Exciting times for Samsung. They are barely out of the “New phone/s in the market” mode with the successful global launch of S9 & S9+. So much so, even the standard ad cycles are not yet complete. And Bam! There is talk of the newest phone in their line-up already making headlines – it’s the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. It’s true that Samsung have announced the Galaxy Note 9 last week, but they did this in haste. This was partly because of poor business projection for the S9 and partly because they just couldn’t keep the stuff happening at Note 9 front under wraps. From filing for trademarks in Columbia (of all places) to testing two different firmwares globally, Samsung, at first, sure did not want broadcast this news initially. But in a matter of weeks, it took a U-turn on its strategy and made the launch news public.
Pundits say this is unprecedented for Samsung, because usually, as seen in the past, Samsung announces a Galaxy launch somewhere around August and starts shipping in the third quarter. And this is why, this time around it’s a bigger deal. Two ﬂagship phones being launched so close to one another. Let’s make sense of all this, from a business stand point, as there are quite a few discussions to be made in this regard.
First, Samsung mobile chief DJ Koh announced that “bold reinvention” would be the core of this new device. But since Samsung has already made the radical innovation in the optics department of the S9 models, and with the Galaxy Note 9, there are concerns over chipset performance and power consumption, there is little room for the “bold reinvention” that Samsung has talked about.
Secondly, Samsung has in the past, timed its Galaxy Note launches to overlap with Apple’s annual iPhone upgrades, but this time around, with the Galaxy Note 9 already announced, this gives Samsung an extra month or so to capitalise on capturing as much market real estate as it can, before Apple announces its iPhone X SE later this year. And if in case, Samsung can’t straighten out the creases from the Note 9, its biggest hope for success would base on the price competitiveness with the that of the iPhone X SE.
About the battery, the prediction is, the battery stagnation seen on the S9 models, might carry over to the Note 9 as well. If true, that is bad news overall. Thirdly, since there is a real chance of Note 9 also suffering the same fate as the S9 and S9+, being called an unexciting upgrade to the existing model, Samsung needs to ensure that the consumers have absolute incentive to buy the Note 9.
Talking about incentives, the new glass in the S9 models still have room for improvement. As good rear cameras as they have on the S9 models, the front camera can be the problem child. Going by the premise, of Samsung using the same 8 MP front facing camera, as the one featured on the S9 models, there are two problems. One, that camera is a year old and it debuted on the S8 models and second, there would be no portrait mode on the selfie cam, because Samsung still relies on dual camera set up for “portrait mode”. Hopefully though, Samsung will improve the front camera on the Note 9.
Also, with the VIVO X20 Plus already featuring the fingerprint sensor integrated into its display, Samsung will have to up their game with this technology, since they have already lost their edge with being the first mobile phone brand to do that. They can still take the “first mass-market smartphone with UD fingerprint scanner” tag, but it will have to be smooth and fast as heck.
From a design perspective, Samsung Note 9 might feature a 95% screen display with the highest pixel density on the market, it will have to deliver on “every feature to be the best there is” otherwise, its a cold wet uphill climb for Samsung this year. With Apple being almost certain to bring out the X SE this year, Samsung cant just “wing it” and rely on the hardcore Galaxy Note fans to run this model successfully. Whatever the case maybe, I am more excited about the Note 9 than I was for the S9 models.
P.S.: Samsung really has to get its house in order when it comes to keeping developmental news under wraps and properly announcing their new phones. The S9 models announcement was no surprise, and this Note 9 announcement was as if the entire company had a panic attack. Is there a pattern developing? What happened to the good old days of “pomp and show”?