Dubai: Samsung unveiled its flagship smartphone — the Galaxy Note 9 — in the UAE on Wednesday. The device features bigger memory, one terabyte of storage capacity, an innovative S Pen and an extra battery capacity with a focus on businesses and consumers alike.
Aside from the phablet, the Korean giant also showcased two Galaxy smartwatches.
Daniel Gleeson, senior analyst for consumer technology at Ovum, told Gulf News the Note 9’s core audience is the early-adopter who demands the latest and greatest hardware, so for that market, the price point is not a huge barrier.
“It will limit the appeal of the Note 9 for a more mass market but Samsung is happy to let the S9 carry that segment,” he said.
The Note 9 is priced at Dh4,599 for 8GB RAM, 512GB storage capacity and 512GB microSD card support, while the one featuring 6GB RAM, 128GB storage capacity and 512GB microSD card support will retail for Dh3,699.
It is the second most expensive phone after the Apple X. The 5.8-inch iPhone X with 64GB and 3GB RAM was launched at Dh4,099 while the 256GB and 3GB RAM retailed at Dh4,729 despite having no microSD card support and being armed only with a 2,716mAh battery.
Despite the price factor, Tarek Sabbagh, head of the mobile and IT division at Samsung Gulf, told Gulf News that the preorders for Note 9 in the first five days are 10 per cent higher than Note 8 preorders. Preorders started on August 10.
Out of the total preorders, 51 per cent are for the 512GB device while 49 per cent are for the 128GB device.
Globally, Samsung experienced slower year-on-year growth in the first and second quarters of this year but Sabbagh revealed that Samsung Gulf had enjoyed very good first half, registering more than 10 per cent growth.
Samsung has an exclusive tie-up with Epics Games’ multiplayer game Fortnite on Note 9.
“I’ll be very interested in seeing if the increased gaming performance resonates with consumers. So far, gaming has not been a big draw, and while the Fortnite exclusive game will help, the core audience for Fortnite is not the same as the core audience for the Note range,” Gleeson said.
He said the smartphone market has evolved to the point where consumers see little reason in waiting on the next release.
“Consumers will simply not be expecting any major change this year or even [the] next. So I doubt many consumers will opt to wait for another six months or year if they are looking to buy a new phone,” he said.
Annette Zimmermann, research vice-president at Gartner, told Gulf News that the Note 9 has some interesting features but they are only marginal when compared to the Note 8, despite having the same design language.
She said that the DeX feature, which can be connected to a monitor to turn it into an Android desktop using a USB Type-C cable, is focused on professionals who are working from outside but it is a very niche use case.
The Note 9 in DeX mode doubles as a keyboard and mouse. Samsung first debuted DeX as a dock accessory for the Galaxy S8 series, S9 series and Note 8.
Moreover, Zimmerman said Samsung has had the challenge to go after enterprises for quite a while through the wearables strategy and the Knox security platform. The Bluetooth stylus, which can be used as a remote control to take pictures and be programmed to advance slides during presentations, is cool and that is an enterprise feature.
Zimmermann said that the issue for Samsung is also about profitability, to which Gartner have already issued a warning. She said that could be the reason why Samsung had increased the price of the phone to get better margins like Apple.
Note 9 features
Display 6.4 inch Amoled screen (1,440 x 2,960 pixels)
Platform Android 8.1 Oreo
Chipset 2.7GHz Octa-core Exynos 9810
Memory 6GB and 8GB RAM
Storage 128GB and 512GB
Main camera 12MP with f/1.5-f/2.4 and 12MP with f/2.4
Selfie camera 8MP with f/1.7 aperture
SIM Card Two nano SIM or one Sim and one microSD card