The Samsung Galaxy Note 9, announced August 9, takes the title away from last year’s Galaxy Note 8 as the company’s flagship big-screen smartphone. It’s “the world’s most advanced smartphone,” according to a Samsung exec at today’s unveiling; it’s bigger, more powerful, and comes with way more storage than the Note 8. True, at its heart the Note 9 is mostly spec’d up Note 8 — very similar looking — which is what you’d expect from any next-gen smartphone, but it also comes with some brand new features that loyalists to the Note line with be all-in for.
Samsung’s Note line is designed for power users. It’s always been the company’s biggest and most powerful smartphone, plus it comes with the S Pen (a stylus) so you can take notes or draw directly on the screen. That said, being a powerful and big-screen smartphone isn’t a key differentiator like it used to eight years ago when Samsung announced its first Note. So in order to differentiate the Note 9, Samsung did a couple things.
First, it went big on storage. Real big. The Note 9 starts at 128GB and can get up to 512GB if you want to go big. Not to stop there, the Note 9 comes with a microSD slot for expandable storage. You can add a 512GB microSD card and, if you already have a 512GB version, that gives you a total 1TB phone. That’s more than most laptops, which is just insane (and probably overkill).
Then there’s battery life. The Note 9 has a massive 4,000mAh battery that promises enough juice so that the phone lasts all day, even if you’re on it all day. For reference, the 4,000mAh is a pretty sizable upgrade over the Note 8’s 3,300mAh battery. Although impressive, it also leaves a slight hint of worry — it’s almost like we’ve has forgotten about the trouble Samsung’s Note line has had with batteries in the past.
The new S Pen on the Note 9 is largely the same shape and size of previous versions, but there are two key differences. It’s yellow, first of all, but more importantly, it comes with built-in Bluetooth, which also means it needs to be charged. However, this new S Pen doesn’t rely on its battery to draw, take notes or do other things on-screen — in this way it works exactly the same as previous S Pens. Instead, the Bluetooth functionality, teamed up with a little button on the S Pen, enables you to use it as a remote. You can toggle through slides of a presentation or even use it as a remote control for your phone’s cameras (yes, you can take better selfies). Samsung says that the S Pen has a battery of around 30 minutes, but once you put it back it the Note 9 it charges back up in a few minutes.
Like with Samsung’s recently released 2-in-1 tablet, the Galaxy Tab S4, the Note 9 also comes integrated with Samsung DeX, allowing you to connect your smartphone to an external monitor for a dual screen mode, in order to show separate windows on the smartphone and monitor (it’s not just mirroring screens). You just need an HDMI adapter, which is sold separately, but the benefit with this, other than the bigger screen, is you’re essentially able to use the Note 9 more like a computer. Using Samsung DeX with a Note smartphone isn’t novel, but with the Note 8 you needed a separated docking station — now it’s all built directly into the smartphone.
There are a few other things to touch on. The Note 9 is slightly bigger than the Note 8, with a 6.4-inch instead of a 6.3-inch display. The fingerprint sensor on the back of the Note 9 is now central, whereas it was right-aligned right on the Note 8. There’s still a dedicated button for Bixby, although the company’s much-maligned virtual assistant is supposed to be more intelligent with the latest update. A while the camera system is the exact same spec-wise, the Note 9 has been integrated with some AI bumps. The camera can detect flaws in photos, such as if it’s blurry, poorly lit or there are smudges on the lens. It also notices if somebody blinks. In these cases, a warning will appear on the screen to tell you that you might want to try to retake the photo.
It must be said, the Note 9 doesn’t bring sweeping changes to the Note line, but it is better than the Note 8 in almost every way. It’s bigger, faster, more powerful and with a longer lasting battery. Lovers of Samsung’s big-screen smartphones will undoubtedly take to the Note 9 — but it’ll cost them. The Note 9 will start at $1,000 and be available for pre-order on August 10. It’ll ship on August 24. You can order it in four colors: black, orange, deep ocean blue and lavender purple.
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
OS: Android 8.0
Screen size: 6.4 inches (162.56mm)
Screen resolution: 2,960 x 1,440 (516ppi)
Screen type: Quad HD+ Super AMOLED
Internal storage: 128GB / 512GB
External storage: microSD
Rear camera: 12MP, dual aperture f/1.5 and f/2.4 (wide angle); 12MP, f/2.4 (telephoto)
Front-facing camera: 8MP, f/1.7
Video capture: 4K at 60fps
CPU: 2.8GHz octa-core 2.3GHz octa-core
GPU: Adreno 630
RAM: 6 / 8GB 6GB