Samsung just announced their latest flagship, the Galaxy Note9, at their Unpacked event in New York City. This year, giffgaff are bringing you an exclusive first look at the Note9 with all the fine details, so check out the video:
From the offset, it appears that little has changed compared to last year’s Note8, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The 6.3” screen from the Note8 has had a small increase to 6.4” but the bezels are also a bit smaller, meaning overall there is a negligible difference in size.
The Note9 is almost identical in design to the Note8, with the only cosmetic change being to the rear where the fingerprint reader now resides below the cameras. This is reminiscent of the S9, which underwent the same upgrade over the S8, and this proved to make the fingerprint reader more accessible.
As before, the 3.5mm headphone jack is still present, so you can continue to use your analogue headphones without a USB-C dongle - nice one Samsung.
Upgraded S Pen
The key selling point of the Galaxy Note lineup, the S Pen, has also had a significant upgrade. The new S Pen included with the Note9 supports Bluetooth, which allows for a greater level of communication with the Note9. For example, Bluetooth allows the S Pen button to control the Note9 from a distance, such as triggering the camera or changing slides during a presentation. The colour of the S Pen will also match the colour it writes on the display.
The new Bluetooth functionality means the new S Pen will work continuously for 30 minutes outside of the phone, after which the S Pen will default to behaving like a normal stylus. Powering the S Pen is a capacitor instead of a battery, which allows the S Pen to remain the same size as before. By nature, capacitors charge extremely quickly, so it takes the S Pen just 40 seconds to fully charge while inside the Note9.
The Note9 has inherited the same incredible cameras from the S9+, giving you access to 4K 60fps video recording with optical image stabilisation. The camera app now has scene optimisation, which adjusts the settings automatically according to the subject. You also have Live Focus, so you can take incredible photos.
Super Slo-Mo has also been inherited from the S9+, but with an improvement to the video quality. In addition to the 720p@960fps we saw before, you can now record in 1080p@480fps, so you don’t have to sacrifice detail capturing slow-motion footage.
Tech specs & performance
Running the show is an upgraded octa-core Exynos CPU with 4 cores at 2.7 GHz and 4 cores at 1.7 GHz, which Samsung say should provide 34% faster performance over the Note8. To compliment that is a 23% faster GPU to help with gaming, which is a step up over last year’s GPU which was already very good.
To celebrate the performance of the Note9, Fortnite for Android will be exclusively available on the Note9 for two weeks from launch. After the first two weeks, Fortnite is scheduled to be opened up to the wider Android community.
This year, Samsung have been able to increase the battery to a 4000 mAh capacity, that’s 21% bigger than last year. Samsung are suggesting all-day battery life, or perhaps longer if you are a light user. Needless to say, with a 4000 mAh battery you won’t need to reach for a charger before you go to bed.
The cheapest model will come with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage. If that’s not enough, there’ll be a more expensive model with 8 GB of RAM and 512 GB of storage. I suspect the cheaper 128 GB model will be the most popular since you can upgrade the storage with a microSD of up to 512 GB. In theory, you could combine the 512 GB model with a 512 GB microSD to get 1 TB of storage in a smartphone!
Stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos
Another improvement over last year’s Note8 is redesigned stereo speakers. They can get very loud indeed. If you heard them, you probably wouldn’t believe that it’s coming from a smartphone. They’re tuned by AKG, so the music experience is very good for a smartphone.
The speakers are also enabled for Dolby Atmos, which induces a feeling of immersion when watching movies. Trust me, it really works. Combined with HDR video playback on the massive 6.4” screen, the Note9 could be the best smartphone yet for media consumption.
Pricing and availability
The Note9 officially launches on the 24th August. The confirmed RRPs for the Note9 are as follows:
128 GB - £899 512 GB - £1099