Samsung Galaxy Note 9 hands-on: A Fortnite away
Eight years of the Galaxy Note have gone by, and ahead of a momentous year next year, Samsung has unveiled its latest flagship. The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 builds on the Galaxy S9 Plus with the addition of the S-Pen, as well as some intelligent features in the camera. But is it the Samsung revolution we’ve been waiting for?
Join us as we go hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy Note 9!
Galaxy Note 9 design and specs: What’s new?
The Galaxy Note range has always stood out thanks to the S-Pen, and the Note 9 is no different. The S-Pen now supports Bluetooth LE, allowing it to act a remote control for your smartphone. The Bluetooth button is programmable so you’re able to customize what apps or shortcuts are activated with a single press, double press, or press-and-hold.
Using the S-Pen, you can launch the camera, switch to selfie mode, and hit the shutter button.
For example, taking a group photo can be quite difficult, but with the updated S-Pen, you can launch the camera, switch to selfie mode, and hit the shutter button. Of course, Bluetooth means the S-Pen now has to charge, and this stylus comes with a super capacitor allowing you to dock it into your phone and charge it to full in just 40 seconds. There’s no word on how big the battery is, but Samsung says a full charge should be good for 200 clicks or 30 minutes of standby.
The Galaxy Note 9 will be available in two colors in the U.S. — Lavender Purple and Ocean Blue — while the midnight black and metallic copper colors will be globally available. The S-Pen has also had a small makeover, with the Ocean Blue Note 9 sporting a yellow S-Pen, and the other colors having a matching S-Pen. The S-Pen also offers screen-off memo like in previous years, allowing you to capture a note on the screen with the display turned off. But now, the text written in screen-off memo mode will now automatically match the color of your S-Pen. Pretty cool!
As you might expect, Samsung opted for the latest hardware inside the Galaxy Note 9. The 6.4-inch Quad HD+ Super AMOLED display is a tad larger than the 6.3-inch panel found on the Galaxy Note 8. Its powered by the Snapdragon 845 SoC and comes in two options — the base model has 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, while the premium version has 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. There’s also a microSD card slot supporting up to 512GB of additional memory, so theoretically you can have 1TB of overall storage on your Note 9. Most people won’t need that on a smartphone, though.
Don’t miss: Samsung Galaxy Note 9 specs and features
The biggest improvement over past devices is the 4,000mAh battery. Samsung claims this offers all-day battery life, but the company has said that about its previous devices as well. The Galaxy Note 8 had a 3,300mAh battery and offered around six hours of screen-on time, so we’d expect the Note 9 to offer between seven and eight hours. The Note 9 also offers fast wired and wireless charging, with support for both Qi and PMA wireless charging standards.
There’s also a ton of other hardware features packed into this phone, including LTE Cat. 18 with 4x4MIMO and Carrier Aggregation offering 1.2Gbps download speeds, Bluetooth 5.0, a heart rate sensor, iris scanning, pressure sensor, and more. The fingerprint sensor is on the rear underneath the camera (just like the S9) and Samsung’s Iris Scanning face unlock feature offers another way to unlock your phone.
Like the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 that launched last week, the Galaxy Note 9 can run Samsung’s Dex desktop solution out of the box without the need for a docking station. Combined with the Bluetooth S-Pen and an HDMI cable, this means you can use just your Galaxy Note 9 for an entire presentation. When in Dex mode, you can use the Note 9 as your trackpad and mouse, and the on-screen keyboard will automatically pop up when you select a text input field.
The camera offers similar hardware to the Galaxy S9 Plus and Galaxy Note 8 but adds intelligence in the form of scene and flaw detection.
The camera offers similar hardware to the Galaxy S9 Plus and Galaxy Note 8 but adds intelligence in the form of scene and flaw detection. The camera features the same dual-sensor setup with dual OIS that debuted in the Galaxy Note 8, as well as the super speed dual pixel and dual aperture features found in the Galaxy S9 Plus.
The camera’s new scene optimizer feature means Samsung has finally caught up to devices like the Huawei P20 Pro and LG G7 ThinQ that use AI, neural networks, and on-device machine learning to automatically improve your photos. Like other phones, the Note 9 is able to automatically detect the subject of a scene and fine tune the settings to match the scene.
During our brief testing, we found it boosted the colors in a photo of flowers and — compared to the Galaxy S9 Plus — resulted in a picture that was more pleasing to the eye. The Note 9 can automatically detect 20 different scenes. Samsung says professional photographers helped the company to fine tune the custom settings for each of these scenes.
The flaw detection feature could prove to be useful, although we weren’t really able to test it during our brief look at the Note 9. We’ve all taken a photo that we thought was going to be great, only to find out it’s slightly blurry, someone blinked, the lens had a smudge, or the backlight made the photo unusable. Samsung says that flaw detection means the Note 9 will automatically tell you when there’s a problem with the photo, so you’re able to recapture it straight away before the scene disappears.
Fortnite comes to Android
The rumors were true: Fortnite is available exclusively on Samsung Android phones for a short period.
The rumors were true: Fortnite is available exclusively on Samsung Android phones for a short period, beginning tomorrow, August 10. Anyone with a Samsung device from the Galaxy S7 and upwards can download Fortnite from the Samsung Game Launcher tomorrow. Galaxy Note 9 and Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 users who download Fortnite will also get an exclusive skin.
The Galaxy Note 9 will be available in stores August 24, with pre-orders launching tomorrow, August 10 at 12:01 a.m. EDT. The base model with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage will cost $999, while the version with 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage is priced at $1,249. Anyone who pre-orders before August 23, 2018 can choose between a pair of noise-cancelling AKG headphones or 15,000 v-bucks for use in the Fortnite game. Alternatively, if you can’t pick between the two, you can have both of them for a one-off payment of $99.
The Galaxy Note 8 was one of the best phones last year, and the Galaxy S9 Plus continued that trend. The Galaxy Note 9 hopes to build on this, but with very small tweaks over previous generations it remains to be seen whether an exclusive tie-up with developer Epic Games on Fortnite is enough to make this a best-selling smartphone.
What do you think of the Galaxy Note 9? Are the small changes and an exclusive tie-in with Fortnite enough for you to buy Samsung’s new flagship? Let us know your views in the comments below!