Merging the Galaxy Note and S lines is the best move for Samsung
Samsung's Galaxy Note line seems to be on its way out, at least if recent leaks of the Galaxy S22 Ultra hold any merit. It started last year with rumors that Samsung would cancel the Note lineup, then those rumors were fueled by the Galaxy S21 Ultra when Samsung provided it with S Pen support, and continued when the Galaxy Z Fold 3 arrived in lieu of a Note successor.
Leaker Ice Universe claims that the upcoming flagship won't carry the Note name and will just be called the Galaxy S22 Ultra. While Samsung hasn't confirmed this with Android Central, analysts agree that a viable move for the company would phase out the Note lineup, at least in its current form, and merge it into the Galaxy S line.
That isn't to say that the Note moniker should die completely. Over the past decade, the Galaxy Note lineup has been more or less the pinnacle of innovation for Samsung and easily among the best Android phones on the market. While the Galaxy S line was a flagship line for the masses, the Note lineup usually took things a half-step higher with specs and features and then a full step with the included S Pen. It was a phone for creatives and productives.
I've used the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra as my daily driver since it launched last year, and it's a solid device. Admittedly, I chose the Note mainly for the camera after years with LG smartphones. The S Pen was really just an extra perk, but one that I've come to appreciate. Even as I'm tempted by the new Pixel 6 Pro, I find myself hesitating due to the lack of pen support. However, I'm not married to the "Note" by any means. Giving the Galaxy S22 Ultra an S Pen slot would be good enough for me, and frankly, would be easier on Samsung.
Jitesh Ubrani, Research Manager at WW Mobile Device Trackers, says that merging the Note lineup into the S Lineup is the right move for the company.
"Samsung has essentially three flagships," he says. "The S, the Note, and the foldables and it's very difficult for any company to maintain three flagships. Over the years, the S series and the Note series slowly started to overlap in terms of price, features, and audience so merging the two next year feels right and it makes more room for Samsung's foldable lineup."
Sure enough, when comparing the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra to the Galaxy S20 Ultra, both phones had certain advantages over the other, but there was no clear winner among the two, unless, of course, you account for the S Pen. But looking at the Galaxy S21 Ultra, the only advantage the Note has is the dedicated storage space, something that even LG could pull off with phones like the LG Stylo 6. It's becoming clear that the Note lineup in its current form is becoming superfluous.
While Avi Greengart, founder and lead analyst at Techsponential, believes that the Note lineup should stick around, he does see the merit in merging the lineup. He says that the Note attracted a particular, productivity-oriented consumer. However, Samsung "could probably have the best of both worlds" by merging the lineup, "with the Z Fold targeting the highest-end productivity user, and a Galaxy S Note – with an included, internally stored S Pen – providing traditional Note buyers what they didn't get in 2021."
Anshel Sag, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, agrees that the Note brand is "one of the few products that people easily and readily recognize as Samsung's." However, his experience with the Galaxy S21 Ultra and even the Galaxy Z Fold 3 shows that their half-assed approach to S Pen support makes it a viable choice to merge the Note and S lineups.
Our Andrew Myrick noted how his fiancee's S21 Ultra case had to be replaced after a mere four months, while Nick Sutrich saw the lack of an S Pen slot as a major downside to the otherwise excellent Z Fold 3. There's no reason why Samsung should repeat this cumbersome approach to S Pen support with the Galaxy S22 Ultra.
Additionally, this could reduce the burden on Samsung's production line. With the ongoing semiconductor shortage, companies have delayed or limited the launch of some devices, such as the Google Pixel 5a or the still-unannounced Galaxy S21 FE. Samsung is often criticized for having too many smartphone models, but getting rid of the Note line could help to simplify its flagship offerings and potentially boost sales of the Galaxy S lineup.
Greengart notes that while the last Galaxy Note model came in regular and premium models, "perhaps there don't need to be so many configurations if the two lines are being merged."
Leaker Steve Hemmerstoffer, also known as Onleaks and the person who leaked the renders of the Galaxy S22 Ultra, agrees that Samsung could stand to shave down its smartphone offerings a bit and that he's not a fan of the company selling dozens of nearly identical devices with different monikers.
"It won't hurt them to kill some of their devices in order to simplify their catalog," he says. "Galaxy Note is a great and quite popular product line, so killing it would have been a mistake, in my opinion. Keeping it alive by including it in the Galaxy S Series is a smart move if you ask me."
He says it's the first step in Samsung following Apple's example by offering different models from the same line but with their own purpose and target audience. This also makes sense considering rumors that the Galaxy S22 Plus might actually be called the Galaxy S22 Pro and that the standard Galaxy S22 will launch with a smaller display, while leaving the S22 Ultra as the sole model with a built-in S Pen.
So while it makes a lot of sense to merge the Note line with the Galaxy S line, Samsung could still take advantage of the Note moniker by giving it to a new lineup of devices, such as a potential rollable phone or even a folding tablet. After all, the Note represented a focus on productivity and creativity while offering some of the best tech available, and Samsung has many ways to differentiate a potential Note reemergence with its bevy of concept devices presumably in the pipeline.
Get the Android Central Newsletter
Instant access to breaking news, the hottest reviews, great deals and helpful tips.
Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.