Forget the Galaxy Note 20 — Galaxy S21 Ultra will steal its best feature

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
(Image credit: Future)

Samsung may finally bid farewell to the Galaxy Note series next year. That's according to Korean tech blog The Elec, which suggests that the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and Galaxy Note 20 could be the very last Note-branded devices the company ever ships.

In its place, Samsung may offer an S Pen in the next top-of-the-line Galaxy S device, the Galaxy S21 Ultra. The regular Galaxy S21 and S21 Plus — if Samsung continues with the three-pronged strategy and naming system of the current models — will not feature a stylus. The Galaxy S21 Ultra's codename is said to be "Unbound."

Samsung may also bring the S Pen to the Galaxy Z Fold 3 — the 2021 iteration of its flagship tablet-style foldable, following the Galaxy Z Fold 2's release in the coming weeks.

It's been suggested by some that Samsung has shied away from offering the S Pen with a foldable device due to concerns over the durability of ultra-thin glass repeatedly being poked and scrawled on. The company will no doubt be looking to bolster the strength of that material to get it to the point where it could reliably withstand abuse from a stylus.

Now, it's worth pointing out that this is far from the first time Samsung has been rumored to sunset the Note series. Last September, when Samsung was in the process of launching the Galaxy Note 10 series, Evan Blass tweeted that the tech giant was actively considering melding the Galaxy S and Note lines together into a single family of first-half-of-the-year devices because their "features overlap so closely."

In this scenario, the Galaxy Z Fold family would then naturally slide in as a replacement for the Note launches that typically dominate the end of the year for Samsung.

(Image credit: @evleaks via Twitter)

What we're hearing out of Korea now could be the realization of that strategy. After two generations of foldable devices, perhaps the company feels the time is now to make that change.

It's not one that should be taken lightly. As SamMobile notes, the company would see a massive drop in overall phone shipments, given that it can't produce foldable displays at the same frequency as conventional ones. At the moment, Samsung is capable of churning out roughly 600,000 foldable panels a months; conversely, the company ships about 10 million Galaxy Note devices between the time those devices a traditionally announced and the end of the year, according to the blog.

From an outsider's perspective, retiring the Note family would make a lot of sense, as there really isn't much separating Samsung's phablets from its non-stylus toting flagship phones anymore. Consider the fact that both the Galaxy S20 Ultra and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra have displays that are exactly the same size, at 6.9 inches. On the flip side, you'd think there's certainly a branding advantage to keeping the Note name around in some capacity.

Seeing as how the Note 20 has only just landed, and the Galaxy S21 is about six or seven months away, we're not likely to gain any more insight on this topic for some time. That said, the S21's launch cycle should provide us with a lot of information as to whether or not Samsung intends to keep the Note line around for another go. If the S21 Ultra touts an S Pen, the writing could very well be on the wall.

Adam Ismail is a staff writer at Jalopnik and previously worked on Tom's Guide covering smartphones, car tech and gaming. His love for all things mobile began with the original Motorola Droid; since then he’s owned a variety of Android and iOS-powered handsets, refusing to stay loyal to one platform. His work has also appeared on Digital Trends and GTPlanet. When he’s not fiddling with the latest devices, he’s at an indie pop show, recording a podcast or playing Sega Dreamcast.