At an event today in Manhatten, Samsung finally took the wraps off its much-anticipated smartphone, the Galaxy Note 9. Serving as the successor to the Galaxy Note 8 from last year, the device comes with some nice improvements while serving up a familiar experience.
For starters, the Galaxy Note 9 is made entirely out of glass and stainless steel yet again. It looks strikingly similar to last year’s Note 8 and this year’s Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus. For this generation, it’s clear Samsung is taking the “S” upgrade approach. The phone is also IP68 rated.
On the front, the Note 9 features a slightly larger 6.4-inch Super AMOLED 18.5:9 2960×1440 display. If it’s anything like last year’s panel, you can expect brilliant colors and vibrancy. It features the same curves on the left and right sides that enable the special Edge features we’re used to seeing in Samsung phones. You’ll also find Corning Gorilla Glass 5 covering the panel.
The back of the device houses dual cameras, a fingerprint scanner (in the correct location!), and Samsung branding. On the bottom, you’ll find a USB-C port, a loudspeaker, and the beloved headphone jack. Finally, the top houses a microSD/SIM card slot.
As for specs, we’re looking at some pretty nice upgrades for 2018. The Note 9 includes a Snapdragon 845 processor with 6 or 8GB of RAM and 128 or a whopping 512GB of storage. Opting for the most high-end tier will likely get you the most storage, and when combined with one of Samsung’s 512GB microSD card, we could be looking at one of the first phones to support an entire terabyte of space.
Like I said before, the Note 9 features dual cameras on the back. For this generation, the company’s sticking with the same shooters as found on the S9 Plus. You get a standard 12MP lens with an f/2.4 aperture plus a special 12MP camera with a varying aperture ranging from f/2.4 to f/1.5. Based on lighting conditions, the camera will automatically adjust itself to let in enough light for the best shot. The cameras also enable portrait mode like we’ve seen in many other phones alongside lossless zoom.
The dual cameras on the back can also shoot video up to 4K in 60 fps and 720p slow-motion video at 960 fps. Meanwhile, the front-facing camera weighs in at 8MP with an f/1.7 aperture and can shoot video up to 1440p at 30 fps.
But that isn’t the end of the story. Samsung is also introducing intelligent features that automatically detect the scene you’re pointing your camera at and adjust color temperatures and other aspects of your camera accordingly. It can also detect when you might not get the shot you want. For instance, the Note 9 can tell you when someone’s eyes are shut or there’s a smug on your camera lens. Of course, we’ll need to test these features in the real world to see if they’re any good, but so far, they seem promising.
For audio, the Note 9 opts for stereo speakers like on the S9. It utilizes the earpiece and bottom-firing grille to provide a more immersive experience. Regardless of how they sound, let’s be honest: anything is better than a single, bottom-firing speaker.
As far as power goes, Samsung is really stepping its game up with the Galaxy Note 9. Inside, you’ll find a pretty massive 4,000mA battery. This is 700mAh larger than the Note 8’s cell which dealt with battery size conservatively what with its predecessor exploding. Now that the phone lineup has been able to bounce back, however, it’ll be interesting to see just how long the device lasts on a full charge.
Okay, software time. For this generation, Samsung is including Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box with the Note 9. The company’s skin sits on top. It isn’t clear when Android Pie might be released to the device, but we can likely expect more on this in the coming months.
On stage, Samsung confirmed a report that was released not too long ago. Starting today, the official Fornite for Android beta is open to sign-ups, and those with a Galaxy device get it first. This is all thanks to a new partnership between the Korean giant and Epic Games. Buyers of the Note 9 and Tab S4 will even be eligible for special Fortnite perks like the Galaxy skin and 15,000 V-Bucks. If you don’t play Fortnite, you can choose free AKG headphones as your special offer. If you want both, you can give Samsung an extra $99 at checkout.
Samsung also spoke about its DeX desktop environment while unveiling the Note 9 today. According to the company, the new device will be compatible with the system, but it will no longer require a DeX dock to work. Rather, you can simply plug in a USB-C to HDMI cable to your phone and watch DeX spring to life, similar to Huawei’s EMUI desktop mode. You’ll probably want to connect a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse to use the feature, but you can just the Note 9 itself as your cursor and keyboard input if you want.
Of course, you can’t write an entire article about a Galaxy Note and not talk about the S Pen. It’s one of the main reason why there are loyal fans of the device. For the Note 9, Samsung has enabled Bluetooth connectivity for the S Pen which allows for even more unique features. For instance, you can use the button to take pictures, sift through a presentation, and play/pause YouTube videos. To charge the S Pen, you can slot it into your Note 9 for just forty seconds and it’ll give the pen a full charge that lasts thirty minutes.
As some final tidbits, the Note 9 packs wireless charging, Qualcomm Quick Charge, Bluetooth 5.0, dual-band Wi-Fi, Bixby (meh), and an Adreno 630 GPU.
The Galaxy Note 9 will go up for sale on August 24th. It’ll be sold through Amazon, Best Buy, Costco, Sam’s Club, Straight Talk Wireless, Target, and Walmart. For the 128GB variant, the Note 9 will cost $999. Meanwhile, the 512GB model will cost a whopping $1,249. Preorders start August 10th.
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