The new Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is seen during a product launch event in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., August 9, 2018. Picture: REUTERS/LUCAS JACKSON
The new Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is seen during a product launch event in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., August 9, 2018. Picture: REUTERS/LUCAS JACKSON

Seoul — Samsung Electronics unveiled the Galaxy Note 9 "phablet" in New York on Thursday in a key product launch that it hopes will attract younger customers with stepped-up features and services for gamers and music-lovers.

Launching the Note 9 on Friday at midnight in Seoul, Samsung also announced partnerships with global hit game Fortnite and music-streaming service Spotify Technology in a stepped-up challenge to Apple in the premium-phone race.

Samsung’s new focus marks a shift away from its previous positioning of the Note as a multi-tasking device popular with graphic designers and artists.

But the hefty price tag — at $999.99 for the base 128GB model, according to US carrier Verizon Communications — has raised questions as to whether features such as a longer battery life and quick cooling would be enough to attract customers.

"I couldn’t find anything that was eye-catching enough to prompt customers to ignore the high price tag," said Greg Roh, an analyst at Hyundai Motor Securities.

The jury is still out if the device can boost sales of Samsung’s premium category
Counterpoint Research

Shares of Samsung were down 3.5% in Seoul, mirroring weakness in other chip-related stocks.

Samsung is under pressure to jump-start faltering smartphone sales after posting its slowest quarterly profit growth in more than a year, as rivals such as China’s Huawei nipped at its heels with cheaper, feature-packed models.

The Note 9 will support up to 1TB of memory — a 512GB version that can take another 512GB through a memory card — making Samsung the first major smartphone maker to sell a 1TB phone.

The phablet — a cross between a smartphone and a tablet — will hit stores on August 24, Samsung said.

Verizon said the Note 9 would be available for pre-order from August 10, with the 512GB model priced at $1,249.99. Sprint Corp will introduce the device on August 24 at a 50% discount as part of a promotional scheme.

WATCH: Samsung unveils new Galaxy 'phablet' in New York

Samsung launched the Galaxy Note 9 "phablet" in New York, promising better battery life and quick cooling to attract gamers and revive flagging sales. The new device is set to hit stores on August 24 2018.

Music and games

The Note 9 is the first Android phone to support Fortnite, a hugely popular video-and-smartphone survival game that was only playable on computers, consoles and Apple products until now.

It also comes with a Bluetooth-enabled stylus designed to act as a remote for snapping photos and controlling YouTube video playback.

The New York event also featured a Samsung Galaxy watch and Galaxy Home speaker, a device that will use its Bixby voice assistant and compete with similar products from Amazon.com, Apple and Google.

Spotify will be supported on the speakers, along with all other Samsung devices — news that sent shares in the music-streaming service provider up nearly 5%. Samsung is counting on the Note 9 to outsell the Note 8 to stem a sales slump. It said in July that its flagship Galaxy S9 phone missed sales targets, sending profits in the mobile division down by a third in the April-June quarter.

Samsung does not break out shipments of its smartphone models, but analysts reckon it has shipped about 10-million Note 8 models so far.

"The jury is still out if the device can boost sales of Samsung’s premium category," cellphone market tracker Counterpoint Research said in a blog, pointing to stiff competition from the iPhone X, Huawei’s P20 Pro and the Find X from China’s Oppo Electronics.

"The price is a big factor." Huawei predicted last week it would become the world’s top smartphone seller by volume — displacing Samsung — in the final quarter of next year, while Apple sold more of its $1,000 iPhone Xs in the June quarter.

Reuters

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