Plenty of important news this week, none more so than what you’re getting from the next-gen Qualcomm Snapdragon.
There are a few leaks and rumors floating around as well:
The busy season for new devices is not over, but as we’re busy putting new devices through their paces, you get a light reading week.
Our features team was pretty busy on the Snapdragon 888 front this week:
The news out of Reuters this week seems to confirm reports from South Korea that have been circulating for some time: Samsung may discontinue high-end Galaxy Note smartphones.
From the report:
“Instead, the Galaxy S series’ top model, the S21, will have a stylus and the next version of Samsung’s foldable phone will be compatible with a stylus, which will be sold separately, one of the sources said.
A second source said company development efforts that normally would have been directed to the Note would now be channeled into its foldable phone range.“
The fall of the Note:
Once upon a time, owning a Samsung Galaxy Note felt like a statement. It was the anti-Apple, huge screen, truly bleeding-edge device that took specs to the max, and pushed your wallet’s limit to the max as well.
I owned the Galaxy Note 2, bought for $669 Australian dollars in January 2013, or about $600 in freedom bucks at the exchange rates as they were in 2013.
The Note 2 was a dream. I had an iPhone 3Gs before it, but the Note 2 had 4G capabilities, NFC, a then-huge 5.5-inch display, battery life for what felt like days, a split-screen feature for apps, and the S Pen. Of course the S Pen, with up to 1,024 levels of sensitivity pressure!
But I rarely used the S Pen because… why would anyone? It was kinda fun to scribble and jot notes, and at least I didn’t lose it, but I didn’t quite make a deep connection to the stylus. I didn’t really get hooked back in on a Note after this.
After that, and while reviewing devices, the likes of the Nexus 6P just had the right Google feeling and I was tired of TouchWiz. I remember trying extended reviews with the Galaxy S6 Edge, but by the time I was looking to buy again the Note 7 happened — unavoidably mentioned here as one of the few total disasters we’ve seen in the smartphone world.
As Samsung has progressed the series in recent years, it’s increasingly felt like just iterative changes from the Note 9, to the Note 10, and finally to this year’s Note 20 Ultra. Meanwhile, the S series, which once didn’t hold a candle to the Note line, started to feel like the same phone without a stylus.
Price vs innovation troubles:
Despite the Note gradually losing its appeal, Samsung continued to raise prices.
Here’s how it felt to me, via a hand-drawn made graph of how price vs innovation seemed to go on in the series. Ironically, I wish I had a Note around to have used the S Pen:
And while innovation is hard to quantify, for actual data on those prices in an actual graph, here’s a complete list of the Note prices at launch, from the first Note in 2011 to now:
The Note has reached a natural plateau. Yes, the series is better, brighter, now has 5G, the cameras can do more, DeX is useful, the stylus has improved, and much more. But little is in the realm of true innovation. That’s now the Galaxy Fold line. Samsung didn’t try and keep the Note line going by going with a Note Fold or similar branding. Eric Zeman, our reviews editor, gave a detailed breakdown of the pros and cons which reads well and makes sense.
In short, the balance has tipped towards the Note line coming to a halt. As my colleague, C. Scott Brown said in his personal farewell this week: “The Galaxy Note series had its day, and that day is over.”
The same plateau is hitting other manufacturers too, but Samsung’s Note vs S vs Fold problem was stark.
What’s in store for 2021?
What this means is that Samsung has a lot more wood to put behind fewer arrows.
Instead of awkwardly shopping the Note and the Fold at the same time of year, the Fold line will get all the attention, the marketing dollars, and won’t have to try and justify where the Note fits vs the Galaxy S and the Fold. The Fold line will reportedly stretch to three devices this year, including a lower-cost option, which could be attractive to those put off by the high price of foldables so far.
And on the S series, the Galaxy S21 could be one of the best new Samsung smartphones in years with the promising Snapdragon 888 powering the device.
It’s good news for Samsung. While rivals won’t have the Note as competition, it won’t be easy to compete with a refined, more sensible lineup.
A little feedback from us on the deals front with a Black Friday recap! I talked to our team to find some data on the top devices that people bought or had the most interest in during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales extravaganza. This is all according to our own rough data, nothing official.
The following devices were popular:
The good news is that things don’t really go back to “normal” after the late November deal-fest.
Next week is looking quiet, unless you count US states planning to sue Facebook for possible antitrust violations, said to be happening this week coming (Reuters).
That’s it, folks! We’ll have more top Android stories for you next week. To stay up to date on all things Android Authority in the meantime, be sure to subscribe to our newsletters at the link below.