Samsung Note9 shows trend for big phones and big price tags continues

10 Aug 2018

The new Samsung Galaxy Note9 smartphone and S Pen. Image: Samsung

Samsung amps it up with a new AI-powered device with a large 4,000mAh battery.

Samsung has revealed the new 6.4-inch Galaxy Note9 smartphone, indicating that the mobile industry’s penchant for big phones is far from abating.

If you thought that the rival Apple iPhone X came with an eye-watering price tag last year, well, get used to it because big phones with big price tags are here to stay.

‘It’s designed for a level of performance, power and intelligence that today’s power users want and need’

While local prices have yet to be revealed, the device – which is available for pre-order and on sale 24 August – is understood to retail in the US for $1,000 for the basic version with 128GB storage, rising to $1,250 for a 512GB premium version.

Will Note9 make its mark?

Samsung Note9

Samsung Galaxy Note9 smartphone. Image: Samsung

The new device, which features a super AMOLED display, could put Samsung back in the race technologically and enable it to maintain its No 1 position globally despite onslaughts from Huawei and with new devices due soon from Apple.

It may also serve as a foil for the underwhelming impact of the flagship Samsung Galaxy S9 which launched at Mobile World Congress earlier this year but failed to spark the kind of buzz the South Korean tech giant had been seeking.

The new Note9 is packed full of compelling technology such as a 4,000mAh battery – the largest ever on a Galaxy phone – as well as a 10-nanometre processor with up to 6GB of RAM and AI-based adjusting altgorithms to ensure optimal performance.

The phone’s S Pen has evolved to have its own connectivity to enable users to take group photos or use it as a clicker for presenting slides. It is powered by Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE).

The dual aperture camera system contains AI to classify photos into categories, detect flaws while pictures are taken (such as if someone blinks or there’s a smudge on the lens) and it comes with advanced noise reduction to adjust to light just like a human eye.

The device also serves as a virtualised PC desktop using Samsung DeX technology and can be plugged into screens via the HDMI port using Samsung HDMI adapters that are sold separately.

The Note9 will launch with two colours: midnight black and ocean blue, with a Yellow S Pen.

“The Note has always been our showcase for premium technology and industry-defining innovation, and Galaxy Note9 is no exception,” said DJ Koh, president and CEO of IT & Mobile Communications division, Samsung Electronics.

“It’s designed for a level of performance, power and intelligence that today’s power users want and need. Note fans are Samsung’s most loyal; we know they want it all, to get the most out of work and play, and Galaxy Note9 is the only phone that can keep up with their busy lives.”

Worth noting

But will it make an impact?

Very likely.

The Samsung Galaxy S9 came with too few stand-out features to really make an impact in the market earlier this year and launched quite late. But the Samsung Galaxy Note9 is different, quirky and showcases the latest feats of technological achievement by Samsung from batteries to AI, display and storage.

The rising price tags for premium smartphones is worth noting as it is definitely a trend.

Apple’s iPhone X launched last September with a hefty €1,179 price tag while competing devices from Huawei, such as its flagship P20 Pro, are selling from €900.

Samsung is under pressure to maintain its lead in the market. While still number one globally, it struggled with slower-than-normal sales in the latest quarter, possibly due to the late launch of the flagship S9 and S9 Plus devices. It is not being helped by intense competition at the high end of an overall sluggish smartphone market.

Globally, smartphone sales are down 1.8pc to 342m units shipped in Q2 compared with 348.2m last year.

IDC said the drop marks the third consecutive quarter of year-over-year declines for the global smartphone market and only the fourth quarter of decline in history.

The strategic timing of the launch of the Samsung Note9 just ahead of the vital Christmas market season could help Samsung regain the initiative.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years