July 19, 2019

Samsung pushes the envelope with Galaxy Note 9

PUBLISHED : August 10, 2018 - 14:35

UPDATED : August 11, 2018 - 08:49

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[THE INVESTOR] NEW YORK -- For the past couple of years, tech giant Samsung Electronics seemed to be opting for a safer path rather than the one not taken, particularly more so after the explosion scandal of the Galaxy Note 7 back in 2016.

The company avoided bringing dramatic hardware changes to its flagship smartphones, choosing rather moderate upgrades to its marque phones each year. 

Samsung mobile chief Koh Dong-jin with the Note 9.

But with the new Galaxy Note 9, unveiled in New York on Aug. 10 (local time), it seems that Samsung once again aims to be aggressive to outrun its rivals, including US tech giant Apple and rising Chinese smartphone makers like Huawei.

“The Note has always been our showcase product for premium technology and industry-defining innovation, and Galaxy Note 9 is no exception,” said Koh Dong-jin, CEO of the company’s mobile division, at Barclays Center in New York.

“It’s designed for a level of performance, power and intelligence that today’s power users want and need,” he added. The Note 9 will be available in global markets from Aug. 24.

Powerful Specs

The new Note 9 indeed boasts powerful performance in terms of battery capacity. The latest edition is equipped with a whopping 4,000mAh battery, an impressive improvement considering that Samsung rarely pushed the envelope in increasing battery life in the past two years.

The previous Note 8 and Galaxy S9 sported a 3,300mAh battery and a 3,000mAh battery, respectively, while the S9+ -- which shares most of the Note 8’s hardware features like a larger-sized display -- has a 3,500mAh cell. Samsung touted that a user can use the 6.4-inch Note 9 all day long with a single charge.

The Korean tech giant was equally audacious in storage. Instead of 256GB -- the common option for existing high-end smartphones like Apple’s iPhone X -- it is going for 128GB or 512GB. With an extra 512GB SD card, users can expand the storage to 1TB.

The company also tried to bring more partners to its smartphone ecosystem. It has tied-up with Epic Games to make its immensely popular mobile first-person shooter “Fortnite” available on the Note 9, the first for an Android-based phone. Google, Spotify, Uber and Ticketmaster are some of its other partners, mainly to improve user experience of the latest Note’s artificial intelligence assistant Bixby.

The user can hail an Uber vehicle or purchase a concert ticket available on Ticketmaster’s platform using a voice command without launching the apps.

“The partnerships are aimed at making the AI solution more accessible to users,” said a Samsung official, adding the firm will expand its AI partnerships later.

The improved S Pen digitizer, fitted with Bluetooth connectivity, will likely be another appealing factor.

The digital pen can be used as a remote camera shutter, and a presentation remote that allows users to flip through presentation slides. It can be fully charged in 40 seconds after being inserted in the slot and has 30 minutes standby time.

Barclays Center, New York

New smartwatch

At the Note 9 unpacked event, Samsung also introduced a new standalone smartwatch, Galaxy Watch. Since the Gear S3 released in September 2016, it has not rolled out a smartwatch due to underperforming sales. With the latest offering it has tackled the biggest challenge for a smartwatch: battery life.

Equipped with a 472mAh battery, the smartwatch can last for several days on a single charge, compared to less than 24 hours for most smartwatches available in the market.

Samsung said ditching the name Gear is aimed at offering the same user experience available on the Galaxy smartphones. The new smartwatch comes in two sizes -- 46mm and 42mm -- and has three casing colors, including midnight black and silver.

Joining the race for smart speakers, which is led mainly by Amazon and Google, Samsung also rolled out its own model Galaxy Home at the unveiling event.

The Bixby-installed gadget has six separate speakers installed inside, subwoofer and embrace audio technology of AKG and Harman, audio system companies owned by Samsung.

Galaxy Home is fitted with eight microphones, designed to pick up users’ voice from a distance, according to the company.

By Kim Young-won (

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