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You’ve heard about the Samsung Galaxy X, but Samsung could well bring its foldable tech to its Galaxy Note line first

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You've heard about the Samsung Galaxy X, but Samsung could well bring its foldable tech to its Galaxy Note line first



With the Galaxy S9 now launched, and due to arrive in stores by the middle of March, we have some idea of what to expect from the Galaxy Note 9 in terms of hardware. After all, fairly consistently Samsung uses a similar suite of hardware in the Galaxy Note series as it does in the Galaxy S flagship for a given year, with one or two tweaks.

It's quite likely the Galaxy Note 9 will run on the same set of either Exynos 9810 or Snapdragon 845 processors (the former for the "International" model, the latter for the US, Canada, and China), with 6GB of RAM and up to 128GB of onboard storage (256GB in some markets), while packing a dual-sensor camera, S-Pen stylus, IP68 waterproofing, and a QHD Infinity Display.

Local Korean sources The Bell and The Investor, say that insiders have tipped the Galaxy Note 9 project is dubbed "Crown" internally at Samsung's labs.

That name apparently does have some significance vis-a-vis Samsung's intentions and goals with the device. The firm has reportedly noted that most major manufacturers are now offering compelling phablet alternatives to the Note series, and wants to re-establish itself as the top-tier in the phablet sector; a sector which it basically invented with the original Galaxy Note.

Things are already well under way, as The Bell cites an official Samsung supplier saying that inside Q1 2018 they will "start providing components for a pilot production."

The reports reiterate earlier rumours that the Galaxy Note 9 is expected to retain the same 6.32in display size as the Galaxy Note 8 from this year. However, there has been no further mention of one rumour which said the Note 9 could introduce folding and flexible OLED to the phablet series.

It's believed Samsung is planning to launch some kind of fully flexible and folding OLED phone inside 2018, dubbed by the rumour mill as the Samsung Galaxy X, however, it's also believed there are multiple devices in development using this technology.

"The Note brand is still going strong despite Samsung recalling and discontinuing Note 7 devices last year for battery explosions," notes The Verge. "The company announced that more customers in the US have preordered the Note 8 than any other Notes it has ever sold in previous years during the same time period."

It added: "At a conference in Korea where Samsung announced the Note 8's release in its home country, Samsung's mobile chief DJ Koh said it received 650,000 preorders within five days across the 40 countries it first launched in — 2.5 times faster than the Note 7. Samsung has not publicly announced the number for US-only presales."

Bixby is ALIVE! Bixby 2.0 WILL Land Inside Samsung Galaxy Note 9

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9, for me, is a more exciting prospect than the Galaxy S9 releases. Galaxy Note phones are always more innovative, more feature-rich, and, generally speaking, better all round phones.

The Galaxy Note 9 will reportedly be the phone where Bixby gets its second coming. Yep, that's right, Bixby – AKA the worst digital assistant around – is not dead. It's coming back. And it will go by the name Bixby 2.0.

Here's the official line via Samsung on what's cracking with Bixby 2.0:

"For Bixby 1.0," said Samsung, "we focused on a fast rollout to the market. Expanding the ecosystem was difficult. So Bixby 2.0 will strengthen this aspect and we are working intensely. In December last year, we began taking applications for the public beta version. So far over 800 companies have applied and are testing it. At this speed, I think we will be able to unveil Bixby 2.0 when we launch the Galaxy Note 9."

Samsung is now working on bringing Bixby to more of its products, the company's upcoming QLED HDTV, for instance, as well as Samsung's rumoured smart speaker. Whatever happens, Samsung has plans for Bixby, so the digital assistant is not going anywhere.

The Galaxy Note 9 will also be the first commercial Samsung handset that features a fingerprint scanner built into its display. This is something Apple wanted for the iPhone X but failed to pull off in time for the handset's release last year.

First Galaxy Note 9 Benchmarks Surface

Samsung has established that we won't be seeing a new 7nm/8nm processor inside the Galaxy Note 9. How so? Well a recent official announcement put out the dreaded phrase; "in the first quarter, earnings are expected to rise on the ramp-up of 2nd generation 10nm process products for this year's flagship smartphones."

In other words, this year's flagships from Samsung will be 10nm LPP based on its current Exynos chip found in the Galaxy S9, and likely the equivalent Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chip for the North American and Chinese markets.

