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How the prices of Samsung Galaxy Note phones have changed over the years
If you could only use two words to describe the Samsung Galaxy Note series, they would likely be “big” and “expensive.” Regardless of the Note phone you’ve owned, they’re all enormous compared to almost all of their contemporaries and come with premium price tags to match. In this article looking at the history of Samsung Galaxy Note prices, we’re going to only focus on the “expensive” part.
Granted, the size of Note phones is what put them on the map. When the first Galaxy Note launched in 2011, people mocked it for how large it was. This created a strange kind of press for the phones, which helped them sell incredibly well for a new line. Looking back, the phone wasn’t even that big. It had a 5.3-inch display housed in a body shorter than the Samsung Galaxy S20, although the Note was considerably wider and thicker.
The Galaxy Note line is the reason we have phones as big as they are today. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is up to you.
As phones have grown in size, so has the price of Galaxy Note phones. While they were never cheap, there’s been a very steady rise in price every few years. Below, we’ve compiled information on pricing for the Note series. We’ve also given insight into what makes each Note different from its predecessor.
First, some explanations on Samsung Galaxy Note prices
When the first Samsung Galaxy Note phone launched, the smartphone industry was a wholly different animal. So, comparing the manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) of a Galaxy Note with the MSRP of the Galaxy Note 10 isn’t really an apples-to-apples comparison.
As an example of this, the first Galaxy Note phone was an AT&T and T-Mobile exclusive in the United States, and you couldn’t buy it off-contract. In order to get one, you’d pay $299 as a down payment, and then pay off the rest of the price over a two-year period. Other regions around the world didn’t have this limitation. For example, an unlocked Note in the UK cost £500 in 2011.
Since 2011, the smartphone industry has changed a whole lot, making apples-to-apples pricing comparisons tricky.
Samsung gave US carriers the freedom to choose their own pricing on the second- through the fifth-generation models of the Galaxy Note phones. This resulted in wildly different prices. As an example, the Galaxy Note 4 cost $825 unlocked at AT&T and just $700 from Verizon.
It wasn’t until the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 that things got (mostly) consistent, and Samsung made it easy for everyone to buy unlocked models directly from its online store.
On top of the pricing and availability discrepancies, there were also different models and even designs of Note devices around the world. This meant that an original Galaxy Note from AT&T looked and functioned differently than the unlocked one for sale in the UK. We saw this same confusion in the Galaxy S line.
With all that in mind, the pricing below is based on availability in the US and uses the lowest price available to the general consumer at the phone’s launch. That means, in the specific case of the previously mentioned Galaxy Note 4, we went with the $700 Verizon price and not the $825 AT&T price.
One final note: we are not including “side” devices in our Samsung Galaxy Note prices roundup. This means phones such as the Galaxy Note 3 Neo and Galaxy Note FE aren’t included here. We’re only focused on the “prime” devices in the main lineup.
Samsung Galaxy Note: $299 (with contract)
The original Samsung Galaxy Note was one of the very first phones to earn the “phablet” moniker. It was too big to be a phone, but too small to be a tablet. In our original hands-on with the device, we stated that just using a phone of its size took some getting used to. Nowadays, the Galaxy Note looks downright small compared to most major flagships.
The Samsung Galaxy Note had a 5.3-inch display with a 1,280 x 800 resolution, which was quite high for the time. With a headphone jack, a microSD slot, the now-iconic S Pen, and specs that beat nearly every other smartphone of its day, the original Note was a power user’s dream.
Unfortunately, the phone wasn’t easy to get. You needed to be an AT&T or T-Mobile customer as well as sign up for a two-year commitment. With a down payment of $299, the Note was $100 more expensive than the entry tier iPhone 4S, which came out that same year on a similar down-payment plan.
Despite that, the original Note sold well. Samsung announced it moved 10 million units after just nine months.
Samsung Galaxy Note 2: $299 (with contract)
With the unexpected success of the original Note, one would have expected Samsung to pull out all the stops for the follow-up in 2012. However, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 only got a slightly bigger display, a better processor, and a marginally improved S Pen, but not many other upgrades.
Samsung also tweaked the design language of the device to make it look almost identical to the incredibly popular Samsung Galaxy S3, which launched earlier that same year. This wouldn’t be the last time Samsung followed similar designs from its other smartphone lines when it comes to the Note.
Interestingly, Samsung didn’t change much on Galaxy Note prices. The Galaxy Note 2 was available for the same $299 down payment price as its predecessor. However, this time all of the big US carriers were on board with Verizon, Sprint, UScellular, and more selling the phone. AT&T even dropped the price of the original Note to $199 and continued selling both devices.
Keeping the pricing the same for the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is likely one of the factors that helped it soar past the 10-million-unit record of its predecessor. After one year on sale, the Galaxy Note 2 moved 30 million units.
