The arrival of Samsung’s next flagship phablet was inevitable, but now at least we have a date for when the Galaxy Note 9 will make its official debut: August 9.
If we’re just looking at Samsung’s invite pic and 20-second teaser vid, there’s not much to go on. In the video, there are a couple slow pans over a stylus that looks almost exactly like the one from the Galaxy Note 8, right down to the built-in button, which previously has been used to open specific stylus apps or erase an errant stroke.
The one new thing shown off in the video is the stylus’ unusual yellow paint job, which seems like an interesting choice for the Note 9's signature color, compared to the soft orchid gray we saw on the Galaxy Note 8 and the coral blue that debuted on the short-lived Note 7. The only other products I’ve seen use similar shade of yellow are BMWs like the M4, a hue the carmaker calls “Austin Yellow.”
As for the rest of the device, current rumors peg the Note 9 as having a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, a standard 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage (with larger capacities also available), along with a slightly larger 6.4-inch display. According to The Korea Herald, the Note 9 should also sport a new version of Samsung’s digital assistant, dubbed Bixby 2.0, which should expand on the Bixby’s existing image recognition, personal assistant, and makeup purchasing duties.
However, when it comes to the Note 9's long-rumored in-display fingerprint reader, things aren’t quite as clear. Earlier this spring, a patent filing discovered by 91 Mobiles made it seem like the Note 9 would have a fingerprint reader built into the phone’s display. However, more recent info from @onleaks suggests that the feature won’t make it onto the Note 9 after all.
For me, the one spec I think Samsung would be wrong to skimp on is the Note 9's battery capacity. Last year, the Note 8 only had a 3,300 mAh battery, which was actually smaller than the 3,500 power pack that came in the S8+. And even though the Note 8's battery life was pretty decent at 10 hours and 21 minutes, Samsung’s Note phones are supposed to be all about power, productivity, and peak performance, so seeing a battery on the Note 8 that was smaller than other Galaxy devices felt weird. This year, I’m hoping for something closer to the 4,000 mAh.
But aside from components choices and a gimmick here or there, Samsung has an even more important question to answer regarding its upcoming phablet: How do you make the Note 9 more than just a Galaxy S9+ with a stylus?
Last year, the Note 8 debuted Samsung’s first dual rear cameras, which was certainly a welcome addition, but not really a game changer considering Apple, Huawei, and others had already implemented similar setups on earlier devices. My concern is that phones with styluses could soon be thought of similarly to phones with physical keyboards, a nice feature for some, but one that’s declining in popularity.
On top of that, this could be the last Note phone released before Samsung’s long-awaited bendable screen phone goes on sale in 2019. That means the Note 9 better bring it, or else it risks being forgotten when the next wave of futuristic handsets hits the scene.