It’s the end of the Note as we know it

It’s the end of the Note as we know it

Samsung’s first 2022 Galaxy Unpacked event hasn’t started yet, but we’ve already got a strong notion that the event spells the end of the Note series. We know this because Samsung has done everything except shout from the rooftops that the next S-series Ultra will absorb the Note and its built-in stylus. You can even go ahead and preorder it if you want because, truly, what is a phone launch these days? In any case, Samsung is making the right call for its business and its brand, even if it stings a little for the Note faithful.

The future of the Note looked dubious last year when rumors of its demise circulated, and Samsung said that the S21 series would offer S pen support. Early in 2021, a Samsung exec expressed doubts about shipping a new Note model, and indeed, the year came and went without a proper new Note. Then, early in 2022, leaks and hints from Samsung all but confirmed that the Note’s future lay within the S-series.

This makes plenty of sense from a business standpoint. Samsung struggled to ship S-series phones last year amidst the ongoing supply chain and chip shortage fiascos. In turn, S21 sales were lackluster. Consolidating the Note and S-series, rather than trying to maintain them separately, certainly helps when you’re in the middle of a component shortage. That’s fewer devices to prepare Android OS updates and security patches for, too, which matters when you support phones for as long as Samsung does.

A hand holds the S-Pen in front of a colorful wall.

Samsung brought S pen compatibility to the full S series last year.
Photo by Becca Farsace / The Verge

It makes sense from an identity standpoint, too. Samsung’s “a phone at every price point” strategy works for the A-series, but too many flagships risks diluting their premium status. The high end of Samsung’s mass-market lineup is getting crowded indeed, with the Z Flip 3 selling for $999. The company’s foldables aren’t just getting more affordable — they’ve also seen some major refinements that are poised to move the devices into the mainstream. There’s only so much room in Samsung’s galaxy for high-end devices, and it may be time for the Note to bow out and make room for Samsung’s latest innovations.

So this is likely the end of the Note as we know it, but it’s not goodbye. Samsung has made it clear that Note features like S pen support will be sticking around, and leaks indicate that the S22 Ultra will look extremely Note-like, complete with an S pen silo. Depending on how you view it, the Note is getting a promotion to the top spot in the S series or being relegated to “feature” status to appease fans.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 under a waterfall.

Unlike most foldables the Z Fold 3 includes water resistance, taking it a step closer to being a mainstream device.
Photo by Dieter Bohn / The Verge

Either way, it’s clear that Samsung is not afraid to offer something a little bit different these days. This is the company that stuck with foldables, iterating until it put out something that regular people would want to buy. Now, it looks to be bringing the stylus front and center to its mainstream, top-of-the-line flagship. That’s not something you’ll find in another flagship lineup, Android or otherwise.

Maybe 2022 is the year that Samsung decides once and for all to lean into the things that set it apart from the competition, rather than focusing on going toe-to-toe with Apple’s every product and service. Dieter wondered about this prior to last year’s S21 Unpacked, and my optimistic view is that Samsung is indeed embracing its own identity a little more. Maybe Samsung is evolving the S-series into something that incorporates more of its unique innovations rather than spinning them into alternative models. An innovative Samsung is a fun Samsung, and we’re here for that.

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