However, the rest of the specs are open to a fair bit of tweaking, and today, a benchmark has emerged for the Galaxy Note 9 - the very first one. The details show a handset designated SM-N960U (up from the Galaxy Note 8's SM-N950) and it will feature a Samsung Infinity Display with an 18.5:9 aspect ratio, according to the HTML5 browser benchmark.

The specs also show the handset runs the Samsung Experience 8.0 browser, which means it must be running Android 8.0 Oreo already. Hopefully the handset will also have Project Treble support, given that Google has made it a requirement going forward for new flagships, which will also mean it'll subsequently get Android 9.0 pretty quickly when it drops.

IN-SCREEN Finger Print Scanner 

Samsung aims to have an in-screen scanner working by the time it releases the Galaxy Note 9.

The word comes via analytics firm KGI Securities:

"Since OLED iPhone has cancelled under-display fingerprint recognition/touch ID function, and as Galaxy S9 will have the new selling points of upgraded iris recognition and dual camera, Samsung has no need to risk adopting under-display optical fingerprint solution in a hurry."

In case you've missed it, the in-screen fingerprint scanner saga has been quite a long one, and very much a tug-of-war back-and-forth. Rumours of in-screen scanners have essentially gone hand-in-hand with the recent development of enlarged, edge-to-edge, full-front display panels; with massive touch displays taking up all available space on the front of new phones, fingerprint scanners can go one of two places; either on the back panel, or under the display glass. Problem is, no-one seems to have figured out a way of getting the scanners working under the glass satisfctorily.

The Galaxy S8 was rumoured to have one for some time, but when it finally broke cover in April 2017 it was wearing a scanner on the back panel, adjacent to the camera. Apparently, Samsung experimented with prototypes during development but just couldn't get it working right. The same is said to be true of the Apple iPhone 8, which despite many, many rumours of an in-screen scanner will now not feature one. Likewise, plenty of initial rumours believed the Galaxy Note 8 would pick up features that the Galaxy S8 missed, including the dual-camera and in-screen scanner, but it seems now only the former is going to make the cut.

So that leaves many looking to next year's portfolio for the much-anticipated in-screen scanners. Qualcomm has come to the table with its own scanner technology ready for next year, but some analysts have already stated that it may be limited in its application. 

The next logical model to be watching for in-screen tech would be the Galaxy S9, which given Samsung's usual trick of announcing the flagship in Q1/Q2 would be arriving fairly soon in the new year; 2018. However, according to KGI's report, the Galaxy S9 will not introduce the in-screen scanner either. The earliest we'll see it at least from Samsung, the firm claims, would be in the Galaxy Note 9, which probably won't arrive until August/September 2018.

"KGI further reports that Samsung will switch from Synaptics to Egis at the time of the Note's release to supply the company with fingerprint sensors on the Galaxy Note 9," reports 9To5Google, "It's also important to note that the switch to this technology is not a simple one, as the cost of that sensor is estimated to be 4-5 times as expensive."

Update: Despite an ongoing and overwhelming torrent of multiple reports (which you can see some of summarised below) saying the Galaxy Note 9 will feature an in-screen fingerprint scanner, a new report from Korean source The Bell is taking a contrarian stance on the matter; claiming that the next-gen phablet will NOT, in fact, have an in-screen scanner, but that the Galaxy S10 in 2019 may do.

To be more precise, the sources cited by The Bell say that the Galaxy Note 9 will feature a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, which by default kind of puts the kibosh on a front-mounted, in-display one, as it's hardly likely to need two of them. The report goes on to add that a central arrangement below the camera, as we see on leaked images of the Galaxy S9, is most likely, and that Samsung is indeed working with a selection of suppliers, including Synaptics, on the in-display tech; it's just that it won't likely manifest until the Galaxy S10, as Samsung won't have it prepped for mass production in time for the Galaxy Note 9's planned launch.

With all of that said, we'll leave the below earlier reports regarding the in-screen scanner as they are for posterity, just bear in mind as you read them that it's not looking very likely any more...

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Apple famously failed to achieve this with the iPhone X, after multiple reports claimed the company tried and failed to get the technology working in time for the iPhone X's release.

