The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is the next really big smartphone from Samsung now that it has launched the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus, and we've gotten our S Pen out to declare which rumors sound plausible and which are just wishful thinking.
The Note 9 is poised to be the massively sized update to the Galaxy Note 8, but that's not to say it'll be a massive update to last year's phone with a 6.3-inch screen. We're expecting iterative changes, mostly to the specs, rather than a complete redesign.
The good news is that Samsung has to roll out a new Note that's attention-grabbing enough to outlast the iPhone X2 phones that Apple is likely to unveil in September. If you're keen on phones with a handy stylus, this is the one to read up on.
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Here are all of the Note 9 rumors so far and the features we want to see from Samsung's next two-handed handset.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? Samsung's next flagship phablet
- When is it out? Possibly August 2018
- What will it cost? Probably at least $929 / £869 / AU$1,499
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 release date and price
The haven't heard many Samsung Galaxy Note 9 release date rumors yet, but we did see last year's phone announced on August 23 and ship to stores in September. The short-lived Samsung Galaxy Note 7 followed a similar schedule two years ago.
So there’s a good chance that the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 will be announced in late August 2018, before hitting stores possibly in mid to late September.
The Note 9 appears to have been trademarked by Samsung in mid-March, so it's possible that the release target is being set in stone.
There's always someone saying the Note phones will come earlier than ever though. This year, it's the The Investor that cites market watchers who believe it could be unveiled in early to mid August instead. And the same site claims that Samsung has codenamed the phone 'Crown' and plans to have a prototype of it ready during the first quarter of 2018.
We've also heard reports that Samsung is testing firmware for the phone and that it started doing so two weeks earlier than for the Note 8, which somewhat suggests an earlier launch is possible - especially as the Galaxy S9 also had its firmware tested earlier than the S8, and went on to launch earlier.
Whenever the Note 9 does arrive it’s sure to be expensive. The Galaxy Note 8 retailed for $929 / £869 / AU$1,499 at launch and we can’t see Samsung lowering the price for the Note 9, especially now Apple has pushed smartphone prices even higher with its iPhone X.
In fact, the S9 and S9 Plus saw a price increase in most countries, so it only makes sense for Samsung to push its top-tier phone higher, unfortunately.
For now, you'll have to be satisfied with the Note 9's predecessor. Check out today's best Galaxy Note 8 deals.
Note 9 in-screen fingerprint sensor
The biggest Samsung Galaxy Note 9 rumor relates to its fingerprint scanner, which could be built directly into the screen. It's the long-awaited feature we're still waiting to see in a mainstream smartphone, and not in demo form or just in China.
The latest rumors suggest Samsung is testing multiple in-screen solutions and will probably use one of them, a move which could also apparently allow room for a larger battery in the Note 9.
However, a slightly earlier rumor points to the in-screen fingerprint sensor skipping the Note 9, just like it did on the S9 and S9 Plus, Note 8 and S8 and S8 Plus before. There's reason to believe it'll show up on the Galaxy X (Galaxy 10 next year, however).
Both Samsung and Apple have been rumored to be working on this but failed to achieve it in time for their most recent handsets, pushing Samsung to move the scanner to a sub-optimal position on the back of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note 8, while Apple ditched it altogether from the iPhone X.
There's hopeful news on the subject in the form of a Samsung patent, showing a handset with a scanner built into the screen. Supposedly it would digitally show where users need to place their finger, and could potentially provide vibrations as feedback. Vivo has demonstrated exactly this tech in a phone this year.
This could be the form the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 will take. Credit: WIPO
But we've seen many sources in the supply chain claim Samsung has settled on placing the scanner on the back, just like its current flagship phones, so right now we'd say an in-screen scanner is looking unlikely.
More Note 9 theories
There's a chance that Samsung will go even further with the Note 9, as it's patented a smartphone concept that has not just the fingerprint scanner but also the front-facing camera and sensors embedded in the display, for a truly bezel-free design. This might be too ambitious for a 2018 launch though.
This could be an idea used by the Galaxy Note 9. Credit: WIPO/LetsGoDigital
That said, an even more ambitious goal for the Galaxy Note 9 could be for it to have a bendable display. This is something Samsung’s been working on for even longer, and there's suggestion that the tech could land in a phone late this year.
