Amidst news of slowing Galaxy smartphone sales, Samsung has just announced its follow-up to the Note series with the Note 9. In an elaborate event at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, Samsung unveiled its latest iteration of the Note series flagship. The new Note 9 did not stray far from the success of the Note 8, which in turn resurrected the Note series after the Note 7 battery debacle. New features include:
- Slightly larger 6.4” display (same device footprint as Note 8)
- Water-carbon cooling system
- Bluetooth-enabled S Pen
- 4000mAhr battery and up to 512GB on board storage
- In-camera AI scene assist
The Galaxy Note series has always been targeted at “power users” of smartphones who choose to embrace the large format and functionality. The Note 9 continues in that vein to that core customer demographic.
New tricks with BLE S Pen and DeX
The signature feature of the Note series is the built-in stylus. Samsung continues to innovate on its S Pen by including a new Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) design that allows for remote control of the cameras or which can be programmed to advance slides during presentations. The productivity theme continues with a dock-less DeX experience. Users can now plug the Note 9 directly into an HDMI connector (via USB 3.0 adapter) to project an Android desktop experience while using the phone as a mouse or continuing to perform simultaneous tasks with the device.
A much-rumored tie-in with Epics Games’ top title Fortnite was confirmed, as the Samsung Galaxy 9 series devices will be the first to get access to the wildly popular multiplayer game on Android. This should set up for an interesting comparison with the existing iOS-only Fortnite play experience, especially since the Note 9 is capable of 1.2Gbps LTE speeds.
New Samsung Watch with Exynos SoC
To round out the mobility solutions, Samsung also released a new version of its smartwatch platform. It is now known as the Samsung Watch—jettisoning the “Gear” title used in previous iterations of the wearable. This new LTE-enabled smartwatch comes in two sizes and features a home-grown Exynos SoC specifically designed for wearable devices. This would clearly set up for a completive wearable SoC battle between Samsung and Qualcomm (who is a partner on the Note 9 design). (Qualcomm is slated for a new wearable SoC announcement later this month.)
Samsung Home steals the show
Toward the end of the Unpacked event, Samsung rolled out two long platforms of their newest smart speaker product, the Samsung Home. The sound for this demonstration was solely produced by 160+ Samsung Home speakers. The modern industrial design of the Samsung Home and its ability to seamlessly stream and transfer music from phone to smart speaker shows that Samsung’s grand IoT plan is taking shape. Between the acquisition of SmarThings (IoT) and Viv, Samsung now has all the pieces of a hardware and software platform to compete with Apple.
Overall, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 represents an evolution in design. While the BLE S Pen gives the flagship device more functionality and core electronic updates improved memory and storage, the Note 9 isn’t all that different from last year’s Note 8. Much like the path that Apple has taken with incremental design updates with the iPhone 7 Plus one year before the release of the iPhone X, it is believed that Samsung is planning for a more aggressive design update next year. Thus, the Note 9 serves primarily to keep the Note customer base happy until the anticipated design changes expected in 2019 along with new technologies like foldable displays.