There are no secrets in consumer electronics anymore. Sometimes there are mistakes of fools and mistakes and tastes. Sometimes it's with design. In case of Galaxy Note 9, there are a lot of both.
Galaxy S9 was not blockbuster Samsung's shareholders expected, so the company understands the pump through a combination of teasers and leaks – something unintentionally unintentionally and others that seemed suspiciously less.
When yesterday's big event in the Brooklyn house like Jay-Z was built around, we knew just about all we needed to know about the upcoming handset and almost all leaked specifications proved to be accurate. Certainly, the company managed to undergo a surprise or two, but the incident was about the note.
And understandably so. The fable, along with the Galaxy S line, forms the cornerstone of Samsung's entire consumption strategy. It's a portfolio expanded with every event, including wear, productivity, smart home, car, a smart assistant and reaching the long-awaited smart speaker. None of them would make such a feeling without the handsets.
If Galaxy S is Samsung's loss pole, the note represents what the company has rated its "innovation brand", the uber-premium device that allows the company to push the limits of its mobile hardware. In previous generations it is meant the Edge Screen (Curving Screen), S-Pen, Giant Screen and Dual-Camera. That innovation naturally comes at a price.
Here's the $ 1000. It's a price up to a year ago seemed impossible for a smartphone. For Galaxy Note 9, however, it's just where things start. Any hope that the new model can represent a feature of the mainstream for the line in the wake of an underwhelming S9 performance, can be rested here.
The note is what has always been and will probably always continue to be: a device for diehard. A very good device, mind, but one for those with an arm and a leg to spare. Most of the good new features will turn down into the food chain to the company's more common device. At $ 720 / $ 840, the S9 is not a budget phone of any stretch of imagination, but at least it keeps three digits a little more tasty.
A good rule of thumb for a hardware review is to incorporate the product into one's own life as much as possible. It's a fairly simple question with a device like Note 9, which has the advantage of major hardware and software development that builds on learning and failure for several generations.
It's still not perfect in any way, and the company's all-and-kitchen sink approach to the line means there are many features that never really made their May in my routine. And while, as the largely unchanged product design suggests, note 9 does not represent an enormously important milestone in the product line. There are enough tweaks throughout the product to maintain its place against the top of the Android pile.
Let's pick up the gorilla in the room here. Two years ago, Galaxy Notes began to explode. Samsung recalled the devices, began selling them, exploded more, and they recalled them again, and finally finished the product.
Samsung apologized profusely and agreed to introduce stricter security controls. For the next few units, the company did not break the boat. The battery sizes of Galaxy products were largely the same. It was a combination of pragmatism and optics. The company needed time to ensure that future products would not suffer the same fate, while demonstrating to the public and shareholders that careful care was taken.
"What we want to do is a temperate approach to innovation at any time." Samsung's Product Strategy and Marketing Director told me before launch, "so this was the right time to increase the battery to meet consumer needs."
Given Samsung's massive business as a component manufacturer, the whole failure made at least not the bottom line. In fact, in a strange way, it may eventually be a positive net. Now it boasts of having one of the strictest battery testing processes in the business. Now it's a function, not a mistake.
At 4000mAh, note 9 contains a 700mAh increase over the predecessor. It's not an unrivaled number – Huawei has already hit the 4000 mark – but it's the biggest ever on a Notat device that puts the handset in the top percentile.
As far as it's really translated for use in real world, Samsung does not give a number yet. The company only says "all day and all night" in the release. I found it to be quite close to the truth. I hooked up the handset to 100 percent yesterday afternoon. I spoke, listened to Spotify, took pictures, downloaded and tried to try to live my life on the terrible thing.
Just under 22 hours later, the ghost gave up and after a lot of message-based rebel about a critically low battery, the screen was black. As I said, it's not bad battery life, but most of a whole day and night at no cost is a nice little luxury – and the kind of thing all phone manufacturers should strive to achieve on their flagship products.
The company also brought the new Wireless Charging Duo. The charge is not as ambitious as AirPower, but contrary to the product introduced almost a year ago by Apple, I have this in my hands right now. So, points: Samsung. The charging of the device from zero to 100 percent took three hours on the dot with the $ 120 "Fast Charge" pouch. And it's nice and toasty now.
Okay, about that price. Again, we are talking $ 999.99 to start. There is also another SKU. One will drive you $ 1,295.99. Take a moment if you need.
