The line between Samsung’s Galaxy S and Note series seems to be blurring at a rapid pace.
There was a time when the Note series clearly differentiated itself from the S series flagships in terms of design, display size, cameras, and of course all the productivity features assisted by the S Pen. Now though, apart from their biannual release cycle, there is little that tells the two flagships apart. Case in point, the latest Galaxy S10 and Note 10 series.
If you’re in the market for a large display, both the S10 Plus and Note 10 Plus make for great options. There’s not much difference in display sizes just like there isn’t much of an upgrade in terms of cameras, processor, RAM, storage and more. Which raises the question: What does the future hold for Samsung’s Galaxy flagships?
The rumor: A new approach to Galaxy flagships
If industry chatter is to be believed, Samsung has been planning to kill the Galaxy Note series for well over two years now. But we all know that hasn’t happened, possibly because Samsung wanted to keep running with its twice-a-year strategy of creating buzz around big-ticket phones.
Samsung has a clear six-month refresh cycle for its Galaxy flagships and in between, it launches a spate of other mid-range to budget phones in its Galaxy A and Galaxy M series. This way the company gets to talk about its brand all year round.
However, new information provided by leaker Evan Blass on Twitter suggests Samsung could finally make that big move and merge the S and Note series flagships. If you cant see Blass’ tweets through the link, check out the screenshots below.
Blass attributes the rumor to a “solid source” who claims Samsung is “debating” the future of Galaxy branding and eliminating the distinction between the S and Note lines. He goes on to say that one possibility Samsung is rumored to be discussing is the fusion of the S and Note series into a single “Galaxy One” branded handset, instead of the S11 for the first half of 2020.
If the S and Note series truly join forces to become Galaxy One, what about a second flagship? Blass’ source tells him that Samsung is mulling the possibility of introducing a successor to the Galaxy Fold as the flagship release for the second-half of the year. Let’s dive into how Samsung might approach such a drastic strategy change.
The Galaxy A formula
Rebranding the Note and S series would mean taking away years of brand recognition from consumers. Both flagship series are universally known and stripping off these names would be a major move on Samsung’s part, but it does have some experience in this regard.
When it merged the old Galaxy A and Galaxy J series’, Samsung made a wise move by extending the appeal of its A lineup and and junking the overpriced, underwhelming J family. For instance, Samsung’s Galaxy A90 5G is a cheaper flagship than the Galaxy S10, with the same Snapdragon 855 chipset.
The A series also made some nice bank for Samsung even though its overall smartphone business saw a 41.5% decline compared to last year. A major chunk of this slowdown in Samsung’s smartphone business has been attributed to lower sales of the Galaxy S10 phones.
Could Samsung be looking to merge the S and Note series to make its flagships more successful and distinguishable? Just like it did with the A series?
Time to reboot Galaxy flagships?
Even though Samsung might have all the resources to manufacture a Note device in the second half of the year, the fact that S and Note series are so similar says something.
As I said before, rumors of this move on Samsung’s part have been floating about for some time now. Maybe the South Korean company has been moving towards consolidation all this while, changing less and spending fewer dollars on a second flagship each year.
I hope they keep the S Pen around.
The reality is that the smartphone market is in a sluggish phase. Samsung could do with making its flagship lineup leaner and diverting more resources towards creating foldable phones which truly appeal to flagship buyers.
What will or will not work for Samsung is hard to predict right now. But merging the two Galaxy flagships, as they stand today, does sound like a reasonable move on the company’s part. I hope they keep the S Pen around though.
An annual Galaxy Fold refresh: Yay or nay?
The Galaxy Fold is a $1,980 smartphone, which hasn’t really been around long enough to prove itself. This should — and probably does — concern Samsung before it makes a major decision to jump on an annual refresh cycle for the foldable phone.
As Blass notes in one of his tweets, Samsung would consider making the Galaxy Fold a second-half flagship “assuming that (the Galaxy) Fold performs according to expectations — both functionally and in the market.”
He further notes that “the hope is to deploy [Galaxy Fold] successors as a second-half flagship, in the spot that would be vacated by Note. This was described as still being very fluid and tentative at this stage.”
The Galaxy Fold could be a great productivity device to replace the Note series, with its ability to function like a phone when folded and tablet when unfolded. However, Samsung’s alleged hesitation to let the Fold take up the Note’s spot could be because the company knows foldable phones are not going to get cheaper anytime soon.
The Galaxy Fold’s price puts it in the ultra-premium category and unless Samsung hopes to capture those moneyed buyers in a big way, it could be too soon to think of an annual Fold refresh. It all really depends on how customers react to foldable phones once they actually start using them. It’s possible Samsung defers its rebranding decision until it sees a clear path forward with the Galaxy Fold.
When Galaxies collide
Whatever Samsung might decide, it will shape the future of its smartphone business and possibly that of other brands that react to Samsung’s strategy switch.
Making a Galaxy S series phone with an S Pen is not really rocket science for Samsung. All it needs to do is to pull out the capacitive touchscreen on the S series and replace it with the Note’s active digitiser screen.
What does the future hold for Samsung’s Galaxy flagships?
The switch to a new brand could be tricky, but with all its marketing resources, Samsung could surely address this quickly. Plus, most customers are familiar with the broader Galaxy umbrella brand, which Samsung is unlikely to drop anytime soon.
What’s more important is what will Samsung bank on for the second half of the year? Because the Galaxy Fold, exciting as it is, will burn a hole in most people’s pockets.
What do you think Samsung should do? Merge the S and Note series to make way for a new Fold every year? Or continue its traditional approach? Tell us in the comments section below.