Mobile

Fast Charge: Samsung never went big enough with the Galaxy Note

This week, long standing rumours Samsung is putting its iconic line of phablets on ice, were confirmed, as the company revealed it has no plans to launch a Note family phone this year.

The news has caused ripples across the world of phones, and for good reason. Samsung’s Galaxy Note reveal has been a staple entry in most tech fans’ calendars for years, offering a mid-year treat ahead of the launch of Google and Apple’s respective flagships. Which this year are expected to be the iPhone 13 and Pixel 6.

The Note line is also debatably the most widely known phablet family in the world, with only Apple’s Max and Plus lines offering equivalent brand recognition. This is why many of you may wonder why Samsung chose to axe it in favour of the much more niche and young Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 foldables.

Initially I was also in this camp, with my disdain for foldables being well documented on the site. But after reflecting on the move, I actually think it makes complete sense for one key reason: Samsung never went big enough with the Galaxy Note.

To be clear, I’m talking in literal terms here. Samsung’s always done a great job with the Galaxy Note at a hardware level. For example, last year’s flagship Galaxy Note 20 Ultra was the first mainstream phone to pack a truly variable refresh rate screen.

Before that, the original Galaxy Note was a trailblazer offering a giant, at the time, screen and never before seen dockable, S Pen stylus. Unboxing the handset at the time I remember genuinely being in shock that a company would think a 5.3-inch screen was something consumers actually wanted.

Editor’s Note: Hands in the air, I was wrong about that particular move. Look at the entries in our best phones guide and you’ll see, people definitely like big screen phones.

But, for me Samsung failed to repeat that initial “wow” factor, because it didn’t go far enough with the phone’s size year on year. Last year’s Ultra had a whopping 6.9-inch screen sure, but even that didn’t feel large enough to truly take advantage of the Note’s biggest unique selling point: the S Pen.

As a fledgling amateur digital artist and person that frequently has to edit photos on the fly, the S Pen has always oozed appeal. But to date, every Note phone I’ve tested has proven slightly disappointing due to the device’s distinctly “phone” form factor.

Editing photos in Android’s Photoshop Express app is still a frustrating experience, even with an S Pen, especially when coming off the larger desktop or iPad versions. The less said about trying to draw anything the better as, being blunt, no matter how responsive and good quality a screen is, 6.9-inches isn’t big enough for anything but mild scribbling.

Which is why for me it makes sense that Samsung’s looking to recapture the Note’s potential with a foldable like the Fold S3, which is intentionally designed to offer a larger tablet sized and shaped screen bespoke made for things like creative work.

The only downsides are that it’ll still need to get around Android’s woefully stocked digital artist app library – which outside of a lovely Krita port, isn’t anywhere near as good as Apple’s iPad OS – and my ongoing build quality concerns around folding screens.

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