Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs. BlackBerry Key2: Productivity powerhouse punch-out

Galaxy Note 9 front

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is all about productivity. From its Bluetooth-enabled S Pen to its newly integrated DeX Mode, the Note 9 offers lots of ways to get work done. But how does the Galaxy Note 9 compare to the recently released BlackBerry Key2? We put the two smartphones head to head find out.


Samsung Galaxy Note 9  BlackBerry Key2
Size 161.9 x 76.4 x 8.8mm (6.37 x 3 x 0.35 inches) 151.4 x 71.8 x 8.5 mm (5.96 x 2.82 x 0.33 inches)
Weight 201 grams (7.09 ounces) 168 grams (5.92 ounces)
Screen size 6.4-inch AMOLED display 4.5-inch IPS LCD
Screen resolution 2,960 x 1,440 (516 pixels per inch) 1,620 x 1,080 pixels (434 pixels per inch)
Operating system Samsung Experience 9 (over Android 8.0 Oreo) Android 8.1 Oreo
Storage space 128GB, 512GB 64GB (U.S.), 128GB (International)
MicroSD card slot Yes, up to 512GB Yes
Tap-to-pay services Samsung Pay, Google Pay Google Pay
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Qualcomm Snapdragon 660
Camera Dual 12MP (with OIS) and 12MP (with OIS) rear, variable aperture, 8MP front Dual 12MP, 8MP front
Video Up to 4K at 60 frames per second, 1080p at 240 fps, 720p at 960 fps Up to 4K at 30 frames per second
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.0
Ports 3.5mm headphone jack, USB-Type C 3.5mm headphone jack, USB-C
Fingerprint sensor Yes Yes
Water resistance IP68 No
Battery 4,000mAh 3,500mAh
App marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Network support Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile
Colors Ocean Blue, Lavender Purple Black, Silver
Price $1,000 $650
Buy from Samsung, Best Buy Blackberry
Review score Hands on 4 out of 5 stars

Performance, battery life, and charging

Galaxy Note 9 s pen remote settings
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Both the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and BlackBerry Key2 were created with productivity in mind. With that said, the Key2 features midrange specs compared to the top-of-the-line hardware you’ll find in the Note 9. Sure, they both feature the same 6GB of RAM, but the Snapdragon 845 chip in the Note 9 can run circles around the Snapdragon 660 processor in the Key2. There’s also a more expensive Note 9 model that bumps the 6GB of RAM up to 8GB and storage from 128GB to 512GB.

As for battery capacity, both phones should be able to easily get even the most demanding smartphone users through an entire day. You’ll find a massive 4,000mAh battery in the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. Although the Key2 has a smaller 3,500mAh battery, its smaller display and less-powerful processor actually give it the edge when it comes to stamina. Both phones feature a quick charge option that should get you a few hours of battery life within 15 minutes. The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 does have one major advantage over the Key2 though, and that’s wireless charging.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 takes the crown for this round. In addition to higher-end specs, the Note 9 features wireless charging which is sadly missing on the BlackBerry Key2.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 9 

Design and durability

Galaxy Note 9 pink and blue s pens
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Put the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and Blackberry Key2 side by side, and you’ll see a study in contrasts. The Note 9 is a glass sandwich with curves all over, while the Key2 is more boxy with an rubberized aluminum back and a physical QWERTY keyboard on the front. While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, we’d venture a guess the Galaxy Note 9 will make more people swoon than its competition.

In terms of durability, things are a little more clear cut. The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is all glass — a material that typically doesn’t fare well with drops. The Blackberry Key2, however, has an aluminum body so its likely to better withstand an accidental drop. That said, the Note 9 is IP68 certified meaning your phone won’t be destroyed if you accidentally drop it in water. Unfortunately, the Key2 has no IP rating so an accidental submersion could be the end of the line.

