Samsung Galaxy Note 9 [SM-960N] Review: Display


Samsung still occupies an important position in the current display panel market, including panel technologies such as OLED and VA, which are also in the forefront of the industry. Samsung's AMOLED panels are used by most high-end mobile phones, including Apple, Huawei, OPPO and vivo. Back to the latest Galaxy Note 9, Samsung's flagship mobile phone, Soomal believes that readers will also look forward to the performance and experience of the new mobile phone screen on all sides.

Since the test prototype we purchased is the Korean KT version, I believe that readers are as confident and have some concerns as Soomal editors. Although Samsung's flagship mobile phone screen is indeed the best in terms of usage, it is not that consistent in objective color. The Galaxy Note 9 features Samsung's own Super AMOLED panel with a double-sided curved to 6.4 inches [diagonal line, 6.3 inches rounded corners] with a resolution of 2960x1440 and a DPI of 516. However, the sides of the screen of Note 9 still have a certain width in the front view, which is more conservative than the S9 series. The screen-to-body ratio is not too prominent, only 83%. The most obvious benefit of the big screen is that the battery capacity is increased to 4000mAh, which is higher than the 3300mAh of Note 8 and weighs about 201g. The weight of the Spen is about 3.1g. Of course, the focus of Note9 is relatively balanced, unlike the vivo NEX. The number of colors available in different countries is not the same. For example, the US version has only two types of blue and black, while the China mainland has reduced the purple.

Note 9 runs the Android 8.1 system. Consistent with previous models, the default resolution is 1080p+ and can be adjusted to 720p or QHD. Four preset color modes are provided in the display settings, which correspond to different application scenarios. The objective color score of the screen of the mobile phone is obtained by the SpectraCal Calman test. If not stated, the test performance is the standard brightness in the specified color gamut and the performance of the SDR still picture display.

Comparision Adaptive [NTSC] AMOLED Cinema AMOLED Photo Basic[sRGB]
Grayscale (Gamma 2.2) 2.06 2.32 2.08 2.08
Average Color Temperature K 7061 6282 6279 6249
Average Luminance Error 3.2 2.15 2.2 2.4
Comparision Galaxy Note 9 vivo NEX S Galaxy S9+ Galaxy S9 Galaxy Note 8 iPhone X
Brightness cd/m2 627 554 681 659 505 649
Grayscale (Gamma 2.2) 2.08 2.29 2.06 2.16 1.92 2.22
Average Color Temperature K 6249 6586 6176 6467 6225 6638
Average Luminance Error 2.4 2.52 2.58 2.32 3.4 1.53
Comparision Adaptive [NTSC] AMOLED Cinema AMOLED Photo Basic[sRGB]
Color Gamut(sRGB) 143.3% 130% 120.15% 100.25%
Average Color Error 4.8 4.35 4.28 2.6
Largest Color Error 7.11 7.4 7.38 3.72
Comparision Galaxy Note 9 vivo NEX S Galaxy S9 Galaxy Note 8 iPhone X
Color Gamut(sRGB) 100.25% 99.9% 101.58% 103.27% 100.5%
Average Color Error 2.6 2.42 2 1.4 1.15
Largest Color Error 3.72 4.99 4.27 2.9 2.09
  • Max Screen Brightness (cd/m2 or nits): The maximum brightness one screen could reach, without considering glass quality, algorithm or dynamic adjusting. Over 500 cd/m2 can be used under strong light, below 400 cd/m2 will be to use.
    Gamma 2.2: Gamma value is the key factor in contrast display. Our eyes do not perceive light the way cameras do. Under sRGB, if the gamma value is 2.2, the tonal range is just what human eyes receive. Lower than 2.2, the contrast will go down, otherwise, it will go up. Except the gamma value, we have to see form the picture if the red, green and blue curve overlap, if not, different color contrast will be different. The value between 2.1 to 2.3 is qualified for display, while if the value is below 2 or over 2.4, the contrast will be lower or higher than standard.
    Average Color of White: The average color temperature in degrees, D65 with 6500 K is the standard color of White for most Consumer Content and needed for accurate color reproduction of all images. Higher than 6500K will tend to be cold, otherwise will be warm.
    Color difference: A measurement used to indicate how much a color deviates from standard. The higher the E, the more inaccurate the color. This is because the human eye is only capable of detecting color difference at certain thresholds. It is hard to detect if average E is below 5, less than average 3 E and less than 5 E is excellent, the smaller the E is, the better the color is. Between 5 to 10 E is detectable, over 10E is significantly detectable.
    Color Gamut(sRGB): The specific range of colors that one device is able to display. Our test is based on sRGB. If wide-gamut device is tested, Adobe RGB or NTSC gamut will be noted for reference. Display with over 90% will be enough for everyday use, higher than a certain percentage will not affect using experience significantly. However, photo playback requires precisely range, 10bit video requires wider gamut.
    Restricted by our devices, we will not test the viewing angle. On average, more than 30 would bring over 50% brightness loss.

