Samsung Galaxy Note 9 was officially unveiled in New York on Thursday. The newest member of the Galaxy Note series packs a massive 4,000mAh battery and the series’ biggest display yet. The Galaxy Note 9 launch comes at a time when Samsung desperately needs a hit. By the company’s own admissions, sales of the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ have been less than flattering, and all eyes will now be on how the Galaxy Note 9 is received by fans.
The big differentiator of the Galaxy Note series has always been its support for the S Pen stylus. Over the years, Samsung has added more capabilities to the S Pen, and with the Galaxy Note 9 the biggest changes are the direct result of adding Bluetooth support. Yes, the S Pen now comes with an embedded Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) module, which makes it more than just a stylus; it has been turned into a remote that can be used to control your smartphone.
So, for example, you can use the S Pen to control video playback in the YouTube app, or move between images in the Gallery app. You can even use it to control a presentation, moving back and forth between slides. But the feature that will perhaps find the widest appeal is the ability to use the S Pen as a trigger to click pictures, or switch between the front and rear cameras. We tested this feature on the Galaxy Note 9 during some hands-on time ahead of the launch, and it worked as advertised.
Apart from the S Pen, the other big draw of the Galaxy Note series has been the big screen. At 6.4 inches, the Galaxy Note 9 packs the biggest display we’ve seen on a member of this family. As has been the case with recent Samsung flagships, the ‘Infinity Display’ on the Galaxy Note 9 is gorgeous, and is definitely one of the highlights of the smartphone.
With that said, as the average display size of all smartphones has increased in recent years, the Galaxy Note devices no longer hold the same exclusive appeal. Not many smartphone manufacturers used to venture into Galaxy Note territory as far as size is concerned, but that hasn’t been true for a long time.
This is one of the reasons for which many have questioned the future of the Galaxy Note series, but by giving the S Pen additional features, Samsung seems to be doubling down on its commitment to the device, at least for now. To further enhance its appeal, Samsung has packed a host of other features and improvements into the Galaxy Note 9, most notably a 4,000mAh battery, which is 21 percent bigger than one of its predecessor.
As far as other specifications are concerned, the Galaxy Note 9 will be powered by the Snapdragon 845 SoC (2.8GHz + 1.7GHz) in markets like the US, while countries like India will receive the Exynos 9810 (2.7GHz + 1.7GHz) version. Samsung has announced two variants of the smartphone – one with 6GB of LPDDR4 RAM and 128GB of storage, and the other with 8GB of LPDDR4 RAM and 512GB of storage. The built-in storage can be supplemented with a microSD card of up to 512GB capacity.
At the back, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 has a dual-camera setup with OIS on both sensors similar to what we saw on the Galaxy Note 8. The wide-angle super-speed dual-pixel 12-megapixel (f/1.5-f/2.4) autofocus primary rear camera is paired with a telephoto 12-megapixel (f/2.4) autofocus secondary camera that gives you 2x optical zoom and up to 10x digital zoom. On the front, you get an 8-megapixel (f/1.7) autofocus sensor.
Samsung has packed in a host of new software features. The Camera app’s new scene optimiser can automatically detect 20 different types of scenes and apply settings that are optimal to the conditions. Samsung is also claiming improved HDR and live focus in low light conditions.
Perhaps most interestingly, the Galaxy Note 9 now has enhanced “flaw detection” that is capable of detecting typical conditions that ‘ruin’ an image, such as someone blinking at the wrong time, image blurs, lens smudges, and even strong light behind the subject. We saw Samsung demo a scenario where the Camera app highlighted that “someone may have blinked” after an image was clicked, letting you carry on regardless or take a fresh image.
Samsung is also touting a bunch of Bixby improvements with the Galaxy Note 9, but it will be interesting to see how many of these will actually be available in India.
In terms of design, the Galaxy Note 9 looks a lot like its predecessor, though it’s marginally wider, thicker, and heavier than the Galaxy Note 8. We look forward to seeing how that impacts us in day-to-day usage, especially considering we highlighted the weight of the Galaxy Note 8 as a problem in our review.
Stay tuned to Gadgets 360 for a full review of the Samsung Galaxy Note 9.
Disclosure: Samsung sponsored the correspondent’s flights and hotel for the launch event in New York.