We're about to find out just how Samsung follows up on the Galaxy Note 8. Samsung today (Aug. 9) is set to pull back the curtain on the Galaxy Note 9, with rumors surrounding the new big-screen phone tipping everything from upgraded cameras to a whole new Bixby assistant to a smarter Bluetooth S Pen.
With Samsung's Unpacked event set to begin in a few hours, here's one last look at the rumors we've heard about the Galaxy Note 9, with Samsung providing many of the juiciest tidbits.
Latest Update (August 9)
- Galaxy Note 9 pre-orders could start sooner than expected.
- A Samsung executive has essentially confirmed rumors about the Note 9's battery, storage capacity and Fortnite tie-in.
- Here's how to follow along with today's Note 9 unveiling, along with a look at other products Samsung could announce.
What are the Galaxy Note 9 specs?
When it debuts later today, there shouldn't be too many surprises under the Galaxy Note 9 hood, thanks to a steady stream of leaks that have painted a pretty clear picture about the phone.
|Display Size||6.4 inches|
|Rear Camera||Dual 12-MP cameras with variable aperture|
|Colors||Black, Brown, Blue Purple|
One major bit of spec-related news to break concerns the phone's battery, which will reportedly see an increase from 3,300 mAh to 4,000 mAh based on a document from a Brazilian telecommunications certification board shared on SlashLeaks. Samsung has reportedly been eyeing a larger capacity battery even though the design of the Note 9 figures to be unchanged from its predecessor.
Samsung has essentially confirmed you'll get battery life in its next phone, first with a video depicting the woes of a rapidly draining phone battery and promising that things will change on August 9 — the same day as its Note 9 launch event. Another video — a leaked Note 9 launch video that Samsung wishes you didn't see — promises "all-day battery" for the new phone.
Samsung is also all but certain to deliver the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor inside the handset, according to recently leaked benchmarks on HTML5Test. This chip turned in some impressive numbers on our Galaxy S9 benchmark tests, though the overall horsepower falls short of the iPhone X's A11 Bionic chip.
The Galaxy Note 8 came with a robust 6GB of RAM, but other phones like the OnePlus 6 are shipping with up to 8GB, so it will be interesting to see whether Samsung offers this as an option. Eldar Murtazin of Mobile Review claims to have gone hands-on with the Galaxy Note 9 and says that the phone will have 6GB of memory in its standard configuration but that an 8GB option will be available, too.
We would like to see an upgrade in storage. And a recent leak points to the Galaxy Note 9 getting just that; the top-end model could have up to 512GB of storage. In his report, Murtazin says the standard Note 9 will offer 64GB of storage, with 256GB and 512GB configurations also available. A report on SamMobile suggests that the base model Note 9 could feature 128GB of storage, though there's a possibility that could be for markets outside the U.S. At any rate, Samsung is certainly promising more storage in its Note 9 teaser videos, and its leaked launch video suggests that there will be a 512GB model of the new phone.
Like the Galaxy Note 8, you can expect to find a big screen featuring an 18.5:9 aspect ratio. There's no telling yet, however, exactly how big that display will be, though initial rumblings from website SamMobile point to a 6.4-inch screen. That 6.4-inch screen size is backed up by a report from The Bell out of Korea.
Bloomberg's report on the Note 9's release date says Samsung will focus on improving the camera in this year's model. That sounds like the Note 9 could adopt some of the camera improvements introduced with the Galaxy S9 earlier this year, including a variable aperture for better photos in low-light settings and multiframe noise reduction.
What about the Note 9's S Pen?
The S Pen has been one of the major strengths of the Note lineup, and it could be gaining more powers with the Note 9's release. At the very least, Samsung's leaked launch video promises an "all new powerful S Pen" that's been redesigned for the Note 9.
Samsung hasn't revealed any details about those powers, but other sources have. Leaker Ice Universe tweeted that the S Pen will add Bluetooth connectivity, which will let you use the stylus to control the phone remotely, including tasks like controlling music playback. Yet another tweet featured a flyer prominently displaying the updated stylus. The FCC published a filing that essentially confirms Samsung is preparing a Bluetooth-equipped S Pen.
On Reddit, poster Wan997 says that the S Pen's button can double as the remote shutter for the Note 9's camera. The color of your S Pen will also reflect the color of memos you jot down with the stylus' Screen Off Memo feature. And 40 seconds of charging will apparently give you half-an-hour of S Pen use.
What software will the Note 9 run?
On the software side, you can expect Samsung's Galaxy Note 9 to be running Android Oreo, but whether it's Android 8.0.0 or Android 8.1 isn't yet clear. The newer Android 9 Pie, released just days ahead of the Note 9 unveiling, will likely be reserved for the upcoming Pixel 3 line.
The Note 9 could also arrive with some significant software pre-installed. Both 9to5Google and XDA Developers say that the phone's release will mark the debut of the popular Fortnite battle royale game on Android. What's more, the Note 9 could be the only device where you can play Fortnite initially, as Samsung may have arranged for an exclusivity window for the app. It's apparently part of the phone maker's plan to position the Note 9 as a great phone for gamers.
Even if there is an emphasis on gaming, expect Samsung to continue to tout the Note 9 as a productivity booster. To that end, WinFuture says you'll be able to hook up a Note 9 to an external display using a DisplayPort-enabled USB-C cable and use the phone as a portable PC. That would mean you wouldn't need to lug around a DeX Pad or DeX Station dock, if true.
When will Samsung release the Note 9?
