NEW YORK CITY—Samsung has officially taken the wraps off the Galaxy Note9. The phone follows closely in the footsteps of the Galaxy Note8 but with new specs, a bigger battery, and a few other upgrades.
First up, the specs. Samsung’s $999 smartphone has a 6.4-inch 2960×1440 OLED display—a 0.1-inch upgrade over last year—6GB or 8GB of RAM, and a big battery increase from 3300mAh to 4000mAh. In the US you’ll get a Snapdragon 845, while internationally Samsung will be using its own Exynos 9820. Storage starts at 128GB and goes all the way up to 512GB, which, with 8GB of RAM, adds up to a $1,249 price tag. If that’s not enough storage for you, there’s also a MicroSD slot. As usual Samsung is about a version behind the latest Android release—the phone comes with Android 8.1 Oreo, not the newly released Android 9 Pie.
Like the Note8, this is an all-glass smartphone with a slim, straight top and bottom bezel. Samsung is one of the few companies that isn’t following the trend toward notched phones. Also included are a USB-C port, stereo speakers, wireless charging, a headphone jack (woo!), NFC, Samsung Pay MST, and the same face-scanning setup the Note line has had for some time.
Samsung still hasn’t figured out the long-rumored in-display fingerprint reader, but the Note9 rear fingerprint reader is at least in a better spot. The fingerprint sensor now lives under the camera assembly instead of next to it, which should make it easier to reach. On the Note8 (and Galaxy S8) the fingerprint reader was very hard to reach with a normal one-handed grip.
The Galaxy Note still includes the product-defining S-Pen, which lets you draw on the screen like it’s a tiny notepad. This year, the S-Pen has Bluetooth support, but, rather than a battery, it has a super capacitor that can charge in 40 seconds when docked. The Pen will also last a half-hour away from the phone. Why would you want to take the stylus away from the phone? Well, you can use it to remotely trigger the camera, play and pause videos, and change slides in Powerpoint.
For the cameras, there’s still a dual 12MP rear camera setup with one of them still having a dual aperture thanks to a mechanical iris. Samsung is calling this an “intelligent camera” because it can detect when someone blinks in a photo. It can also detect food and landscapes and adjust the color.
Like the Tab S4, this year the Note can launch into an Android desktop “Dex” mode without the need for dock hardware. The phone still has the Samsung Bixby Assistant and a Bixby button, but now it’s Bixby 2.0. Bixby 2.0 is the first version of the voice assistant to integrate technology from Samsung’s Viv acquisition, an AI company started by the creators of Siri. Thankfully, the “Ok Google” hotword also works, and you can talk to Google instead.
Lastly, there are new colors to choose from. You can go with flagship blue with a contrasting yellow pen, or purple, copper, and black. Sales start August 24.
Listing image by Samsung