Samsung is reportedly preparing a cheaper version of the Galaxy Note 10. According to the folks over at SamMobile, this new model will be a more affordable device in the S Pen-toting series, bearing the model number SM-N770F.
SamMobile just published another rumor about this new device, claiming the phone will actually be called the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite.
We don’t know much about this Note 10 Lite, and the details we do have are thin. But even at a cursory analysis, a Galaxy Note Lite doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense in Samsung’s current product strategy. However, it could make sense in the future.
A Galaxy Note Lite is an oxymoron
There is a precedent to Samsung offering a Galaxy Note “lite” device. Back in 2014, the Galaxy Note 3 Neo was a smaller, cheaper version of the full-fat Note 3. It had a smaller, lower-res display, a cheaper camera, and generally less-attractive specs. It arrived around five months after the Note 3, and mostly targeted developing markets.
The Galaxy Note 3 Neo seems to have been a failed experiment, because Samsung hasn’t followed up with another “Neo” or “lite” version since then. Quite the opposite – Samsung has carefully positioned its Galaxy Note phones as the gleaming pinnacle of its lineup, with price tags to match.
For most Samsung followers, Galaxy Note devices have become the definition of a flagship phone, the product one should buy if one demands the very best. From exquisite design, to the most advanced Samsung cameras, and a multitude of productivity features, the Note had it all. Its steadily growing asking price reflected this super-premium positioning.
In 2019, Samsung diluted this positioning somewhat with the release of the Galaxy Note 10/Note 10 Plus duo. While the Plus version had the best specs around, the standard Note 10 had a lower-res display and a smaller battery, as well as a less-advanced camera. It’s still a great phone, just not as good as its pedigree would imply.
Nevertheless, after years of brand development, attaching the “Lite” suffix to Galaxy Note seems almost sacrilegious. What gives?
Attaching the 'Lite' suffix to the Galaxy Note name seems almost sacrilegious.
Enter the Fold
If the rumors are true, it’s likely Samsung will release the Galaxy Note 10 Lite by the end of 2019, to keep the numbering scheme in sync with the Galaxy S10 and Note 10.
What’s changed this year? What could possibly make Samsung ditch years of work and brand positioning for the dubious benefit of selling a cheaper S Pen phone? One reasonable answer is foldables.
Since the Galaxy Fold entered the scene, we wondered how Samsung would fit this new form factor in its existing lineup. While the Galaxy S line is the “mainstream” phone, the Note line is the “powerhouse” phone that offers everything. Where will future Fold phones stand?
Our best guess is future foldable flagships will take the Galaxy Note’s place as the super-premium, everything-you-may-want offering in Samsung’s roster. It just makes sense: unfold the Fold, and you have a beautiful tablet with screen real estate for any application and room for more hardware features. Foldable tech won’t go mainstream for a few years, so future Fold devices will have tons of cachet, not to mention super-premium prices.
Folding the Note
In this context, the Galaxy Note 10 Lite suddenly makes sense. Free from the need to keep the S Pen exclusive, Samsung can now bring it downrange. A lower price tag and more devices will cheapen the brand, but that doesn’t matter if the Fold is there to pick up the scepter. The king is dead, long live the king.
While Samsung has other devices that straddle the line between mid-range and premium (see: Galaxy A90), a Galaxy Note 10 Lite could still be a boon for its sales. For one, the Note name will instantly make customers perk up their ears, allowing Samsung to continue to charge a premium for it. And then there’s the S Pen, which remains to this day a unique selling point for Samsung. An S Pen phone in the $600-$800 range could steal sales from competitors.
There can only be One
According to a rumor shared a while ago by Evan Blass, Samsung is even considering merging the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note lines. Blass put forward the Galaxy One name, though he warned that things are far from cut in stone. As we discussed here, this Galaxy One could solve several problems for Samsung, allowing it to instantly refresh its product lineup, a decade after the first Galaxy S phone. It would also resolve the thorny issue of what to do with the Note, now that the Fold is up and coming. From this perspective, the launch of a Note Lite variant could be an attempt to squeeze some extra value from a name that may soon be going away.
To wrap up, this is all a highly speculative interpretation of some rather thin rumors, so I am not making any claims of prescience here. But the background problem exists for Samsung, and the solution I brought up could help explain the oxymoronic Note 10 Lite. We should find out how sound my theory is in just a few months.
Would you buy a Note 10 Lite?