We finally have Samsung’s second high-end for this year, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. And although we are facing a great terminal, the truth is that does not contrast much with what was presented last year. The innovations seem insufficient for one of the star terminals of the brand.
We are faced with a dilemma that is often presented to manufacturers. Is it necessary to renew products with a fixed date if a truly groundbreaking product cannot be created? Mobile manufacturers are reaching this point, but they continue to insist on presenting handsets every year.
The evolutions of the Note 9
Really the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 It is an evolution, and not a great revolution or innovation, of the Note 8. A very similar terminal in terms of design, specifications and functionalities. What’s more, maybe this model should have been called Note 8S instead of Note 9, although I understand that that would take away the role of the terminal just when Samsung is stuck in sales.
The truth is that we are facing a terminal that has grown a little on the screen, has a better processor and camera, and has had some new functionality in the S-Pen, but little else. The design is continuous, the fingerprint sensor is still on the back and there are no great software developments.
This is especially serious in a terminal that has always stood out for strongly innovating (it was the first with a large diagonal, the first with a stylus, the first with curves …). And instead we have been three years without many changes.
What is still missing from the Note 9
I already said it last year and I still keep it this one. Samsung lacks the guts to do what it did in the past with the Note range. It could have innovated by introducing the fingerprint sensor under the screen, moving the front camera to a mobile part or trying to reduce it so that the frames are even smaller or even removing the fingerprint sensor directly, as Apple did with the iPhone X .
But is that the Note has gone from being a range for geeks to be a super-salesperson. And with sales you do not play, it seems. Samsung puts out two high-end ranges a year, which provide it with great benefits for high margins: the S-range and the Note range. And it does not dare to innovate in a risky way as in the past. Perhaps for fear of repeating the problems of the Note 7?
Samsung has a problem
And it is that the Samsung mobile division has become very continuous. Note 9 looks a lot like Note 8, Galaxy S9 looks a lot like Galaxy S8. And sales have been stagnant for a few years, since the big leap that the S6 made compared to the S5. In fact the sales estimates for this year of the S9 are low, lower than those of the S8.
It has already rained since Samsung dared to innovate by putting quality materials in its high-end, decided to bet on curves, up the diagonals. He has done things well, such as not copying the notch, that fad that only makes sense if you take the frames to the minimum as Apple does and the rest imitates very badly. And it keeps getting very powerful terminals. But it has lost its freshness.
In fact, Samsung has long stopped innovating in the mid-range, a very saturated area but where it used to experiment with new materials, finishes and even strange things, such as mobiles with an integrated projector.
The new reality is that Samsung have stalled. Samsung launches good phones but without great innovations, and this together with the increasing competition on all fronts (from very powerful brands like Huawei, as well as smaller but very successful ones like Xiaomi) means that sales do not grow. The effect wow What it achieved when it made a leap in quality with the S6 and when it introduced curved displays has already faded.
Perhaps what Samsung should do is recognize that the annual renewal cycle does not allow you to remove highly differentiated terminals and leave at 18 months, looking for news that attracts customers. Or experiment with other types of terminals and then bring the news to the high end when they work. Otherwise it will be very difficult to differentiate yourself from the competition.
Lack of innovation or does Samsung save everything for the S10?
Given the drop in sales of the Samsung Galaxy S9, rumors have already begun to appear, perhaps leaked by the company itself, that Samsung is reserving all the innovations that fans expect for the tenth anniversary.
Therefore the Samsung Galaxy S10 It will be a terminal with very radical changes, where they hope to convince the market again that Samsung manufactures mobiles that have no comparison in the Android ecosystem.
The rumors are mainly that there will be two sizes, and that they will also grow a lot, so much that even the Note range remains small. 6.44 inches for the S10 Plus screen, which will also have an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor under the screen. The model that is not plus will have a side fingerprint reader instead of the rear.
But not only this, just like Apple launched a special phone for the 10th anniversary, Samsung would do the same, with a Samsung Galaxy X. And this terminal can be folded in half, using flexible display technology that has so far only been experiments without much success.
If all this is true, Samsung would not have slowed down its innovative path, as it seems to be happening right now. But I still think the same thing: if you have to take out continuity terminals for three years to launch something really groundbreaking, perhaps what you should do is stop the annual renewal cycle at once and focus efforts on these great innovations at the cost of launching fewer terminals.
In Engadget Android | Samsung Galaxy Note 9: the Note range returns with more screen, memory and a new S Pen with bluetooth