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Here’s all that we know about the Samsung Galaxy Note 9

You might want to grab a pen.

galaxy note 9 mock up battery
Image: Miror Pro (YouTube/mockup)

Fans of Samsung’s Note range won’t have long to wait for an official announcement for the next installment of the series, the Note 9. It’s turned up in a certification document submitted to the FCC, which is usually submitted about a month before the unveiling of a new device. Get your S-Pens ready as we walk you through what’s known about the device.

Release date and time

Update: According to a report from ET News, the first Galaxy Note 9 units will be available in stores on the 24th of August. That’s a few weeks earlier from last year’s Note 8 release but not quite as early as the ill-fated Note 7.

Seven might have eaten nine in the schoolyard joke, but it’s certain that the Galaxy Note 9 will be the successor of 2017’s flagship phablet. Exactly when it will arrive, and if Samsung will deviate from their long-established naming convention, are still just jots in a notepad right now.

Back at the beginning of this month, Bloomberg reported that the release date for the Note 9 will be August the 9th. That correlated with an earlier leak related to devices using the Snapdragon 845 processor that stated the Galaxy Note 9’s release as September 2018, which could mean sales starting after an August unveiling.

That date is fast approaching, and a handset with the model number SM-960M has just been approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The model number for the Galaxy Note 8 was SM-N950, so logic suggests that the just-approved handset is the Note 9. That also hints at a rapidly approaching announcement date, so look out for that in the coming weeks.

There are also two other model numbers approved, SM-950F/DS and SM-960X, which could be regional variations, colorways, or storage amounts. There’s also further corroboration with some publicly available test reports of the model number, where it’s stated that “[the phone] uses a stylus for several functions.”

Samsung has said that they started work on the Note 9 immediately after completing the Galaxy Note 8 and was “considering how to approach the development of the next Note by evaluating the latest model and looking for ways to improve upon signature features like the S Pen.” This implies that it will be an iterative update and not a rework.

We’ve not heard anything about a name change, just that there was a code name leak of “Crown.”

Specifications

The Galaxy Note range is Samsung’s productivity-focused phone, and we’d expect the Note 9 to be bursting with powerful specs. Along with the hardware, there should be a fairly hefty battery for extended use. The FCC documentation for the SM-960F also says that wireless charging is one of the device’s features. This documentation follows a recently-FCC-approved wireless charger from Samsung.

That powerful charger, with a 12v/2.1A power output, was spotted by the eagle eyes over at Galaxyclub.nl and has uprated specs to the current Samsung wireless charger. That would help recharge the Note 9’s likely larger battery quickly resulting in more productivity from the user. It’s likely this wireless charger will be a separately sold accessory.

We haven’t seen official battery specs yet, but prolific leaker, Ice universe, has stated that they’re “100 percent” sure that the Note 9 will have a 4000mAh battery. If true, that will be a welcome upgrade over the 3300mAh battery in the Note 8.

Samsung has said they’re investigating “signature Note features,” for upgrades on the Note 9, including the beloved S Pen stylus. Whether or not that happens is up in the air, the statement was made very early on in the development cycle so anything could have happened in the interim.

Geekbench’s online lists leaked some information about the Galaxy Note 9 back in March. Those benchmarks claimed the phone will come with the Qualcomm 845 chipset and 6GB of RAM.

Qualcomm is likely to supply the 845 for the Note 9 in some regions, there’s always a possibility of a Samsung-designed Exynos chip being used outside of the United States.

Design

We all know the Note 9 will be pocket-busting big, that’s a given. Will it be much different than the Note 8 in other ways? There’s a swirling bunch of rumors about Samsung’s biggest expected phone that mentions an additional button on the side. There’s a leaked image of a Note 9 case that backs up this claim, showing a button cover for a fifth button on the phone’s right-hand side. The last Note had the Bixby key added to the edges, so what could this extra button be?

If I was a betting man, it wouldn’t be a long shot that the extra camera has some sort of camera functionality. It’s in a great place for triggering the camera shutter and would fit with Samsung’s recent push to reinvent themselves as the photography phone of choice. It’s always possible that the case was an early mock-up, but it would be weird as an addition if there wasn’t at least a grain of truth in the rumors.

That same image also gives a hint of one of the major design issues with the Note 8 being fixed, with the fingerprint sensor cutout on the case is below the camera module and not alongside it. Small changes make all the difference to usability and we all know Samsung loves to keep score.

Ice universe has been pretty on the money previously, so we tend to believe him when he says the overall size of the Note 9 will only differ from a couple of millimeters from the Note 8.

There’s also some opposing rumors, with Dutch site Let’sGoDigital thinking that the Note 9 will go the way of the iPhone X and feature a notch. They reference a patent Samsung filed in March 2018 that was for a device with no visible fingerprint sensor and a screen notch. With no leaks to corroborate this, it’s looking increasingly likely that the Dutch are mistaken on this occasion.

It might even go a different way yet, with D.J. Koh, Samsung’s president of mobile, saying the 2018 Note phone may have a foldable design, provided it could overcome various technical hurdles. With the recent canceling of the Samsung foldable phone, codenamed Valley, this isn’t very likely but Samsung does have foldable aspirations so who knows.

Software

We can’t be sure as we don’t know the concrete shipping date, but the Note 9 might be the first Samsung to ship with Android P. If not, it will undoubtedly be Oreo 8.1, with Bixby 2.0 added into the mix. Bixby is lagging a bit behind his AI assistant competition, but the new update should bring enhanced natural language processes, improved noise resistance capability and faster responses.

Ice universe also claims that the UI skin that Samsung uses has been overhauled. When we recently reviewed the S9 we didn’t quite gel with the UI after being used to vanilla Android, so I look forward to seeing if this claim is true.

Security with the Note 9

The prior device in the series has both finger-unlock and face-unlock systems, so it will be interesting to see how Samsung adds incremental upgrades here. From a patent that Let’sGoDigital first reported on, the South Korean giant is working on a fish-eye selfie camera for the Note 9. This camera will give improved iris-scanning capabilities, as well as a viewing angle of 150-degrees or more.

There have been more reports about an in-display fingerprint sensor, but they’re all contradictory. Months of churning the rumor mill said that the Note 9 won’t feature the technology, and then we have a report from The Investor that claims Samsung is considering it after all for the Note 9.

Reports about an in-display fingerprint sensor have been conflicting thus far. After months of rumors that the Note 9 would not feature such technology, a report from The Investor claimed Samsung is considering the addition of an in-display fingerprint sensor on this year’s Note 9 after all.

That report might be off the mark, as Samsung is said to still be improving on their version of the technology and that it won’t be ready until next years crop of flagships. KGI Securities seems to agree, with them reporting that the company will likely forgo an in-display fingerprint scanner this year, backing up the leaked case images from Ice universe.

That’s all we know about the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 for now. Seems to be an incremental update, similar to the S8>S9 one. We’ll update you if we find out anything more.

Thinking about making the upgrade to the Note 9 when it releases? Let us know your thoughts below.

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