Samsung Galaxy Note 9: Everything you need to know

Steven Winkelman
S Pen

Concerned that the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus are a little too small for your hands? Want a smartphone that borders on the comically large? Then the Galaxy Note range is for you, and the Galaxy Note 9 is likely to be the next model released. The phone isn’t official yet, but there has been plenty of talk about its design, specs, and features already. Here’s everything you need to know about the Galaxy Note 9.

Galaxy Note 9 may be last Note handset

The upcoming Galaxy Note 9 may be the Note handset released by Samsung. According to the South Korean business site The Bell, Samsung is planning to merge its Note and Plus line of handsets after the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus in 2019.

The decision is reportedly a response to a very saturated smartphone market and comes on the heels of an underwhelming earnings guidance from Samsung. Several analysts have reported sales for this year’s Galaxy S9 handsets have been underwhelming: So much so that, for the first time, Q2 shipments of Galaxy S9  devices is actually less than its first-quarter shipments.

Although Samsung may merge its Plus and Note lines, that doesn’t mean all is lost. The handsets are very similar and we couldn’t fathom Samsung pulling its beloved stylus.

Software

While we can’t be entirely sure, it’s a pretty safe bet to assume the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 will ship with Android 8.1 Oreo. A Samsung executive has also confirmed the upcoming Note 9 will ship with the latest version of Samsung’s A.I. assistant, Bixby 2.0. While Samsung is a little behind on its A.I. assistant, its Bixby 2.0 update will bring enhanced natural language processes, improved noise resistance capability, and quicker response times.

Another rumor claims we will see improvements to the UX for the Galaxy Note 9. Though there aren’t any details, it’s possible the Note 9 will ship with Samsung Experience improvements.

Release date and pricing

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Samsung sent out its invites for this year’s Samsung Galaxy Unpacked event. While the devices being shown at the event haven’t been confirmed, we do know the event is being held on August 9 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, at 11 a.m. ET. Judging by the invitation, it’s very likely Samsung will debut the Galaxy Note 9.

Pricing for the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 has yet to be announced. However, a Polish tech site called Spiders Web may have given us a heads-up. The site states the Note 9 will sell for 4,299 zł; that comes out to about $1,162. That said, we don’t expect the Note 9 to actually cost that much since Polish pricing includes tax. We anticipate the Note 9 will sell for somewhere between $950 and $1,000.

Design

We know the Galaxy Note 9 will be a big phone, but will its design be much different from the Note 8? The latest rumors surrounding the Note 9 suggest it will essentially be a carbon copy of its predecessor.

The latest leak comes courtesy of Twitter and is the first time we’re actually seeing the Note 9 as opposed to a render. If the leaked photos are real, the main difference between the Note 9 and its predecessor appears to be its fingerprint sensor placement.

An earlier leak shows what looks like a promotional image for the phone, based on the wording along the top of the leak. Take special note of the horizontal camera array, S Pen stylus holder on the base, headphone jack, USB Type-C charging port, and a speaker grille. Yes, it’s almost identical to the Note 8.

The phone is blue, while the S Pen stylus is a vibrant yellow — an unusual combination. And while it is a bit bold, we’re pretty confident this will be at least one color option since its featured in all its canary yellow glory on the invitation for the Unpacked event in August.

@evleaks / Evan Blass

An older rumor suggests the Note 9 will come with an additional button on the side. A leaked image of a Note 9 case shows a button cover for a fifth button, close to the bottom of the phone’s right-hand side, below the power button. This button may have some form of camera functionality and may be used to take photos or screenshots.

Positioned at the bottom-right edge, the button would be perfectly placed to trigger the camera shutter. Of course, this could just be an early mock-up of a possible Note 9 redesign, but it’s an odd addition if there aren’t at least rumors that an extra key is possible.

The same leaked image shows the phone may place the fingerprint sensor under the camera lenses rather than alongside. It’s a small change, but one that will make a big difference to its usability, just as it did on the Galaxy S9 Plus. The camera lenses will remain in a horizontal formation, central on the rear panel.

S Pen functionality

What will make the Note 9 special? Samsung has said it’s investigating “signature Note features” to upgrade on the Note 9. That would include the S Pen stylus for sure, and it’s looking ever more likely that Samsung has thrown hard into the S Pen for the Note 9.

The latest from Ice Universe claims that the S Pen will function as a separate Bluetooth device, and will be able to work as a long-range camera timer/clicker, will feature music controls, and will have other Bluetooth functionality built in.

Other sources have corroborated this news, though some fans have greeted it with trepidation, saying (not unreasonably) that they don’t want an S Pen they have to charge. Hopefully, Samsung will be featuring a way to charge the S Pen while docked — though you have to imagine this will impact the Note 9’s battery life.

Battery and charging

The Galaxy Note brand is typically framed as Samsung’s productivity phone, and we’d expect the Note 9 to have battery size to keep up with such use. While we’re yet to see official specs from Samsung, veteran leaker Ice Universe believes Samsung will use a 4,000mAh battery to keep the Note 9 up and running. His latest tweet on the subject doubles down on that but also sheds some disturbing light on the Note 9’s charging capabilities.

As pointed out by another tweet, that amounts to 15W of power, not 10W — but Ice stood by his statement, clarifying that while the theoretical power would be 15W, Samsung’s limitations mean that 10W would be the max allowed. This means that while the Note 9 would see a significant upgrade over the Note 8’s 3,300mAh battery, the same charging speed will see the Note 9 sat on the charger for longer. This is especially worrisome when other brands have far surpassed Samsung’s charging speed.

FCC documentation says wireless charging will be returning and may be joined by a new, more powerful wireless charger. The charger may be more powerful than existing Samsung wireless chargers and would help to quickly charge the Note 9’s potentially larger battery.

Specifications

In March, information about the upcoming Galaxy S9 appeared courtesy of Geekbench. Benchmarks on the site claim the phone will feature the expected Qualcomm 845 chipset as well as 6GB of RAM.

Backing that leak up, the Note 9 was listed in a leak of the devices using the Snapdragon 845 in 2018. As per tradition, other regions will probably have a Note 9 powered by a Samsung-designed Exynos chip.

Security

Let’s Go Digital

It looks like Samsung may be planning to update its Intelligent Scan technology. A new patent shows Samsung is working on a fish-eye selfie camera for the Note 9, which, in addition to providing viewing angles of 150 degrees or more, would also improve iris-scanning capabilities.

Despite Samsung filing patents for in-display fingerprint scanning technology, leaked case images all show a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor on the Note 9. Samsung is said to still be improving the technology and actually expects it to be ready for use in 2019.

That’s all we know about the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 for now. We’ll continue to update as we learn more.

Updated on July 20: Added information about Samsung possibly retiring the Note line.