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I’m glad the Samsung Galaxy Note died when it did


The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra in hand.
Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

The Samsung Galaxy Note changed the mobile industry when it arrived, and it became a firm favorite with a lot of people. Its committed, passionate fanbase is perhaps only rivaled by those who love the iPhone.

But all that was a long time ago, and now in mid-2023, I’m very glad Samsung killed the Note when it did.

The Samsung Galaxy Note needed to die

Galaxy Note 10 and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra with their S Pens.
Galaxy Note 10 Plus (left) and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (right) Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

In early 2022, Samsung said it wouldn’t continue the Galaxy Note line and that everything many loved about the series would be integrated into other Galaxy phones. It was a brave move, as Samsung was fully aware of the Note’s dedicated following and had long catered to fans’ wishes through the productivity-focused powerhouse range. It risked alienating a lot of people, and there was no guarantee it would follow through with its pledge either.

Thinking about where Samsung is today with its top smartphone models, I’m very glad it made the decision to kill off the Note name. Why? Because what we’ve got in its place are two incredible top-level models that do everything the Note did, plus a whole lot more. Much as I liked some of the later Galaxy Note models, I don’t look back and wish it was still here because we’re in such a better place.

Before we get into that, just a reminder of what the Galaxy Note was all about. Characterized by its massive screen and similarly gigantic body, the Note was best known for the stylus that slipped inside it, always having the latest processor, and its prowess as a work phone. Oh, and for exploding. It did that too. It existed alongside Samsung’s Galaxy S phones, which were all about style and the camera.

Two for one

Galaxy S22 Ultra and Note 20 Ultra camera modules.
Galaxy S22 Ultra (bottom) and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (top) Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Looking at what Samsung has done with the range since then shows what a wise move it was to kill the Note — and how we’ve benefitted from the decision. You see, the Note really is only dead in name, as the Galaxy S23 Ultra does everything a modern Note would do, but with an astronomically better camera on board too. If the Galaxy Note still existed, Samsung would still be messing around with two quite similar devices, frustrating a whole lot of people who want the best of both worlds in one. Our demands on a device now extend beyond just one major function.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra is the best camera phone Samsung has ever made, and yet it still has the same massive screen and stylus that we equate with the Note series. Samsung would never have made the S23 Ultra if the Note was still around. I recently went back to the S23 Ultra and was incredibly impressed with the camera, but only after I’d gotten used to the hugeness of the phone itself again. It’s what I want from a flagship phone, but if you want the massive screen, a stylus, and task-killing power, it does all that too.

The Galaxy S21 Ultra and the Galaxy S22 Ultra were both great, but neither quite ticked all the boxes as a successor to the Note. But the Galaxy S23 Ultra is the phone that best represents the ultimate combination of the Note series and the Galaxy S series’ strong points. I remember really liking the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and probably wouldn’t have upgraded it to the S21 or S22 Ultra, but now with the S23 Ultra — which has continued to be fantastic since its launch — we’re at the point where the last holdout Note owners can happily upgrade.

The Galaxy Z Fold 5 is coming too

A person holding a partially open Galaxy Z Fold 4.
Galaxy Z Fold 4 Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

However, the S23 Ultra isn’t the main reason I’m glad the Note is dead. The Galaxy Z Fold 2 arrived a few months after the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, and it was a vast improvement over the original Galaxy Fold in almost every way, but it’s also a world apart from the Galaxy Z Fold 4 in terms of durability, software, and overall polish. If the Note was still around, squeezing in between the top Galaxy S series and the Fold — and requiring development, too — would Samsung still be leagues ahead of the competition in big-screen foldables like it is today?

I’m not sure it could, and there’s an actual future in driving ahead with the development of foldable, where there isn’t in having two very similar standard phones at the top of the range. Instead, the Galaxy Note’s noble sacrifice has left us with the best Galaxy S series phone we’ve seen and the best big foldable you can buy today too. Yet absolutely nothing the Note offered has been forgotten or left out. It has been assimilated, Borg-like, into two of the best smartphones on sale in 2023.

Towards the end of its life, August became the month we would traditionally see a new Galaxy Note. But now, it has become the new Galaxy Z Fold time, and I can’t wait to see how the Galaxy Z Fold 5 improves on the Galaxy Z Fold 4. We’re finally at the point where the Galaxy Note can rest in peace, knowing its legacy truly continues and that fans of its once-unique feature set and design are fully catered for with a pair of cracking devices that can be considered must-buys.

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