As we start to close out 2021, we set our eyes to 2022 and the inevitable launch of the Galaxy S22 series. Samsung leads the charge each year, setting the pace for other Android phone makers with the latest Snapdragon 800-series chipset, gorgeous displays, and powerful features.
But 2021 started a shift that looks like it might continue to evolve next year. Samsung opened up the popular S Pen functionality to the Galaxy S21 Ultra, further blurring the line between the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note families.
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Then we got the Galaxy Z Fold 3, a $1,799 foldable phone with optional S Pen support. You'd have to fork over up to $100 just to get something that the Galaxy Note phones came standard with. All the buzz at the Fold 3's launch asserted that the new top-tier and expensive foldable had replaced the Note and that there was no Galaxy Note 21.
Samsung had two problems to overcome with this strategy. For starters, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 was just too expensive. Even when the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra pushed $1,299 for the base model, the $500 delta between it and the Fold was too much to convince die-hard Note fans to switch.
Secondly, the optional S Pen felt like a slap in the face to Note users. Not only did you have to pay extra for it, there was also no built-in slot to store it. Instead, you had to carry the stylus on its own (which carried risk of damage or loss) or pay another fee to get a bulky case that added a holster for the S Pen.
But now new rumors and alleged Galaxy S22 Ultra leaked photos show a flagship that looks surprisingly Note-like. From the rounded edges to the blocky design and S Pen slot, the S22 Ultra looks like a true Note in all but name.
The Galaxy S22 series is expected to showcase the latest Snapdragon 800-series processor, but international models might see Samsung's newest Exynos 2200 chip. The latter is set to have AMD graphics, meaning it could be a gaming powerhouse — it's just a bummer that we in the US may not ever get to see the Exynos Galaxy S22. Like with the Galaxy S21, there should be three Galaxy S22 models: the 6.8-inch Ultra, the 6.5-inch Plus/Pro, and the 6.1-inch S22.
Moreover, rumors suggest that the Galaxy S22 Ultra will look very different than the other two models. The non-Ultra variants seem like they'll be iterations on the Galaxy S21's design, whereas the Galaxy S22 Ultra appears to carry a lot of Galaxy Note DNA.
So does that mean Samsung realized it messed up putting the Note line out to pasture? I can't say for sure, but I do know that the Galaxy Z Fold 3 was not the ideal Note replacement. While it could be a powerful productivity machine thanks to the folding displays, it lacked the polish the Note line has had for a few years now.
Rumors say that the Galaxy S22 will launch in February instead of January like the Galaxy S21 did, so we might have to wait a bit to officially see Samsung's future Galaxy S/Galaxy Note plans. But if the rumors and leaks pan out, Note fans will have a lot to love in early 2022.
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Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He's written about phones for over six years and plans to continue for a long while to come. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. Jordan likes finding new things to dive into, from books and games to new mechanical keyboard switches and fun keycap sets. Outside of work, you can find him poring over open-source software and his studies.