back to article Take Note: Samsung said to be thinking about killing off Galaxy phablet series

Samsung is reportedly planning to discontinue its Galaxy Note line of phablets next year as hard-pressed smartphone buyers continue to switch from high-end flagship devices to more affordable products. This would mark the end of a nearly 10-year run for the Galaxy Note series, which won fans thanks to its large screen and …

  1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    And people are surprised?

    Hmm, which shall I buy? This top of the range highly expensive thing, or the almost identical thing from the same manufacturer at half the price? Tough one that...

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: And people are surprised?

      For sure, it did seem an arbitrary choice to bundle stylus support to expensive cameras and bleeding edge spaghetti (or whatever else Samsung is throwing at the wall that year). I mean, you might have a solid use case for stylus input but no need for a fancy expensive cameras system.

  2. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Makes sense I guess... The Galaxy S20 Ultra had the same size screen as its Note contemporary, but had a a battery that was 500mAh bigger since internal space wasn't taken up with a stylus.

    I imagine there is overlap with the 'want big screen' and 'want stylus' crowds, and so I can see a good chunk of stylus users moving to a foldable phone once that tech has matured and becomes more reliable and cheaper. After all, the screen aspect ratio of unfolded phones is usually closer to 4:3 - useful for note taking etc - than it is something suitable for merely watching video.

    Curious that it's headed in the direction of Microsoft's aborted Courier device (clamshell device, two screens opposite each other, pitched as a notebook for collating text and images).

    Lack of onboard stylus storage might not be a deal killer. Stylus can be stowed in aftermarket case. Stylus could double as Bluetooth headset / remote and live in shirt pocket.

    In any case, the cost of developing a Note X in addition to a Galaxy S X Ultra is hard to justify.

  3. Richard Jones 1

    The Advantage of a Stylus or a Substitute

    As someone with hands and fingers that touch screens delight in ignoring, does a stylus work better? I am currently forced to use a 'touch substitute' with my mobile and all other touch screens I have the misfortune to encounter.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: The Advantage of a Stylus or a Substitute

      A stylus really does work better. I had three Notes before getting fed up with what seemed like built-in obsolescence* and having to buy a £90 replacement in a hurry. I still miss the stylus both for typing and pressing tiny icons on web pages.

      *The OS mysteriously eating itself at about the same length of usage on two Note 4s

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: The Advantage of a Stylus or a Substitute

        Based on another comment, I think it is the eMMC problem with the Note 4s. I'll see if I can get them running with one of the work-arounds.

    2. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: The Advantage of a Stylus or a Substitute

      "As someone with hands and fingers that touch screens delight in ignoring, does a stylus work better?"

      Yes, but with the caveat that it depends. A well implemented stylus can be far more reliable and accurate than a finger, as well as allowing extra functions via buttons and such. A poorly implemented stylus can be basically useless. By all accounts the Note ones generally work very well. From experience, the ones with HP laptops are about as useful as a small twig.

    3. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: The Advantage of a Stylus or a Substitute

      > does a stylus work better?

      On my Samsung Note - yes, definitely. It's very accurate, and pressure sensitive (if you have a graphics tablet you know what I mean). It is actually a tiny dedicated graphics tablet stylus, not like the kind of crude capacitive "fake finger" pens you can buy.

      Use cases: 1. You have large fingers and need to hit tiny icons (or webpage links) on the screen. 2. You need to type passwords in, but don't want to leave telltale fingerprints on the screen. 3. You need to draw a sketch of something, and there is no pen & paper available. 4. You often need to take notes, just quick handwritten notes. This feature gave the phone its name, and it truly does work. (Of course you could use a paper notebook, but why bother if your phone can do it as well?)

      I definitely consider the pen a must-have, but I agree it depends on what you use your phone for.

    4. Powderfinger

      Re: The Advantage of a Stylus or a Substitute

      I like the stylus as it is more precise, especially when I have my screens set to the highest resolution and smallest font available. Most times I use a bluetooth mouse and keyboard but the stylus is important when I'm up and walking around. I for one will miss the Note series. I grew up with HandSpring and Palm Pilot devices, followed by PocketPCs. Those were so far ahead. I had stereo bluetooth back in 2004. Mine's the one with the HP Jornada in the Pocket. PEACE!

