Samsung will reportedly discontinue its Galaxy Note phone line in 2021, according to Reuters, as the company contends with falling demand for pricey smartphones caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the company is set to focus on its flagship Galaxy S lineup of phones, while Samsung’s foldable phones (like the Z Flip and Z Fold) will take the place of the Galaxy Note as Samsung’s more experimental premium devices, complete with an optional stylus accessory.
The idea that Samsung would stop selling the Galaxy Note line 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 distinct: the Galaxy S models were smaller, more mainstream devices, while the comparatively massive Note lineup hewed closer to a tablet, complete with the iconic stylus that helped set it apart.
The Note’s success in popularizing big-screened phones may have been its undoing
But the Note’s success in popularizing big-screened phones may have proved to be its undoing. When the original Galaxy Note was introduced in 2011, its then-massive 5.3-inch display let it tower over other phones, like 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 are effectively competiting against each other for the same audience, with far more similar specs, screen sizes, and functionality.
In an era where Samsung is already developing and shipping cheaper smartphones in mere months — like the Galaxy S20 FE, which released earlier this year to directly respond to consumer demand for a lower-cost midrange phone that still offered some of Samsung’s more premium features — it’s hard to justify the existence of a second lineup of flagships. That’s especially true when the only real outlier that sets the Note apart today is the stylus, something that Samsung appears to be trickling down to the standard Galaxy S lineup in 2021.
In a world of giant smartphones, the Note doesn’t stand out anymore
The other factor is the Galaxy Note lineup just isn’t that special anymore. In prior years, Samsung used the Note to experiment with some of its bolder and more interesting new innovations and design changes. For instance, the Note lineup helped popularize the edge display and featured larger swappable batteries, an IR blaster, the removal of the microSD card slot, and several generations of influential Galaxy hardware design.
But its role of Samsung’s futuristic test platform has been wholly usurped by foldable phones like the Galaxy Z Fold, which promise meaningfully bigger screens than the traditional Galaxy S and Note lineups and the kind of bold new hardware that used to be the calling card of the Note. Add a stylus — which Samsung is reportedly planning to offer as an optional accessory — and the Z Fold lineup is a practically perfect heir to the Note lineup’s unique strengths