Today's the day. Samsung's Unpacked event begins at 11 a.m. ET — you can watch the live stream here — and the new phone is almost certain to ship Aug. 24.
Several rumors have suggested the Note 9 will ship on August 24, with a Korean carrier accidentally revealing the date. Samsung has essentially confirmed August 24 as a ship date, by letting you register to pre-order the phone early. Doing so ensures you'll get the Note 9 by August 24, Samsung says. (The pre-order site also teases information about trade-ins, where turning in a newer device like an iPhone X could knock $450 off the Note 9's price tag.)
Last year, the Galaxy S8 didn't ship until mid-September, so Samsung is really speeding up the launch of the Note 9, allegedly because Galaxy S9 sales are slower than expected. Getting the Note 9 out as quickly as possible would help Samsung sidestep possible direct competition with Apple's next round of iPhones, which could launch in September.
What about Bixby?
According to a report in the Korea Herald in a recent interview, Samsung's Research AI Center chief Gray G. Lee said that the Galaxy Note 9 will come with a next-generation version of the company's artificial intelligence features. He said that the features will be baked into Bixby 2.0, which will debut on the Galaxy Note 9.
"Samsung's AI vision has five directions: user centric, always learning, always there, always helpful and always safe," Lee said in the interview, according to Slashgear.
At Mobile World Congress earlier this year, Samsung mobile chief DJ Koh confirmed that his company will be delivering the second-generation of Bixby in the Galaxy Note 9.
Samsung unveiled Bixby 2.0 late last year and called it a "bold reinvention" of the company's virtual personal assistant. Not much is known about all the ways Bixby 2.0 will innovate on last year's version, but Samsung has confirmed that it will be capable of recognizing individual voices. It'll also be capable of being integrated into apps and services, expanding its reach in mobile. For what it's worth, IceUniverse tweeted that a "Bixby 2.0 based AI UX" — or interface powered by artificial intelligence — will be part of the Note 9.
Will there be an in-screen fingerprint sensor?
Although the Galaxy Note 8 offers a fingerprint sensor, it's on the back of the phone, and moving its location below the rear cameras (as Samsung did with the S9) won't make it much more convenient to use. A reader built into the screen would likely make unlocking the Note 9 a lot faster. But it doesn't look like it's going to happen, at least with this phone. According to ChosunBiz and SamMobile, Samsung has decided to save the in-display sensor for the Galaxy S10, rather than launching it in the Galaxy Note 9.
What will the Note 9 look like?
While some early reports about the Note 9 suggested the new phone might have a boxier design, more recent leaks have indicated we're going to see a phone that looks a lot like the Note 8.
Our best looks come via Twitter, from well-known leaker Evan Blass who posted an image on Twitter that appears to be the Note 9 and its new S Pen stylus. The image shows that the fingerprint sensor has moved below the dual rear camera lenses and that the S Pen has a button, presumably tied to its new Bluetooth features.
The front of the phone in Blass' leak squares with an earlier image that appeared on Android Headlines, which posted a leaked render of the front of the Note 9 provided by what it called a reliable source. That leak shows a phone that repeats the Note 8's Infinity Display, though with slightly thinner bezels to squeeze in a bigger display.
That's consistent with previous reports. Leaker Ice Universe tweeted in late March that the Note 9's design would be "consistent with the S9's." He also said it would employ the same cameras as the Galaxy S9+. Based on Ice Universe's reporting, Samsung may be saving its serious updates for the Galaxy S10 in 2019.
Another leaked design, again from Ice Universe, shows a front screen that looks a lot like the Galaxy Note 8. However, the bezels appear to be thinner on the new phone, according to BGR. That would allow for a slight increase in screen size without making the Note 9 any larger than the Note 8. Samsung pulled off a similar trick with the Galaxy S9, shrinking the bezels from the S8 will keep the screen size the same; that made for a more compact phone.
What colors will the Note 9 come in?
Samsung may be planning to shake things up from the Note 8's color scheme. A leaked render posted at Android Headlines shows off the phone in black, brown and blue. (Expect Samsung to come up with fancier names, such as Midnight Black, to describe the colors.) Another report at TechRadar pointed to a purple version of the Note 9.
Will the Note 9 fold in half?
No, you're thinking of Samsung's foldable phone project, reportedly called the Galaxy X. That long-rumored phone isn't arriving until early 2019.
Will the Note 9 support 5G networking?
While carriers are working to rollout higher-speed 5G networks, those efforts won't really pay off until 2019. Qualcomm, which is heavily involved in the migration to the new networking standard, tells us that the first 5G-ready devices are likely to be mobile hotspots; 5G phones won't arrive until next year. With the Note 8 landing in August, it's going to use LTE.
For the latest on 5G networking, turn to our 5G guide.
What will the Note 9 cost?
We still don't know how Samsung will price the Galaxy Note 9, but if history is any guide it will be in the same $930 to $960 range as the current Note 8.
The Galaxy S9 starts at $720 and the S9+ at $840, so it's reasonable to expect that the Note 9 will command a similar $100 premium over the larger S9+.
For what it's worth, Polish site Spider's Web claims the Note 9 will cost 4,299 zloty in Poland — in line with the price of the Galaxy Note 8. That's adding to the speculation Samsung's not planning a big change in price for its new phone. A leaked Indonesian sales flyer posted at SlashLeaks also shows pricing that translates to around $935 for a 128GB phone and $1,210 for a 512GB model.
Credit: Shaun Lucas/Tom's Guide