Senior executives at Samsung’s Global Product Planning Group have already confirmed that the company had been working on the 2018 Note phablet, likely to be called Galaxy Note 9. Even though the handset is roughly a year away, the rumor mill has started churning out details about the device. Let’s take a look at the Galaxy Note 9 features, specifications, and other details that the rumor mill has revealed.
Galaxy Note 9 codenamed ‘Crown’
A few days ago, Korean site The Bell reported that Samsung was developing Note 9 under the codename “Crown.” The internal names for Samsung’s flagship phones tends to hint at its ambitions for the given device. For instance, the Galaxy S8 was internally referred to as “Dream,” representing Samsung’s dream to beat Apple. The recently released Note 8 was codenamed “Baikal” after one of the world’s largest freshwater lakes. It pointed to the phablet’s giant 6.3-inch Infinity display.
The Note 9’s “Crown” codename represents Samsung’s ambition to maintain its lead in the global smartphone market. Samsung is struggling to retain its market share amid fierce competition from Apple’s iPhone X and Huawei smartphones.
A reliable source at one of the component suppliers told The Bell that they would start shipping components for the Galaxy Note 9 pilot production “in the first quarter” of 2018. It means the first prototypes will be ready in the next few months. Even though pilot production will start during the first quarter, the phone wouldn’t launch until August.
S Pen stylus to get a major upgrade
The S Pen will be one of the hallmark Galaxy Note 9 features. Even though its design has remained similar over the years, Samsung has consistently improved the stylus with each new Note model. Last month, BJ Kang and Cue Kim of Samsung’s Global Product Planning Group revealed that the S Pen would get a major upgrade next year. Without offering concrete details, Kang said Samsung was exploring different ways “to improve upon signature features like the S Pen.”
Samsung added many new features to the S Pen that accompanies the current Note 8 flagship. The stylus has 4,096 pressure levels. It allows users to create and send text GIFs, thanks to the Live Messages feature. You can create original art using the Pen Up app, translate large chunks of text, select areas on the screen for screenshots, and write on the idle screen with the Screen Off memo feature.
Galaxy Note 9 to feature an optical fingerprint reader
Enough of waiting! Samsung tried integrating the fingerprint sensor under the Galaxy S8 and Note 8 screens, but couldn’t. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts the optical fingerprint reader will finally make its way into the Galaxy Note 9. If the prediction turns out to be true, the in-display fingerprint reader will be one of the most important Galaxy Note 9 features. It will allow users to unlock the phone and authenticate payments by placing their finger on the screen. That’s it.
Kuo claims three companies are in the race to supply the in-display fingerprint scanner for the Note 9. BeyondEyes and Samsung LSI have already shipped their samples to Samsung for testing. Egis, which supplies the fingerprint readers for the Galaxy S8 and Note 8 handsets, is also said to be in the race.
Lending credibility to Kuo’s prediction, Samsung recently filed a patent with the Korean Intellectual Property Rights Information Service (KIPRIS) for a pressure-sensitive in-display fingerprint sensor. The technology is expected to be ready for implementation into the Galaxy Note 9.
Samsung to further improve the dual camera
The camera will be one of those Galaxy Note 9 features that Samsung cannot afford to compromise on. Flagship smartphones from Google and Apple have raised the bar in smartphone photography. Cue Kim and BJ Kang have told media that Samsung would also improve the Note 9’s dual camera. The Note 8 already has one of the world’s best smartphone cameras, but it lags behind Apple’s iPhone X and Google’s Pixel 2 in DxOMark rankings.
Samsung’s sister firm Samsung Electro-Mechanics recently filed a patent application for a new camera module, which could make its way into the Note 9. The new module consists of several lens elements along the optical axis. It includes a lens cylinder between different lens elements to allow light to reach all the sensors.
Cameras consisting of multiple lens elements tend to capture better images, but they also suffer from lens flare as lenses reflect direct light at each other. The patent describes a broadband anti-reflection coating on at least one of the elements to get rid of the lens flare. It is too early to say whether this technology will be added to the Note 9. If it happens, the technology could significantly close the gap between smartphone cameras and DSLRs.
Other rumored Galaxy Note 9 features
The Note 9 will be a more refined variant of the Note 8, while retaining some of its best features. Yes, I’m talking about the bezel-less Infinity display. The rumor mill claims the Note 9 would retain the 6.3-inch Infinity OLED display. The phablet is expected to be powered by Qualcomm’s next-gen Snapdragon 845 SoC, which would have its own neural engine to handle AI tasks. Samsung is also developing an in-house neural engine to support the Exynos variant of the Galaxy S9 and Note 9.
The Galaxy Note 9 isn’t due until August 2018. Samsung has plenty of time to develop a phablet that would give the 2018 iPhones and Google Pixel phones a tough competition.