Samsung unveiled its much-anticipated Galaxy Note9 Thursday at its Unpacked event in New York City. The company made several other announcements as well, as it presented its vision for a seamlessly connected world.
“We are creating a galaxy of experiences that span not just devices and locations but platforms and brands,” said DJ Koh, CEO of Samsung Electronics, at the event. These experiences are “built on a foundation of intelligence that learns, adopts and anticipates — not to control your choices but to enhance human capabilities and expand human possibilities.”
Samsung will share more information at the Samsung developers’ conference to be held in San Francisco in November.
The Galaxy Note9
The Galaxy Note9 has a 6.4 inch screen with an end-to-end display, meaning there is no bezel.
It has a 4,000mAh battery, the largest ever on a Note, which lasts all day, according to Samsung.
The Note9 comes in 2 versions, one with 128 GB of storage and 6 GB of RAM, and one with 512 GB of storage and 8 GB of RAM. Both have a microSD card slot. With Samsung’s upcoming 512-GB card, the 512-GB Note9 will have 1 TB of storage capacity.
The phone’s 10nm processor supports network speeds of up to 1.2Gbps.
Its fingerprint scanner is located on the back below the camera.
The Note9’s intelligent camera adapts to ambient light. A super speed dual image sensor lets it offer super slow-motion. The camera automatically notifies users when it detects a flaw in a photo so they can take another shot. It also uses scene recognition to identify different subjects and optimize their color tone.
Samsung built Samsung DeX into the Note9, allowing users to plug the phone into a large display with an HDMI adapter for desktop functionality. While so connected, users can perform normal tasks on the Note9 simultaneously.
Samsung’s Bixby personal assistant, which is built into the Galaxy Note9, is more conversational and personal, the company said, and now works with Google Maps.
Samsung has been working with Google to make sure Bixby is compatible with certain Google services, noted Ji Soo Yi, the company’s VP of AI strategy. Users also can invoke Google Assistant on the Note9.
The Note9 is available for preorder starting Friday and will be released Aug. 24. Note9 pricing is US$1,000 for the 128-GB version and $1,250 for the 512-GB version.
Samsung offers up to $450 in trade-ins toward the purchase of a Galaxy Note9.
Consumers can redeem preorder bonuses through the Samsung Shop app whether they preorder the Note9 through Samsung or a carrier. The Note9 will be available at Best Buy, Amazon, Costco, Sam’s Club, Target and Walmart.
Some consumers can score bonuses — either a set of AKG noise-canceling headphones or 15,000 V-bucks, Fortnite’s in-game currency.
The S Pen
Samsung improved the S Pen for the Galaxy Note9, giving it Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity so it can be used as a remote control for the phone as well as for TVs.
The S Pen can be used to navigate the Note9, translate languages and send messages.
Samsung has been working with “a handful of partners” to provide more functionality on the S Pen and soon will open the SDK, announced Jonathan Wong, director of product marketing.
The S Pen is charged by placing it into its slot on the Galaxy Note9.
Charging takes 40 seconds, and one charge lasts half an hour, Wong said. It doesn’t need charging for standard S Pen functions, such as taking notes or drawing on the Note9 screen.
Goodies for Gamers
The Note9 is fine-tuned for gaming, having a water carbon cooling system and a smart performance adjuster algorithm, so “everything is going to run smoothly, even in the most intense gaming sessions,” said Drew Blackard, senior director of product marketing at Samsung. It comes with AKG-tuned stereo speakers.
EPIC Games made its Fortnite beta generally available to Android users on Friday, but EPIC CEO Tim Sweeney invited players with Samsung Galaxy to download it “right now” when he made the announcement on Thursday from the Unpacked stage.
Gamers using a Note9 or Samsung Tab S4 will get access to a special skin.
Samsung’s New Galaxy Watch
Samsung also unveiled the new Galaxy Watch, with a high-res AMOLED display and integrated touch function; military grade durability; and Corning Gorilla DX+ glass. It’s water resistant to 5 atmospheres.
The watch is available in two sizes.
One charge lasts for several days, and the device has an optimized processor created specifically for smartwatches, said Elina Vives, senior director of marketing at Samsung.
The watch works with the Note9 or on its own. It has standalone LTE connectivity, and Samsung has been working with carriers around the world to provide seamless connectivity, she said.
Health-conscious owners can use the Galaxy Watch with the Note9 and the Samsung Health App to keep tabs on their well being.
The Galaxy Watch syncs with the user’s calendar when the new MyDay watch face is used. There are more than 60,000 watch faces available in the Galaxy App Store.
Galaxy Home, Spotify
Samsung also unveiled the Galaxy Home, a smart speaker with 6 AKG mid-to-high-range speakers and a subwoofer. It integrates Harman technologies to detect the user’s location and beam music directly at the user. It also has eight microphones that can pick up voice commands from across the room.
Samsung has partnered with Spotify, so users can have their music transfer seamlessly from one Samsung device to another. Soon, Galaxy 9 users will be able to use Bixby to link to Spotify.
“Samsung has a better platform to build from than most of its competition,” noted Gerritt Schneemann, senior analyst at IHS Markit.
However, “to realize its vision, a user has to completely buy into the Samsung device ecosystem,” he told BlueHillco. “I don’t think that’s a universally realistic outcome.”
Samsung has been lining up or working with various partners to realize its vision for a seamlessly interconnected world.
That is crucial to its success, suggested Michael Jude, program manager at Stratecast/Frost & Sullivan
“So far, Samsung’s approach has been to invent the connectivity itself,” he told BlueHillco. “That hasn’t worked well for appliances and its connected home offerings. It needs to use standard OSes and welcome others into its ecosystem.”
Samsung’s smartphones run Android, but its smartwatches run Tizen, its own operating system. It can run Android apps, but “the developer support for Tizen isn’t great, and it competes with development for Google’s Wear OS,” Schneemann noted. “It’s a tough space.”