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Samsung officially kills off the Galaxy Note brand, but the stylus stays

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‘A rose by any other name would smell as sweet’

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
Samsung’s Note brand will be replaced by the new Ultra line of devices.
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Samsung is officially killing off the Galaxy Note... brand name. The news was confirmed by Samsung’s smartphone chief Roh Tae-moon, who told reporters at Mobile World Congress 2022 that “Galaxy Note will come out as Ultra” going forward, referring to Samsung’s recently released Galaxy S22 Ultra, via Dailian.

The news isn’t exactly a surprise. Samsung hasn’t released a Galaxy Note device since the Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra were released in 2020. And this year’s Galaxy S22 Ultra, which featured the return of an integrated stylus, is a Galaxy Note device in everything but name.

The convergence of the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note lines of products has been fated for years. When Samsung first launched the Galaxy Note over a decade ago — all the way back in October 2011 — with a massive (for the time) 5.3-inch screen, it towered over contemporaries, like the 4.3-inch screen Galaxy S II or the 3.5-inch iPhone 4S.

But as time went on, big-screen smartphones became less of a novelty for power users and more the industry standard. The Galaxy S7 in 2016 had a 5.1-inch display and was nearly the size of the original Note. By 2017, the largest Galaxy S8 Plus model was all but identical in size and shape to the Galaxy Note 8 that followed it later that year, with the iconic S-Pen stylus increasingly serving as the only key differentiator between the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note lineups.

Samsung Galaxy Note Review_1020
The original Galaxy Note.

The Note was key in helping to popularize big smartphones, but it wasn’t all slam dunks for Samsung. The Galaxy Note 7, in particular, stands out as one of the biggest consumer electronics disasters in recent memory, with the initially lauded device quickly recalled and then canceled entirely due to safety concerns over defective batteries.

And while Samsung would eventually bring back the Note brand after the Note 7 debacle, it may have already been too late. Foldable devices — like the Galaxy Z Fold — were already on the horizon and would soon steal the Note’s thunder as Samsung’s new platform for experimenting with even bigger screens. Caught between the increasingly similar Galaxy S series and the even larger and more futuristic Z Fold lineup, there just wasn’t much room left for the Note to stand out on its own.

The end of the Galaxy Note brand is definitely the end of an era, although the blow has been significantly softened by the fact that the Note is in many ways more alive than ever in the form of the Galaxy S22 Ultra (and the subsequent Note-like devices that Tae-moon seems to be hinting will follow in future years.) And the Note’s impact can’t be overstated: that Samsung’s “normal” flagships now are virtually indistinguishable from a Galaxy Note is a testament to the defunct brand’s power in popularizing bigger screen sizes.

The Galaxy Note is dead, long live the Galaxy Note.