In-screen fingerprint scanners will happen in 2018. Vivo recently confirmed that it has the technology working in cahoots with Synaptics. Samsung, however, will be the focal point of the new technology, as its Galaxy Note 9 will secure the majority of the headlines.

This technology WILL NOT appear on the Galaxy S9, however, and this gives Samsung at least one area where the Galaxy Note 9 will be differentiated. The main thing for Samsung will be that it has one-upped Apple's iPhone X, though, by successfully integrating a fingerprint scanner in the display.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 will, according to new reports, features a fingerprint scanner embedded under the display glass.

There's been a lot of talk recently about how Apple's 3D face scanning aboard the iPhone X is going to be emulated by every Tom, Dick, and Harry in the smartphone space.

Quite likely true, but one thing which was asserted along the way which might not be so certain, according to these new details, is that this shift may mean manufacturers stop trying to get fingerprint scanners functioning beneath display glass.

To put this in some kind of perspective, let's do a quick recap.

So, according to the rumour mill, allegedly Samsung wanted to put an under-glass fingerprint scanner on the Galaxy S8 series, but didn't manage to get it working just right in time, and instead opted to put a surface-level fingerprint scanner on the back panel, just adjacent to the camera. The story then goes that the same thing happened with the Galaxy Note 8.

And lastly, all this time, Apple was trying to do the same thing with the iPhone X, but ultimately could also not achieve it and went with the 3D face scanner.

It seems likely to us that the 3D scanner was going to be involved anyway, after all, you don't just bodge that kind of pioneering tech last minute, but the leaks and rumours would suggest that an under-display embedded Touch ID scanner was planned as well, so it seems Apple wanted two biometrics on the same phone.

Regardless, none of this was achieved; the concept proved too complex for two of the world's biggest and most advanced tech firms to implement satisfactorily. In fact it was so difficult that one of them somehow plumped for something which, to us, sounds far more sci-fi and advanced - 3D laser scanning face recognition. Weird, huh?

So anyway, the new word comes via prominent KGI Securities analysy, Ming-Chi Kuo; he's got a flawless track record on Apple predictions, but has more recently dipped a toe into the business of other OEMs, including Samsung. Kuo says Samsung's Galaxy Note 9 will use an under-display scanner and that the technology involved will allow the AMOLED display to be used as a light source for the sensor.

Why is this good? Well, apparently it is more efficient than having a dedicated light source and will save on battery life due to the OLED screens battery-friendly properties.

It also gives Samsung a significant one-up on Apple's iPhone X, which will likely be the talk of the town once it arrives, later on, this month.

And this, coupled with Samsung's advancements with its flexible/bendable phones that are coming in 2018, place the company in a very nice position for the future.

Kuo adds that two suppliers have already shipped sample components to Samsung Electronics, those suppliers being BeyondEyes, and Samsung's own subsidiary; Samsung LSI. He also suggests that current Samsung scanner supplier Egis might also win the contract.

Is this a big deal? For me, not really. I couldn't care less. It just seems like an arbitrary measurement of one-upmanship, which will make little difference to the end-user. I mean, a fingerprint scanner is a fingerprint scanner, it doesn't matter where it lives, as long as it works.

And it kind of shows just stale things have got in the mobile space when you're supposed to get excited about different ways of unlocking your phone!

As for specs and hardware, expect the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 to run Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845 CPU, feature around 6GB of RAM, and pack in a very impressive camera. There will be plenty of other new things that will no doubt be unearthed between now and its release, as is often the case, so stay tuned for updates.

Samsung Galaxy X vs Samsung Galaxy Note 9 – Who Will Be First To Fold? 

I've been eagerly following the Galaxy X saga, but I am now even more excited as it appears Samsung is looking to leverage this technology inside its upcoming 2018 Galaxy Note phone.

But today news has surfaced about Samsung's plans to create a foldable Galaxy Note device in 2018. Multiple sources are reporting that Samsung has stated it plans on making the Galaxy Note foldable in 2018.

Whether this is the Galaxy Note 9 or a separate, additional release remains to be seen. Either way, this would be a very interesting turn of events, as the technology that would make it possible is not yet in the hands of consumers – it's all locked away in Samsung's skunkworks.

Samsung admitted there are still some "issues" to solve before the technology will be ready for mass consumption, but it seems as if the company is betting big for foldable tech by implementing it inside its seminal Note range of smartphones.

