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With Samsung’s new Galaxy Note9, the pen is mightier than ever

With Samsung’s new Galaxy Note9, the pen is mightier than ever
[Photo: courtesy of Samsung]

Samsung’s Galaxy Note line, which debuted in 2011, popularized the idea of smartphones with what originally seemed like bizarrely large screens. In recent years, the rest of the market has followed its lead. So the big news with the Galaxy Note9, which the company is unveiling today at an event in New York, isn’t the display real estate. At 6.4″, it’s large but not that large, and not enough bigger than last year’s 6.3″ Galaxy Note8 to care about.

Instead, Samsung is playing up the other defining features of the Note series: Its the S Pen stylus and a general emphasis on serious specs and advanced features aimed at people who like their smartphone to be fully loaded. Most strikingly, the new S Pen now has embedded Bluetooth LE technology, allowing you to use it as a tiny remote control which can perform tasks such as taking a photo or stepping through a presentation.

[Photo: courtesy of Samsung]
Other highlights:

  • A new camera feature called Scene Optimizer, similar to one in some Huawei phones, uses AI to detect the subject of a shot—such as food or flowers—and adjust image settings accordingly.
  • DeX, an existing feature which lets you plug in an external display to use your phone like a PC, now works without a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, opening up the possibility of using it for entertainment as well as productivity.
  • Samsung is offering a Note9 with 512GB of storage, which, along with its MicroSD slot and the imminent availability of 512GB cards, opens up the possibility of equipping your phone with an improbable 1TB of storage.
  • The Note9 uses a water-cooling system—yes, with water hermetically sealed inside the phone—-to wring the most performance out of its processor without overheating.
  • The battery capacity of 4000mAh is big even by the standard of Galaxy Note phones. (Samsung, still smarting from 2017’s Galaxy Note 7 battery catastrophe, emphasizes that its batteries now undergo testing not only internally but through two independent labs.)

The Galaxy Note9 starts at $1,000 for the 128GB model, comes in “Ocean Blue” and “Lavender Purple,” and will be available on August 24.

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