It looks very much game over for the Samsung Galaxy Note line. The Samsung Galaxy Note 21 never arrived and the idea of a next-gen Note phone has been torpedoed by Samsung's focus on foldables as its do-everything flagship phones.
But the DNA of the Note is set could live on with the Samsung Galaxy S22 line, as there are building rumors that the Galaxy S22 Ultra will effectively be the replacement for the Note phones. And I'm all for that.
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I've already written that I feel a little sad about the demise of the Galaxy Note phones given they made for excellent, albeit expensive, productivity phones. But with the S-series Ultra handsets and the increasingly refined Galaxy Z Fold phones (I'm writing this on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3), the Note line seemed to go from peak flagship phone to an awkward middle child.
So it makes sense for Samsung to fold Note features into the largest Galaxy S phone. This is a bit of a 180 degree turn from me, as I used to think the Ultra models in the Galaxy S-series were a little pointless as they get superseded by Note phones some five months later; see the Galaxy S20 Ultra and Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra as an example.
But then Samsung came up with the Galaxy S21 Ultra, which with its S Pen support and quad camera array, really stood apart from its Galaxy S21 and Galaxy 21 Plus stablemates. Not only that, the Galaxy S21 Ultra also laid the foundations to be a Note replacement.
So while I pour one out for the Note line, I'm now much more interested in a next-gen Galaxy S-series Ultra phone that I was some weeks ago. I also think having a Note-inspired Ultra phone will help the Galaxy S-series as a whole, in that the rumored trio of Galaxy S22 phones will all have something compelling to offer users beyond a slightly larger display or extra camera.
However, for me to really accept a Galaxy S22 Ultra as a Note successor I have some requirements.
A built-in S Pen holder
First I want to see the Galaxy S22 Ultra come with a proper S Pen holder. The Galaxy S21 Ultra offers S Pen support but it has nowhere to store the stylus beyond an optional case, which is decidedly inelegant for Samsung.
One of the joys of the Note series was simply popping out an S Pen as and when you needed it without the need for any extras; the Galaxy S22 should take (ahem) note.
As much as I like the “Contour Cut” design of the Galaxy S21, I still yearn for the more rectangular shape of the Note phones. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra with its gently curved edges is both comfortable to hold and makes me feel like I've got a small Samsung TV in my hands, not a phone.
I really want to see this design make it over to the Galaxy S22 Ultra, as not only does it look good, it feels a lot easier to hold than the more curvaceous sides of the Galaxy S-series phones.
The return of the microSD card slot
I’d quite like to see a Galaxy S22 Ultra come with a microSD card slot so the onboard storage could be expanded, much like it can be with the Note 20 Ultra.
I’m usually fine with 256GB of storage, but if I’m getting a premium phone I want as many features as possible, and expendable storage would certainly be on my list.
The Galaxy S21 Ultra is far from lacking in power, but it used to be the case that the Note phones would get a boosted chipset or improved cooling over their S-series siblings. I’m hoping that Samsung takes this as inspiration to add in some clever cooling or a tricked out chipset to the Galaxy S22 Ultra to give it some serious workhorse power.
Going by a variety of leaks, it’s likely the Galaxy S22 line will make use of a Exynos 2200 chip with AMD-based graphics, potentially making for a pseudo Xbox gaming phone. I’d particularly like to see this come true for the Galaxy S22 Ultra, as that would really make it a serious powerhouse replacement for what would have been a 2022 Note phone.
If Samsung can add these Note-like features into the Galaxy S22 Ultra, then my frown at the death of the Galaxy Note will be turned upside down. And come early next year I’ll likely be eagerly awaiting the reveal of the Galaxy S22 Ultra. With more leaks seemingly inevitable before then, expect this hype to build.
- More: Check out our Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 review