And when you think about it, the Note kind of makes sense – just imagine what you could do with the S-Pen and a foldable design. It'd actually be rather close to an actual notepad if you could fold it.

The advent of foldable devices would be a HUGE deal for the mobile space too, as it represents a complete paradigm shift in the overall design and production of phones. No longer will they just be static blocks – everything will move and that means things like bendable batteries and components.

The idea of foldable tech is nothing new, however – there have been rumors of foldable devices since back in 2008/2009. And Samsung, more than anyone else, has been investing in the technology ever since. The Youm device showed potential, then came the Galaxy X, a now almost mythical device that was rumoured to launch this year, and now we have word that Samsung is seriously considering making the Galaxy Note 9 a foldable phone.

Whichever way you slice it, that's pretty interesting stuff. Finger's crossed Samsung gets the technology nailed in time for the Galaxy Note 9's release window.

Samsung has BIG plans for the Galaxy Note 9's S Pen features

According to am interview on Samsung's official website, Samsung is already in the process of developing and hashing out new ideas for the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. Amongst those ideas, the firm is reportedly focusing on bringing new and advanced features to the S Pen stylus.

The interview was conducted with two members of Samsung Electronics' Global Product Planning Group (part of the firm's Mobile Communications Business), BJ Kang and Cue Kim, although it is Kang's comments which were most revealing. He said that Samsung's development team has already committed to working on the Galaxy Note 9 without taking its usual break after the Galaxy Note 8, despite the Note 8 development itself apparently being quite a challenging time (not surprising considering what happend with the Galaxy Note 7!)

"Following the Galaxy Note7 incident, Samsung Mobile Communications Business, which had been moving forward so quickly, had the chance to reflect on the core benefits that Note users require of their device. When the time came to design the next model, we made it our priority to reward our loyal users with our most innovative Note yet," he said, "Therefore, the product planning process for the Galaxy Note8 was far more intense than ever before."

"Usually, when one project comes to an end, we have a small break before moving on to the next. But this time, we're not taking any breaks, even though the Galaxy Note8 product planning process was so challenging."

Kang confirmed that enhancing the S Pen with new features is a key focus, but the team is also trying to figure out how to add more business and consumer features to the handset as well.

"We are already considering how to approach the development of the next Note by evaluating the latest model and looking for ways to improve upon signature features like the S Pen. We will continue to keep users' needs as our number one priority, and will innovate accordingly."

Samsung's filed a patent for a very odd Galaxy Note design

Samsung has filed a patent for a new Galaxy Note series design which is very interesting indeed. There's no way it's the Galaxy Note 8 for 2017, as the firm will already be too far along in the development process to incorporate a design that's only just come off the drawing board. But, with that said, the design could show what a future Galaxy Note will look like, perhaps the Galaxy Note 9.

The patent was picked up by Patently Mobile, which includes a technical diagram showing the front and back of the handset. The design is incredibly thin, but appears to sport an asymmetrical design where one edge curves inwards towards the user - the inverse of Samsung's current EDGE flexible OLED displays - while the other edge appears to be flat. Looking at the drawing more closely, it appears the inward curving edge is somewhat thicker and could have some kind of cut-out for the S-Pen ( the D-Shape at the bottom). Additionally, although it's not clear, it looks as though the display could wrap-around from the front panel to the rear, in fact the device may be hinged to allow it to open like a notebook, although this isn't shown in the patent and, frankly, if it were a flexible folding OLED device we'd expect this to be illustrated given previous patents from Samsung.

Following the explosiongate fiasco of the Galaxy Note 7, Samsung will almost certainly keep the Galaxy Note 8 this year fairly vanilla, but this patent does suggest Samsung is still planning to innovate going forward. The issue is that a thinner bodyshell does mean more of a hazard for things like battery instability if any problems occur. Having said all of that, as always with such patents, an OEM designing and patenting a new idea doesn't necessarily mean it will become reality; Apple, Samsung, and the rest, file thousands of patents which never become a final product.

So between potential design issues, the fact that this definitely isn't this year's phone, and a few other factors; don't hold your breath for this design hitting the market any time soon, if at all! But still, it's interesting to see what Samsung is scheming as it means we can get a rough idea of what it's thinking for future designs. The aim, for the Note series at least, seems to be thinner, with more interesting curvature and form factors.

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