It's a stupid amount of money if you're not the starting point for Golden State Warriors. So much for the rumors that the company would work to make the devices more economically available. And while the premium hardware has always meant that the Galaxy line will remain on the expensive side, I can not help pointing out that a few important decisions could have kept the price down while maintaining the building quality.
Storage is undoubtedly the primary guilty. The two mentioned two SKUs give you either 6 GB of RAM with 128 GB or 8 GB of RAM with 512 GB. With cloud synchronization and the rest, it's hard to imagine I'd come close to that limit in the two or so years of time to upgrade my handset.
I'm sure that kind of crazy media hardening power users make it actually exist in the world, but they're undoubtedly a rarity. Also, as Samsung pointed out, there are 512GB SD cards already in the world. Well, there is another $ 350 dressed on the bottom line, but that's where you need it. For most users, it's hard to see that Samsung's requirement to have "the world's first 1TB smartphone" (512 GB + 512 GB) exists for a slight reason than shouting yet another striking demand for the 1960s Batman tool of smartphones.
Well, Samsung has no doubt about an agreement on Samsung-built-in hard disks, but the component must be an important part of what's going on. For a company operated by Samsung like it, I'm honestly surprised that we do not get more options here in the United States.
Confession: After testing many Galaxy Note models over the years, I have never found a good use for S-Pen. I mean, I'm glad people like it, and obviously all early skepticism about returning the stylus was quickly rested, as the company has continued to return to the well year after year.
But all handwritten notes and animated GIF drawing are not for me, man. I also recently talked to an artist who told me that the note did not really cut it for him on the drawing front either. Again, if you like or love it, more power for you, but it's just not for me.
As stupid as the idea of using S-Pen as a remote control, it can be seen at first glance, but it is clear to me that this is the first use of the built-in accessory that I could safely use on a daily basis. It's convenient when you get past the silliness of holding a pointer in your hand while driving, and acts as a convenient surrogate for those who do not own a compatible smartwatch.
S-Penen sports now Bluetooth Low Energy, allowing it to control various aspects of using the phone. Low energy or not, that technology requires power, so the stylus now contains a superconductor that charges it when it is torn into the phone; 40 seconds of charging will give you a healthy 30 minute use. Nevertheless, the phone will bug you to remind you that you really should dock things when not in use.
The compatible apps are still fairly limited at launch, but it's enough to demonstrate how this could be a handy little addition. Of the gang I got the most out of Spotify's music control. One click plays / pauses a song and a double click extends the track. Yes, there is limited functionality, but it saved me from fooling my phone to switch songs. I went to my race this morning.
You need to be a bit more creative when you decide on some of the other apps. For example, if you use it as a shutter button in the camera application, it may be a useful way to take a selfie without having to hold your phone at arm's length.
I wondered what could be achieved with extra buttons (volume / rewind / gameplay)? How about a pedometer to track the steps when you drive on a treadmill without it in your pocket? Or even a lighthouse to help absent people like myself, find it after we always let it go between the sofas.
But yes, I understand why the company would choose to keep things simple for what's still a kind of secondary functionality. Or heck, maybe the company just needs to keep some features for Note 10 (Note X?).
Oh, and the Blue and Lavender versions of the phone come in striking yellow and purple S pens, with lock screen ink to match. So that's pretty funny.
Hello man, nice shot
Nowhere is the cumulative development of the note better represented than the camera. Each subsequent Galaxy S and Note release appear to offer new hardware and / or software upgrades, giving the company two different opportunities per year to improve the images for the line. S9, announced back in February, brought especially improved slide shooting to the line. The double blender fades between f / 1.5 and f / 2.4 to give more light.
It's a nice trick for a smartphone. See headline between note 9 (left) and iPhone X (right):
Here's what we're dealing with on the hardware front:
- Rear: Dual Camera with Dual OIS (Optical Image Stabilization)
- Wide Angle: Super Speed Dual Pixel 12MP AF, F1.5 / F2.4, OIS
- Telefoto: 12MP AF, F2.4, OIS
- 2X optical zoom, up to 10X digital zoom
- Front: 8MP AF, F1.7
This time, improvements are mostly on software side of things. In particular, two functions differ: Scene Optimizer and Error Detection. The first one should be known to those who have been aware of the smartphone game late. LG is probably the most prominent example.
