The season for buying a new phone is officially upon us: From now through October, you can expect the biggest tech companies — Samsung, Apple, and Google — to drop the latest versions in their much-hyped device lineups.
Today marks the first official reveal: Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Note9, the newest in its Note series, which has overcome past controversy to earn standout reviews and a strong fanbase. Fans of the Note will pleased to know that many of its trademark features — a larger form factor, the headphone jack, and S Pen stylus — are still present in the Note9. So are other, at this point, expected features: Wireless charging, an infinity display (slightly larger at 6.4 inches), and water resistance.
There are notable upgrades to these existing features in the Note9, as well as beautiful new colors that pop: ocean blue, which comes with a contrasting, vibrant yellow S Pen, and lavender purple, which comes with a lavender S Pen. However, for those looking for a lower price point on a new smartphone, the Galaxy Note9 is not the answer. The phone is another in the era of the $1,000 smartphone, with the 128 GB model costing $999.99 and the 512 GB version costing $1,249.99.
The Galaxy Note9 has a more powerful battery and added storage space, starting at 128 GB. The $999 iPhone X, by comparison, starts at 64 GB. With the new Note, you should be able to escape those "low storage space" notifications for good, and still keep all your Instagram outtakes in your camera roll.
The phone is fast — really fast, with network speeds up to 1.2 gigabits per second. What that essentially means is you can easily download Netflix episodes in seconds, without needing to worry about a poor connection standing in the way of your streaming.
This will also be helpful for Fortnite players, who will be happy to know the Galaxy Note9 and other Galaxy devices are the first to offer access to the Android version of the popular game, starting today.
Like the iPhone X and the previous Galaxy Note8, the Galaxy Note9 has a dual camera. However, there are two important camera upgrades that Samsung is calling "scene optimizer" and "flaw detection."
Depending on what you're taking a photo of — whether it's a person, food, or nature — the Note9 will automatically detect the scene and adjust qualities such as brightness, white balance, and color saturation accordingly. Macarons can look brighter; flower petals more detailed. If you don't like the scene optimizer, you can always turn it off.
Flaw detection seems like a useful tool for anyone who has ever taken a photo quickly, only to later realize that there was a blur or someone's eyes were shut. If you take a photo where one of those "flaws" is present, you'll see a notification onscreen alerting you as such so you can take another photo.
Samsung's S Pen, the small stylus that's stored inside the phone and can be used to write notes, draw onscreen, and mark up documents, gets some added functionality in the Note9. Now, the S Pen has Bluetooth support, letting you use it to control your phone — for example, taking a photo or using it as a remote for a presentation — from up to 30 feet away. Fortunately, you don't need to charge it separately: The S Pen charges fully in a mere 40 seconds when you insert it back inside the phone.
You can pre-order the Galaxy Note9 starting at 12:01 a.m. on August 10. Anyone who pre-orders gets the added perk of a pair of AKG noise-cancelling headphones or in-game Fortnite V-bucks. The phone will be available in-store and online starting on August 24.
Stay tuned for Refinery29's full review of the Note9.