The Galaxy Note line is one of the most iconic among smartphones. The original Galaxy Note was almost single-handedly responsible for popularizing big-screened phones — remember when phablets were a thing? — even if its 5.3-inch screen might seem small by today’s standards. It is also one of the few phones to hold onto a stylus after all these years, becoming a popular choice for power users who might take advantage of the S-Pen.
As it turns out, 2020 may have been the last year for the Note. Or at least, the Galaxy Note as we know it.
According to a report by Reuters, Samsung is planning on killing the line next year to instead focus on its line of folding devices. According to three sources, the company “does not have plans to develop a new version of the Galaxy Note for 2021.” It’s a rumor we’ve heard before, but coming to hear it coming from Reuters gives the most concrete evidence yet Samsung plans to phase out the line
To make up for the loss, the company might instead bring stylus support to its other devices. Specifically, the report claims the Galaxy S21 will “have a stylus,” while the company’s next foldable phone will be compatible with a stylus that is sold separately. One of Reuters’ sources claims “company development efforts that normally would have been directed to the Note would now be channeled into its foldable phone range.”
This makes some sense, as the company previously used the Note line for its most esoteric ideas, given it carried the most expensive price tag. That role has now been replaced by folding phones, and with people less interested in buying ultra-premium phones — especially in the age of coronavirus — the company probably can’t afford to have so many devices competing at such high price tags.
It’s not clear from the report whether the S21 would come with a stylus built-in, if it would come with one in the box, or if it would be a completely separate purchase altogether. Though rumors have suggested the S21 Ultra will be compatible with the S-Pen, it’s not clear to what degree it will be integrated with the device. The most likely scenario is that you will need a special case to carry the pen with you.
I can’t help but lament the news. Even if Samsung offers the S-Pen as an optional accessory, it’s not the same as having a pen built into the phone itself. There have been a few phones that offer some aftermarket stylus support — and any phone can use a plain old capacitive stylus — but the magic of the Note was that the stylus was built-in. When I’ve reviewed Note devices, even if you didn’t use the S-Pen all the time, I appreciated having it around for when I needed to scribble a quick note or was just bored and felt doodling.
Still, we’ll have to see how the leak plays out once the S21 rolls around. With the device expected to be announced as soon as January, it shouldn’t be long until we find out more.