Killing the Note is the best thing Samsung has done in years
This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
The shocking news spilled through Korean media earlier in November, and just a couple of days ago, Reuters officially backed up those earlier reports with its own "sources familiar with the matter" confirming the news. And while Samsung has remained silent, it seems like the days of the Galaxy Note series are numbered.
What does that mean? And why is Samsung killing its money-making powerhouse of a phone that millions of people love?
The Note did not make sense as a separate product anymore
Back when the Galaxy Note first launched in 2011, a year so far back in the past it seems like the dark ages in technology years, the phone was truly innovative. And I don't mean innovative in a one-more-camera sort of way, but innovative in a way that seeing it first-hand was a shock. During those times when iPhones had 3.5-inch screens (shout out to the OG iPhone crew that remembers), the Note changed the equation with a massive, 5.3-inch display.
OG Galaxy Note review that "some people with extraordinarily large hands may have a chance of finding it okay, but those cases will be extremely rare". We were actually split in the office on this then new design, but it was certainly an unusual sighting for everyone, and boy did time prove us wrong on that review. But you learn from your mistakes, and along with millions of people, most of us also adapted to larger screen phones and these days many of us love having that option. Phones these days are actually much bigger and heavier.We ourselves were no different in our reaction: we were shocked and our own Rado exclaimed in the
But fast forward to current time, 2020, and you have to be extremely knowledgeable to know the minuscule differences in specifications between a Galaxy S20 Ultra and a Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. Except the S Pen and the slightly different design, these phones are extremely similar and there is really nothing substantial separating the Note from the Galaxy S series these days, like there used to be in the past. The Note has become a strange re-make of the Galaxy S series, just with an S Pen and a slightly different design, and it makes far less sense as a separate product anymore.
But what about the S Pen?
At the same time, the S Pen remains a feature that many people appreciate. Artists, architects, engineers, and just casual users, we've seen different people use and love the S Pen stylus for its precise control and fun features.
And Samsung knows this, so that's why it's killing the Galaxy Note line, BUT it's not killing the S Pen.
Rumors say that the Galaxy S21 Ultra will be the first non-Note Samsung phone to support an S Pen, it's just that the S Pen will not reside inside the phone where it takes up precious space that could be used for a bigger battery or a more capable camera, and instead will be offered separately as a part of a case. There is still not much detail about what such case might look like, but this seems like a brilliant solution: a case gives you protection and at the same time provides a place to keep the S Pen always at hand, solving the one big problem with a stylus, which is just how easy it is to lose it if you don't have it permanently attached to your device.
The S Pen works best with a larger screen
As much as the S Pen is beloved by many people, I'm sure they will be the first one to tell you that the biggest limitation to drawing with an S Pen is the size of the canvas itself. Writing, jotting down notes, or drawing are activities that require more space than you can ever fit on a traditional smartphone.
And Samsung understands this. That's why it has worked hard behind the scenes to optimize its biggest-screen phone to work with the S Pen. Yes, the futuristic Galaxy Z Fold 2021 edition will adopt a more durable glass that will allow it to work with the S Pen. We don't yet know whether the upcoming foldable (details on Samsung's foldable phone plans for 2021 have just surfaced as we're writing this), will have an S Pen inside it, but it will support it.
Should have Samsung kept the Note series?
So imagine yourself in Samsung's shoes: you have a cutting-edge technology in the Fold that allows users to get a better experience with an S Pen on one hand, and on the other hand, you have one of your most successful products that you revived even after a scandal as huge as the battery on the Galaxy Note 7 exploding! What would you do? Would you stick with the older format just to profit from a brand name? Or would you fully embrace the future and transition to something better that you have been working on for years?
Samsung seems to have chosen to embrace the future, and I think that's the best and most courageous thing it has done in years. The Note idea has evolved, it's time for the Fold to succeed it.