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Samsung Galaxy Note 9 hands-on: Pro Android comes at a price

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 hands-on: Pro Android comes at a price

Greater display, higher S Pen, and bolder colours. The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 might not come as a nice shock, after the standard cavalcade of pre-announcement leaks, however as we speak’s huge Unpacked information is wealthy pickings for stylus followers nonetheless. The large query was simply how a lot would Samsung differentiate the Note 9, not solely from its predecessor, however from the Galaxy S9+ launched earlier this yr.

The reply, it seems, is “it’s complicated.” That is no grand reinvention, and Note eight house owners might not discover themselves choosing their jaws off the ground at what the Note 9 brings to the desk. What’s on supply, although, is a considerate mix of what’s been Samsung’s 2018 technique to date, together with a renewed concentrate on what has all the time made the Note collection such a hit.

First issues first: prepare for some colour in your life. Samsung has been criticized up to now for holding again the US launch of its brightest finishes, and it’s getting into the exact opposite course with the Galaxy Note 9. When it hits US retailer cabinets on August 24, it’ll be provided both Ocean Blue – with a fetchingly contrasting yellow S Pen – or Lavender Purple. No black or silver to be discovered. Internationally, there’ll be Metallic Copper and Midnight Black variants, too.

In some ways, the similarities are larger than the variations whenever you put the Note 9 aspect by aspect with final yr’s Note eight. The show is barely bigger on the newer telephone – 6.Four-inches, moderately than 6.Three-inches – although the Tremendous AMOLED panel runs at the identical 2960 x 1440 Quad HD+ decision. There’s nonetheless IP68 water and mud resistance, whether or not or not the S Pen is in its silo, and the stylus itself is IP68 compliant too.

S Pen from a distance

The Galaxy Note collection has all the time been centered round Samsung’s S Pen digital stylus, and the Note 9 is not any totally different. Till now, each interplay between the pen and the telephone has been at shut quarters, however this new era of S Pen provides in Bluetooth LE.

It means the S Pen can management the Note 9 from as much as 30 ft away. It’s powered by a supercapacitor, which recharges each time the stylus is docked into the telephone. 40 seconds inside provides round 30 minutes of use, or as much as 200 clicks of the S Pen’s aspect button. Even when the supercapacitor runs out of juice, although the Bluetooth gained’t work you’ll nonetheless be capable of use the stylus on the show like traditional.

As earlier than, you’ll be able to jot down notes on the smartphone’s lock display, make sketches, signal paperwork, annotate shows, and usually navigate the Note 9 with the pen. New with this Bluetooth model, nevertheless, is the power to press and maintain the aspect button and launch an app. It’s user-customizable, although might be preset to the digital camera. Double-clicking the button after the digital camera app is open flips between the entrance and rear cameras; clicking it as soon as takes a shot.

In case you’re listening to music, in the meantime, you should use the S Pen to navigate by means of your playlist, with help for play/pause and skipping ahead and backward by means of the tracks. Alternatively, you need to use it as a clicker to navigate ahead and again via a presentation.

Briefly, it’s the power to regulate the Note 9’s core options from afar. For those who’re on the treadmill and need to management your music with out fumbling in your telephone, the S Pen could possibly be a useful shortcut. Equally, if you find yourself absent from group pictures, the S Pen is a lot extra versatile than a commonplace timer.

It’s more likely to come into its personal, although, when third social gathering apps begin to use it. Samsung has an SDK for builders to combine S Pen Bluetooth performance into their apps, although the corporate says it has nothing to share proper now on which third-parties is perhaps utilizing it. That’ll apparently come later this yr.

A telephone for power-users

Inside, there’s Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 – for the US market, at least – with some customized Samsung tweaks to the GPU to enhance efficiency, and a “water carbon cooling system” with a thermal spreader 3 times the dimensions of the Note eight’s. There’s a Cat.18 LTE Superior modem, too, with help for as much as 1.2 Gbps downloads, service relying, because of its Four×Four MIMO/CA and LAA. WiFi 802.11ac (2.Four/5 GHz), Bluetooth, ANT+, NFC, and the standard positioning sensors are all included, along with a USB-C port.

Samsung could have two storage variants of the Note 9, additionally differentiated by RAM. The 128 GB Note 9 will include 6 GB of LPDDR4 reminiscence, whereas a 512 GB Note 9 will bump that as much as eight GB. Every may have a microSD slot, supporting as much as 512 GB playing cards. You continue to get a Three.5mm headphone jack, and stereo audio system which were tuned by AKG.

Whichever storage/reminiscence combo you decide, the Note 9 packs a Four,000 mAh battery, a appreciable step up from the three,300 mAh of its predecessor. There’s quick wi-fi charging, too, and Samsung has a new Quick Wi-fi Duo Charger that has two Qi-compliant pads, which might be bought as an adjunct. The idea is that you simply’d cost your Note 9 on the upright aspect, and a smartwatch on the flat aspect, although because it’s normal Qi you may cost any mixture of suitable units.

