Why Fortnite for Android on Galaxy Note 9 is the biggest app launch of 2018

Samsung Galaxy devices will get an exclusive look at Fortnite Mobile on Android for a "few days" before the wider release. Note 9 and Tab S4 users get a special Fortnite Galaxy skin.

Tom McNamara Senior Editor / Download.com
6 min read
Galaxy Fortnite

Since Fortnite arrived on iOS, its launch on Android has been one of the most anticipated app events of 2018. Rumor, speculation and fake copies of Fortnite have run rampant all summer. But today, Fornite Mobile for Android officially launched alongside the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, which arrives in stores on Aug. 24.

"For the next few days, owners of Galaxy devices will have first access to Fortnite Beta on Android before it's more widely available," Samsung stated.

On stage at the Note 9 launch event on Thursday, Fortnite CEO Tim Sweeney explained when the rest of Android users will get a crack at it. "We're launching Fortnite on Android this week," he said.

Starting today, Samsung users will be able to download Fortnite from the Samsung Game Launcher app, and here are all of the Galaxy devices that it will work with:

Samsung also revealed that users of the Note 9 and the Tab S4 -- just released last week -- will receive a special Fortnite Galaxy skin.

Galaxy Fortnite skin

The special Galaxy Fortnite skin will be available for a limited time.

Samsung and Epic Games

Epic has stated that the Android edition of Fortnite will not be available in the Google Play Store; instead, it will be downloadable from the company's website. The developer cited a desire to connect directly to gamers and to avoid Google's customary 30 percent cut of all proceeds.

But with Fortnite raking in hundreds of millions in the span of a single month, coughing up 30 percent of that to Google just to host an app is an understandably unpopular notion. It would be the only major Android game we know of that's not on the Play Store, but the franchise is also the hottest game of the year and so it has a unique opportunity to go it alone. It also also independent installers for Windows and Mac that it will attempt to emulate on Android.

Watch this: Fortnite Android beta coming to Galaxy phones first

However, not using the Google Play Store means that the app must be "sideloaded," or manually installed by the user. But like the Amazon App Store app, the Fortnite app will have a built-in method to check for and install updates independently of Google's store. The exact steps to sideload vary according to which specific Android phone you have.

Along with Fortnite coming to the Note 9, customers who pre-order the phone between Aug. 10 and Aug. 23 will get three other options: $150 worth of V-Bucks (the in-game currency) and an exclusive character skin, or a pair of AKG noise-canceling headphones valued at $299 -- or they can get the game, the skin, and the AKG cans if they fork over an additional $99.

You can use V-Bucks to buy things like different outfits and weapons for your character and the Battle Pass. The Battle Pass gets you almost every cosmetic item that's scheduled for a given "season" of content, plus a boost to V-Buck accumulation and extra missions. The pass costs 950 VB, and 1,000 VB costs $10 USD. So $150 worth of VB from Samsung should keep you going for quite a while.

How good is the Galaxy Note 9 for Fortnite?

The Note series is Samsung's top-of-the-line, flagship smartphone, so it's basically the place to go for the shiniest tech. If you're in the market for a new phone, you could do a lot worse than this one, though its 6.4-inch 2960x1440 screen and hefty price tag aren't for everyone. If you decide to take the plunge, the company's OLED displays are said to be the best in the mobile phone business, and the sheer size of the Note 9 allows Samsung to fit a storage area for the S-Pen stylus that gives this phone its name.

Samsung is said to reserve the highest quality OLED panels for its own phones, while Apple and others get the next tier down. So, Fortnite gamers should be pleased with the visuals if they can stomach the price tag (see below).


Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and its new Bluetooth S-Pen.


With the sizeable real estate of this phone comes some equally generous data storage. You get two options: One with 128GB of flash memory and 6GB of RAM and another model with 512GB of flash and 8GB of RAM. If 512GB isn't enough for you, the Note 9 also sports the increasingly rare SD card slot, which can handle up to 512GB more. Yes, that's a total of one terabyte in a phone that slides into your back pocket.

You also get other things like dual rear-camera lenses with optical image stabilization, IP68 water resistance, optional iris scanning for extra-high biometric security and a 4,000 mAh battery with Quick Charge 2.0 via USB-C and wireless charging, but the bottom line is that there probably won't be a more potent Android phone for playing Fortnite on-the-go, either on Aug. 24 or for the next several months.

And last but not least: a headphone jack. Though many folks are gravitating toward Bluetooth headphones despite all their issues, their battery charges may not last you through a full gaming session, so that jack can come in handy for going the distance when gaming with this phone.

Samsung Unpacked 2018 Galaxy Note 9 event in photos

See all photos

But of course, with all that fancy tech comes an equally big price tag. For all those bells and whistles, the 128GB model will cost you $1,000, and the 512GB flavor comes in at an eye-watering $1,250, topping Apple's most expensive phone by $100. Add in sales tax and accidental damage insurance, and this phone easily matches the cost of a high-end laptop.

Another potential downside is Samsung's mixed record with keeping its operating system up to date. The Note 9 will launch with Android 8.1 installed, just as Android 9 arrives on Google's Pixel phones as well as the Essential PH-1The Galaxy Note 8 launched in August last year with Android 7 and was not updated to version 8 until this April, a delay of eight months. Both Notes are officially slated for Android 9, but Samsung has not talked about release dates.

Meanwhile, Google updates its Pixel phones with security patches every month, and you get upgrades to new versions of Android as soon as they're available. iPhones still get the longest support cycle, however, with some of them still getting updates five years after they came out.

In fact, if you want to save some cheddar versus a Note 9, Apple still offers the iPhone 7 Plus starting at $669 -- though that will stick you with a pretty modest 32GB of storage, no headphone jack and no SD card slot. You can upgrade to 128GB of internal storage for $769. Either way, the 7 Plus is a very capable alternative that can play the iOS version of Fortnite Mobile.


The Android version of Fortnite Mobile and the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 phone are arriving to the world together. Users of other high-end Samsung Galaxy devices will also get the first shot at using Fortnite on Android. Buyers who pre-order the Galaxy Note 9 will also have the option to get $150 worth of in-game currency or a pair of AKG headphones.

Watch for more upcoming coverage, guides and tips on Fortnite Mobile from Download.com.

Jason Hiner also contributed to this story.

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