  4. jonathan keith Silver badge

    Note 4

    The Note 4 was the range's high water mark, IMO. Right up to the moment that the eMMC chip failed. Still, at least it was unlikely to catch fire.

  5. Scott 26

    The Note stylus

    I have a Note 9, and I mostly use the stylus when playing SCUMMVM games (ported old click'n'point adventure games)....

    I thought when I first go it, it'd be great for quick note taking..... nope.

    Occasionally use it for sketching a diagram that I can't visualise in my head (eg, trig calculations in my DIY projects around home)

    1. Simon Buttress

      Re: The Note stylus

      TRIG CALCS!!!

      Hahaha YES! It's perfect for that. There's dozens of us...DOZENS!

  6. Blackjack Silver badge

    Is not a Galaxy

    As seen with the "Fan edition' Samsung most popular phones are the Galaxy models.

    Plus you know, Galaxy phones are not usually know to explode

  7. Ozzard

    That's annoying, I like the stylus

    Unsurprising but annoying. I really appreciate being able to sketch things like architecture diagrams on something that captures them immediately but fits in my pocket - that's worth money to me. As my eyes get older, the "phablet" screen size also becomes more relevant!

    Can I have a foldable phablet with a stylus and a wireless KVM, please, because at that point I may be able to get away with not carrying a tablet or laptop to many meetings, which means I can also ditch the rucksack?

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: That's annoying, I like the stylus

      There's obviously still a market for them – 8 million units aren't to be sniffed at – but the difference between the Note and the other Galaxy's is much less marked. Doesn't mean they'll stop selling sensitive styluses, but these may just become accessories for the flagship.

  8. Sampler

    Well, when I said the 20 would be my last note, I didn't mean this...

    My first was a Note4, got given it at work otherwise probably wouldn't have picked it but it's been my favourite phone to date.

    It's also been the longest phone I've kept (partially due to the simple way to replace the battery when it started getting old) as I didn't "upgrade" till the 8 came out and that annoyed the heck of me, that fucking bixby button, I had it turned off but every time you caught it it'd pop with "hey, you want to enable bixby" and even software over rides to turn it into a camera button failed regularly enough to render them moot. The screen felt smaller, maybe it was the change in aspect ratio, maybe it was the pointless curvature to the side.. it was definitely dimmer too when you sat them side by side.

    Yes I appreciated the faster radios, processors and storage that came with the upgrade but the phone design itself was a step backwards.

    Not as much a step backwards as the 20, which seems to be the stepping stone to get users used to the S series as they moved the buttons to match, so my last seven years of intuition has to be relearned. The drop of the inscreen home button is still an annoyance as I still find myself going for it to wake the device or navigate home and the stupid bulging cameras is rubbish (and the photo's aren't even as good as the last one, oversaturated and contrasty - with the exception of the frankly magic night shot, I'd right the whole thing off).

    Have said this many times, they just need to release a Note4 body with up to date internals and I'd pay the ridiculous Note20 price tag for one, you don't even have to throw the earbuds in to entice me. Especially give us the user replaceable battery, the only reason the 8 got replaced is the batteries gone spotchy.

    I do have half a mind just to pull the 4 from a drawer and go back to it, I mean, gmaps, email, IG & web browser is all I use my phone for, occasionally ignore a call aside..

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Well, when I said the 20 would be my last note, I didn't mean this...

      Can't speak for the Note, but on my Galaxy S8 the BxActions app works a charm for putting the Bixby button under my full control (I have it double tap for flashlight, but completely disabling it is an option).

      It has saved my sanity.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Well, when I said the 20 would be my last note, I didn't mean this...

        Hardware modification is also an option to 'disable' the Bixby button. If you use a case on your Samsung, use a scalpel to cut material from the case by the Bixby button, or craft a shim in place so pressing that part of the case doesn't press the Bixby button.

        More drastically, I can't remember if the Samsung buttons can be easily prised out (and popped back in again if desired).

        Epoxy resin would do a good job of permanently disabling Bixby button. Have some Wonder Wipes or equivalent at hand - as with any epoxy job!

      2. TiredNConfused80
        Thumb Up

        Re: Well, when I said the 20 would be my last note, I didn't mean this...

        Thanks for the tip, that app is really useful.