Samsung Galaxy Note 3: $700
In 2013, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 finally made it possible for people to buy a Galaxy Note phone outright from some carriers. However, unlike Apple, Samsung didn’t require the carriers to sell the phone at any particular price point. This resulted in a very confusing pricing structure that wouldn’t get corrected for a few more years.
As an example of how the Samsung Galaxy Note prices were getting confusing, let’s assume you wanted to buy a Note 3 from T-Mobile. You would’ve paid $200 upfront and then $21 each month for two years, resulting in a total price of $704. With AT&T, you could pay $300 down with a two-year commitment, $550 down with a one-year commitment, or you could pay $725 upfront. Walk to the Verizon store instead, and the phone would cost you $700.
Unlocked pricing from third-party retailers was also inconsistent, but most listings had the Galaxy Note 3 for at least $750 during its first months. It was chaos.
However, the upgraded specs and new design elements of the Note 3 — including a faux leather back and faux metal rim — helped it sell well. Within just two months, Samsung moved 10 million units, a feat that took the original Note nine months to do.
Samsung Galaxy Note 4: $700
Samsung launched the Galaxy Note 4 in 2014 and gave it a standardized price. However, the set MSRP of $700 still didn’t stop US carriers from charging various total prices for the phone.
As mentioned earlier, AT&T sold the phone unlocked for an outrageous $825. If you didn’t want to pay a $125 premium on the list price, you could instead pay $300 as a down payment and then sign a new two-year agreement. T-Mobile also jacked up the unlocked price of the Galaxy Note 4 to $750 while Sprint hedged its bets and sold it for $720. Only Verizon actually sold the phone for its MSRP if you didn’t want a new contract.
Thankfully, the “Wild West” world of Samsung Galaxy Note prices was reaching its endpoint. However, with Samsung not offering any way to get an unlocked variant directly from its online store, carriers continued to do as they saw fit.
As far as the Galaxy Note 4 design goes, Samsung finally introduced a real metal rim — the leather stayed fake, though — and also upgraded nearly every spec inside the device. Curiously, the only thing that didn’t get much of an upgrade was battery life. This was something that would come to haunt the Note line in a few generations.
Samsung Galaxy Note 5: $700
The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 from 2015 is a strange beast. It offered a lot of neat upgrades over its predecessors, including 4GB of RAM and an option with 64GB of internal storage. However, Samsung also downgraded several of the specs — most notably battery capacity — and left a few others the same, such as the size and resolution of the display. Samsung also removed the microSD slot, which wouldn’t be the last time Samsung would do that.
Maybe this hodgepodge approach to making a follow-up smartphone was the reason Samsung kept the MSRP of the Galaxy Note 5 at $700. Of course, this still didn’t stop US carriers from playing fast and loose with that price, although they did keep things a bit tamer than in years prior.
Both T-Mobile and Verizon kept the total price of the Galaxy Note 5 under $700, but Sprint and AT&T surpassed the MSRP by $20 and $40 respectively. Thankfully, in 2016 consumers would have an option to skip carriers entirely, as Samsung would finally offer unlocked smartphone sales with the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S7.
Unfortunately, also in 2016, Samsung would jack up the price of the Note line by a huge percentage. It also faced one of the toughest years its mobile division has likely ever encountered…
Samsung Galaxy Note 7: $850
Wait a second. What happened to the Galaxy Note 6? Just as some buildings still don’t have a thirteenth floor, Samsung skipped the Galaxy Note 6 and jumped right to the Galaxy Note 7. The company did this to create parity with the numbering of the Galaxy S line and to “minimize confusion about the latest mobile technology from Samsung,” to quote an official press release.
Of course, you likely don’t remember the Galaxy Note 7 except for its tendency to burst into flames. About two months after Samsung launched the Galaxy Note 7, it issued a worldwide recall on the device. Samsung then ceased production of the phone due to battery issues that caused excessive heat and — in some cases — flames and explosions.
Before all that happened, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was one of our best-reviewed phones of all time. We loved nearly everything about it and appreciated Samsung’s fixes to its Galaxy Note 5 mistakes, such as bringing back the microSD card slot.
As far as Samsung Galaxy Note prices go, the Note 7 was the most expensive with an MSRP of $850. Carriers mostly stuck to that price, although AT&T still jacked up the outright cost by $30. However, that didn’t matter anymore since Samsung finally offered unlocked versions on its own website. Regardless of the price tag, Samsung didn’t have much of a chance to move many of the phones since the device was discontinued after mere months of availability.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8: $930
One would think that Samsung would have worked overtime to make the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 more budget-friendly, considering it needed to erase the sour history of the Note 7. However, Samsung instead increased the price of the Note 8 as compared to the Note 7.
It’s likely Samsung felt confident doing this because the Galaxy S7 line had proved to be one of the company’s biggest hits since the Samsung Galaxy S4, which is still the best-selling Android smartphone to date. Maybe the company felt that the success of the Galaxy S7 and the total failure of the Note 7 canceled each other out?
