Remember the Note 7? I do. It was my ideal iteration of Samsung's Galaxy Note line. The 5.7-inch display allowed for the phone to fit perfectly in my hand. The fingerprint sensor was on the front and easily accessible. The camera was clear and sharp. And battery life was more than enough to get through an entire day.
I loved the Note 7.
Then it was recalled. Twice. A couple of weeks later, my review unit was taken out of my hands by a Samsung representative in a Starbucks parking lot, despite my pleas to let me keep it as a memento. A piece of Samsung history never to be powered on again. You know, because of the explosion issue.
After the recall, rumors swirled that the Note line was done. Eventually, it was announced with a bigger display (6.3 inches), and the fingerprint sensor had moved to the back of the phone, next to the camera on the rear of the phone.
Also: Samsung Galaxy Note 9: A cheat sheet TechRepublic
I reviewed the Note 8 and really enjoyed using it, save for that fingerprint sensor. The longer I used it, the more I began to feel as if the Note 8 was just too big. It felt bulky and I felt clumsy when trying to unlock and use it one-handed. After a few months, it began collecting dust on my shelf.
Randomly, I would power it up, convinced I was going to begin using it -- only to take issue with its size, yet again.
After receiving and setting up my review unit, I began using it as my main phone and have continued to do so for just under the past month. About a week into using it, I realized that, despite the phone being bigger than the Note 8, it didn't feel like it was bigger. I felt comfortable unlocking and using it with one hand.
Then it dawned on me: The fingerprint sensor.
My favorite feature of the Note 9 isn't the S Pen's Bluetooth remote capabilities (while useful, I rarely use the S Pen), nor is it the camera (which is still one of the best found in a smartphone). The same can be said about the display. I do appreciate the phone's battery performance, as it's enough to get through my average day of use.
But my favorite feature of the Note 9 is where Samsung placed the fingerprint reader. It has single-handedly changed how I view the Note 9.
By moving the fingerprint sensor below the camera on the back of the phone, the Note 9 is much easier to hold and use than the Note 8. On the surface, moving the fingerprint sensor feels like a minor tweak. But in use, it truly has made a world of difference in my personal use.
Phones aren't getting any smaller. Samsung just released this 6.4-inch monster, and Apple is rumored to have a 6.5-inch iPhone XS in the works. As long as device makers take ease of use for large-screened devices in mind, I'm going to fully embrace the giant phone trend. Again.