Skip to main content

Skip the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 and wait for next year’s milestone model

Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Note 20 series today, and not surprisingly, the new phone are everything you’d expect them to be. They’re over the top in specs, sport capable cameras, and enthrall with their mesmerizing displays. They’re undoubtedly going to be on wish lists this holiday season, but despite the hoopla and showcase, I don’t think they’re worth buying. In fact, you’re better off saving for next year.

Fundamental appeal is gone

We all know that Samsung puts out two flagship-caliber lines each year, the Galaxy S and Note. Even though that format hasn’t changed, the company threw a wrench with the two foldables that were introduced the last couple of years. One can argue that they took the spotlight away from the Note series, but part of the reason why I’ve been less than enthused about the Note line the last couple of years is because the fundamental appeal about the Note is gone — it’s just like every other phone out there.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

What do I mean? Well, the original Samsung Galaxy Note launched in 2011 and it was a very different smartphone. Samsung’s intention was to bridge the gap between smartphones and tablets, which it did by introducing the term “phablet” into our vocabulary. What made the Note immensely popular was its size compared to other phones at the time, which was a conversation starter in its own right. Today, however, the Note 20 Ultra’s size is a smidgen larger than its contemporaries. If Samsung wants to make a serious statement, like it did with the original, it  would be a wise move to garner attention with something bigger and more grand in size.

Another fundamental feature that has lost appeal is the S Pen. I personally don’t have too much use for the S Pen, which is in need of a significant upgrade beyond improved accuracy and precision. Frankly, it’s been largely neglected and is in desperate need of attention. Updates have been iterative through the years, but it deserves more of a primary role in the Note’s experience instead of being supplementary.

A decade worth of Notes

Next year will mark a full decade of the Note, and that’s important to remember. As with most grandiose gadgets, it’s a milestone that should generate substantially more fanfare. For Samsung, it’s a ripe opportunity to take a leap toward being the next defining gadget in the portfolio. Just look at what Apple did when the iPhone hit the ten-years milestone.

Samsung Galaxy Note smartphones held in hand

While I love to speculate on what can happen, a return to a focus on the fundamentals would steer the series in a new direction. What if it follows the Galaxy Fold series with a foldable display, one that can transform the powerhouse smartphone into a formidable tablet? Or perhaps, leverage the S Pen in a new way where it has more of an integral role in the day-to-day use of the phone?

I often think back to the potential of Continuum on Windows Phone, which was introduced with the Nokia Lumia 950. It basically delivered a true, desktop-like experience of Windows when the phone was connected to a television or external display. Samsung technically has something similar with DeX, but the next Note could integrate the S Pen in a way that it becomes an integral part of interacting with the platform — instead of a mouse connected to the phone.

The wait begins

Competition is always fierce, and Samsung knows it. From keeping up with Apple, to staving off old and new rivals, it’s a never-ending battle. The Note series has been relatively tepid the last few years, with nothing more than iterative upgrades to the hardware and design. Knowing that the decade milestone is ahead, Samsung needs to swing for the fences with its next Galaxy Note. Better yet, if you skip this year’s models and opt for next year’s Note, you’ll be in a better position to shell out for what will no doubt be an even more expensive Note.

Editors' Recommendations

John Velasco
John is the Smart Home editor at Digital Trends covering all of the latest tech in this emerging market. From uncovering some…
Here’s our very first look at the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Plus
Galaxy Tab S9+ leaked images

Samsung’s existing slate of Android tablets is one of the finest hardware of its kind, and it appears that the company doesn’t want to stray from the winning formula any time soon. Leaker @OnLeaks has shared renders of the Galaxy S9 Plus, and they bear a striking similarity to its Galaxy Tab S8 series predecessor.

The sleek metallic build with sharp edges is here to stay, and so is the contrasting magnetic strip at the back. The bezel size also remains familiar, while the horizontally positioned selfie camera is once again positioned at the same spot.

Read more
Here’s how fast 5G on your Samsung Galaxy S23 really is
Samsung Galaxy S23 cameras against greenery

If you’ve been on the fence about picking up one of the latest Galaxy S23 phones, some new research from Ookla may help tip the scales in Samsung’s favor.

In a new speed test report, Ookla tcompared the 5G performance specs of the Galaxy S23 models to last year’s Galaxy S22 in several countries — with some surprising results across the board.
A worthwhile 5G upgrade

Read more
Samsung may have just killed the Galaxy S10
Galaxy S10 Plus.

The Samsung Galaxy S10 was an excellent addition to Samsung's hardware lineup in 2019, but it seems like it's finally being sunset by the company after one final update.

According to Droid Life, this week saw what's likely to be the Galaxy S10's final security update before its official support ends. While it's not confirmed that S10 owners won't see another update if something major needs to be patched, it seems like this might be it for the smartphone line in terms of regularly scheduled updates.

Read more