Updated: A new Samsung patent shows a phone with a fingerprint scanner built into the screen, adding to the evidence that the Galaxy Note 9 might have such a feature.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is one of the biggest phones Samsung’s ever made, not to mention one of the best, and there’s no doubt that the company will follow it up later in 2018 with the Samsung Galaxy Note 9.
In fact, we’re already hearing the first rumors about that phone, and they suggest it could be even more futuristic than the iPhone X.
You’ll find everything we’ve heard about the Note 9 below, along with our own analysis and a selection of the features and improvements we most want to see.
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 Samsung Galaxy Note 8 was announced on August 23 and released in September, while the short-lived Samsung Galaxy Note 7 followed a similar schedule the previous year.
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.
However, according to The Investor, some market watchers 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.
Whenever it does arrive it’s sure to be expensive. The Galaxy Note 8 retails for $929 / £869 / AU$1,499 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.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 news and rumors
The biggest Samsung Galaxy Note 9 rumor relates to its fingerprint scanner, which could be built into the screen.
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.
The latest news on the subject comes 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.
Another rumor comes from analysts at KGI Securities, who reckon the in-screen scanner won’t be ready in time for the Samsung Galaxy S9, but will be done for the Note 9. If it is, Samsung could retain the all-screen front of its phone while still having a conveniently positioned scanner.
There's reason to believe it will be ready too, especially now that Vivo has demonstrated exactly this tech.
But 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.
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.
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.
There's also a good chance the Note 9's iris scanner will get an upgrade, with Samsung reportedly upping the lens from 2MP to 3MP for the Galaxy S9, in which case we'd expect at least that for the Note 9. Apparently this will help it identify users in poor lighting, and it's also said to be faster than before.
And it could also have a new camera. It's likely to retain the Note 8's dual-lens camera, but there's some evidence that the Galaxy S9 could get a variable aperture snapper, meaning it can switch between two different apertures using a single lens, so this feature could also make it to the Note 9.
That’s all we’ve heard so far, but there are some things we’re fairly confident the Galaxy Note 9 will have. For one thing, it’s almost certainly going to have a large curved Super AMOLED display, an S Pen stylus and at least 6GB of RAM, since the Note 8 does.
Based on past models the Note 9 is also likely to sport whatever the top-end Snapdragon or Exynos chipset is at the time of its launch.
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
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
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.
- We might also see the HTC U12 in 2018