However, it might still arrive too late for it to be used in the Note 9, and Samsung might not want to debut such an experimental tech on a major flagship.
Elsewhere, another patent may have given us a glimpse at what the Note 9 will look like, as Samsung has published a phone design with a screen that curves at the right edge, but oddly not at the left.
It’s an unusual look for a phone, and quite different to the Note 8, so we’re skeptical that it will be used for the Note 9, but you never know.
Could this be an early look at the Samsung Galaxy Note 9's design?
However the Note 9 looks, there's a chance that it will be made from a new material, as Samsung has trademarked 'Metal 12' - a material that's both strong and light.
And moving from the outside to in, The Korea Herald reports that Samsung might equip the Galaxy Note 9 with an NPU (neural processing unit). That's essentially an AI chip like Apple and Huawei have begun using in their flagships.
It's unclear what Samsung would use the chip for, but it could potentially speed up certain functions of the phone.
It’s almost certainly going to have a large curved Super AMOLED display, an S Pen stylus and at least 6GB of RAM. The internal storage should start at 128GB given that Samsung bills this as an enterprise class smartphone. The S8 Plus has 128GB of space in most countries, but just 64GB in the US.
Note 9 is also likely to sport the top-end Snapdragon 845 or Exynos 9810 chipset is at the time of its launch, exactly like we see in the S9 and S9 Plus.
What we want to see
There are only a few Samsung Galaxy Note 9 rumors so far, but we have a good idea of the sorts of things we want to see from it, such as the following.
1. An in-screen scanner
This has been rumored and it would be a great headline feature for the phone. Having the scanner on the back is awkward, but building it into the screen would both be convenient and the sort of high-tech, futuristic thing that could see the Galaxy Note 9 stand out among other handsets.
We’re pretty sure Samsung is working on it, it’s just a question of whether it’s ready in time for the Note 9’s 2018 launch.
2. Room-filling sound
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8's single speaker fails to impress
There are plenty of great things about the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, but its speakers aren’t among them.
It has just a single bottom-firing speaker, so for the Note 9 we want at least two speakers, and ideally for them to be positioned on the front of the phone, for sound that travels towards you when you’re looking at the screen.
Given how large the Note 9 is likely to be though, it could maybe even manage four speakers, for truly big sound.
3. Better Bixby
Bixby is one of the key new features of this year’s crop of Samsung flagships, but in its current form it leaves something to be desired, especially when it comes to understanding what you’re saying.
By the time of the Note 8’s launch we want it to be a true Google Assistant and Siri rival.
But however good it ends up being we also want to be able to remap the inevitable Bixby button, because not everyone is going to want to use it.
4. Two-day battery life
Samsung’s been conservative with the size of the battery in the Galaxy Note 8, understandably given what happened with the Note 7, but it’s meant that while the Note 8 should last you a day you’ll probably be plugging it in at night.
And it doesn’t charge as fast as earlier fast charging Samsung phones either.
That may have been a safety precaution as well, but if Samsung can find a way to deliver two-day life and truly fast charging with the Note 9, without risking an inferno, we’d be very happy.
5. Improved face scanning
Samsung's face scanner isn't secure enough to replace a fingerprint scan
Although the iPhone X’s Face ID is perhaps its headline feature, it’s not the first phone to sport face scanning. Nor is the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, but it does have it, it’s just not very secure, to the point where a still image can fool it.
So for the Galaxy Note 9 we want face scanning to return, but only if it’s a lot better. If it can prove more reliable than even Face ID then Samsung could be on to a real winner.
6. A similar price
Given that it’s likely to be one of the most high-tech phones of 2018 we don’t really expect Samsung to launch the Galaxy Note 9 at a lower price than the $929 / £869 / AU$1,499 Samsung Galaxy Note 8.
But if it can keep it around the same that would be something, and would see it undercut Apple’s top-end phones, given that the new iPhone X starts at $999 / £999 / AU$1,579.
7. Even less bezel
The front of the Galaxy Note 8 is almost all screen, but there’s still a sliver of bezel at the top and bottom.
We’d like to see Samsung reduce or remove that for the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, perhaps along the lines of the Essential Phone or the iPhone X. Doing so would allow what’s always going to be a very big phone to be a bit more manageable, without having to shrink the screen.
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