Whatever the case, the Galaxy Note 8 came in at $80 more than its short-lived predecessor with an MSRP of $930. Once again, US carriers such as Verizon and Sprint played loose with that price by bumping the total as high as $960. Only T-Mobile kept the total price the same as the MSRP.
Although the Samsung Galaxy Note price increase wasn’t warmly embraced by fans, the phone still sold well, especially after the Note 7 debacle. Within just six months, Samsung reportedly sold 10 million Galaxy Note 8 devices.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9: $999
The success of the Galaxy Note 8 helped Samsung move away from the PR disaster of the Note 7, and all eyes were on the Galaxy Note 9 in 2018. Little did we know that the Note 9 would end up being one of the most well-received phones in Samsung’s history.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 featured pretty much everything any power user wanted: top-of-the-line specs, a simple and elegant design, a headphone jack, a microSD card slot, an IP68 rating, and a great camera system. This all helped the Note 9 top not only our Best of Android results but also the Reader’s Choice results for that year.
Of course, not everything was perfect regarding the Note 9. For example, the $999 price pushed the boundaries of smartphone buyers’ wallets to a new extreme. Granted, the $1,000 smartphone is becoming the norm in 2020, but in 2018, the Note 9 was an outlier. The 512GB version of the device cost $1,249, an even crazier price for 2018.
Regardless, the Note 9 earns its price tag. It’s likely there will be people holding onto this phone for years to come.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10: $949
Hey, Samsung actually lowered the price for the Galaxy Note 10 when compared to the Galaxy Note 9! Nice! Well, that’s what you would be saying if it weren’t for the fact that the Galaxy Note 10 isn’t really the true follow-up to the Galaxy Note 9. That’s because, for the first time ever, Samsung split the Note line into two parts.
The Galaxy Note 10 is a great phone, but it’s missing a lot of core features that make most Note fans happy. For the second time, Samsung removed the microSD card slot from the Note 10, and also removed the headphone jack across the entire line. It still has some great specs, but not as many upgrades as one would expect.
For the true follow-up to the Note 9, you need to go to the next section and read about the Galaxy Note 10 Plus. However, the vanilla Note 10 does offer a decent package at a more reasonable price when compared to the wallet-busting cost of the Note 10 Plus at $1,099.
Time will tell if Samsung’s strategy of splitting the Note line is a good idea or not. However, we find that most hardcore fans of the Note series either skipped this device for the Note 10 Plus, or skipped upgrading altogether. After all, the Note 9 is a superior device in some ways.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus: $1,099
While the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 isn’t a bad phone, the Galaxy Note 10 Plus is the phone fans wanted in 2019. It has a bigger and brighter display, better specs, a microSD card slot, better cameras, and a much bigger battery. Of course, it also has a bigger price tag. It started at $1,099 and went as high as $1,399 for the 5G powered Verizon variant with 512GB of internal storage.
To be fair, this wasn’t the most expensive mainstream phone Samsung released in 2019 (that honor goes to the Samsung Galaxy Fold), and there were Galaxy S10 variants that cost just as much. A large portion of the Galaxy S20 variants also blew the Note 10 Plus pricing out of the water.
To date, this was the most expensive of Samsung Galaxy Note prices, so it was a tough pill for fans to swallow. Once again, this is why we have heard from a lot of Note fans who simply skipped upgrading and held onto their still-awesome Galaxy Note 9 instead.
Samsung Galaxy Note prices: The big picture
As stated earlier in this article, making an apples-to-apples comparison of Samsung Galaxy Note prices isn’t as straightforward as you might think. However, the chart above makes it pretty clear that pricing is going up every few generations. In fact, since Samsung started offering the phones unlocked via its own store, the price has gone up reliably every year, with the exception of the Galaxy Note 10.
How far can Samsung realistically go with these prices?
It’ll be interesting to see how high Samsung will go when it comes to the Note line prices. At what point will even the most die-hard fans balk at upgrading? We’ve already seen users refuse to upgrade from the Note 9 due not only to the price increase, but also the removal of the headphone jack, which is a core feature for power users.
With the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 series just around the corner, we’re going to find out soon enough how far Samsung can push the envelope.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 series: Raising the bar again?
In just a few days, Samsung will officially unveil the Galaxy Note 20 series. This will likely include a mega premium variant called the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. The phone will act as a response to the Galaxy S20 Ultra released earlier this year, which offers unbelievable specs at an unbelievable price.
Although we don’t know anything for certain, it’s reasonable to assume that the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra will be one of the most expensive phones of the year. The starting price for the S20 Ultra is $1,399 and historically, Note devices are usually more expensive. For this reason, it’s safe to assume the Note 20 Ultra will start close to $1,500.
Hopefully, Samsung will counteract this expected price with less expensive options. Even then, we can’t imagine the entry-level Note 20 device launching with anything less than a four-digit price tag. Start counting your pennies.
What do you make of the steady increase in Samsung Galaxy Note prices? Does it still make sense for Samsung to push multiple ultra-premium flagships each year? Click the poll below and hit the comments to share your thoughts.