Update: The Galaxy Note line is fully dead, RIP.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus was one of the best phones I’ve ever used. Packed with features, a killer blocky-yet-slim design, a gorgeous display, great cameras and a genuinely useful S Pen, it was simply brilliant. And the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra neatly built upon that formula.
But we know there’s going to be no Samsung Galaxy Note 21 this year, with that role seemingly filled by the Galaxy S21 Ultra and its S Pen support. And it now looks like the Note line could be consigned to the annals of tech history as Samsung has reportedly not renewed the trademark for its Note line.
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Reliable tech tipster Ice Universe has posted a tweet that shows a list of trademarked names Samsung is looking to renew, with the Galaxy Note being suspiciously absent. So to me it looks like it’s game over for Samsung’s famous phablet.
In many ways, drawing a line under the Note makes sense. With the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 aimed at being a do-everything foldable phone with productivity in mind, it has seemingly nudged the Note out of that arena. However, there's nowhere to store the S Pen it supports unless you spring for a case.
And I’ve not seen many people use Galaxy Note handsets out in the wild either, which suggests they were only really for particular fans of large Samsung phones; you’re much more likely to see a Samsung Galaxy S21. If the demand isn’t there, I’m not surprised to see the Note line basically get shuttered as Samsung moves to focus on foldables.
oh shit！ pic.twitter.com/BLrFvZ3SxFSeptember 7, 2021
Yet, I’m still a little sad. I’ve waxed lyrical about how nice the Google Pixel 6 is as a relatively compact Android phone, but I do love big-screen smartphones; my current go to is the Oppo Find X3 Pro, a serious Android flagship.
There's no shortage of phones with expansive displays, but I felt the past two generations of Note Plus/Ultra phones just nailed the format. They had large rectangular displays that curved ever so slightly along the edges. I felt this gave me the equivalent of a Samsung TV in my hand. Not only because the colors and HDR support was great, but also because of the blocky design and lack of steep curved sides.
The entire design of the Note 10 Plus and Note 20 Ultra meant that despite their size they were easy to handle; I remember a passer by commenting on how slim the Note 10 Plus was. And then there’s the neat S Pen holder integrated into the phone’s body; I’m not a massive stylus user, but the ease of access and storage meant I reached for the S Pen more than I thought I would.
I used the Note 10 Plus from late 2019 to summer 2020 and found it was also a great phone for productivity. The large display, more precise control with the S Pen, and plenty of power and storage made it a very capable workhorse. I’ve not found another phone that works quite as well for me.
I’m currently testing the Galaxy Z Fold 3, and it’s a serious piece of tech full of features; the under-display camera is particularly neat. But as interesting a device it is, it’s still too bulky. And the compact tablet display it offers comes at the price of having a smaller cover display. I’d much rather a single large phone display in a slim body than a device that (so far) doesn't quite deliver on either a big phone or compact tablet experience for me.
Then again, such is the price of innovation and progress. I’m sure in another generation or two, Samsung will have nailed the foldable phone format, and my nostalgia for the Galaxy Note line will have worn away. But for the time being, I’ll pour one out for the Note and hope that Samsung takes some of its design cues and puts them in the rumored Samsung Galaxy S22.