  9. Big_Boomer Silver badge

    Too expensive

    Every time a new version came out the price went up by 5x inflation so no wonder they priced themselves out of the market. Apple are also starting to suffer from the same problem. There are only so many people who will fork out silly money for a smartphone. Most of us are quite happy with a capable mid-range smartphone, don't NEED the latest fashion accessory, and definitely do not experience what EE's marketing twonks call "iPhone Envy". I still laugh every time I hear that drivel.

    1. Gob Smacked

      Re: Too expensive

      Can't up nor downvote this... I'm a long time Note user and have used several generations. It used to be worth the added price for the Note experience the long time Note users will understand. It's hard to get that point across to users of other phones.

      But the Note 20 seems to be designed by another group within Samsung, it's design management was replaced or heavily leaned upon to sway another way round.

      The Note 20 does not really add to its predecessor. It's just more expensive or even less functional when looked to the cheaper variants. It's a design failure in the Note line IMHO.

      But I will happily switch to a Galaxy S series version if it has the stylus, screen + added Note software we came to love over the years as Note users. It's not really necessary to have a special model range if its added functionality can be packed in a version of another model.

  10. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

    I have an Note 8, imported from the states (Complete with Verizon cripple\nagware).

    I have to say that I love it far more than the S7 it replaced, using a stylus has been a godsend (& a step back to my PDA owning days), especially when working with Excel and other apps.

    The thing itself is large enough to rest nicely on the wiper controls when used as a impromptu GPS system & the fingerprint unlock very useful. I appreciate the nagware about have you got your stylus, it saved me from losing the supplied one.

    As & when the replacement time comes around would I go for the last Note 20 (Ultra), I most certainly would over another regular phone.

  11. HippyChippy

    So farewell then Galaxy Note...

    My ownership path has been a Note2, Note4, Note9, all purchased when there's a newer model out and the asking price has suddenly become affordable, and all with long ownership between forced upgrades due to a lack of Android software updates! I'm a commercial carpenter and for years have used my Note every day for writing down measurements and making invaluble little sketches, and there isn't another phone that comes close. I whatsapp my measurements down from the scaffold tower to my Note using mate on the ground who does all the timber cutting, I've never lost a stylus, and never needed to replace the (earlier models) removable battery either. So much better than carrying a paper scribble pad - I'll miss the Note range when it goes.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: So farewell then Galaxy Note...

      > I'll miss the Note range when it goes.

      The stylus function will be carried over to the Galaxy S range, so the only practical difference is that the stylus won't be stowed inside the phone (which has implications for charging it... though newer phones can 'reverse wireless charge' peripherals such as ear buds in their carry case).

      BTW, As a carpenter, are you curious about the accuracy of the laser Time of Flight sensors on the higher end Note and Galaxy series? The idea of waving a phone at a job, and then just selecting measurements to create a cutting list seems appealing. Combined with a stylus driven CAD interface, even a fairly lightweight one, it could be very handy.

      Currently these ToF sensors are only in the priciest variants of Samsung and Apples phones so haven't been written about much. So I don't have the best idea of how good they are, or how suitable they might be to a carpenter or carpet layer.

      1. HippyChippy

        ToF sensors...

        I didn't know about 'em having never handled a 'high end' phone but I do use a laser distance measurer quite a lot - accurate to 2-3mm over 50m - which is good enough for me. There are also cheaper and less acurate infra red distance measurers aimed more at the DIY market. I just had a quick read up RoF sensors and it may be that one day there'll be accurate ones in phones too. As you say, it would make cutting lists a doddle.

  12. Boo Radley

    Free Phone!

    Just this week I was given a Note 8, by my carrier, as an insurance replacement for my trusty Note 4. The 4 finally died after a software update. I love the 8, and wonder what my carrier will send me if/when the 8 dies. I originally got a 3, because of its screen size, the 3 was replaced with the 4, again as an insurance replacement, when the USB port quit working.

  13. Lindsay T

    I had the original Note (still do in a cupboard somewhere) and loved it but can't justify the price of the current model. I'm using the original Pixel XL and would really like a shiny new phone but then I ask myself why. It's working well, it does everything I need so no new toy. It's like cars. A decade or two ago 50,000 miles was time to trade in. Now I do 100,000 over 4/5 years with little trouble. Again, I would like to change after a couple of years but I've learned sense. Sorry dear manufacturers, I do like this year's model but .......

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