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Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Preview

PRICE WHEN REVIEWED
  • Price TBC
The next flagship smartphone to arrive from Samsung will be the Galaxy Note 9. The new handset will sit alongside the S9 range, but continue to offer something a bit different with features like the S Pen stylus. Here we preview the phone ahead of its launch.


Being a preview, this is a look ahead at what the Note 9 could be like based on a combination of rumours, leaks and our expert opinion and analysis. We will, of course, update this to be a proper review once we've seen the phone in the flesh.

PRICE AND RELEASE
It's almost certain that the Note 9 will arrive on 9 August. Not only is the date for Samsung's next Galaxy Unpacked event in New York very fitting, the invitation sent out to media clearly shows an S Pen stylus.

We also know based on the firm's release history, with Galaxy S devices coming earlier in the year and the Note coming afterwards. The last three Note phones have been launched in August.
If you're wondering, the Note 5 jumped to the Note 7 so the number matched up with the S range so there was no Note 6. And the Note 7 was the one that got recalled due to exploding batteries.

In terms of cost, we won't be too surprised if the phone is more expensive than its predecessor. The Note 8 launch price of £869 seemed very hefty but it's pretty much the norm now. The Note 9, then, could easily be £899 without the bat of an eyelid.

DESIGN AND BUILD

Key points:
  • New colours
  • No notch
  • Keeps headphone jack
  • Heavier
  • New fingerprint scanner placement
If the leaks are anything to go by, which they normally are, then the design of the Note 9 is going to be largely unchanged from the Note 8. This is in line with the Galaxy S9 which is barely any different.

One thing that changed on the S9 was the placement of the fingerprint scanner. It was awkwardly next to the camera so that right-handed users needed to reach across the lens to use it.

The same is true of the Note 8 but Samsung seems to have learned its lesson and will be moving it to below the camera in the centre of the back of the phone. This will make it much more ergonomic.

We were hoping for an in-screen fingerprint scanner as devices from the likes of Vivo have already been announced with this tech. It seems we'll have to wait for the Galaxy S10 to get it from Samsung, though.

So the Note 9 is still going to have all those familiar Samsung curves including the Infinity Display, but it is going to put on weight. We generally don't like it when a phone feels like carrying a brick, but there's a good reason for it here.

A larger 4000mAh battery, up from 3300mAh, is the main cause for the increase. If there's something we don't might extra weight for, it's longer battery life.

Samsung will continue to use glass on the front and back. Glass on the back looks pretty nice and although it enables wireless charging, you do get the issue of it being easily marked with fingerprints and being slippery.

It's interesting to note – pun unintended – that Samsung will continue to buck two major trends in the phone world. So the Note 9 will have a headphone jack and won't have a notch in the screen like the iPhone X; and we're fine with both of these things.

In terms of colours, leaks suggest the Note 9 will come in five different variants: blue (with gold highlights), black, violet, silver and copper. The latter looks distinctly brown so we're hoping it turns out a lot nicer in real life.

SPECS AND FEATURES

Key points:
  • Better S Pen
  • New processor
  • More RAM
  • More storage
Although the Note 9 might look pretty similar to the Note 8, it's going to come with a number of upgrades and new features. That's a relief as otherwise it would be a pretty unconvincing upgrade for consumers.

The screen is going to increase to 6.4in but that's only marginally different to the 6.3in size used before. You can still expect the same Infinity Display which means curved edges, a Quad HD+ resolution and a Super AMOLED panel.

It's all top-notch stuff really, apart from no in-display fingerprint scanner, and one of the main reasons to buy a Note phone is about to get better. The S Pen stylus, which slots neatly into the device, will be Bluetooth this time around.

That might sound a little confusing, but it will mean you can use the S Pen for things without being anywhere near the screen. So you might be able to trigger the camera remotely, control music playback or even make calls. We're intrigued.

As if the Note phones weren't powerful enough, the new model is going to get a specs boost in the engine room. For starters, Samsung will stick with a split strategy for processors in different markets.

There will be the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 and Samsung's own Exynos 8910 with the UK getting the latter.

The phone will also go up to a whopping 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, matching the OnePlus 6 on the former. Whether we'll get anything beyond 6/64GB in the UK remains to be seen but we're not getting our hopes up.

Moving on and we're expecting the usual set of high-end specs including fast charging, wireless charging and speedy 4G LTE. As mentioned earlier, the Note 9 should have a headphone jack and a bigger battery.

The camera tech got a hefty update on the Note 8 with excellent dual cameras. The question is whether the Note 9 will get the dual aperture feature introduced on the Galaxy S9 phones.

We assume so and it's also rumoured to get Samsung's 'ISOCELL Plus technology' which sounds complex but will improve things like light sensitivity and colour fidelity for better results.

Pretty much confirming that Samsung will launch the Galaxy Watch at the same time, Amazon has accidentally shown the Wireless Charger Duo that will be able to wirelessly chart the Note 9 and the smartwatch (or two phones).


It seems the retailer mistakenly put the device on show at an event, calling it the Samsung Qi Pad which is something else. Photo via Gizmodo.
SOFTWARE AND APPS
There's little to say on the software front at the moment, leaks are almost always about design and specs.

However, we can say that it's likely the Note 9 will arrive with Android 8 Oreo rather than Android P since the newer version will arrive in October. Hopefully Samsung will sort out an update quickly.

Some of the new software features will relate to the S Pen as detailed above. Otherwise, we expect Samsung to continue to push things like its Bixby digital assistant and AR (augmented reality).

SPECS
  • Specs TBC

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