The 4 biggest announcements from the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 event

 theverge.com  8/9/2018 4:57:37 PM  2  Natt Garun

The Galaxy Note 9 is official, along with the unveiling of the long-rumored Samsung smart speaker, the Galaxy Home. At its annual Unpacked event in New York City today, the company finally confirmed details of the various hardware that had been leaked leading up to the announcement. Here’s a recap of everything you should know.

The Note 9 has a much more powerful S Pen

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

The Note 9 looks... pretty much like any other Galaxy we’ve become familiar with. It’s a 6.4-inch device that will ship with Android 8.1, and it packs a 4,000mAh battery inside. That’s the largest battery inside a Note device yet, proving that Samsung is extremely ready to move past the Note 7 incident. The new S Pen stylus will also include Bluetooth, which allows it to perform various functions like doubling as a remote shutter for selfies and presentations. Despite now requiring a battery power to run, the S Pen has supercapacitive charging that allows it to regain power when you stick it back into the Note 9.

The Note 9 will also be the first device to ship with an updated Bixby 2.0 that the company announced back in October 2017. The update gives Bixby a few new skills, such as the ability to search for nearby events, make restaurant reservations, and order Uber rides. The device will also support Google Assistant, however, if you find that the update still isn’t quite up to par with its digital assistant competitors.

Spec-wise, the Note 9 has similar guts to the Galaxy S9: it’s got dual 12-megapixel rear cameras and a Snapdragon 845 processor. Starting at $999 for a 128GB and 6GB RAM configuration, the price point is comparable to the iPhone X. Samsung will release the Note 9 on August 24th, with preorders starting on August 10th.

The anticipated Fortnite on Android also launches today and will be exclusive to new Galaxy devices for “a few days.” That means by the time the Note 9 actually arrives to users, the exclusivity will be over.

Galaxy Home

The Samsung smart speaker is real, and it looks... like a cauldron? An incense holder? Whatever the case, it’s going to feature Bixby — naturally — and it has eight far-field microphones, six built-in speakers, and a subwoofer. You activate it by the phrase “Hey Bixby” and request tasks that you’d ordinarily ask your digital assistant on a phone to do.

Other than showing off its surround sound capability, Samsung did not go into further details about price and availability. It says more information will arrive in November. Pricing will be an important aspect to keep an eye out for, since the inventively named Galaxy Home will enter a rather crowded smart speaker market that is mostly dominated by those that include Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and, in some cases, both. Apple’s HomePod, of course, is still in the mix as well, despite being far less popular the Amazon’s Echo lineup.

Spotify integration is coming to Galaxy devices

Alongside the newly announced Galaxy Home, Samsung also said it has entered a partnership with Spotify so you can link your account to Bixby and make the service the default music player when you ask the assistant to play a song. You’ll also be able to use this on non-smartphone Samsung products, such as its smart television. Even if the user doesn’t have a Spotify account, they’ll be able to stream music from the service.

The partnership is a departure from Samsung’s announcement it would use Google Play Music as its default music service when it launched the Galaxy S8 in 2017.

Galaxy Watch

Image: Samsung

Samsung has ditched the Gear branding on its smartwatches and is now calling its latest iteration “the Galaxy Watch.” The device will now be offered with LTE connectivity, a high-resolution AMOLED touch display, Gorilla DX+ glass, and it will be water resistant for swimming. The company claims you’ll be able to use the device for several days without having to recharge, and it includes fitness features you’d expect from a smartwatch by now, such as auto-detecting exercises, suddenly heightened heart rates, and tracking sleep.

The Galaxy Watch will be offered in three colors and two sizes, a 42mm and 46mm face that will be sold for $330 and $350, respectively.

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