Samsung's Galaxy Note phones have long held a reputation as the power user's Android device, and the company is adding to that legacy today with the Galaxy Note 9. The company's next-generation flagship handset gives demanding users access to its DeX desktop interface on external monitors over a single cable, and it teaches the S Pen new tricks like remote shutter control for the phone's cameras, presentation control, video playback control, and more using Bluetooth Low Energy.
The camera inside the Note 9 hops on board the computational-photography-and-AI train with two bundles of smarts. A "Scene Optimizer" mode can perform object recognition to try and box your shot into one of 20 categories to apply the color, contrast, and exposure settings that Samsung's programmers feel is the best expression of a given scene. The camera can also identify flaws like a smudged lens, excessive flare, a blurry exposure, or a blinking subject to prompt the user to fix the issue and try again.
The camera hardware itself is practically identical to that of the Galaxy S9. The world-facing camera has a dual-sensor system with optical image stabilization on both snappers. One of the shooters is a wide-angle affair with a 12-MP sensor and a diaphragm that can switch between f/1.5 and f/2.4 apertures, while the other is a telephoto with a 12-MP resolution, 2x optical zoom (presumably versus the wide-angle snapper), and up to 10x digital zoom. Finally, the Note 9's selfie camera is an 8-MP deal with an f/1.7 lens system.
Note 9 owners will be able to view those optimized photos and jot notes on a 6.4", 2960x1440 OLED screen. Samsung gives that screen a long life with a massive 4000-mAh battery, up from 3300 mAh on the Galaxy Note 8.
American Note 9 buyers will find a Snapdragon 845 SoC inside, running at up to 2.8 GHz on its performance cores and up to 1.7 GHz on its efficiency cores. That SoC comes paired with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of flash storage in the base Note 9, while an upgraded version offers 8 GB of RAM and 512 GB of storage.
Both configurations have a microSD slot for up to 512 GB of extra storage. The company says the handset has a "Water Carbon Cooling" system and "AI-based performance adjusting algorithm[s]" to deliver maximum sustained performance. Buyers in other regions will get an Exynos SoC with four custom performance cores running at up to 2.7 GHz and four efficiency cores running at up to 1.7 GHz.
The Note 9 also includes a wealth of software integration and improvements. The company has partnered with Spotify to make users' playlists, music, and podcasts available across Note 9, Galaxy Watch, and Smart TV devices. According to Anandtech's live blog, Samsung's Bixby assistant is now "more conversational, personal, and useful," and it has more powerful and context-aware queries on the Note 9. Samsung said that it's working with Spotify and Google to integrate Bixby into their products.
The American version of the Note 9 will be available in two colors: an "Ocean Blue" with a contrasting yellow S Pen and a "Lavender Purple" with a matching S Pen. Buyers in other regions will also get black and copper finishes.
The 128-GB version of the device will start at $1000 from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon Wireless and Xfinity stores, and it'll be available on August 24. Samsung will also make the device available from Amazon, Best Buy, Costco, Sam's Club, Straight Talk Wireless, Target and Walmart, as well as Samsung.com and the ShopSamsung app.
The 512-GB Note 9 will also be available August 24 for $1250 from "select retail locations" and online through AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, U.S. Cellular and Samsung.com. Buyers who pre-order a Note 9 from August 10 to August 23 will get a choice of AKG noise-canceling headphones or access to a special Fortnite skin and 15,000 "V-bucks" of in-game currency. Those who don't want to choose can add both the cans and the cash to their order for an extra $99. Samsung is also offering the exclusive Fortnite Galaxy skin to all Note 9 and Tab S4 owners.