What modifications there’ve been, then, are small however pretty significant. The fingerprint sensor has, following the well-received instance of the Galaxy S9, been moved from alongside the rear digital camera to beneath it. That makes it a lot simpler to seek out together with your fingertip, with out inadvertently smudging the digital camera lens within the course of. You get Knox safety and Samsung’s different biometrics – facial recognition and iris scanning – too.

A better digital camera

The digital camera, too, follows the trajectory of the Note eight and the Galaxy S9. It’s a twin lens, with twin optical picture stabilization: one of many 12-megapixel sensors has a 2x optical zoom, whereas the opposite has Samsung’s trick Twin Pixel know-how. That permits the sensor to flick between f/1.5 and f/2.Four, relying on lighting circumstances. As earlier than, you possibly can depart the digital camera to select the aperture it thinks is greatest, or you possibly can swipe into Pro mode and change it manually.

The hardware is identical as earlier than, in reality, however Samsung is placing a lot of emphasis on its up to date auto mode. Most smartphone customers, the corporate suggests, aren’t trying to dig into the minutia of the digital camera app’s settings. As an alternative, it argues, they only need the telephone to ship one of the best photographs potential.

Scene Optimizer is a new function added to the auto mode, which makes use of AI to determine totally different scenes and alter the digital camera settings accordingly. It’ll differentiate between 20 several types of scene – together with issues like mountains, meals, textual content, flowers, pets, and extra – and tune the brightness, distinction, white stability, and colour. So, when you’re taking footage of flowers, the Note 9 may increase the colours to provide petals extra saturation. In case you favor, in fact, you possibly can simply flip Scene Optimizer off.

The opposite change to the digital camera app is Flaw Detection. For those who’ve ever swiped by means of pictures you took earlier, solely to understand that photographs you thought can be nice are, in reality, blurred or full of individuals blinking, the Note 9 goals to help. Every shot is analyzed, and the telephone can flag issues – blurred pictures, smudges on the lens, individuals blinking, or a backlit topic – and recommend you retake the shot earlier than the second is gone.

A cellular workstation

Samsung DeX enters its third era with the Galaxy Note 9, and it’s getting even simpler to hook up an exterior show and switch the smartphone into a PC alternative. In contrast to the docking stations of earlier than, the Note 9 can change into DeX mode with a USB-C to HDMI adapter. Samsung will promote you one, however any spec-compliant dongle ought to work.

Plug it in, and also you get a dual-screen desktop. The Note 9’s show – and all its apps operating on Android eight.1 Oreo – might be interacted with independently of what’s on the HDMI show. You should use a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, or flip the smartphone into a digital trackpad by way of an choice within the notification tray. The on-screen keyboard mechanically pops up on the telephone should you encounter a textual content area.

Pricing and availability

Just like the rumors steered, the Note 9 gained’t be a low cost telephone. The 128 GB model shall be priced at $999.99, and out there unlocked direct from Samsung, in addition to by means of AT&T, Verizon, T-Cellular, Dash, U.S. Mobile, and Xfinity. It’ll even be bought at Amazon, Greatest Purchase, Costco, Sam’s Membership, Goal, Walmart, and different shops.

The 512 GB Note 9, in the meantime, can be $1,249.99. It’ll be provided via AT&T, T-Cellular, Verizon, U.S. Mobile, and from Samsung direct, in addition to different choose retailers.

As for when you will get it, preorders will open tomorrow, on August 10. In-store availability will comply with come August 24. The Samsung Quick Wi-fi Duo Charger, in the meantime, may also go up for preorder on August 10.

Those that preorder will get to decide on both a pair of AKG noise-cancelling headphones (often $299) or a Fortnite Galaxy Pores and skin with 15,000 V-bucks ($150 worth general), or each for $99 extra.

Refinement, not revolution

For 2018, Samsung has targeted its attentions on the basics of the Note expertise, and the Note 9 is all the higher for it. What’s notable is that, even with the enhancements, there’s no large gulf between what we noticed final yr, and what Samsung is providing as we speak.

Then once more, we weren’t essentially in search of a full reinvention for its personal sake. What Samsung has finished is introduce clear area between the Note 9 and the Galaxy S9+, one thing which couldn’t be stated for that telephone and final yr’s Note eight. Higher S Pen performance, the choice of extra reminiscence and considerably extra storage, and a smarter digital camera that guarantees to make images extra environment friendly all faucet into the core message that claims the Note is about getting issues achieved.

That productiveness comes with a hefty price tag, although if current smartphone flagships have proven us something, it’s that there’s definitely a not-insignificant cohort of individuals prepared to pay prime greenback for the highest-end gadget. In case you’ve been holding on to your Galaxy Note 5, the Note 9’s attraction is even stronger. These contemplating changing their Note eight, although, may discover the Note 9’s enhancements simply don’t put sufficient distance between the telephone that’s presently of their pocket. We’ll discover out extra on that entrance in our full assessment.