The massive 6.4” display helps enormously in optimizing images, but it comes into its own with two new abilities Samsung has given Note users.
The first is the desktop connector, DeX, which previously required a dock, which was then linked to a monitor. Now, the phone connects directly to the monitor via a connector cable, which instantly triggers a DeX interface using the Chrome OS. In effect, the phone can now be the keyboard, and the user no longer needs a cumbersome dock. A mouse and keyboard can also be connected, but is not essential.
For now, this is the most successful attempt yet to turn a handset into a laptop or PC equivalent. Previous efforts, dating back to the Motorola Atrix as long ago as 2011, were too underpowered to deliver a PC-like experience. With RAM in 6GB and 8GB options, and a monster 4000mAh battery, the Note 9 is a power tool for a power user.
It launched in the USA with the cutting edge Qualcomm SDM845 Snapdragon 845 chip optimised for immersive experiences like virtual and augmented reality. In this part of the world, it will ship with an Exynos 9810 Octa chip, which packs pretty much the same punch.
The chip powers both the phone and its extensions: HDMI and the big display combine for one new capability that was not expected from the business-oriented Note series: serious gaming.
Samsung and Epic Games last week announced a partnership to launch the Android version of the wildly popular shooting game, Fortnite, on the Note 9. It will also be available on a range of other Samsung devices, exclusively for the first 30 days of release. A dedicated Fortnite outfit is also available to Note 9 and Galaxy Tab S4 buyers.
During the South African launch of the Note 9, a big screen TV was used for a demonstration of both the HDMI connector and Fortnite for Android. Visually, it was equivalent to most console versions. Responsiveness came close.
Do expect steady criticism complaining that the handset does not push the boundaries, is not innovative and offers merely incremental improvements. But those who are in the market for the biggest beast on the block will find nothing to scare this one off.
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