Samsung's latest flagship was officially announced for the UAE earlier today. On the outside, it’s easy to say that the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is just the same as last year, with some speed upgrades inside and a slightly bigger battery. It would be a fair assessment, but misses the bigger picture.
Firstly, this is a handset that – despite Samsung trying to make it appeal to the masses – is for the power user, not the average phone-buying consumer. That 4,000mAh battery is a huge upgrade on what was there before.
The power upgrades inside aren’t that massive, perhaps, but 6GB or 8GB of RAM is pretty huge, and should expand the possibilities of what the phone can do. It’ll be able to handle the DeX experience (where your phone can function as a computer with a simple cable) with more aplomb than before, and the slowdown over the course of your time with the handset should be reduced too.
Then there’s the storage increase: you can now get 512GB of internal storage, along with another 512GB through a microSD card. That’s 1TB in a phone (even after the Note 9 has gobbled up 19GB of space just doing its own thing, right out of the box), which is larger than many laptops (as Samsung was keen to point out).
But… why? Why would anyone need that much space? Samsung pointed out that you’d have enough space for apps, games and movies… but it’s hard to see many people topping that out.
Even if you downloaded all the Spotify, Netflix, Amazon Prime and offline movies you wanted, and filled the phone with massive games, you’d still struggle to top 256GB of space.
All this together corroborates the point: the Note 9 isn’t the right choice for the average user. For them, it’ll be seen as incremental upgrades that are there for the sake of seeing what can be done on a phone.
The volume of people that truly need 8GB of RAM, 1TB of storage and a 6.4-inch screen, along with a Bluetooth remote (which the S Pen has become) is tiny, and yet Samsung hopes to sell millions of units of this phone.
It’s aiming to please the reams of buyers who just like the best spec no matter what, those that lust after power just… because. Another good thing again – as long as high spec is truly what you’re after.
The first reaction to the price, for many, will be one of outrage. AED 3,699 for the base model? AED 4,599 for the 8GB / 512GB option? Those just aren’t smartphone prices.
But if you dig a little deeper – for the cheapest version – it’s not that bad compared to the launch price of the Note 8. There’s a much larger battery, improved screen technology, an improved camera, a more capable S Pen, more capacity as standard and stereo speaker for your money.
That’s quite a lot of change for a modest price rise – for the power user, it’s probably within the range of what they might have expected.
Membership has its privileges
One of the reasons that Samsung flagship phones make a lot of noise in the region is by bundling tons of extras and the Note 9 is no different. Samsung members that purchase the Note 9 will get one complimentary annual pass for Legoland Dubai and a three month subscription to WAVO, the streaming platform by OSN.
The Galaxy Entertainer also makes a comeback for 2-for-1 deals and discounts on flights, hotels and restaurants though Cleartrip, Marriott and Apparel Group.