Samsung’s worst kept secret yet – the Galaxy Note9 – was unpacked with notable fanfare in New York today. The plethora of leaks have left little to the imagination for those following the device’s updates. To its credit, Samsung did save some rah-rah in the end.
The story of the Galaxy Note series continues along similar lines. Samsung is still playing the productivity route, with the S Pen at the core of the narrative. The series has come a long way, and it has not only carved a niche for itself, but also kickstarted the phenomenon of big format devices.
Sure, it will never outsell the flagship Galaxy S series. Nonetheless, it’s a showpiece – of new technology, design and refinement, and because of the S Pen, unique to the industry.
Let’s not kid ourselves. The Galaxy Note9 isn’t revolutionary. Samsung didn’t reinvent the wheel. At least not the way it did with the Note8 (from the Note5). Because it’s hard to reinvent things every single year.
On that note, there are new things that make it better. Call it an evolution. Call it an improvement.
The mighty S Pen
The S Pen being the core of the entire Note experience comes first. As rumoured and leaked, the venerable stylus gains Bluetooth LE integration. This brings several new characteristics to the fore. Firstly, the S Pen can now act as a remote control. Take a photo or selfie. Scroll through your photo gallery. Play a video. Control a slide presentation. All without touching your phone. It’s pretty neat.
This also means you’d have to charge the stylus now. Not such a biggie though. All it takes is 40 seconds of charging to give it 30 minutes of use. How do you charge it you ask? Slide it back into its silo and charging will happen automatically.
Samsung said even if the stylus has no juice left, it can still be used, although active features like remote control will be unavailable.
The first little surprise is a big one. The display, I mean. Contrary to widely believed, the display isn’t the same one found on the Note8. The Galaxy Note9’s display is the biggest yet in the Note series – a 6.4-inch Super AMOLED Infinity Display, a full inch bigger than its predecessor. It’s a beautiful display, that’s without a doubt.
Another key feature in which Samsung improves upon from the previous generation Note, is battery capacity. I’m sure you’ve seen the teaser videos already. As leaked, the Galaxy Note9 now features a larger 4,000mAh battery that fast charges via USB Type-C.
Moving on, the next strong point of the Note (and Galaxy S series, as a matter of fact) is in the camera department. Hardware specifications-wise, the Note9 adopts the 12MP (f/1.5-f/2.4) dual-camera system with variable aperture on the rear, like on the Galaxy S9+.
What’s new though is Intelligent Camera, a smarter, AI-like feature that intelligently recognises objects and scenes and optimises the image. This really is Samsung catching up with the rest of the pack, at least in AI-assisted camera features.
Under the hood, it’s all top notch. From the octa-core 10nm Exynos 8910 (or Snapdragon 845) to up to 8GB of RAM, the phone is a scorcher. Whether you like working on super large spreadsheets or play the most demanding games, the Note9 will deliver the performance you need.
Speaking of games, Samsung and Epic Games announced a partnership where the Note9 (and other flagship Galaxy devices) will be the very first smartphone to experience Fortnite beta for Android. Fortnite will be exclusive to Samsung Galaxy devices (Galaxy S7 and above) until 12 August. Galaxy Note 9 and Tab S4 users will receive a special Fortnite Galaxy skin.
More is more
Another key area Samsung is enhancing is storage. The Note9 doubles storage capacity to 128GB on its entry-level model, with 512GB offered as the top-of-the-range. With the upcoming Samsung 512GB micro-SD card, storage can go up to 1TB.
Let’s not forget Bixby. The upcoming update to Samsung’s voice assistant will make Bixby more conversational and personal with tighter integration with Google services including Google Maps, and more.
Next, Samsung DeX. Announced last year with the Galaxy Note8, Samsung DeX is a solution that transforms your Galaxy phone into a PC-like environment. Previously in a form of a dock, the new Samsung DeX has now been reduced to a single cable. At the moment, the new DeX will work only with the Galaxy Note9 and Tab S4.
Music is also a big part of Samsung’s ecosystem. Previously, it had partnered Google Music with several of its devices. This time though, it’s Spotify. The partnership will see better seamless integration of Spotify within Samsung’s ecosystem of devices and services.
Perhaps not a surprise, Samsung also unveiled the new Galaxy Watch, officially dropping the “Gear” brand. With it, it also revealed the previously-leaked Samsung Wireless Charger Duo that enables you to charge the Note9 or smartphones together with the Galaxy Watch.
The other big surprise was the Galaxy Home – a Bixby-enabled smart speaker. The three-legged speaker features hardware from AKG, tuned by Harman. No pricing or availability details on the speaker, but Samsung says to look out for more details during its developer conference in November.
Pricing and availability
Globally the Galaxy Note9 starts from USD1,000 for the 128GB version, and USD1,250 for the 512GB model.
Malaysians are a lucky lot as the pricing structure makes the Note9 more affordable compared to other markets.
The 6GB RAM + 128GB storage model will sell for MYR3,599, while the 8GB RAM + 512GB model will go for MYR4,299. This is substantially less than initially “revealed” by Lazada Malaysia several days ago.
In Malaysia, three colours will be made available: Midnight Black, Metallic Copper and Ocean Blue (with Yellow S Pen).
Pre-orders of the device will run from 10-19 August 2018. Details can be found here – https://www.samsung.com/my/note9preorder/
As mentioned in a previous post, Samsung is offering some mouth-watering goodies for pre-order customers. Buyers of the 128GB model will receive a Gear Sport (worth MYR1,219), while for the 512GB model, buyers will get a Gear Sport, strap and Samsung Wireless Charger (not Duo) worth MYR1,531.
The official Malaysian launch will happen on 15 August 2018, while general availability of the device will be 24 August 2018 onwards.
Expect local telcos like Celcom, Digi, Maxis and U Mobile to offer pre-orders in line with Samsung’s official offering.
For everything Galaxy Note9, head over to this page.