Video Overview

Introduction

Samsung is at it again with the Note9, right on schedule. Amidst a brutal anti-Apple ad campaign, they’re hoping a cool new S Pen is enough to carry the day. Could there be more waiting for us under the hood? We’ll tear down to find out!

Phone in to our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to get on the teardown hotline!

This teardown is not a repair guide. To repair your Samsung Galaxy Note9, use our service manual.

Here are some initial Notes on the 9:
  • Here are some initial Notes on the 9:

    • Notchless edge-to-edge 6.4" Super AMOLED display with 2960 × 1440 resolution (516 ppi)

    • Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor paired with 6 GB RAM (8 GB optional)

    • 4,000 mAh battery

    • 12 MP OIS dual rear camera system with dual-aperture ƒ/1.5-ƒ/2.4 wide-angle and ƒ/2.4 telephoto modules, plus an 8 MP selfie cam

    • 128 GB internal storage (512 GB internal storage optional), with additional 512 GB available via microSD expansion

    • S Pen stylus with Bluetooth connectivity

    • IP68 dust and water resistance rating

Add Comment

The Note9 looks very (very) similar to the Note8—and in principle at least, we're fine with that. Smartphone evolution has slowed, and even we don't think you should try to fix what isn't broken.
  • The Note9 looks very (very) similar to the Note8—and in principle at least, we're fine with that. Smartphone evolution has slowed, and even we don't think you should try to fix what isn't broken.

    • That said, we would like a fix for the Note series' history of low repairability.

  • So what is new? Well, it's very slightly wider and shorter than the Note8, with an extra 0.1 inch of display—and it's a hair thicker at 8.8 mm versus 8.6 mm.

  • In an increasingly rare (but welcome) move, Samsung has kept the analog headphone jack.

Add Comment

  • Another subtle (but good) change: the fingerprint sensor has packed its things and moved to a happier location, south of the rear camera.

    • Result: less time spent smearing the camera lens with wayward finger pokes.

  • Spoiler alert: we got an early glimpse of the Note9's innards thanks to Creative Electron's wallhack abilities.

  • Now that we have a map, let's glide on into battle.

Add Comment

  • We'd like to hit the ground running, but this back panel adhesive is still pretty OP. Nerf it please, Samsung?

  • Our usual strat of heat, suction, and careful slicing does the trick eventually.

  • The newly relocated fingerprint sensor is a welcome change here—that flex cable location is much less vulnerable to accidental slicing and dicing.

  • That said, it's still too short. A few flappy folds like we saw on the Surface Go would make reassembly a happier affair.

Add Comment

  • The battery's still glued down in a miserable sticky well—but the Note8 didn't blow up so the design is justified, eh Samsung?

  • The Note9 battery weighs in at a ludicrous 15.4 Wh, eschewing the cautious 12.71 Wh Note8 battery, and eclipsing both the infamous Note7 (13.48 Wh) and the iPhone X (a "mere" 10.35 Wh).

  • Since we know you'll ask, here are some dimensions: 87.7 mm x 41.5 mm x 6 mm. Weight: 54.7 g. Now go forth and calculate energy density! Or whatever it is you do.

This is something that people often complain about when they see these battery capacity numbers, but I think it’s really important to note that while iPhones generally have smaller batteries than comparable Androids, their processors are also a lot more efficient, so they don’t need as big of a battery to get the same battery life. It’s still true that iPhones could probably do with getting better battery life, but the size of the battery doesn’t tell the whole story. Not needing as big of a battery makes it cheaper to manufacture, and less environmentally damaging to manufacture. And, they simply use less energy to run. I may be wrong, but I usually don’t see iFixit mentioning this when they compare battery capacity during teardowns.

Ezra - Reply

@ezra Good point! In teardowns we almost always compare battery capacity to other, similar devices, but it’s usually more as an interesting bit of trivia—not meant as a jab at Apple or anyone else. Personally I’ve always been impressed by Apple’s ability to do more with less when it comes to things like battery capacity, RAM, etc.

