Should I Upgrade from my Galaxy Note 9 to the Galaxy S23 Ultra?

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 was released in August 2018 and was one of the most powerful and feature-packed smartphones of its time. Now over 4 years later, Samsung has released the brand new Galaxy S23 Ultra, packed with the latest technology and specs. But is it worth upgrading from your trusty Galaxy Note 9?

We’ll compare the Galaxy Note 9 and Galaxy S23 Ultra across various factors like design, display, performance, camera, battery life, S Pen, software, and more. We’ll provide detailed use cases and specs to help you decide if upgrading to the Galaxy S23 Ultra is the right move for you.

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Design and Display

The Galaxy Note 9 features Samsung’s iconic industrial design with a metal frame, Gorilla Glass 5 on the front and back, and a boxy shape. The bezels are slim but still noticeable. It has a 6.4″ Super AMOLED display with Quad HD+ resolution.

In contrast, the Galaxy S23 Ultra has a fresh new design with a contour cut camera housing flowing into the metal frame. The screen is now edge-to-edge with almost non-existent bezels. It sports a larger 6.8″ Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with a sharp 3200 x 1440 resolution. The 120Hz refresh rate provides smoother scrolling and animations versus the Galaxy Note 9’s 60Hz screen.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra feels modern, sleek, and immersive while the Galaxy Note 9’s design feels dated in comparison. The Galaxy S23 Ultra’s vivid HDR display with doubled peak brightness (1750 nits vs 900 nits) also excels for media consumption and using the phone outdoors.

Verdict: The Galaxy S23 Ultra provides a major upgrade in design aesthetic and display technology over the Galaxy Note 9.

Performance and Hardware

The Galaxy Note 9 was launched with either the Snapdragon 845 or Exynos 9810 chipset based on region. It came with 6GB or 8GB of RAM. in 2024 these specs are quite outdated.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra houses the cutting-edge Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor globally. This 4nm chip is over 2x faster than the Galaxy Note 9’s CPU. The Galaxy S23 Ultra starts with 8GB RAM and goes up to 12GB. The base 256GB storage is double the Galaxy Note 9’s base storage.

So there is no comparison – the Galaxy S23 Ultra dominates in raw processing power and speed. You’ll notice it immediately in the snappiness of the interface, faster app launches, quicker loading times etc. Heavy games will run at their peak performance without any throttling issues.

If you’re a power user who demands top-notch performance, the upgrade is highly recommended. The Galaxy S23 Ultra won’t slow down even with heavy multitasking and gaming.

Verdict: Massive upgrade in processor and baseline RAM/storage specifications.


The Galaxy Note 9 has a dual camera system:

  • 12MP wide angle, f/1.5-2.4, OIS
  • 12MP telephoto, f/2.4, OIS

It was capable of 4K video recording at 60fps and 960fps super slow-mo.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra boasts a pro-grade quad camera array:

  • 200MP wide angle, f/1.7, OIS
  • 10MP telephoto (3x optical), f/2.4, OIS
  • 10MP telephoto (10x optical), f/4.9, OIS
  • 12MP ultra-wide, f/2.2

It can record 8K video and 960fps slow-mo like the Galaxy Note 9 but at higher quality. The front camera is boosted to 12MP versus the Galaxy Note 9’s 8MP.

The image quality difference is immediately obvious. The Galaxy S23 Ultra captures extremely detailed photos with accurate colors in any lighting. The advanced Nightography mode produces incredible low light shots. The 3x and 10x optical zoom lenses, paired with AI super resolution zoom up to 100x, allow you to get clear close-up shots.

For videography, 8K gives a lot more flexibility for cropping and editing. OIS provides stablehandheld footage. Overall, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is on another level for photography and videography.

Verdict: Massive camera hardware and software upgrades enabling professional-grade mobile content creation.

Battery Life and Charging

The Galaxy Note 9 packs a 4000mAh battery which was decent for the time but average now. It supports fast charging at 15W with the included adapter. Wireless charging is limited to 9W.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra has a beefy 5000mAh battery. The more efficient SoC provides longer endurance – expect over 1.5 days of use per charge. Wired charging has jumped to 45W while fast wireless charging maxes out at 15W. You can also wirelessly charge other devices like earbuds and watches through reverse wireless charging.

