The Galaxy Note 20 needs to have more than a stylus to justify its existence
We're expecting the Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20+ to be announced by the end of August, just a few months away. And the rumors we have to work with are pointing to another year where the Galaxy Note does little to justify its existence, beyond simply having the tried-and-true S Pen stylus. Now I recognize that the S Pen, in itself, is a selling point for longtime Note fans. But it also seems clear at this point that Samsung isn't really picking up any new Note fans, particularly since the Galaxy S line has expanded to sizes matching Notes.
Samsung's last two generations of the Galaxy Note have frankly been snoozers. The Galaxy Note 9 introduced new wireless S Pen functions, but nothing fundamentally groundbreaking on the stylus front, and most importantly not substantially different from the Galaxy S9+ (opens in new tab). Then the Galaxy Note 10 series simply added more fringe wireless S Pen features, expanded the Note series to two sizes (exactly like the Galaxy S series since the S6), and was most notable for what it removed: the smaller Note 10 didn't have a headphone jack.
Expectations are that the Note 20's design will be very similar to the S20 Ultra, in two sizes, but word has it that the displays will be no larger than the S20+ and S20 Ultra. The cameras seem unchanged from the S20 Ultra, except Samsung will no longer let it zoom to 100X — which is just an admission that "Space Zoom" was marketing, and nothing more. The battery of the Note 20+ will be smaller than the S20 Ultra, like previous generations; you have to make room for the S Pen. And yes, the headphone jack is finally gone for good.
All the while, the pricing of the Galaxy S20 Ultra at $1400 points to a Galaxy Note 20+ that could hit $1500, which is just an absurd price for many people to consider. So, who's going to buy a Galaxy Note 20 or Note 20+?
The Galaxy Note series used to be the do-it-all phone for those who didn't want to compromise on specs, features, and capabilities. Oddly enough, the Note line now has more compromises than the S20+ or S20 Ultra — and in turn, you only get one difference: the S Pen. That doesn't feel like a great deal, and it shows just how much of the original Note DNA is gone.
Samsung has cast a wide net with the Galaxy S20 series, building on a couple years of expanding the overall appeal of the Galaxy S line with larger screens, longer battery life, and more features. Seeing this change, it turns out that a lot of Samsung's early success with the Note was tied to the size of the phones, and the extra features like battery life and cameras that the size enabled, rather than the stylus. Because as soon as the Galaxy S line started becoming "a big Galaxy Note-sized phone without the stylus," interest in the Note itself waned — and continues to do so.
The addressable market for a stylus-laden phone (and the compromises it brings) is just getting smaller and smaller, and when that's the case, simply adding little features to the S Pen experience obviously isn't going to move the needle. The gulf in popularity between the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note is only widening, and what we know about the Note 20 doesn't point to a change of direction this year.
Admittedly this is based on imperfect information, and it'll be a little while before we see the typical deluge of Samsung rumors hit shortly before the Note 20's launch. So I sure hope that those rumors bring some noteworthy changes — because what we have now points to another disappointing Galaxy Note release.
Big stylus power
This is the one phone to consider if you care about a stylus
Samsung's S Pen may not have wide-reaching appeal, but those who love it wouldn't be caught using any other phone. The Note 10+ is the biggest and best stylus-toting phone; at least, until the Note 20+.
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Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.
The pen have so many uses and standout features that the Note doesn't need anything else to standout
2. You now have base 256GB of UFS 3.0 storage (2 points)
3. You now have a bigger battery.
4. You now have faster wired charging and faster wireless charging.
5. You now have 12GB of base RAM.
6. You got rid of the Bixby button.
7. You served up a much more refined version of One UI.
8. You can now DeX with just a cable. The Note 20+ will be bringing the power in, I anticipate, the following ways: 1. 120Hz WQHD+ LTPO display
2. UFS 3.1 storage
3. 3D Sonic FPS
4. One UI 2.5 allowing native Android gestures with 3rd party launchers If these things don't make you roar like Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor, I don't know what will.
I have been using a stylus since the Palm Pilot days. I use the S-Pen all the time, for lots of various uses. The Note phones don't need justification, they are the best phones period. It is OK that the S line and Note line are similar in specs, most people don't need the S-Pen and are happy with the S line.
The Note phones have a tangible use to them, unlike iPhones that are just a gateway to the Internet. There are so many uses for the S-Pen that Samsung provides, that most of the websites never talk about.
Just one example is that you can use the pen to translate by hovering over text. Say you want to buy something with Taobao's app, then the note is the only phone that translates within the app by simply using the pen. Many apps have press and hold features which makes it impossible to copy. With the note and only the note it's a breeze.
There's a lot of possibilities it's just that the author isn't an expert. But as I said before the Dunning Kruger Effect is something we all have to be aware of.
Next time I suggest to actually use a device before making statements.