It’s a close call, but we’re giving the win to the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. While both the Note 9 and the BlackBerry Key2 are attractive phones, Samsung’s smartphone is more stylish. The Note 9 is also IP68 certified while the Key2 lacks water or dust protection.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 9


Galaxy Note 9 front
When you compare the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 to the BlackBerry Key2 one of the first things you’ll notice is a massive difference in screen size, largely because of the BlackBerry’s keyboard. The Key2 has a 4.5-inch IPS LCD display while the Note 9 has a Super AMOLED display that’s 6.4-inches. Of course, size isn’t the only difference. The OLED display in the Galaxy Note 9 offers much more vivid colors and inky blacks than you’ll find on the Key2’s LCD display. And when it comes to sharpness, the Note 9 is the clear winner with 516 pixels per inch (PPI), compared to just 434 PPI on the Key2.

For this round, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is the clear winner. Its OLED display is nearly two inches larger than what you’ll find on the Key2 and is much sharper.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 9


Galaxy Note 9 selfie
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The Note 9 features a dual camera setup with 12-megapixel sensors, both with Optical Image Stabilization (OIS). There’s also a variable aperture on the Note 9 that can switch from f/2.4 to f/1.5 for better low-light photos.

In addition to impressive camera hardware, the Note 9 packs in some pretty awesome software features as well. Scene detection uses A.I. to adjust color, white balance, and other settings. There’s also a new a flaw detection feature in the Note 9 that will alert you if someone has closed their eyes when a photo is taken.

The Blackberry Key2 has a dual camera module with 12-megapixel sensors as well: The primary lens has an f/1.8 aperture while the secondary lens comes in at f/2.6. While the cameras have somewhat similar specs, the Key2 doesn’t do well in low-light and doesn’t feature any type of A.I. software to adjust the camera settings.

Another round goes to the Samsung Note 9. Its camera is more capable and versatile than what you’ll find on the BlackBerry Key2 and the addition of A.I.-powered scene detection and flaw detection means you’re much more likely to get the perfect shot.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Software and updates

Best Google Pixel 2 XL screen protectors
Julian Chokkattu / Digital Trends

If you’re craving Android Pie, we’re sorry to inform you that neither the Samsung Note 9 nor the BlackBerry Key2 ship with Google’s latest OS. Both phones, however, will get updates to Pie in the future. And when it comes to security updates, both Samsung and TCL send regular updates for their phones, though TCL may be a little quicker to update.

Both phones also include productivity suites to help you get work done on the go. On the Key2 you’ll find the BlackBerry Hub suite of apps; the suite includes a calendar app, unified messaging app, and private folder, amongst other things. The Galaxy Note 9, on the other hand, has DeX mode: With DeX mode you can attach the Note 9 to an external monitor to create a mobile work environment.

We’re calling this round a tie. Both phones ship with Android Oreo and should get Pie at some point in the future. And while BlackBerry features its productivity suite, DeX mode on the Note 9 is great for getting work done on the go.

Winner: Tie 

Special features

Galaxy Note 9 pink s pen
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 has a few special features that makes the phone very enticing. You’ll find a Bluetooth-powered S Pen that can control the phone remotely triggering photos, slide shows, music and other features on the Note 9. DeX mode is also built-in on the Galaxy Note 9, meaning you can use your phone as a makeshift desktop by attaching it to a monitor.

As for the BlackBerry Key2, its main attraction is its physical keyboard. Of course, the keyboard does more than meets the eye. The spacebar houses a discreet fingerprint sensor, and you can run your finger along the keyboard to scroll through webpages. There’s also the Speed Key that allows you to quickly switch between apps.

It’s a close call because both devices have really unique special features, but we’re giving this round to the BlackBerry Key2. While Samsung has really upped its S Pen game with the Note 9, we still think the physical keyboard on the Key2 is more useful for day to day use.

Winner: BlackBerry Key2 


The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is a premium phone that carries a premium price tag to match. The 128GB version comes in at $1,000 and the 512GB variant will cost you a whopping $1,250. The BlackBerry Key2 however sits firmly in midrange phone territory with a more approachable $650 price tag.

