Samsung Galaxy Note 9 rumors: In-display fingerprint sensor might not be happening

Here's everything we thing we think we know about Samsung's next flagship phone.

Credit: Ryan Whitwam/IDG

Now that the Galaxy S9 has officially landed, it’s time to look ahead to the next big thing from Samsung: the Note 9. Right on cue, rumors are starting to trickle in about the phablet phone—and it’s already shaping up to be a monster release. Here’s what we know so far:

Galaxy Note 9: The latest

While it was beginning to look like Samsung would be adding an in-display fingerprint sensor to the Note 9, a new report by Ming-Chi Kuo says that's probably not happening. Read on for more information.

Galaxy Note 9: Design and Display

The look of the Galaxy Note generally follows the lead of the Galaxy S phones, but bigger. Last year’s release brought the Infinity Display from the Galaxy S8 to the Note 8 in a bigger 6.3-inch package, and this year will likely bring more of the same. Samsung opted to keep the design of the Galaxy S9 mostly unchanged from the S8, so the Note 9 will likely bring a similar aesthetic, with skinny bezels and an aluminum-and-glass enclosure.

galaxy note8 screen full Doug Duvall/IDG

The Note 8's 6.3-inch Infinity Display will likely make an appearance on the Note 9 as well.

A recycled design likely means the display will be unchanged as well. Last year’s model had a stunning 6.3-inch, 18.5:9 display, and we wouldn’t hate on the Note 9 if it had the same screen, especially if it brought along the improvements to color accuracy and banding that Samsung made to the S9's display.

However, one change we’re almost certain to see is with the fingerprint sensor. On the S9, Samsung moved it to the space below the camera rather than next to it, and our fingers are much happier for it. We were hearing grumblings that the Note 9 would introduce the long-awaited in-display fingerprint sensor that Vivo just unveiled on its  X20 Plus UD, but a new report from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (via 9to5Google) throws some cold water on that notion. While Samsung is indeed developing the technology in-house, Kuo says it is “likely” Samsung will need to scrap it in the Note 9 due to “technological difficulties.” As 9to5Google reports, Kuo says the feature “currently suffers from issues with screen protectors and various different environments affecting the success rate of the under-display fingerprint reader.”

Galaxy Note 9: Specs

The Galaxy S9 was the first phone to ship with Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 845 processor, so there’s a 99.9 percent chance that the Note 9 will have the same system-on-chip. What could change, however is the RAM on board. Samsung upped the memory on its Galaxy S9+ from 4GB to 6GB to match the Note 8's, so it’s possible the Note 9 will bump to 8GB to maintain some performance separation. Internal storage is likely to stay the same at 64GB, but we’ll probably see a bump in the maximum SD card size from 256GB to 400GB, like the S9.

galaxy note8 pen eject Doug Duvall/IDG

The Galaxy Note 9 will likely have a Snapdragon 845 processor.

Samsung also kept the same 3,000mAh and 3,500mAh batteries on the S9 and S9+, respectively, so the Note 9 will likely also retain its 3,500mAh battery. After the debacle that was the Note 7, Samsung probably won’t want to push the limits of the Note 9’s battery.

Galaxy Note 9: Bixby

Bixby was greatly improved on the Galaxy S9, bringing food scanning, AR makeup, and live translations, but it didn’t get a bump to version 2. According to Samsung’s mobile chief DJ Koh, however, it’s on the way. In an interview with ZDNet at Mobile World Congress in February, Koh confirmed that Samsung is already testing the next version of its AI assistant with the hope that the company “will be able to unveil Bixby 2.0 when we launch the Galaxy Note 9.”

galaxy s9 bixby Christopher Hebert/IDG

Bixby got a boost on the Galaxy S9, but it's likely to get way smarter on the Note 9.

The second version of Bixby is expected to expand support to more Samsung products, such as TVs and appliances, while tightening the integration within the ecosystem. Samsung has said its goal is to make Bixby “ubiquitous.” The new version of the Note 9 could be the first step toward making that happen.

Galaxy Note 9: S Pen

Each version of the Note brings some changes to what the S Pen can do, and the Note 9 will be no exception. Samsung executives have already said that it started work on its next phablet as soon as the Note 8 development was wrapped up and is exploring new ways to enhance its most unique feature: “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.”

galaxy note8 stylus Doug Duvall/IDG

The Note 9 could bring an even better S Pen.

Rumors are light on what the next stylus could bring, but a recent patent suggests Samsung is working on ways to merge touch and pen interactivity for a smooth, seamless experience.

Galaxy Note 9: Camera

The Note 9 was the first to bring a dual camera to a Samsung flagship phone, a feature that quickly made its way over to the S9+ as well. Additionally, the S9 introduced cool new features such as Dual Aperture and Super Slow-Mo that will no doubt make it to the Note 9 when it launches. Samsung is likely to use the Note 9 to debut some next-gen camera tech as well.

galaxy note8 camera full Doug Duvall/IDG

The Note 8 has a great camera, but the Note 9's could blow it away.

Rumors are kind of sketchy at the moment, but some reports have said Samsung is working on a 16MP sensor (up from the current 12MP) with an f/1.4 aperture (versus f/1.7 on the Note 8 and f/1.5 on the S9). Samsung last used a 16MP sensor in the Note 5 before switching to the dual-pixel 12MP lens on the Note 7, so a megapixel bump would be a big deal.

Galaxy Note 9: Price and release date

The Galaxy Note 9 will likely launch in late summer with a price tag near $1,000. Last year’s Note 8  was released on September 15, 2017, with a price tag of $950.

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