Let's face it, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 looks almost identical to its predecessor.
It offers a number of improvements in terms of specs - it has a slightly-bigger screen, the S-Pen has been Bluetooth enabled, the battery has been beefed-up and you can now have as much as 1TB in storage - but are these changes really big enough to justify the hype?
When we finally got our hands on a Note 9, it was clear that Samsung's design department hadn't had a busy year - not with the Galaxy Note 9, anyway.
Although a few grams heavier (201g vs 195g), there are a number of visual clues that the two are not exactly the same - the fingerprint scanner has been repositioned and now sits underneath the handset's horizontally-aligned dual camera system, and the Note 9 offer ever-so-slightly slimmer bezels.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as Samsung's tried-and-tested design formula - an aluminium frame sandwiched between Gorilla Glass panels - means that the Note 9 has a premium, grippy feel in hand. Why mess about with a winning formula?
It's worth noting that while the handset is slightly heavier than the Note 8, it features an identical footprint, so doesn't feel bulkier.
Like the Galaxy Note 8 before it - and as you'd expect for a phone that's going to set you back more than £800 - the Note 9 is IP68 certified, which makes it both dust and water resistant.
Elsewhere design-wise, you'll find a power button on the right edge, with the volume rocker on the left, above the Bixby button. On the bottom, you'll find a USB-C charging port, a headphone jack, and a slot for handset's S Pen.
While the design of the handset hasn't changed, its accompanying S Pen has been given a major rework. It now ships with Bluetooth LE connectivity baked-in, which means you can now use it as a makeshift remote, as well as for drawing obscene images on the Note 9's display.
The Note 9's screen, if Samsung's marketing guff is anything to go by, is the handset's main selling point. It's slimmer bezels allow room for a bigger 6.4in Super AMOLED display, which packs the same 18.5:9 aspect ratio and 2,960x1,440 resolution as before.
The QHD+ screen, which features the same curved edges as last year's model, is unsurprisingly stunning and delivers sharp, punchy and vibrant colours. And the AMOLED tech ensures that, just as on previous Samsung flagships, blacks are deep and inky, and brightness levels are off the charts.
Software and performance
Although Android Pie is now official and rolling out to devices, the Note 9 ships with Google's Android 8.1 Oreo OS. You probably won't really notice, though, as Samsung likes to smear its own custom 'Experience' UI over Android.
This skin is much less obtrusive than Samsung's TouchWiz UI of old, and you won't find too much pre-loaded garbage on the device. There's a bunch of Samsung's own apps pre-installed, including Galaxy Apps, Galaxy Health and SmartThings; a pre-bundled folder of Microsoft apps; and, of course, a Fortnite installer.
Bixby, of course, is also pre-installed, and Samsung claims that its personal assistant is now more intelligent and "conversational" than before. This, however, wasn't testable during our brief hands-on with the new smartphone.
Powering everything is Samsung's own 10nm Exynos 9810 processor (or Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845, for those of you in the US). And, as an early teardown revealed, this chip is paired with a "notebook-class" water carbon cooling system, which Samsung claims will protect the Note 9 against overheating and allows the smartphone to run at peak for longer periods of time.
Under the hood, you'll also find a chunky 4,000mAh battery, which Samsung claims will last "all day", 6GB or 8GB RAM and 128GB or 512GB storage, which can be expanded up to 1TB if you fork out for a 512GB microSD card. A 512GB microSD card, it should be noted, will set you back as much as £300.
The camera on the Note 9 hasn't changed too much. Like the Note 8, the handset features a dual camera system on its rear comprising of a wide-angle 12MP f/1.5 lens and a 12MP f/2.4 telephoto lens with 2x optical zoom.
The only major difference is the new f/1.5 aperture, which should make for brighter shots in low light. This improvement wasn't immediately evident during our hands-on time, but we'll be examining the performance of the camera more closely in our full review.
Samsung claims that the sensors are "more intelligent" than before, with its AI-fuelled camera app now letting you know when an image is flawed; if someone has blinked, for example.
While, for a brief time, we were unable to discern much difference between the Note 9 and its predecessor, Samsung's latest flagship does offer some decent upgrades; from its improved internals and bigger screen to its new-and-improved S Pen and camera tweaks.
However, none of these are big improvements, and we're not convinced these somewhat incremental updates are worthy of the handset's £899 starting price.
We will, though, be spending some quality time with the new Galaxy Note 9 and will review it in more depth and detail here.
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