LOS ANGELES —Samsung’s new Note 9 phone, unveiled at a big bash in Brooklyn on Thursday morning, is the company’s biggest one yet, but it could be the last in the lineup.
According to Korean media, Samsung is considering ditching the Note altogether if consumers don’t buy as many units as it hopes, and merge it with the premium Galaxy S lineup.
The new Note phone is bigger, has more generous storage and touts improved camera performance in low light.
Two years ago, the Note became notorious in the annals of disastrous launches when reports of the phone’s battery exploding started to surface. Samsung at first recalled the phone, then killed the Note 7 line altogether, waiting until 2017’s Note 8 to try again. This time, successfully.
Daniel Ives, an analyst with GBH Research, says the poor sales of the Note have been a “black cloud,” for Samsung that it’s yet to overcome. “There is a lot of pressure on this new release to be successful and lay the groundwork for future innovation and cross-selling opportunities in a fiercely competitive smart phone market.”
At the Galaxy Unpacked event, Samsung showed a Note screen that’s slightly larger at 6.4 inches, up from the current 6.3-inch OLED screen, which would make it Samsung’s largest smartphone release to date. The new Note is touted to have expandable storage from a micro SD card of up to 1 TB, which would be quite a feat since the current microSD card with the biggest storage we’ve been able to find is 400 GB, selling for $170.
The current Note 8 maxes out at 256 GB.
Samsung says that with a Note 9 with 512 GB of storage, an additional 512 card from Samsung (which hasn’t been released) would get it to over 1 TB of storage. However, that will be pricey, as the card and extra storage will add up.
The new edition of the Note traditionally is released in summer, to get ahead of that other dominant smartphone release of the fall, the new iPhone.
By comparison, the current top of the line iPhone, the X, has a 5.8-inch screen, and the 8 Plus model has a 5.5-inch screen.
The new Note starts at $1,000, compared to $1,000 for the iPhone X and $850 for the iPhone 8 Plus.
Samsung sells more phones, per unit, than any other company. According to market researcher TrendForce, Samsung will ship over 300 million in 2018, compared to just over 200 million for Apple’s iPhone.
But the iPhone is the most popular phone by far, outselling the premium galaxy by 10 to 1. Most of Samsung’s phone sales are on the low end.
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