At today’s Unpacked 2018 announcement, Samsung delivered on a strength that we already knew they had: they really know how to build great hardware. To turn all that glass and electronics into user value, however, Samsung will have to prove that they can complement hardware devices with great software support and even greater cloud-based AI solutions. The highly anticipated update to Bixby 2.0 by the end of the year will show whether Samsung’s AI can finally play catch up with the leading voice AIs. Only then will we be able to gauge the success of today’s unveiling of the Galaxy Note 9.
One outstanding hardware feature of the new design went largely unnoticed: the water carbon battery cooling system. This allows the Note 9 to pack a third more battery capacity (through a physically larger battery pack) into a device enclosure only marginally larger than its predecessor. All this extra runtime has to come without compromising safety. When being charged (especially at high charge rates) typical Li-Ion cells heat up and swell, restricting air coolant flow. This leads to the safety issues, as Note users found out the hard way. The Note 9’s new cooling system is groundbreaking under the hood and under-appreciated in its significance.
Other than the ability to put 4,000 mAh of battery capacity into the device, its slightly larger 6.4″ screen, and its flashy new S-pen, there is very little else to justify spending $1,000 to migrate to the Note 9 in its 128GB version, even less motivation for a $1,250 upgrade to 512GB. In the age of cloud-based storage, Bixby’s going have to come up with some pretty compelling use cases for a “Terabyte-ready” (utilizing the microSD card slot) smart phone, or else the price tag will be hard to justify.
So, Galaxy Note 9 could be a success, a disaster, or anything in between: it will all depend on how useful Bixby 2.0 will make it later this year. No pressure, right?
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