
    • Factory-unlocked phones appear to be harder to find.
    Are there any other factors I should think about (especially from anyone who has used both)? It doesn't sound like the 10-series is a huge upgrade over the 9, but maybe I'm missing something. Other phones people think I should consider?
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2020
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  2. kojack

    kojack Notebook Virtuoso

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    If you are not caught up on brand, the umidigi F2 is a really nice phone running stock android and has decent specs. What I like about it is the fingerprint sensor in the power button. Just a thought.
     
  3. jotm

    jotm Notebook Evangelist

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    Note 9 is a great choice for the price - NA models come with the Snapdragon, which runs faster, cooler and uses less battery, unlike the ones in Europe (which use Samsung's Exynos, which is surprisingly bad compared to Qualcomm). They're releasing too damn fast, but that also means a 2 year old model is now much cheaper.

    Big drawback though: you can't unlock the bootloader, so you can't have decent custom ROMs (if you plan on using it for 3+ years, want the latest Android, maybe want to overclock/undervolt). Not that big of a deal for most people, but still.

    10+ is not worth the price in my opinion. But it looks really nice, design and specs. I mean, if you can afford it, it's a great purchase, but resale value will plummet in another 2 years.

    I have a OnePlus 6t with the default OS and everything and it's fast as hell, all the newest games work without a problem, too. Same Snapdragon 845 chipset as the American Note 9. Smaller battery, yet still lasts me the whole day and more. Fast charge is I'd say 1% per minute, not sure about the Note 9.

    Batteries don't degrade by just sitting inside the phone, btw (at least it would take more than a couple of years to start degrading). An "old new" Note 9 will last as long as a new new Note 9 :D

    I really don't know of other phones that can rival the Note 9: OnePlus 6T (lacks microSD and 3.5mm), Asus ROG Phone, Huawei Mate 20 Pro maybe...

    I've tried a Note 9 and Mate 20 Pro, went with the 6t because of the non-curved screen (not a big fan lol), fully unlocked for custom ROMs, factory-applied screen protector and it just strangely felt better in my hand... although that's moot since I still bought a flip cover. Couldn't set up the fingerprint sensor, it works, but not for unlocking the screen for some reason...
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2020
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  4. rlk

    rlk Notebook Evangelist

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    This would require switching carriers. Not necessarily a deal-breaker, but would make for more work. Is there a fully armored case for it?

    As I noted, I don't care about the fingerprint sensor because I'm not going to use it.
     
  5. kojack

    kojack Notebook Virtuoso

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    Ok. why would it require switching? it's fully unlocked and ready to go. I think there are many cases for it. for the price, buy 5 and go without the case. ha ha.
     
  6. rlk

    rlk Notebook Evangelist

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    I'm primarily looking used unless I can find a particularly good deal. Resale value doesn't matter because I'm not going to be reselling it (note what I said about my policy regarding devices with storage).

    The 6T, as you note, doesn't have a micro SD slot. With 512GB that wouldn't matter so much; with 128GB it does. Huawei is not a viable option in the US. I'd ideally prefer a non-curved screen, but have to decide which hills I'm willing to die on.
     
  7. rlk

    rlk Notebook Evangelist

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    Sprint maintains a whitelist of devices.
     
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  8. kojack

    kojack Notebook Virtuoso

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    Ahhhh, wasn't aware. I would move away from them for that reason alone.
     
  9. rlk

    rlk Notebook Evangelist

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    That's definitely something to consider; the question is whether it's worth the effort.
     
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  10. jotm

    jotm Notebook Evangelist

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    Well, I'd say most of these phones that sell on eBay as "like new/excellent condition/mint/etc" haven't been used much/long enough to worry about the battery degrading. There's also old stock sealed in box devices.
    I mean, I bought a 2014 One M8 in 2017 and the battery was excellent. It only started going noticeably down this year, but still good enough as a music/video/streaming player when working outside or exercising.

    I think microSD cards are the way to go, for some reason phones with lots of internal storage are way more expensive (maybe because the new NAND memory is much faster than on older phones, which is useful for heavy writes like 4K video recording)... I fear internal memory as you can't do anything if it fails. You can replace an SD card. We'll see how this 6t lasts, I always back it up.

    Non curved displays... no idea.

    I love buying older high end phones (and everything else) because of the great hardware and performance: like, the Snapdragon 845 still outperforms the newest chips in midrange phones (e.g. Snapdragon 665 and 730), in everything from browser performance to graphics performance.
    And the rest is more or less comparable - no one's putting much better cameras or bigger batteries in a midrange phone. Build quality is better on the high end phones - the Note 9 and 6t have a metal housing, the new Samsung A50/A70 series are plastic... They just always use better quality on flagship stuff.
     
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