A Galaxy S21 with an S Pen isn't as crazy as you think it is

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra housing
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra housing (Image credit: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

There are always rumors whenever Samsung is set to release a new phone, and the coming Galaxy S21 is no exception. We'll all find out everything there is to know in January 2021, but one persistent rumor has more than a few of us excited — the Galaxy S21 Ultra might have support for Samsung's S Pen.

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This isn't the first time we've heard rumors like this. The past few Galaxy S phones have all been predicted to have S Pen support, but it has never materialized. But the idea itself isn't as crazy as you might think, and now would be the right time for Samsung to do it.

This is because of another persistent rumor that Samsung wants to consolidate the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note lines and stop producing the Note. While I'm not predicting anything here, Samsung has shown signs that merging the two would be a good idea that would make financial sense and make customers happy.

Phones like the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and Galaxy S20 Ultra aren't that different from one another. While there are some differences in the camera, both are roughly the same size, both have the same excellent display, and both cost about the same when first launched. The real difference is the S Pen and the software that supports it. Basically, both are some of the best phones you can buy today.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra and Note 20 Ultra

Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central)

Imagine if the Galaxy S21 does include S Pen support. Is there anything there that would make a potential customer who is looking forward to buying it have second thoughts? A case could be made that the Galaxy Note tends to have a smaller battery because of the room for an S Pen slot but nobody is saying the S Pen will be included or have its own space in the phone itself. S Pen support means a change in the display tech and a few extra bits of software.

Samsung could have slapped a Galaxy Note badge on the S20 Ultra and nobody would have complained.

Conversely, if you're a fan of the Galaxy Note and a future Galaxy S model does have a slot for the S Pen and the same software support, what else are you going to miss? By expanding the Galaxy S line — especially the Galaxy S20 — to cover everything from the Galaxy S20 FE to the Galaxy S20 Ultra, there's a phone for everyone at plenty of different pricing points. If the S20 Ultra had an S Pen there would be no need to release the Galaxy Note 20 line at all.

Samsung really has nothing to lose here. Adding digitizer support to the display assembly is probably trivial since Samsung has so much practice after 11 years of building the Galaxy Note. It will certainly add to the bill of materials so it either cuts into the profit or the prices raise a few dollars, but it's not a drastic undertaking at all.

Galaxy S20 FE in Cloud Red

Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central)

Pulling the Note line into the premium version of the Galaxy S line saves Samsung more money than the cost of adding a digitizer would, too. One less phone to build means more time and money to focus on making the Galaxy S as great as it can be as well as freeing time and money to focus on the foldable devices Samsung is betting on like the Galaxy Z Flip 2. And we haven't even reached the point of talking about marketing and presentation dollars. After 2020's poor sales numbers across the entire mobile industry, saving a lot of money is a very good thing.

Even carriers could get behind one lineup with pricing options and features for everyone.

Your carrier wouldn't be opposed to the idea either, and like it or not that's who Samsung builds its phones for in the U.S. While Samsung does offer unlocked versions of all of the flagship phones, it knows that it has to make a phone that a carrier is willing to get behind if it wants to sell millions and millions of them.

I don't think any of us should be opposed to the idea, either. If Samsung were to discontinue the Note line while incorporating the features Note users love into the premium models of the Galaxy S line, everyone wins.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

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.

  • Didn't think it was crazy. Putting it in the curved one is crazy.
  • Curved screens FTW.
  • Brilliant. It has to be insertable however and I not buying ANY Samsung phone until they fix the rotten FPS.
  • What's wrong with it? Mine works perfectly fine. Maybe washing your hands more often will do the trick? 🤣
  • Haha. Glad yours works. I never had a problem w the one on my s8 or BlackBerry K2le.
  • I've wanted to pick up a smaller screen Galaxy with S Pen for a while. But: - The Note 10 has to much cut
    - The Not 20 has to much cut and is no longer a smaller screen Galaxy
  • I'm unfamiliar with the term "cut" used in this way. What does "too much cut" mean?
  • What you say about turning the S-ultras into "notes" or /and merging the note line with the S-line makes sense but wtf are you saying about "potential buyers having second thoughts"? If the s21 ultra has an spen and there is no more note then What choice would they have for an spen device? Anyway people may stay away from the s-ultra-note phone if they don't use the s-pen.. They might see it not as a bonus feature but as an unwanted extra cost feature/gimmick... It will be featured or marketed for its spen and customers may shy away from it, thinking the extra cost is all because of the pen they don't need.
  • I think the Fold will get S-pen support at some point, which would give people another (more expensive) option.
  • I wonder if that kind of screen would be more prone to damage from the s-pen
  • That is probably the reason Samsung hasn't done it yet for the Fold. I think a soft-tip S-pen would probably work.
  • Samsung Ultras have always been too big for me, as far as I'm concerned, my S10 has the perfect size. So, why wouldn't Samsung add digitizer support for the vanilla models as well? I don't think it's so expensive. They can just add the digitizer, sell the S-pen as optional accessory and let people decide whether they need it or not.
    My last Note was the 4, after that I stopped buying them because of the curved screen and the huge size.
  • I made 10k dollar a month doing this and she convinced me to try. The potential with this is endless. Here's what I've been doing Please visit this site for full details. 99trickss.com
  • It wasn't crazy when discussed previously. The pen should be usable on all Samsung phones and tablets over a reasonable price/profit point. Are not ink pens pretty much usable on most writing surfaces? What's the difference? It is 2020. I'd still like to keep a model where the pen is housed vs having to need a folio or wearing a stylus protector in a shirt pocket.
  • Imo Samsung should make the S21 Plus with all top notch features for those who don't want the S Pen. The S21 Ultra should be named the S21 Note and have the same features with a boxier design and an inbuilt S Pen(for those of us who want the S Pen). The S21 should be the low cost version(or totally replaced with the S21 FE to come out later in the year). Then they can focus on the foldable phones later in August. Samsung is proving ad nauseam that, to them, the term "flagship phone" constitutes a motley crowd of devices ☹️