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The Galaxy Fold isn't the Galaxy Note replacement for a lot of people

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 S Pen Taking Notes
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 S Pen Taking Notes (Image credit: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is here, and for a lot of people, it might turn out to be the best Android phone. But for a substantial portion of the Android crowd, the Galaxy Fold is also a reminder of how disappointed they are with one important detail.

You see, Samsung decided the Galaxy Note line is done. Kaput. Fin. The company hasn't come right out and said it, but the Galaxy S Ultra line and the Galaxy Fold are the essentially spiritual successors to the Note line — and things just aren't quite the same.

Right up front — I'm not a Galaxy Note die-hard. It's my favorite Samsung model throughout the years, but only because I really love using the S Pen. It's just not the phone I would carry around all day, every day, so I didn't. If you're wondering what my ideal phone would be, well, that would have to be the LG V10 running the Pixel version of Android 11. But such an animal only exists in my mind. Oh well.

You might think that including support for the S Pen makes other phones a great substitute for the Note. I understand that reasoning, and I can see why it benefits Samsung to go this route. One less product line to manufacture and support while offering its key feature to the other high-end products it offers is a smart business move. I'm sure a lot of former and current Galaxy Note users probably feel this way, too. But not everyone.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra screen

Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

The Note series was more than just the S Pen. It was a way to get the latest and greatest hardware the year had to offer and was usually filled with small upgrades over the "regular" Galaxy S that debuted earlier in the spring. Such things as a newer SoC or more memory or improved Wi-Fi and Bluetooth stacks could be meaningful upgrades that you didn't need to wait another six months to get.

The Note offered small, but meaningful upgrades over the Galaxy S.

Samsung's own improvements are also worth noting. Of course, software tweaks are necessary, even if the version number didn't change all that much. But, unlike the Fold, which requires different ways to do things with many new features, the core of the interface between the Galaxy S and the Galaxy Note was the same. It was just better on the Note. More refined. Fewer bugs. The updates we really wanted.

Finally, there is that pesky price issue. The Galaxy Note offered the best Galaxy experience for a lot less. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra set you back around $1,100 before any discounts or trade-ins. Yes, that's a lot of money to spend on a phone, but the Galaxy Z Fold 3 will set you back about $1,800. If you really want a folding phone, it's up to you to decide if that price is appropriate. (Narrator: It's not. No phone is worth $1,800.) If you just want the best hardware, Samsung offers it a $900 price bump.

Maybe I'm reading it all wrong, though, and it's really a matter of folks pining over the loss of a device they enjoyed. We all have our favorites, and that includes phones. There doesn't even have to be a reason why they're our favorite other than "it's our favorite." For example, take my obsession with the LG V10. Objectively, that phone sucked. It was heavy and clunky, the battery wasn't great, the software was a horrible dumpster fire in a parking lot filled with raiding orcs, and almost every single one of them boot-looped because of bad hardware. But it was still my favorite.

We never need to justify what we like. It just happens.

Just like I can't change my favorite phone ever into something I can buy today, people might not be able, or even willing, to say the Galaxy S (number here) Ultra or the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is their favorite now. This isn't likely to be the worst thing anyone ever experiences, but it might.

So, what to do, what to do? Well, the good news: Samsung is supporting its products for an extra year or two, and you can still buy a Galaxy Note 20. Get the Mystic Bronze beauty, and you'll be happy for the next three years or so.

Maybe by then, Samsung will have changed its mind once again, or maybe the folding thing will grow on you. Either way, it's easy enough to kick the can down the road and worry about it later. You won't get the improved processor, but you will get the same amount and type of memory and storage and you don't need to buy a separate specialized S Pen built for an unproved display tech.

That sounds like a win to me.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Jerry Hildenbrand

