Samsung Galaxy S21 may steal the Note 20’s best feature — but there’s a catch

Samsung Galaxy S21
(Image credit: Miror pro/YouTube)

Samsung’s flagship selection of phones has been getting muddled for some time. It was confusing enough when the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note series were duking it out for prominence, but now the Galaxy Z folding range is the truly premium product — with a price tag to match.

With that in mind, we’ve heard rumors that Samsung eventually intends to kill off the Galaxy Note range. But according to a new report from Korea’s Herald Corp, the axing will be a more gradual winding down than some might have expected – something the text describes as a “sequential exit”.   

The report states that the Galaxy Note 21 will indeed see a release next year, but that the line between it and the S21 will be blurred. It explains that the Galaxy S21 will inherit S Pen support — a rumor we’ve heard before — but that the clever stylus won’t actually be bundled with the handset.

Here’s the translation of the relevant part: “It's the first time that a Galnote S Pen has been recognized in the Galaxy S model. The S-pen is considered to be the identity of Galnote, providing a writing feeling similar to writing on paper with a real pen. However, the Galaxy S21 does not have an S-Pen.”

We’re hoping that something has been lost in translation here, because that would be baffling if true. While other handsets have had optional styli to be bought separately (Huawei’s M-Pen for the Mate 20, for example), the feature falls flat if there’s nowhere to dock it when not in use. Perhaps the S21 will have a magnetic back to clip an optional S Pen too, like the Galaxy Tab S7? The alternative would be a massive gap for where someone might one day buy a stylus, which doesn’t sound very Samsung.

Otherwise, we’re very much on board with the S21 getting S Pen support. The most recent iteration of the stylus, combined with the Note 20 Ultra’s 120Hz screen, provided an experience that felt almost like writing on paper, and featured Bluetooth, allowing it to work as an optional remote control. 

So far, leaks of the Galaxy S21 have been a mixed bag. Early benchmarks point to relatively weak performance from the Exynos 1000 chipset, though it’s hopeful that the US will get a Snapdragon-powered handset instead. Meanwhile, the battery appears to be standing still as compared to previous years', but there’s talk of 65W charging being introduced to slash downtime

One thing that’s objectively positive, though, is the camera: not only will it reportedly pack a 108-megapixel main sensor, but it might also come with two telephoto lenses which could be truly revolutionary.

We’re still a long way off from finding out how many of these rumors turn out to be confirmed. Samsung typically unveils a new Galaxy S handset in February, and that date could well be pushed back further if coronavirus continues to impact supply chains around the world in 2021.

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.