The large battery paired with enhanced charging speeds is a major upgrade over the Galaxy Note 9. You no longer need to worry about your phone dying during the day or charging slowly overnight.

Verdict: Significantly better battery life and much faster charging capabilities.

S Pen and Productivity

The Galaxy Note series is defined by its S Pen stylus. The Galaxy Note 9’s S Pen enabled writing, drawing, and navigation gestures. It could remotely trigger the camera shutter and swipe through presentations.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra S Pen is larger and more responsive, providing a pen-to-paper feel. New air gestures allow you to control apps by waving the S Pen in the air like a magic wand. Handwriting recognition and on-screen annotation are better than ever.

Samsung Galaxy Notes has deeper integration with Microsoft Office allowing seamless syncing of notes across devices. Point the S Pen at text to instantly translate it or convert handwriting into text.

If the S Pen is integral to your workflow, the Galaxy S23 Ultra takes it to the next level with more natural writing and inventive gesture controls to boost productivity.

Verdict: Enhanced S Pen capabilities and integration for a better productivity experience.

Software and Updates

The Galaxy Note 9 shipped with Android 8.1 Oreo and Samsung Experience UX. It received 2 major OS updates and is now stuck on Android 10. Software support has ended so there are no more security updates.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra comes with the latest Android 13 and One UI 5 out of the box. Samsung promises 4 years of major OS updates and 5 years of security updates. This means you can expect to receive Android 17 in 2027!

Opting for the Galaxy S23 Ultra means you’ll stay up-to-date with all the latest Android features and security patches for years to come. This added software longevity is a key factor to consider.

Verdict: Significantly longer software support period.

Other Enhancements

Here are some other improvements the Galaxy S23 Ultra brings over the Galaxy Note 9:

  • Faster in-display ultrasonic fingerprint sensor
  • Facial recognition with AI-based anti-spoofing
  • Dual SIM and eSIM support
  • WiFi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3 connectivity
  • Louder stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos
  • IP68 dust and water resistance rating (Galaxy Note 9 is IP67)
  • UWB for spatial awareness features like point to share
  • MST technology in Samsung Pay for contactless payments

Summary of Upgrades

  • Modern design with near bezel-less display
  • Faster processor, more RAM, higher base storage
  • Quad camera system with 200MP sensor and 10x optical zoom
  • Significantly improved battery life and faster 45W charging
  • Enhanced S Pen functionality and productivity features
  • Guaranteed 4 OS updates and 5 years of security patches
  • Extra conveniences like facial recognition, WiFi 6E, better haptics

Should You Upgrade from the Galaxy Note 9 to Galaxy S23 Ultra?

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra provides major upgrades across the board making it an excellent successor to the Samsung Galaxy Galaxy Note 9. You’re getting a top-tier flagship experience compared to a 4+ year old phone.

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Heavy smartphone users who demand excellent performance for gaming, multitasking, content creation and more will benefit tremendously from upgrading. The 200MP camera and 10x optical zoom are game-changing. Owning the Galaxy S23 Ultra means you’ll stay on the cutting edge of Android innovation for years to come.

However, if the Galaxy Note 9 still meets your needs in terms of speed, camera quality, battery life etc., then you may not find the upgrade cost-effective. The S Pen capabilities are only slightly improved. But lack of software support is a drawback.

Here are some final recommendations on whether to upgrade based on user profile:

For power users: Upgrade without hesitation to gain massive performance, productivity and camera improvements.

For moderate users: Strongly consider upgrading for the new design, display, and extended software support.

For basic users: May not be worth upgrading yet if the Galaxy Note 9 still feels fast and takes decent photos. Re-evaluate when the Galaxy Note 9 stops receiving security patches.

For S Pen power users: Upgrade for the new S Pen magic wand gestures and deeper Microsoft integration.

For photo/video pros: Definitely upgrade for the 200MP sensor, 10x optical zoom, 8K video, and advanced night mode.

Who Should Upgrade?