Jeff Suovanen -

Yep, it is interesting seeing the comparisons when you post them. I understand that’s it’s not intended to be anything against Apple or anything like that. Thanks for the response @jeffsu!

Ezra -

  • The chips that move the bits and bytes:

Add Comment

  • More chips on the flip:

    • Wacom W9018 digitizer controller with S Pen capability

    • Murata KM8423057 Wi-Fi/Bluetooth module

    • Qualcomm SDR845 RF transceiver

    • Qualcomm PM845 PMIC

    • IDT P9320S wireless charging receiver

    • Samsung S2D0505 display PMIC

    • Qualcomm PM8005 PMIC

Add Comment

  • The motherboard has absorbed yesteryear's daughterboard, leaving a modular USB-C port (with hanger-on microphone) ripe for the picking.

  • Samsung continues to provide sanctuary for the now endangered headphone jack, while saddling it with a super thin spring-contact-connected cable.

  • The heat pipe has significantly more surface area than prior generations. Perhaps those pipes proved the concept, or proved they needed to be that much beefier (because Fortnite).

Add Comment

  • Time for S Pen extraction. We couldn't find a non-destructive way to crack it open, so we swapped in the heavy weapons—the ultrasonic blaster cutter!

  • Now that Fortnite is here we were prepared for a tomato update, but the S Pen peels open like a banana.

  • What's in this loot llama? How about a DA14580 Dialog Semiconductor Bluetooth Smart SoC ...

  • ... and a K8373 Seiko Instruments supercapacitor.

    • We'd guess that the supercapacitor powers the Bluetooth radio, which is only used for the single button. Other stylus functions operate without built-in power.

  • We'd also conjecture that the S Pen charges via the sensing coils near the tip. We found a grey pad near where the coils reside when the stylus is stowed—possibly an inductive charging pad.

I think the coil near the tip is not for charging, its for powering the rest of the S-pen when used traditionally. If you look at Note 2 S-pen, it also had the coil at the tip. The wacom grid under the screen senses the S-Pen location on screen using this coil. However, my knowledge in this is limited, would love to learn more about how it charges the super capacitor.

Brijesh - Reply

@brijesh_ You are correct in that previous S Pens also have the same coil, and I agree that they are normally used in conjunction with the Wacom system. However, this new S Pen has a super capacitor (for the Bluetooth portion), and we could not find any other charging methods, so we are thinking that Samsung has cleverly doubled up the utility of the coils. Of course, if someone has more information we would gladly hear it!

Arthur Shi -

  • And that's all we note!

  • The Samsung Galaxy Note9 isn’t a radical redesign, but it’s fresh enough to keep our teardown engineers happy. The Note line tends to evolve slowly—bigger motherboard, a different pen, nothing radical—except for a battery that just exploded in size.

    • Sometimes it feels like watching paint dry. But sometimes you get to cut open a tiny pen! (Something we haven’t done since the Apple Pencil.)

Add Comment

Final Thoughts
  • This Note's components are more modular than ever, thanks to subtle changes to the USB-C hardware, headphone jack, and the S Pen dock's flex cable.
  • The only screws used are standard Phillips screws.
  • You can replace the battery if you're determined—two extremely stubborn glue barriers make it unnecessarily difficult.
  • To service any component you must first painstakingly un-glue (and later re-glue) the glass rear panel.
  • All-too-common display repairs require replacing the entire chassis or tediously separating the gluey cracked glass.
Repairability Score
4
Repairability 4 out of 10
(10 is easiest to repair)

3 Comments

Pretty usual for Samsung. Just do NOT break the screen or you will cry at the replacement cost.

sam caspian - Reply

FYI, easiest way to remove the batteries in the S8- and S9-era Samsung phones is light heat on the display side, a syringe application of alcohol right down near the battery adhesive, and a suction cup to pull it up. Comes out like butter.

davisj3608 - Reply

Someone at Samsung has a sense of humor. “KLUDG4U” as a part number?

JOATMON - Reply

Add Comment

View Statistics:

Past 24 Hours: 226

Past 7 Days: 1,830

Past 30 Days: 8,428

All Time: 45,374