Samsung will reportedly close down the Galaxy Note phone line in 2021, according to Reuters, as the company struggles with declining demand for expensive smartphones caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the company is set to focus on its flagship Galaxy S range of phones, while Samsung’s foldable phones (like the Z Flip and Z Fold) take the place of the Galaxy Note as Samsung’s more experimental premium devices, complete with an optional pen accessory.
The idea that Samsung would stop selling the Galaxy Note series of phones in favor of the Galaxy S models makes a lot of sense. In the earlier years of the Note, the two lines of phones were different: the Galaxy S models were smaller, more common devices, while the relatively massive Note lineup cut closer to a tablet, complete with the iconic pen that helped separate it.
But the note’s success in popularizing big-screen phones may have turned out to be regrettable. When the original Galaxy Note was introduced in 2011, the then massive 5.3-inch screen let it race over other phones, such as the 4.3-inch Galaxy S II that Samsung had released in 2011. But fast forward to 2020, and phones like the Galaxy S20 Ultra and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra compete effectively against each other for the same audience, with far more similar specifications, screen sizes and functionality.
At a time when Samsung is already developing and shipping cheaper smartphones in a matter of months – like the Galaxy S20 FE, which was released earlier this year to respond directly to consumer demand for an affordable mid-range phone that still offered some of Samsung’s more premium features – it’s hard to justify the existence of a new series of flagships. This is especially true when the only real outlier that separates the note from today is the pen, which Samsung seems to drip down to the standard Galaxy S series in 2021.
The second factor is that the Galaxy Note series is not that special anymore. In previous years, Samsung used the note to experiment with some of its bolder and more interesting new innovations and design changes. For example, the Note series helped popularize the edge display and included larger replaceable batteries, an IR blaster, microSD card slot removal and several generations of influential Galaxy hardware designs.
But the role of Samsung’s futuristic test platform has been fully overseen by foldable phones like the Galaxy Z Fold, which promises significantly larger screens than the traditional Galaxy S and note layouts and the kind of bold new hardware that used to be Merk’s calling card. Add a pen – which Samsung reportedly plans to offer as an optional accessory – and the Z Fold range is a practical heir to the Notebook’s unique strengths