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

38 Comments
  • Fold 3 doesn't replace Note series, however it does give more real estate to use s-pen. As a longtime Note user that occasionally uses pen, Fold 3 works just fine. Note advantages: dedicated s pen slot and better cam specs Fold 3 advantages: more s pen real estate, multi tasking powerhouse
  • Keep in mind that the Fold 3 has two separate digitizers, one for each side of the screen, and has to use software to interpret and fill in when crossing over the bump in the middle.
    Also, the S-Pen doesn't work on the outer screen, so there goes some functionality.
  • I don't want something with a folding screen. I know, I'm in the minority, but I have visions of two years down the road with either a crack in the fold or peeling or drying out or...I don't know, but personally, for me, I don't want that. I'm still on my Note 9 and I'm still really happy with it. I understand it will never get another OS update, but that's okay. It does everything I need it to do, I use the S-Pen a lot, I also use other features that at the time, weren't really there on non-Notes. I don't know what I'm going to do when it finally wears out. There's not a chance in H that I'm paying almost $2K for a phone of all things. I don't pay $1K for a laptop that's got some of the best firmware on the market. Guess I'll just have to hope my Note hangs on a few more years before I have to do something else. Then...Swappa...
  • I agree with everything you said. I just don't see myself paying close to $2, 000 for a Fold. I've always owned a Galaxy Note since 2011, and I owned a Note9 up until last week 😔. Trading it in for the Note20 Ultra was extremely hard. Even after receiving my Note20 Ultra, I was still contemplating not sending my Note9 in, and just eating up the full cost of the Note20 Ultra. I finally did send it to T-Mobile just yesterday ( T-Mobile offered me $500 for it, better than what Swappa buyers were willing to pay) . I know I'll miss my headphone jack, Sp02 sensor, LED notification, almost flushed cameras, fingerprint sensor on the back, and that iris scanner. I'm getting upset just thinking about it 🤦🏿‍♂️. Anyway, I'll learn to love this Note20 Ultra (it's not like I have a choice at this point), and console myself with the fact that it's a pretty little phone that will get updates till at least 2024. Like Jerry rightly pointed out, the Fold isn't a Note. Hopefully Samsung gets their crap together, and bring back all the Note staples that they've been removing, to a future Galaxy Note. Until that happens, Samsung isn't getting anymore money from this Note user (unless of course Samsung solves the crease on the Fold, includes an SD card slot, MST, and a built-in silo to house the S-Pen) 😉. But seriously, they really should stop trying to kill the Note.
  • So. I haven't really looked at the Note 20 Ultra yet. No SD card slot in that? I thought it still had one. Maybe I misunderstood. And I use the fingerprint exclusively. I don't want to use face recognition. There's too many instances of it failing if someone is close to yours. I also have a question; do you have a case on it yet? Does the case make that ridiculous camera housing any less cumbersome? It sticks out so far, I'd wan the case, not only for protection, but in the hope that it would be thick enough to kind of smooth the back out. You know, I obviously don't work for Samsung, but I have to wonder if they ever ask any non-employees what they actually like or don't like, in a phone...
  • The Note 20 Ultra has a microsd card slot. It was the 21 series that did away with it. If Samsung does do another Note next year, I won't buy it if they they do away with the sd slot.
  • I bought my Note 9 off Swappa. It was about three months old when I got it. Factory Unlocked, 512G and I put a 256G SD card in it. It's been a great workhorse and still works every bit as good as when I got it. I can't imagine losing a lot of the phone's abilities and storage options for twice the price. They'll be no 21 series for me. Might sound stupid on my part too, but I'm still lamenting the loss of a replaceable battery.
  • I won't buy it if it has a curved screen. It was gimmick when it came out to differentiate, and it should have died out long ago. My brief time with the regular Note 20 was glorious with the flat screen. A proper case, no real fear of cracking an edge. No stupid full glue glass screen protector for $50. Riding my Note 10+ for as long as possible.
  • The Note 20 Ultra has a slot. The Note 20 does not.
  • I'm in the same boat as you. Still rocking the note 9 and looking at this new fold in disgust. Almost 2 grand for a device that lacks micro SD, a headphone jack and capped at 512gb max. I'm jumping to the new Sony xperia 1 III, check that device out. you'll thank me later.
  • I have been a note just for many years and always upgraded to the next version at introduction. The gold is not remotely tempting for these reasons: it's way too thick, no place to house the pen and huge price tag.
  • Personally I don't have a favorite or that big of a S Pen user. My favorite is the latest new shiny thing, never bothered about past devices. They served their purposes and I move on with the next shiny thing. On the other hand, aren't their rumors that Samsung is indeed bringing back Note next year again and this year's cancellation has to do more with chip shortages?
  • FAD..... Wait a couple of months for the complaints to come in
  • If even that long. I'm willing to bet many who preordered it on Samsung's website did so on the 21 day trial period. There's going to be a lot of buyer's remorse and many will return it because they'll realize spending that much on a phone is just stupid.
  • The Z Fold 3 is a crappy replacement for the Note. The S Pen for the Fold 3 is like an afterthought and Flossy Carter pointed that out in his review. It will never be a successor to the Note-line because there's nowhere to store the S Pen in the device. That's what I loved about the Notes - I didn't have to remember to bring the S Pen with me because it was always there. I'll never buy the Z Fold 3 mainly because nobody should buy a phone that costs more than a great gaming computer. My upper limit is about $1,200, and that's pushing it.
  • Check out the Sony xperia 1 III. It's everything Samsung should have done with their new devices.
  • I'll check that one out once Best Buy gets them in stock. Definitely psyched for the microSD card slot, the LED notification light, and the headphone jack.
