RIP Galaxy Note? Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra could steal its best feature

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra may finally inherit the headline feature of the Galaxy Note 20, which could have huge implications for Samsung's future phone lineup.

Reliable leaker Ice Universe has already revealed info about the Galaxy S21's cameras and display, but now they claim the next Samsung flagship phone will work with the S Pen. 

What IU doesn't confirm is whether the Galaxy S21 will actually come with an S Pen, a major feature of the Galaxy Note series. It's possible that Samsung will allow separate sales of its stylus for users to pair with their Galaxy S21 Ultra, but won't include it by default or offer a slot to store it on the phone itself.

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We've seen rumors of the S Pen arriving on non-Galaxy Note phones in the past, such as for the Galaxy Z Fold 2. But these have not turned out to be accurate for the final models. If Samsung does introduce S Pen compatibility to the S21 Ultra, perhaps we'll see it reach other phones, too.

The end of Galaxy Note?

Based on IU's tweet, it sounds like Samsung is now thinking of bringing the Galaxy S series and Galaxy Note series even closer together, perhaps with a view to merge them and discontinue one of the models entirely. The two lines already share a lot of similar internal specs, differing only in design, camera arrangement and the S Pen. So fusing the two lines together would make only a marginal difference.

Plus, it's not like the Galaxy Note 20 is selling very well. According to Korean publication The Elec, Samsung produced only 70% of the Note 20 units it had planned to for the month of October. The plan was for 900,000 units but the company reportedly made only 600,000.

Another potential reason for the S series and Note 20 series merging is a future where Samsung's Galaxy Z foldables are mainstream devices, rather than the ultra-premium phones they currently are. Combining its two current non-foldable phones seems like the obvious route for Samsung to take, to avoid competing with its own products.

Early release date for Galaxy S21

The Galaxy S21 is expected to debut in January of 2021. That's a touch earlier than the normal February release, and is suspected to be a reaction to the recent iPhone 12 and Huawei Mate 40 Pro launches. By holding its next big launch ahead of schedule, Samsung is likely hoping to avoid losing sales by moving to the new generation as soon as possible. 

As ever, time will tell if these leaks and rumors prove to be correct. But 2021 could be bring bing changes for Samsung. 

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.