Overall winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Galaxy Note 9 blue with yellow stylus
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Our face-off ends with the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 as the clear winner. While the BlackBerry Key2 has awesome productivity features, its specs simply pale in comparison to the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, and DeX mode makes the Note 9 even more enticing to enterprise users. Honestly though, if you’re looking for a productivity workhorse, you can’t go wrong with either the Note 9 or the Key2 and BlackBerry’s phone is a lot cheaper.


T-Mobile partners with Live Nation, Pandora to offer customers more perks

T-Mobile made a few other announcements today: Not only has the carrier partnered up with Live Nation to provide offers, but customers will also be getting a free year of Pandora Plus.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs. Huawei P20 Pro: Two high-end phones clash

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is here and it's a big, beautiful beast of a smartphone. But today's market is demanding -- does the Note 9 measure up to other flagships? We pitted it against the Huawei P20 Pro to find out.

Galaxy Note 9's screen scores highest-ever rating on display tests

The Galaxy Note 9 is here, and it's Samsung's most powerful phone to date, with an updated processor, and a brand-new S Pen, and much more. Here's absolutely everything you need to know about the Galaxy Note 9.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs. Apple iPhone X: Battle of the ultra-premium smartphones

The new Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is the company's latest ultra-premium smartphone. The device boasts top-tier specs, an excellent design, and more. But can it take out the Apple iPhone X, Apple's own ultra-premium device?

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs. Pixel 2 XL: Flagship face-off

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is a productivity powerhouse. With its Snapdragon 845 processor and 6GB of RAM, it's sure to please the most demanding user. How does it compare to the Pixel 2 XL? We put the two phones head-to-head to find out.

This is how Google will improve the quality of Wear OS apps

Google wants to improve the quality of Wear OS apps, and to that end the company has announced that the review process of Wear OS apps for Google Play is now mandatory. Criteria for Wear OS apps include that they work as expected.

What do golden retrievers and Samsung Note 9 owners have in common? Loyalty

Samsung has introduced the Galaxy Note 9, but rumors have spread it may be the last of its kind due to its similarity with the Galaxy S9 Plus. We spoke to Samsung about the productivity device's future.

Is Google launching an A.I. fitness coach for smartwatches?

Google is reportedly working on a health and well-being coach for Wear OS devices. Known as "Google Coach," the assistant will be able to suggest workouts, meal plans, and more, based on a user's activity.
Home Theater

Set your ears free with the best completely wireless earbuds

If you can't stand the tangle of cords, or you're just excited about completely wireless earbuds, you're going to need some help separating the wheat from the chaff. Our list serves up the best wireless earbuds around.

The Beats Solo3 wireless headphones are on sale from Walmart for $150 off

If you've been eyeballing a pair of Beats headphones and trying to sniff out a deal, then you're in luck. Walmart just slashed the price of the Beats Solo3 wireless headphones to just $150, bringing it down to about half of its retail cost.

A dead pixel doesn't mean a dead display. Here's how to repair it

Dead pixel got you down? We don't blame you. Check out our guide on how to fix a dead pixel and save yourself that costly screen replacement, or an unwanted trip to your local repair shop.

Lifeguards in Germany link child drownings to smartphone-distracted parents

Too many parents are fixated on their smartphones instead of monitoring their children in the water when visiting the beach or lake, putting their safety at risk. At least, that's the claim of lifeguard organizations in Germany.

Master your Sony Xperia XZ2 with these handy tips and tricks

While new Samsung and Apple phones get the lion's share of attention, Sony released three new flagships, the Xperia XZ2, XZ2 Premium, and the XZ2 Compact. Here are some of our favorite Sony Xperia XZ2 tips and tricks.

Need a do-over? Here's how to factory reset an iPhone, from X on down

Resetting an iPhone can alleviate all sorts of software woes, and wipe away personal data should you sell your device or give it to someone else. Here's how to factory reset an iPhone from within iOS or iTunes.