  • Agreed. For what they are charging for the Fold 3, I can get a good phone with a better camera, a tablet with LTE, a decent laptop, and a few steak dinners for 2. The folding thing isn't a big deal.
  • I couldn't agree more with you. In fact, I just received my bronze Note 20 straight from Korea (bought on ebay) on Thursday. It is beautiful, fast and has a very crisp screen. And of course it has a pen, all for less than half the price of the Fold 3.
    The decision of Samsung to stop the Note is sheer absurd. And it comes on the back of other renouncement, which make aficionados of the brand increasingly disgruntled (removable battery, SD slot,...)
    I did sign the petition for Samsung to produce a Note 22, to no avail. As a result, my patience with the brand is wearing thin and I could well consider an different brand for my next purchase. There is none so deaf... And by the way, I also owned an LG V10. It performed hassle-free and had a fantastic camera. I shot pictures in manual mode at the Lisbon aquarium 6 years ago and am still impressed by the quality today. Congratulations for an excellent article,
  • Samsung listened to us when they removed the microSD card slot on the S6 devices. I guess we'll find out.
  • I'm usually open minded and start with a fresh perspective. With that said, and owning a Note for the last 3 generations, when you said the LG V10 with Android 11, I lost interest in the article. Really the LG V10? What is that? 4 or 5 years old? Wow.
  • 100% agree with the main point of the article. A folding phone doesn't interest me in the least when looking for a replacement for my Note 9.
  • Your Note doesn't need a replacement...at all.
  • I'm going to either use this Note 9 until it no longer powers up, buy a Note 20, or look to switching to one of the Pixel 6s. Still undecided. This Note 9 has been the best phone I've owned to date.
  • I'm jumping from the note 9 to the Sony Xperia 1 III. Check it out you'll be pleasantly surprised
  • Wow, Fredro, do you work for Sony??? :)
  • I think I will wait until I have a chance to put hands-on to decide which or if I want a new phone. I use my S pen fairly often now, but that depends on how well it responds to my touch and how difficult the keyboards are to use. My choice would be the flip, but it doesn't have pen support. It would really be nice to have a phone that fit in my pocket and/or purse easily. My perfect phone will probably come out right after I die.
  • No Z fold for me at the moment, I am holding out for 2022 they promised a Note that year. I will wait and see.. if not I guess I am holding onto my Note 20 ultra for awhile.
  • The Fold would never fit in my semi truck's phone mount. It's for phones. So that's a hard pass for me. Plus I already have the company tablet to contend with. That's bad enough.
  • If you are spending $1800 on a new phone, you shouldn't complain about needing a new mount. :)
  • For its price, the Fold should offer the best of both worlds. Instead, it regresses in key areas of both.
  • Yup my thoughts exactly
  • Agreed, Samsung doesn't listen. The note is the best Samsung device and the fold is not a worthy successor. Too expensive, clunky, poorer camera and of course, no s-pen slot, all these means it's a hard pass for me. I like newer and shiny devices and was thinking of upgrading but the only device that registered faintly was the z flip because of its size and looks but again lack of s-pen and poorer camera means it's a huge no. Seems my note 20 ultra will be my last Samsung phone. If Apple releases a flip phone, game over. I'll move fully to the "dark side" :)
  • I was a big Note fan, I upgraded to the Z Fold 2 last year and loved it! I thought I would miss the s-pen, but the screen real estate and multi-tasking capability made me forget all about it. Sure I would like to have a silo for a s-pen, but the Z Fold has better tricks.. Don't knock it until you try it, and Samsung gives you 21 days...
  • OMG, it's a hole in the phone. That's truly the only difference. And I get missing that feature. I get missing that. But. Complaining about 6 month newer iterative hardware and saying minor wifi improvements are meaningful updates is a little strange. No, it's a lot entitled, and the lamest first world problem I've ever heard in a sea of first world problems. So your apps won't run milliseconds faster. And until Bluetooth gets rid of audio lag, there's no meaningful updates there either. You have to buy your phones in the Spring now instead of the fall, but I suspect once you get used to that you won't notice it at all! Sorry, no offense intended, but it's time to stop writing/whining about it.
  • The silo also charged the stylus. Using a stylus with my Surface tablet, I get tired of chasing down AAAA batteries for it. And looking for it as it goes flying from the weak magnet mount on the side of the tablet.
    If you are going to complain about first world problems, go somewhere else or read some other article. The reasons for wanting a proper Note is the point of the article, and THAT INCLUDES THE SILO!!!!
  • I'm getting tired of people saying the Note line is dead, since Samsung hasn't announced it being dead.
    That being said, I loved the Note line because the phone felt more robust, the features were great, and that S-Pen was handy for quick annotations and photo editing. I stopped buying them not because I didn't like them, or they were overpriced (Pricey, for damned sure though!), but because it had that Edge screen that I hate with a passion.
    Samsung had a delineation: The Note was for business users, the S was for everyone else. That they put business features like DEX on their S series and added support for the S-Pen doesn't replace the Note, especially since THERE'S NO SILO FOR THE PEN ON THE S OR THE FOLD!!!
    If I can't get a flat screened, silo toting Note, it's not worth the hassle of having to PAY EXTRA FOR THE PEN, and use a custom case that I may not like. If all I want is a generic stylus for my phone, I'll order one from Amazon. May not be as functional as an S-Pen, but I can use it on any phone I want.
  • Yes definitely the Z Fold is not a Note replacement since its a much more expensive phone and of a different size and format.
    I am a Note fun because I am using extensively the S pen, currently I own a S21 Ultra which serves me well but I would definitely prefer to store the S pen in the dedicated silo slot.