Professional Color

The grayscale performance of this Korean KT version of Note 9 has similar problems with the KT version of S9+ sent by a wealthy subscriber. Gamma is lower than 2.2 standard level under standard brightness, and the color temperature is lower than 6500K under various preset color modes. Therefore, in the photo color performance is not as strong as the China mainland version S9, the overall indicator is slightly weaker. The sRGB mode is useful for photo color reference. The color coverage and color are dynamic and complete, but the contrast is insufficient, and the transition is not clear enough.

But the AMOLED cinema mode is more powerful. First of all, once again, the P3 color gamut generally involved in mobile computers is a specific color mode, even if it is such as high-end Microsoft Surface Studio, Apple iMac Pro, iPhone X, iPad Pro, etc., their so-called "P3 mode. Gamma, brightness and color temperature are somewhat different from the true DCI-P3 standard. In addition to the 125% sRGB color gamut, the DCI-P3 standard of the general movie industry has higher brightness [about 400cd/m2], standard color temperature of 6200K, Gamma2.4, etc. After all, the difference between photos and videos is very large, so Note 9 AMOLED cinema mode is indeed closer to the standard DCI-P3.


Although it is not perfect in professional color performance, Samsung's mobile phone screen is most attractive to ordinary consumers, but also the daily experience brought by its AMOLED color, transparency and brightness. The instantaneous peak brightness of Note 8 can easily exceed 700cd/m2, and it can be stabilized at 600cd/m2 under automatic brightness. The viewing angle and the transparency of glass have always been the advantages of Samsung Galaxy series mobile phones, and there is no significant discoloration in different angles. Whether in Cebu or Beijing's sinister sunshine, it can maintain good graphic readability. This is also very important for outdoor camera and video application experiences. In mobile applications, in addition to the basic mode, the warm tone overflow and glare of the other modes will be more obvious.

Regarding the dispersion, color distortion and other issues brought by the edge of the curved screen, Note 9 is basically the best solution. The curved part has almost no obvious dispersion and color cast in the front view, but there is some brightness attenuation on both sides of the screen, looking grayish. Of course, AMOLED's PWM flashing, burning in and other problems still exist, especially for long time game players. Will the larger screen size give the GearVR application a wider perspective and benefits? However, Note 9 needs to be used with the fifth-generation GearVR launched last year, and we will keep the content updated.

Note 9's S Pen uses a Bluetooth connection, which is close to the previous generation in terms of feel and delay. The slowest delay is about 50 milliseconds. Of course, for those who need to type on the phone with a stylus, this passive pen feels fluency. This commercial model maintains a consistent level with the Galaxy S9/S9+ in the first half of this year, with excellent color and contrast performance, and is satisfactory for outdoor use, video playback and VR, AR applications, but unfortunately Galaxy Note series will be more unpopular than S series, and domestic consumers who are willing to spend 7,000 yuan to buy a Samsung mobile phone will probably be less and less.

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