Now that the Galaxy S9 has officially landed, it’s time to look ahead to the next big thing from Samsung: the Note 9. Right on cue, rumors are starting to trickle in about the phablet phone—and it’s already shaping up to be one of the best phones of 2018. Here’s what we know so far:
Galaxy Note 9: The latest
As the release of the Galaxy Note 9 draws ever nearer, a fuller picture of the device is emerging. While it will likely be visually identical to last year's model, with an updated processor and camera, the S Pen seems to be in for a change. Well-known Twitter leakster Ice Universe has teased the phone's upgraded stylus as "the biggest update in the history of the S Pen," which could mean any number of things.
However, German fan site All About Samsung sheds some light on Ice Universe's cryptic tip. According to the site's sources, the new pen will be equipped with Bluetooth, which opens up the stylus to a far greater number of uses. As it stands, Samsung's S Pen only works with the software that comes with the phone, but Bluetooth capabilities would allow developers to imagine further uses for it.
Galaxy Note 9: Design and Display
The look of the Galaxy Note generally follows the lead of the Galaxy S phones, but bigger. Last year’s release brought the Infinity Display from the Galaxy S8 to the Note 8 in a bigger 6.3-inch package, and this year will likely bring more of the same. Samsung opted to keep the design of the Galaxy S9 mostly unchanged from the S8, so the Note 9 will likely bring a similar aesthetic, with skinny bezels and an aluminum-and-glass enclosure.
A video by Slashleaks seems to confirm this speculation. The 13-second clip purports to show a screen protector for the Note 9, and it looks nearly identical to the Note 8, with a boxier aesthetic than the S9, thin bezels at the top and bottom, and an infinity screen. It’s difficult to ascertain how large it is, but based on the hand-to-screen ratio, it appears to be similar to the Note 8’s 6.3-inch display.
A recycled design likely means the display will be unchanged as well. Last year’s model had a stunning 6.3-inch, 18.5:9 display, and we wouldn’t hate on the Note 9 if it had the same screen, especially if it brought along the improvements to color accuracy and banding that Samsung made to the S9’s display.
However, one change we’re almost certain to see is with the fingerprint sensor. On the S9, Samsung moved it to the space below the camera rather than next to it, and our fingers are much happier for it. We were hearing grumblings that the Note 9 would introduce the long-awaited in-display fingerprint sensor that Vivo just unveiled on its X20 Plus UD, but former KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (via 9to5Google) threw some cold water on that notion. While Samsung is indeed developing the technology in-house, Kuo says it is “likely” Samsung will need to scrap it in the Note 9 due to “technological difficulties.” As 9to5Google reports, Kuo says the feature “currently suffers from issues with screen protectors and various different environments affecting the success rate of the under-display fingerprint reader.”
More recently, however, leaker Ice Universe reported on Weibo that Samsung was indeed moving forward with the in-display fingerprint sensor on the Note 9. While he was very light on the specifics, it gives some new light to the rumors that have been swirling for years.
Galaxy Note 9: Specs
The Galaxy S9 was the first phone to ship with Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 845 processor, so there’s a 99.9 percent chance that the Note 9 will have the same system-on-chip. What could change, however is the RAM on board. Samsung upped the memory on its Galaxy S9+ from 4GB to 6GB to match the Note 8’s, so it’s possible the Note 9 will bump to 8GB to maintain some performance separation. Internal storage is likely to stay the same at 64GB, but we’ll probably see a bump in the maximum SD card size from 256GB to 400GB, like the S9. A rumor from oft-accurate Ice Galaxy on Twitter pegged the Note 9 as having 8GB and 512GB of storage, but said the model would be for the “lucky” ones, suggesting it will be regional. At any rate, those specs would be a first for a Samsung flagship.
While Samsung also kept the same 3,000mAh and 3,500mAh batteries on the S9 and S9+, respectively, notable leaker Ice Universe said on Twitter that Samsung was testing a 3,850mAh and 4,000mAh batteries for the new phone, which would surely supply a battery boost.
Galaxy Note 9: Samsung Experience
The Galaxy S9 launched with Oreo on board, and it’s a good bet that the Note 9 will as well, even though it will launch at around the same time Android P lands. However, leaker Ice Universe says that the Note 9 will include a new interface to better highlight the Note 9’s productivity features. The Note already has unique features such as off-screen memos and Air Control, so it will be interesting to see what else Samsung has in store for S Pen and phablet lovers.
Galaxy Note 9: Bixby
Bixby was greatly improved on the Galaxy S9, bringing food scanning, AR makeup, and live translations, but it didn’t get a bump to version 2. According to Samsung’s mobile chief DJ Koh, however, it’s on the way. In an interview with ZDNet at Mobile World Congress in February, Koh confirmed that Samsung is already testing the next version of its AI assistant with the hope that the company “will be able to unveil Bixby 2.0 when we launch the Galaxy Note 9.”
The second version of Bixby is expected to expand support to more Samsung products, such as TVs and appliances, while tightening the integration within the ecosystem. Samsung has said its goal is to make Bixby “ubiquitous.” The new version of the Note 9 could be the first step toward making that happen.
Galaxy Note 9: S Pen
Each version of the Note brings some changes to what the S Pen can do, and the Note 9 will be no exception. Samsung executives have already said that it started work on its next phablet as soon as the Note 8 development was wrapped up and is exploring new ways to enhance its most unique feature: “We are already considering how to approach the development of the next Note by evaluating the latest model and looking for ways to improve upon signature features like the S Pen.”
Add to the speculation a giant tease by Twitter tipster Ice Universe, who said the Note 9 would bring "the biggest update in the history of the S Pen." Rumors are light on what the next stylus could bring, but All About Samsung has suggested that built-in Bluetooth could be on the way. A recent patent suggests Samsung is working on ways to merge touch and pen interactivity for a smooth, seamless experience. Other rumors also claim that Samsung is working on adding a microphone to the S Pen for calls and voice control.
Galaxy Note 9: Camera
The Note 8 was the first to bring a dual camera to a Samsung flagship phone, a feature that quickly made its way over to the S9+ as well. Additionally, the S9 introduced cool new features such as Dual Aperture and Super Slow-Mo that will no doubt make it to the Note 9 when it launches. However, Samsung is likely to use the Note 9 to debut some next-gen camera tech as well.
Rumors are kind of sketchy at the moment, but some reports have said Samsung is working on a 16MP sensor (up from the current 12MP) with an f/1.4 aperture (versus f/1.7 on the Note 8 and f/1.5 on the S9). Samsung last used a 16MP sensor in the Note 5 before switching to the dual-pixel 12MP lens on the Note 7, so a megapixel bump would be a big deal.
Galaxy Note 9: Price and release date
Samsung has announced that the Galaxy Note 9 will be announced at an even in New York on August 9. That's earlier than last year’s Note 8 launch, which was unveiled on August 23. That should mean it will go on sale near the end of August based on Samsung's usual schedule. And you can expect it to cost a bundle. The Note 8 landed with a price tag of $950.