Samsung’s $1,000 Galaxy Note 9 makes Apple’s $1,000 iPhone X seem like a bargain

When it comes to rumors, Samsung might have Apple beat. There have been so many leaks about the Galaxy Note 9 over the past few months—some directly from Samsung itself—that when the phone finally landed yesterday, no more surprises remained.

Except the price, that is. Just like the iPhone X, Samsung’s newest phone starts at $1,000 (technically a penny below, but who’s counting), and suddenly we have a race to the top. And it’s one that Samsung is winning hands-down: The top-of-the-line Note 9 costs $1,250, $100 more than the most expensive iPhone X you can buy.

The Note phones have been inching closer to the $1,000 mark for years, so it’s not terribly shocking that this year’s model has finally broken the barrier once and for all, especially since Apple already proved that people are willing to spend four figures on a phone. But while Apple actually gave users a reason to spend a little extra on their phone, Samsung is making Note 9 buyers an offer than they really should refuse. And it might help Apple sell more phones in the process.

More Note for more money

During its Unpacked event yesterday, Samsung didn’t actually reveal the price of its new phone, but it was clear that it wouldn’t come cheap. Over the course of the demo, the executive on stage gave the crowd plenty of excuses to justify a $50 price bump over last year’s model.

galaxy note 9 back2Michael Simon/IDG

The camera on the Note 9 is the same as the one on the Galaxy S9+, which costs $100 less.

No one can argue that the Note 9 has the best possible specs you can get in an Android smartphone, with a Snapdragon 845 processor, up to 512GB of storage and 8GB of RAM, and a 4,000mAh battery. But the S9+ isn’t far behind. In fact, the $1,000 Note 9 has the same processor, RAM, storage, and camera as the 128GB S9+, which costs $890. The only difference is the battery, which might last a little longer but will still need to be plugged in at night.

So, comparing Note 9 to S9+, you’re basically paying for two extra things: a screen that’s two-tenths of an inch bigger and a Bluetooth-powered stylus. Opt for the $1,250 model and you get an additional 384GB of storage and 2GB of RAM. That’s it. There’s no gotta-have-it body color or extra camera or higher refresh rate. The Note 9 even runs the same outdated version of Android Oreo as the six-month old S9+, rather than the newly released Pie. Compare that to the iPhone X and the iPhone 8 Plus, and well, Samsung is going to have a hard time convincing people to pony up the extra cash.

Where’s the added value?

With the iPhone X, you’re not just getting better specs than the iPhone 8. You’re getting a completely different phone. Apple didn’t merely cram high-end specs and slap a $1,000 price tag on it. Customers are actually getting a substantially better phone for their extra $200: There’s the display, which isn’t just bigger than the iPhone 8, it’s also OLED instead of LCD. There’s the all-new design that dumps the home button in favor of gesture-based navigation. And, of course, the TrueDepth camera, which enables FaceID and Animoji.

iphone x messagesIDG

The iPhone X offers clear advantages over the iPhone 8 Plus.

Samsung doesn’t really offer any cutting-edge features in the Note 9 that you can’t get elsewhere. The camera has AI inside it, but LG and Huawei are already doing that. Fans will bray about the new S Pen’s Bluetooth capabilities, but Samsung basically took the path of least resistance there too, giving it remote control capabilities rather than adding a microphone for voice control or professional drawing features like the Apple Pencil.

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