The Galaxy S22 Ultra will always be the Note 22 to me

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra S Pen
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra S Pen (Image credit: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

For the past ten years, the Galaxy Note brand has been synonymous with the very best smartphone hardware from Samsung. And, as the company has previously boasted, Note fans are among its most loyal customers. Case in point: in 2016, the Note brand survived one of the most disastrous product launches in history. The damage likely would've been terminal for a less prestigious product line.

This year's "Ultra" is technically and visually distinct from the other S22s.

Before Samsung complicated things by also releasing a plus-sized Galaxy S in the spring, the fall launch of the Note was an annual highlight for enthusiasts. It was the original "big screen" phone, back when people joked about big phones looking like "talking into a piece of toast." While the S-series sold in larger numbers, the Note would boast quicker performance, bigger batteries, superior cameras, expansive displays, and that all-important S Pen. Fans would often argue that the only device capable of replacing a Note was another Note.

This year, it's not a new Note replacing older stylus-toting handsets in Samsung's lineup; it's the Galaxy S22 Ultra. It's a phone which, for all intents and purposes, is a Galaxy Note. With its boxy proportions and sharp, angular borders, it has all the design cues of the Note line. It looks more like a successor to the Note 20 than the S21 Ultra and is visually distinct from the other two S22 models. It's unique in terms of technical hardware too, being the only S22 with a curved screen, Samsung's very best 108-megapixel camera, and dual telephoto system.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra and Note 20 Ultra

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

Samsung sees the Note as a feature, not a product.

Besides, in a year of relatively dull upgrades for the Ultra, the main hardware update from S21 to S22 Ultra is the S Pen. This phone wouldn't have looked out of place in late 2021 as a hypothetical Galaxy Note 21.

So why, strictly speaking, isn't this phone just a Galaxy Note? In a recent interview with Digital Trends, Samsung UK product management VP Nick Porter pointed to the "Note" becoming a feature set more than a specific product line.

At first, it seemed possible that Samsung could have kept the Note name. But, as Porter continued, that seemed less likely because the Note appears to no longer be thought of as a device, but more of a specific feature set. "We've been expanding the Note experience across devices, and incorporated the very best productivity and creativity features from the Note, including the S Pen, into not only other ecosystem products, but also the S22 Ultra," Porter said.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 S Pen Taking Notes

Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

He's not wrong. It seems inevitable that the Galaxy Z Fold line will eventually evolve an S Pen silo, especially after it added external stylus support with the Z Fold 3. And Samsung's tablet range has long offered S Pen support. What's more, as much as the S22 Ultra looks and acts like a Note, it's launching at the same time as the other S22s with a similar platform of features.

Nevertheless, it feels like Samsung is, somewhat needlessly, ditching a highly valuable brand name. If you know smartphones, you know exactly what a Galaxy Note is all about: the very best specs, a big screen, and an S Pen. The more generic "Ultra" monicker somehow doesn't do justice to this product.

Could Samsung eventually bring the Note back officially, name and all, with some future iteration of the S Ultra? Stranger things have happened. The company excluded the Note 5 from Europe entirely before returning with the Note 7 the following year. And after that phone's catastrophic failure, many predicted the series's demise.

So while the Note brand itself may be dead — for now — the S22 Ultra will always be a Galaxy Note 22 to me.

Alex Dobie
Executive Editor

Alex was with Android Central for over a decade, producing written and video content for the site, and served as global Executive Editor from 2016 to 2022.