Camera hardware is quite good across the board for most modern smartphone flagship. As such, these new features are designed to eliminate the current weakest link: human error. Scene Optimizer saves amateur photographers from continuing with more advanced settings like white balance and saturation.
The function uses AI to determine what the camera looks and adjust the settings accordingly. There are 20 different settings including: Food, Portraits, Flowers, Indoor Scenes, Animals, Landscapes, Green, Trees, Sky, Mountains, Beaches, Sunrises and Sunsets, Watersides, Street Scenes, Night Scenes, Waterfalls, Snow, Birds, Backlight and Text .
Some are quite general, others are strangely specific, but it's a good mix and I suspect Samsung will continue to add it through OTA updates. Having said that, the function itself does not require a wobble and does all treatment on board. The function worked well with most of the flowers and the food I threw on (so to speak), appears a small icon at the bottom of the screen to tell me that it knows what it looks like. It also went well with book text.
The success rate of other things, like trees, was surprisingly dependent on context. Just get the top part and it identifies it as "Green." Turn the phone to portrait mode and get the entire suitcase and it comes up to the "Tree" icon. I received some fake positives along the way; The note 9 thought my fingers were food, which is disturbing for a number of reasons.
[Without Scene Optimizer – left, With Scene Optimizer – right]
Clearly, it will not be perfect. I found, in the case of flowers, that it tends to translate the colors. If you agree, you can disable the feature in settings. However, you must do this before taking the picture. There is no way to manually override the feature to tell what kind of object you shoot. It seems to be a bit of a non-brainer addition.
[Super slow-mo matcha under the flicking lights]
Error detection serves a similar role as Scene Optimizer, which helps you avoid getting a way like an amateur photographer. The feature is designed to alert you if a shot is blurred, if there is a stain on the screen, if the subject is blinking or if backlighting makes everything look dirty. In case of lens dirt and backlighting, it only bother with a single warning every 24 hours.
The flash detection worked well. Blur detection, on the other hand, was a bit more of a moving shooter and those who were too close to the lens to get a good focus. The feature may take some work, but I still think it's one of the most compelling additions to the entire device and expects many other companies that introduce their own versions in the coming year.
The more the note changes, the more remains the same, I guess. As expected, the design language has not changed much, which is undoubtedly part of what made Samsung CEO DJ Koh think he could get used to using the device publicly before launch. Footprint is almost the same despite the ever larger screen (6.3> 6.4 inches, same 2,960 x 1,440 resolution) – from 162.5 x 74.8 x 8.6 mm at 8 to 161.9 x 76 , 4 x 8.8 mm on the 9th
That's fine. Samsung has done an impressive job that hugs a lot of screen for a manageable footprint over the latest genres. The only major change (apart from the beautiful new blue and purple paint jobs) is the fingerprint sensor moving from the side of the camera to underneath it.
This was a clear example of Samsung responding to user feedback frustrated by all the times they failed the camera for the fingerprint reader. The new location helps a little, although it is still quite close to the camera, and the fact that both are similar shapes does not help. Thank you very much for the new dirt detector.
Oh, and the headphone jack is still present, of course it is. For Samsung, there is an important way to distinguish product and approach from a world-wide dongle hazard.
Note on notes
Oh Bixby, You eternal bastion of unfulfilled potential. A complete overview of new features can be found here. Overall, the smart assistant promises to be more conversational, with better concierge features. That said, Samsung makes it back to the last minute, so I can not offer you a complete review as it is closer to the phone's 24-day gateway.
So keep up to date for that, I guess. I want to say that the installation process can be a bit of a slogan for a feature that is designed to make everything easier. Playing with Bixby voice required me to navigate multiple pages to connect the two. Fortunately, you should just handle the same.
Samsung continues to customize interiors to make the device more suitable for gaming. The water charcoal cooling system tweaks the liquid cooling system found on the device since S7, to help diffuse heat more efficiently. The large bright screen is suitable for mobile games, and the 6 GB model treated Fortnite quite well.
A Final Note
The next smartphone revolution always looks like a year away. The potential arrival of a Samsung device with a folding screen, makes the thought of wearing a massive device around one's pocket almost quaint. At the moment, however, the note is one of the best methods for transporting a lot of screen around your person.
Much has changed the note for the last seven years, but the core of the device is essentially the same: big screen and pointing pins come together to go on the line between productivity and entertainment. It's big, it's fat, it's too expensive for many of us. But it stays phableted to hit.