After more than a few leaks (including from Samsung itself), the Galaxy Note 9 is finally official. Samsung’s new flagship is an evolution of the Note 8 that promises to “never slow you down or let you down,” according to the company. It touts a slightly larger 6.4-inch end-to-end 2,960 x 1,440 screen, a 4,000mAh battery that promises “all-day” use and a minimum 128GB of storage — there’s also a 512GB version that, with 512GB microSD cards, can give you a full terabyte of space. Samsung is also bringing over welcome improvements from the Galaxy S9 family, including stereo speakers and the variable aperture f/1.5-2.4 12-megapixel primary camera (there’s a second 12-megapixel camera on the back, of course). This year, though, the most conspicuous change revolves around the S Pen.
This is Samsung’s first S Pen to incorporate Bluetooth, and that lets you do a whole lot more than doodle on the screen. You can use it as a remote control for selfies and presentations, and Samsung is providing a toolkit to let app developers use the pen for their own purposes. And no, you don’t need to load it with batteries or plug it into a charger — it’ll top up just by sitting inside your phone.
Samsung also pitches this as an ideal phone for DeX, with the same multi-windowed interface you saw on the Galaxy Tab S4. You’ll only need an HDMI adapter to start using it this time rather than an elaborate dock.
Performance matters as well. The Note 9 will include a 10-nanometer processor (either a Snapdragon 845 or a Samsung Exynos chip, depending on where you live) with a “water carbon cooling system” and AI performance tuning to help keep the speed up for games and other high-intensity tasks. And finally, Samsung is joining the ranks of Android vendors offering more than 6GB of RAM. You’ll only get 6GB of memory in the 128GB phone, but the 512GB model packs 8GB of RAM for heavy multitasking.
While the cameras are familiar, Samsung has tweaked the software to provide more “intelligent” features, including object recognition for optimizing scenes (a familiar feature on 2018 devices) and the ability to detect photographic flaws like blurring and smudges.
The Note 9 will launch on August 24th, and Samsung is making a big deal out of the color options this year. You’ll need to get the Ocean Blue model for that eye-catching yellow S Pen, but you’ll also see variants in Lavender Purple, Midnight Black and (this author’s personal favorite) Metallic Copper. Pre-orders in the US start at midnight on August 10th. Carrier pricing will vary, although the full contract-free prices will start at $1,000 for the 128GB phone and jump to $1,250 for its 512GB counterpart. At least there are some perks for ordering early. Those who purchase before launch day can get either a free pair of AKG noise-cancelling headphones (worth about $299) or 15,000 in Fortnite V-Bucks (thanks to Samsung’s deal with Epic) for free — you can also score both for $99.