Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 9 is set to be released at the end of this week. The phone will launch slightly ahead of schedule compared to the company’s prior two Note series phone launches, but the wait for the Note 9 seemed like forever since leaks first began flowing many months ago. Now that the phone is almost here, we can safely say it’s one of the best new phones that will launch in 2018. In fact, in our in-depth Galaxy Note 9 review, we called it the best Android phone ever made. But we also pointed out something very important: it follows almost the same uninspired formula as the Galaxy S9 from earlier this year. It’s basically a Galaxy Note 8 with updated specs. Preorders are reportedly doing much better than Galaxy S9 preorders ahead of launch, but the Note 9’s sky-high pricing and the lack of a new design or truly compelling new features could cause sales to suffer.
I’ve spent more time with the Galaxy Note 9 since reviewing the phone last week, and nothing has changed. It’s a great phone, but I simply can’t get excited about an “S” update from Samsung. As I’ve explained before, releasing a new iPhone with the same design and updated specs worked for Apple because the company has no competition. If you want a new iOS phone, you have to buy an iPhone. But Samsung has plenty of competition from other Android phone makers, so minor iterative updates don’t have the same safety net as Apple’s iPhones. That said, there is one aspect of my time with the Galaxy Note 9 that is exciting: Using this new flagship phone is a constant reminder of how impressive next year’s Galaxy S10 is going to be.
I constantly test different smartphones all the time as part of my job, but there are some things that always set Samsung’s phones apart from the rest. That definitely hasn’t always been the case. Samsung has really stepped up its game in the premium phone market in recent years though, and the company continues to impress with the Note 9.
To be blunt, Samsung got its start in the smartphone market by copying everything it possibly could from Apple’s iPhones, and stuffing it all into a flagship phone that looked and felt cheap. The company’s phone hardware paled in comparison to iPhones, but things changed in 2015 when Samsung released the Galaxy S6. It was made entirely out of glass and aluminum instead of flimsy plastic. It was a true flagship phone.
Fast forward to 2018, and Samsung’s flagship phone hardware is among the best in the business. Like Apple’s iPhones, Galaxy flagships are a cut above the competition. The fit and finish are unmatched among Android vendors, and Samsung’s displays are simply stunning. There is nothing else out there that even comes close to approaching the quality of Samsung’s OLED displays. The problem with Samsung’s 2018 flagship phone lineup has nothing to do with the phones themselves. Instead, it has everything to do with Samsung and its decision to forego design changes and novel new features.
That’s why I’m so excited about what Samsung has in store for us next year. Spending time with the Note 9 has been a big reminder of how great Samsung’s phones are. From design and build quality to performance and display quality, they’re just so much better than rival Android devices. And next year, when Samsung adds some much-needed updates into the mix, its phones might be unstoppable.
Based on everything we’ve heard so far, the Galaxy S10 is set to be Samsung’s most exciting phone in years. It actually might end up being the company’s most exciting smartphone ever. We’re looking at a phone with a fresh new all-screen design, a triple-lens rear camera, a dual-lens front-facing camera on the plus model, next-gen processors, an even more impressive Super AMOLED screen, and an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor embedded in the display itself. All that packed into a smartphone with the Galaxy Note 9’s fit and finish? Yes please, I’ll take two.
Samsung could unveil the new Galaxy S10 as soon as CES 2019 in January, and I can’t wait to meet it.