NEW YORK CITY—I’ve touched a Galaxy Note9, and I am again to speak about it. Samsung’s flagship smartphone for the back-half of 2018 was introduced earlier right this moment, with headline options like, uh, a brand new S-Pen? Bixby? It is “new,” and Samsung hopes that can be ok.

There’s not a lot to say on the entrance. Anybody who has put a finger on a Galaxy S8, S9, or Word eight will instantly be conversant in the Note9. It is all glass, and it feels actually strong, however the again can be fragile and a fingerprint magnet. The show is big and exquisite, though the zero.1-inch enhance this 12 months is one thing you may solely discover by wanting on the spec sheet.

Samsung will acquire plenty of followers this 12 months by simply standing nonetheless and never adopting any of the controversial smartphone developments which might be spreading throughout the business in 2018. The telephone nonetheless has a headphone jack, and it hasn’t adopted a notch design, each of that are two huge precise differentiators for the telephone this 12 months.

When it comes to important design adjustments, I can affirm the fingerprint reader is now in a extra snug location. The transfer to beneath the digital camera meeting makes it no downside to succeed in with a one-handed grip, which was an issue on the Word eight. The small, skinny, horizontally aligned fingerprint reader continues to be bizarre although. A fingerprint is just not formed like a thin horizontal rectangle, and I really feel like it’s going to solely seize a sliver of my finger knowledge. I believe the actual motive the fingerprint reader is so small and thin is as a result of that was the form it was final 12 months, and it wanted to be small to suit subsequent to the digital camera. Samsung moved the sensor, however that tiny, awkward form nonetheless stays.

One of many greatest upgrades is the transfer to a 4000mAh battery from the 3300mAh on the Word eight. Bear in mind, the Word eight was technically a downgrade from the 3500mAh battery within the disastrous Galaxy Word 7, however after all the Word 7 had an exploding battery and the Word eight did not. For the primary mannequin again, Samsung took it simple on the battery capability with the Word eight, however, with a complete different 12 months underneath its belt, Samsung appears extra snug pushing the envelope with battery capability.

The S-Pen has just a few new methods

The S-Pen now has the flexibility to remotely management some components of the telephone. Beforehand, the S-Pen labored by way of wi-fi energy despatched from an electromagnetic coil behind the display, sort of like wi-fi charging with no battery. So long as it was near the display, it labored. This 12 months, the S-Pen has been upgraded to a full-blown Bluetooth LE machine, which suggests it wants an built-in energy supply. Fairly than a battery, Samsung is utilizing a brilliant capacitor, which costs in just a few seconds and lasts a half-hour.

Now, with a half-hour of juice, the stylus can management the telephone remotely by way of its single button. There’s not a ton you are able to do with a single button, nevertheless it’s ok to work the digital camera shutter or act as a Powerpoint slide clicker. I took just a few photos with the S-Pen, and, like several Bluetooth machine, the response was tremendous quick.

I hoped the revamped S-Pen would imply it felt a bit heavier or sturdier, nevertheless it nonetheless looks like the most cost effective little pen on earth. The S-Pen continues to be a hollow-feeling plastic tube that appears extra like a disposable Bic pen than one thing that belongs on a thousand-dollar machine. As somebody who nonetheless fondly remembers his strong steel Palm stylus, the S-Pen is disappointing.

The Note9 comes with Bixby 2.zero, which is the primary model to make use of know-how from Samsung’s Viv acquisition, somewhat than Bixby 1.zero, which was a continuation of Samsung’s S-Voice line of voice assistants. 2.zero provides issues like a “conversational” capacity to make use of context from a earlier query to reply the present query. I used to be capable of ping just a few questions off of Bixby 2.zero, and aside from an terrible robotic voice, it answered issues just like the climate with aplomb. Like I stated in my assessment of Bixby 1.zero, although, the issue with Bixby is not what it might and may’t reply, it is that Samsung does not have the ecosystem to help a aggressive voice assistant.

Once you speak to the Google Assistant (which you’ll be able to nonetheless do on the Galaxy Note9), the information goes someplace. Make a remark and it goes in Google Hold, and that knowledge is accessible from all of your units by way of apps and the Internet. The Google Assistant works on Android and iOS telephones and tablets, Android Auto, Android TV, Put on OS, and numerous Google Residence units. Equally, once you ask Siri to make a reminder, it will get saved within the reminders app after which synced as much as iCloud and right down to the reminders app in your Mac, Apple Watch, iPad, and HomePod. Knowledge given to Bixby does not go anyplace. It stays on the telephone as a result of Samsung does not have the gathering of cross-platform apps, Internet companies, and units to maneuver all this knowledge round. Good assistants are multi-device, multi-form issue, cloud-syncing beasts, and Samsung would have loads of work to do to give you a aggressive ecosystem.

Samsung’s resolution to its dearth of viable apps is to plug into some third-party apps, like Yelp, Uber, Spotify, and Ticketmaster. It even works with Google Maps. Samsung can be taking a child step throughout this hole with a Bixby speaker, known as the Galaxy Speaker. Each present that Samsung is conscious of Bixby’s gaps, however it’s simply so distant from the established and software program ecosystems developed by Google, Apple, and (to a lesser extent) Amazon.

In order that’s the Galaxy Note9

There’s not a lot totally different or new. You recognize, there is a rumor on the market from the Korean web site The Bell that claims Samsung is contemplating merging the Galaxy Word and Galaxy S traces right into a single machine. The change would supposedly assist to chop prices within the face of a saturated smartphone market. I’ve bought to say that seems like an incredible concept, as a result of there’s simply not a lot the Galaxy Word gives over the Galaxy S line. The totally different fashions made sense when Samsung was experimenting with ever-larger display sizes, however because the Galaxy S Plus line will get larger and greater, there’s much less room for the Word to do something otherwise. Like final 12 months, this 12 months’s distinction between the Galaxy S9 and Note9 is sort of nothing. There’s the S-Pen and never a lot else. Recently, the Word line has felt like nothing greater than a contemporary PR push to distract potential iPhone clients. If we do see a Word 10, I hope it is one thing totally different.

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