Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Red 1
David Imel / Android Authority

Earlier this year, Samsung confirmed some bad news for fans of its ultra-premium flagships: there would not be a Samsung Galaxy Note phone in 2021. Of course, the company didn’t make any commitments beyond that, which left hope that the Note line could make a return in 2022.

However, last week we got our first look at the likely design of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. If I didn’t know any better, I would say it was going to be the next Note phone, since it has the Note shape and even an S Pen slot. In fact, it bears almost no resemblance to the vanilla Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22 Plus (which look like clones of the Galaxy S21 line).

The first thing I thought when I saw the Galaxy S22 Ultra design was, “Welp, that’s it for the Note family.” Samsung may not have confirmed as much, but the existence of the Galaxy S22 Ultra is basically the final nail in the Note coffin. After all, why would the company release a Note clone in early 2022 only to release a new Note in the second half of that same year?

It’s clear that Samsung intends the Galaxy S22 to be the pinch-hitter for the would-be Samsung Galaxy Note. And you know what? I’m fine with it. I would even say I’m more than fine with it.

A Samsung Galaxy Note by any other name

The leaked images above give you an idea of what to expect from the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. These renders come from serial leaker Steve Hemmerstoffer — a reliable source who has almost always been accurate in the past. Although nothing is set in stone, it would be smart to bet big money that the Galaxy S22 Ultra will look similar to this.

It’s clear Samsung is lifting a ton of design elements from the Galaxy Note line for this phone. The boxy chassis and curved edges are direct carry-overs from the Galaxy Note 20 line. The flat bottom and top are also Note staples. The rear camera design — which is still a little up in the air, as you can see above — seems like an evolution of the camera system on the back of the Galaxy Note 10 series. And there’s no arguing that the S Pen stored in the bottom left of the phone is pure Note, through and through.

If this is the Galaxy S22 Ultra, then the idea of there being a Galaxy Note 22 is surely kaput.

If this does end up being the Galaxy S22 Ultra, it seems inevitable that there won’t be a new Samsung Galaxy Note phone in 2022. It would appear that Samsung intends to make this the phone for buyers who still want a Note.

Now, there is a possibility that Samsung could launch this using the Note branding. For example, it could launch the Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22 Plus under those names, and then launch this as the Galaxy Note 22 on the same day. It could even do something crazy like call this the Samsung Galaxy S22 Note. We have no idea what Samsung has planned. That all being said, I wouldn’t hold your breath for that. I am nearly certain this will land as a Galaxy S22 device.

But why would Samsung do this? And why should we be happy about it?

Related: A complete history of the Samsung Galaxy Note series

A love letter to Note fans

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 1
Adam Molina / Android Authority

Let’s assume Samsung is going to release the leaked phone pictured in the previous section, and that phone will land as the Galaxy S22 Ultra. There are three reasons why this is awesome news for Samsung Galaxy Note fans.

The first and best reason is that this phone will likely land in January 2022 (the Galaxy S21 line launched on January 14, 2021). That means Note fans won’t need to wait until late summer 2022 to get the next Note. It’s basically right around the corner! That should be amazing news for anyone disappointed about there not being a Note 21 on store shelves at the moment.

See also: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is 2021’s Galaxy Note

The second reason relates to software development. Despite the fact that the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note lines have grown ever closer over the years, the software is still a little different on the two lines. If there is no Note-specific software, though, that will take a big burden off Samsung. It’s a win-win for everyone: Note-esque hardware with Galaxy S software including the features buyers expect but without the extra burden on Samsung’s software teams.

Finally, the third reason this is great news is the ongoing global chip shortage. If Samsung puts all its energy into the Galaxy S22 line and doesn’t need to worry about the Samsung Galaxy Note line, that should help prevent the chip shortage from delaying shipments. All evidence points to the chip shortage bleeding well into 2022, so this is yet another win-win: customers getting what they want and Samsung not needing to buckle under the pressure to deliver it.

As far as I can tell, Note fans should be celebrating this news. Non-Note fans, though, might be a tad upset.

Fans of the Galaxy S Ultra series might not be so happy

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra face down on desk
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

In my opinion, the idea of the Galaxy S22 Ultra looking like a new Samsung Galaxy Note is great news for Note fans. But what about the people who don’t care for the Note aesthetic and really liked the Galaxy S21 Ultra?

Unfortunately, it seems those folks are left high and dry here. The introduction of an S Pen slot is likely the biggest downside to this new phone, for example. There are plenty of people out there who have no use for a stylus at all, let alone one that lives inside their phone at all times.

Check out: Is it still worth buying the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra one year later?

That S Pen slot likely necessitates the phone be bigger, have a smaller battery, or both. These are two things people who loved the Galaxy S21 Ultra likely won’t be too happy about. It’s possible it could increase the price as well.

There’s also the idea of the design itself. If you really liked the Galaxy S21 Ultra design and don’t care for the boxiness of a Note, it would appear you’re out of luck.

Samsung appears to be taking a big risk here. It seems to think appeasing Galaxy Note fans will outweigh alienating Galaxy S Ultra fans. In a way, this makes sense, since the Note line has been around way longer than any Ultra phones, and thus has a more established fan base. Still, the company is going to alienate some buyers no matter what it does in this situation.

Granted, we may not have seen everything yet. Maybe Samsung has a phone in the works that will act as more of a direct follow-up to the Galaxy S21 Ultra. Time will tell.

The Samsung Galaxy Note is dead; long live the Galaxy Note!

samsung galaxy note 20 review s pen
Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

No matter what I say, if my theories presented here hold true, this is likely bittersweet news for Note fans. Even if Samsung pushes the basic core of a Note experience to the Galaxy S line, the fact that it wouldn’t be a “pure” Note would likely be disappointing for many.

I sincerely hope Note fans don’t see it that way, though. I think this is Samsung’s way of responding to the backlash at the lack of a Note this year. If Samsung releases the Galaxy S22 Ultra as a love letter to Note fans, and Note fans don’t support it, well…let’s just say that would be the end of that.

The best thing we can do is look at this changing of the guard, as it were, as a blessing. There may not be another phone launched with the Note name, but at least Samsung is going to try to keep the legacy alive.