Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
A few weeks ago, model numbers for what appeared to be the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and S9+ leaked via Sammobile — but no rumors were confirmed. Most recently, Cue Kim and BJ Kang of Samsung’s Global Product Planning Group told Samsung Newsroom that they are, in fact, planning the next Note device.
Kang mentioned that while they are focusing on improvements within the Note series for the Galaxy Note 9, it’s specifically the S Pen that the company is looking to upgrade. While no other plans for the stylus were revealed, we could see new features to make it more useful.
The Galaxy Note 9 may make use of an “under-display optical fingerprint” sensor. Business Insider, by way of KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, reported that this technology would allow users to simply unlock their phone by placing a finger on the phone’s touchscreen rather than using a physical button like the one located on the back of the Note 8.
Kuo reports that three companies have already sent samples of the technology to Samsung. Apple supplier Synaptics is an unlikely contender for the contract, due to the fact that Samsung wants to pursue a different technology than the one they submitted.
The two main contenders for the contract are the Korean company BeyondEyes and Samsung subsidiary Samsung LSI. Egis, which is the company that supplies standard fingerprint sensors to Samsung, is also considered a possible contender.
In addition to the new fingerprint technology, Samsung may be working on another major innovation for the 2018 Galaxy Note. Samsung President of Mobile D.J. Koh said its 2018 Galaxy Note phone may have a foldable design, if the company can find solutions to unnamed problems with the technology. Koh made the statement to reporters in South Korea, stating that, “As head of the business, I can say [it is] our current goal in next year,” when questioned about a bendable device.
Samsung’s Project Valley foldable phone
Rumors of the Galaxy X, also known as Project Valley, have spread for years. The device has never been seen publicly, which indicates Samsung has been battling with technical issues, and this has now been backed up by Koh’s statement. He didn’t provide any details on what the problems were, saying only that, “several hurdles” must be overcome before the phone is ready for release.
The exact design and nature of the device are also unknown. Patent designs and concept drawings have shown a take on the classic clamshell design, which when opened reveals a full-length touchscreen. However, many of these concepts are several years old, and may no longer be relevant. Koh also warned that if the problems couldn’t be solved in time, the release date for the bendable Galaxy Note will be pushed back.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note brand took a big hit at the end of 2016 after the Note 7 was recalled and ultimately canceled, but Samsung forged ahead with the Galaxy Note 8. The latest Note isn’t all that different from the Note 7 and takes its one main feature difference — the Infinity screen — from the Galaxy S8. By reinventing the Galaxy Note brand with a cutting-edge flexible phone in 2018, Samsung could shake off the Note’s tarnished image, and return to the Note’s past glories as a technical showcase device for the company.
Interestingly, this is not the first time flexible-screen technology has been linked with the Note line. In 2013, a special edition of the Galaxy Note 3 with a flexible display was rumored but obviously was never released.
Update: Samsung confirms Galaxy Note 9, will improve S Pen.