No Galaxy Note 21, but at least Samsung plans to release the Galaxy Z Fold 3 early

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Samsung's flagship release schedule used to be extremely predictable, with a new Galaxy S-series entry set for spring and Galaxy Note family expansions happening every fall like clockwork for many years in a row. 

But then the groundbreaking Galaxy Fold came, and in addition to pushing the envelope of conventional smartphone designs, the foldable device threatened to impact the appeal of its manufacturers' more "mainstream" high-end products. While it was immediately clear that Samsung still had a lot of work to do before aiming its (Z) Fold and then Z Flip lineups at the masses, it also didn't take long to realize the company would eventually face a difficult decision.

Maintaining and upgrading a grand total of four high-end handset families on a yearly basis is a tough ask even for the world's largest smartphone vendor, which means one flagship brand may need to go away... as early as next year.

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 could come early in lieu of the Galaxy Note 21


What started off as outlandish speculation a few months ago that was quickly refuted by a seemingly credible source is back with a bang in the rumor mill and making the rounds stronger than ever before. Yes, according to yet another Korean media report (translated here), the Galaxy Note 21 is not happening due to a lack of differentiation from the Galaxy S21 Ultra and Z Fold 3, both of which are now widely expected to feature native S Pen support.

This would almost certainly mark the end of an era started all the way back in 2011, as Samsung is likely to bury the Galaxy Note series for good if it indeed decides against releasing a Note 21 in 2021.


Interestingly, the tech giant reportedly plans to launch the Galaxy Z Fold 3 in June 2021, which would be pretty soon after the August announcement and September commercial debut of its incredibly well-reviewed predecessor this year. Of course, the Galaxy S21 trio is also tipped to see daylight less than a year after the S20 family, so in a way, the early Z Fold 3 release makes perfect sense.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
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On the other hand, one has to wonder what Samsung intends to do between June and the end of next year on the flagship front if a Note 21 is not coming. Obviously, it's too soon to make any firm predictions, but there's also a Galaxy Z Flip 2 in the pipeline, as well as a mysterious Galaxy Z Fold S that could be even more flexible and versatile than its cousins.

The built-in S Pen may not be the only big novelty


Unlike the aforementioned Galaxy S21 Ultra, which is expected to support but not include a stylus as standard, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 should come with a dedicated S Pen holder. Naturally, that means you won't have to pay extra for the always handy writing and drawing accessory, but at the same time, this raises a major pricing concern.

Apart from simply adding an S Pen slot and in-screen digitizer technology for actual stylus recognition, Samsung has to revise and improve the design of this year's Galaxy Z Fold 2 so its sequel stays foldable while resisting display scratches.

 

Enter the second Ultra Thin Glass (UTG) iteration, which is said to have already passed the company's tests for flexibility, long-term durability, and resistance to S Pen scratches. What's not yet settled is whether or not the Galaxy Z Fold 3 will be Samsung's first device to integrate UDC (Under Display Camera) technology as well.

There are still concerns regarding the performance of a selfie shooter embedded into the phone's screen, and if the "final result adversely affects the user experience", Samsung could ultimately settle for yet another hole punch-housed front camera. The company apparently considered using a motorized pop-up shooter as well before deeming UDC ready for primetime, but that's probably not happening due to "frequent breakdowns."

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