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Galaxy Note 9 5G dilemma: upgrade now or wait for the 2019 mobile revolution



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The Galaxy Note 9 comes with some new bells and whistles, but they may fade in comparison to the next year's upgrade.


Sarah Tew / CNET

It's a fine example of a First World problem: Spend $ 1

,000 on the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 now, or endure the painful wait until next year and the potentially massive upgrades.

This is a decision that some have to make after Samsung unveiled its 9th grade on Thursday in New York.

To be fair, this is a question everyone has to ask themselves. But it's a particular dilemma for note loyalists who tend to pay special attention to the latest and greatest. According to Samsung, Note customers are "looking for the best in technology when it comes to technology," says Suzanne De Silva, director of product marketing for their US business.

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But what if the best fades now compared to mega-upgrades, will we see next year? It is expected that the long-awaited appearance of a fingerprint sensor embedded in the display will appear in the Galaxy S10 and presumably also in the 10th grade. Finally, we also see Samsung's Foldable Phone .

However, the most significant advance will be the ability to tap into the supersonic 5G networks that are currently building the carriers. Next-generation wireless technology is ready to spur on a mobile revolution with increased speed and responsiveness, and carriers fall on themselves all over, nullifying their potential.

Remember that typical consumers – even stubborn note fans – will do this and have owned their phone for several years. So, whoever invests the considerable sum to buy a 9-mark more expensive than the previous one will know that they will miss the 5G revolution for a generation or two. And for that amount, 5G is not just an ambiguous term. Probably they are already drooling over the millimeter-wave throughput (translation: a really, really fast connection).

"They're definitely super-technically aware," said Carolina Milanesi, a creative strategy analyst.

Making even worse are the few upgrades that Note 9 users will get this year. The highlights of the phone include a battery with 21 percent more capacity and a camera that recognizes and optimizes itself for different scenarios. Many of the core internals like the process or and camera are already found in the cheaper Samsung Galaxy S9 or Galaxy S9 +.

Samsung does not think that this is a problem for the most extreme note-lovers.

"Most Note-y users of Note are updated every year," said Drew Blackard, senior marketing director of Samsung, on the sidelines of the launch event. He noted that the company introduced a trade-in program last year to facilitate the annual update.

(See CNET's How-To Guide .)

But if you plan to stay on the phone for a while, what do you do?

Let the 5G Hype Begin

Technically savvy consumers – and most note users – will inevitably have heard of 5G. Not familiar with the term? Do not worry, the carriers will start in 2019 when many of the networks go online.

AT & T will launch its 5G network later this year in three cities, more likely next year. Verizon will also have 5G available in four cities this year, but only as Replacement for DSL or Cable . A mobile service is expected for early next year .

T-Mobile plans to grow big launches in 30 cities including major markets such as New York and Los Angeles in 2019. It expects nationwide coverage the following year. Sprint spins next year for six cities though plans could change if T-Mobile and Sprint seal their merger agreement .

How big is a jump? Brian Higgins, vice president of device and product marketing at Verizon, said a 5G modem could reach speeds of 5 gigabits per second. According to a report by the test company OpenSignal in July Verizon is on average at just over 20 megabits – yes megabits per second.

The first 5G phones will hit the market in the second quarter next year, according to Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon.

"From the user's point of view, your upload of high-resolution photos will be seamless, even when you're at the edge of the network, under very poor signal conditions," said Amon on the sidelines of the film's Samsung event.

In other words, you will not want to miss that.

The case for upgrading now

Nevertheless, one can say something about immediate gratification. These 5G networks will not be ubiquitous, and depending on your carrier, they may not even be available in 2019.

This optimistic estimate from Verizon will only work if you're actually in the 5G coverage area, which also does not guarantee how sporadic the carrier rollouts will be.

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Although there is no 5G, the Galaxy Note 9 will be equipped with the same advanced modem as the Galaxy S9, meaning it's optimized for the operator's LTE Advanced networks. For example, both the GS9 and the Galaxy Note 9 are set to run on T-Mobile's 600 megahertz spectrum. A new range of radio air waves promises improved coverage throughout the country.

Similarly, embedding the fingerprint sensor under the display is a nice feature, but not a big step off the option of unlocking the phone with a reader on the back. The foldable phone feature may in the near future be just a game example with little practical value (Samsung insists it will not be .)

"Some are really driven by the taste of cutting edge technology, others will wait to see if the tech is proven, "Blackard said. "For these users, they can enjoy the grade 9."

Shara Tibken contributed to this report.

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