It will come as a surprise to absolutely no one that the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is now official following the company’s Unpacked event. It’s an evolution of the Galaxy Note 8 but one with some notable upgrades. This is still mostly your standard Note phone, though. It’s big, pretty, and comes with a stylus.
The Note 9 has a slightly larger 6.4-inch OLED display this year with the same 2960 x 1440 resolution. Inside is a Snapdragon 845, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. That’s just the base model, though. There’s an upgraded phone with 512GB of storage and 8GB of RAM. The most important internal change is Samsung’s new 4,000mAh battery — the Note 8 has a 3,300mAh cell. The company has been wary of pushing battery capacity too aggressively after the Note 7 started catching fire, but growing Chinese smartphone makers like Huawei and Xiaomi have made big batteries the norm.
Samsung has also added an adjustable aperture 12MP main camera to the Note 9, which is paired with a 12MP telephotos camera. The adjustable aperture module debuted on the Galaxy S9, and was one of the only upgrades over the GS8. The fingerprint sensor is now below the camera, whereas the Note 8 had the sensor next to the cameras. That was a real hand-stretcher.
The S Pen stylus is what makes the Note phones a distinct product in Samsung’s lineup. Since the very first Note, the S Pen has been an unpowered inductive stylus based on Wacom technology. With the Note 9, Samsung has added Bluetooth functionality to the S Pen. Although, it seems a bit underutilized. You can control the camera with a press of the S Pen button, and there will be an SDK for developers to tie into the button in order to add new functionality.
Because the S Pen has Bluetooth, it needs power. Samsung cleverly included inductive charging in the S Pen, so it’ll fill up when docked in the phone. Rather than a battery, the S Pen has a supercapacitor inside that keeps it running for about 30 minutes at a time. It recharges in less than a minute, too.
The Note 9 launches with Android 8.1, which would have been fine a few weeks ago. Now, Oreo is yesterday’s news with the launch of Android 9 Pie. The Note 9 will get an update… eventually. It’ll cost you $1,000 if you want the base model, but the upgraded one is even more wildly expensive. You’re looking at about $1,250 for the version with more storage and RAM. The phone launches on August 24th.