The Galaxy S23 Ultra brings about a generational leap over the venerable Galaxy Note 9. If you use your phone extensively and push it to the limits, upgrading is a no-brainer. More casual users may be satisfied with the Note 9’s performance for another year or so. Ultimately the choice depends on your usage patterns and budgets. But with its pro-grade camera, blazing speed, gorgeous display and extended software support, the Galaxy S23 Ultra makes a compelling case as the Note 9’s next successor.

FeatureSamsung Galaxy Note9Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Network TechnologyGSM/ CDMA / HSPA / EVDO / LTEGSM / CDMA / HSPA / EVDO / LTE / 5G
Launched2018, August 092023, February 01
StatusAvailable. Released 2018, August 24Available. Released 2023, February 17
Dimensions161.9 x 76.4 x 8.8 mm163.4 x 78.1 x 8.9 mm
Weight201 g234 g
DisplaySuper AMOLED, HDR10Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 120Hz, HDR10+
Size6.4 inches6.8 inches
Resolution1440 x 2960 pixels1440 x 3088 pixels
OSAndroid 8.1 (Oreo), upgradable to Android 10Android 13, One UI 5.1
ChipsetExynos 9810 / Qualcomm SDM845 Snapdragon 845Qualcomm SM8550-AC Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
Memoryup to 512GB 8GB RAM, card slotup to 1TB 12GB RAM, no card slot
Main Cameraup to 12 MP, 2x optical zoomup to 200 MP, 10x optical zoom
Selfie Camera8 MP, Auto-HDR12 MP, Auto-HDR, HDR10+
3.5mm jackYesNo
WLANWi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-bandWi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6e, tri-band
BatteryLi-Ion 4000 mAh, non-removableLi-Ion 5000 mAh, non-removable
Charging15W wired45W wired, 65% in 30 min (advertised)
Colorsmultiple optionsmultiple options
PriceAbout 430 EUR$ 860.00 / £ 888.00 / € 1,099.00 / ₹ 104,990
Performace (AnTuTu)248823 (v7), 315447 (v8)1241531 (v9)
Battery life97h endurance rating126h endurance rating

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Galaxy S23 Ultra worth the upgrade cost over my Galaxy Note 9?

For most users who rely on their smartphone and use it heavily, the upgrade is absolutely worth the cost. You’re getting a huge leap in almost every area from camera, display, speed, battery life, and software longevity. Casual users may not find the upgrade critical yet.

Should I upgrade to the Galaxy S23 Ultra if my Galaxy Note 9 still works fine?

If your Galaxy Note 9 is still performing well, the upgrade may not seem urgent. But the Galaxy S23 Ultra future proofs you with 4 guaranteed Android OS updates. Galaxy Note 9 owners will start feeling outdated as more apps require newer Android APIs. The much improved camera, display and S Pen capabilities are strong incentives too.

How big of an upgrade is the Galaxy S23 Ultra camera versus the Galaxy Note 9?

It’s a monumental upgrade, with the high resolution 200MP sensor, 3x and 10x optical zoom lenses, better night photography and 8K video recording. Image quality is on par with pro cameras. So for phone photography enthusiasts, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is a dream.

Will the Galaxy Note 9 stop receiving security updates soon?

Yes, the Galaxy Note 9 is no longer supported with software or security updates as of mid 2022. Lack of security patches means vulnerabilities could be exploited. The Galaxy S23 Ultra in contrast will receive 5 years of security updates.

Is the S Pen on the Galaxy S23 Ultra a big improvement over the Galaxy Note 9?

The S Pen capabilities have improved though not dramatically. The main upgrades are the lower latency for a pen-to-paper feel, new air gestures, better handwriting recognition, and deeper Microsoft Office integration. For S Pen power users, these add up to an enhanced experience.

How long will the Galaxy S23 Ultra remain fast and relevant for?

With the cutting-edge Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, 12GB RAM, Android 13 and 4 guaranteed Android OS updates, the Galaxy S23 Ultra should feel blazingly fast for the next 4-5 years at least. It’s built to last well into the future.

Does the Galaxy S23 Ultra work well with the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro?

Yes, the integration between the Galaxy S23 Ultra and Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is fantastic. You can control the Galaxy S23 camera from your watch, access photos on your phone, seamlessly share files and more. The ecosystem integration makes the upgrade very worthwhile.

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