Heading into Samsung’s live-streamed “Unpacked” event on Wednesday, we already knew that there wouldn’t be a new Galaxy Note handset from the South Korean tech giant. That was a departure; Samsung typically reserved its August presser for a big Note reveal.
Instead, Samsung showcased the latest iterations of its foldable form factor smartphones, the Galaxy Z Fold3 5G and the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G, as well as Galaxy Watch 4 series smartwatches and Galaxy Buds2 earbuds.
But as someone who has followed the evolution of the Note from seeing a prototype at Samsung’s Seoul headquarters in the fall of 2011, on up through the most recent Note 20 model, it still feels a little strange. The Note devices were the first “phablet” phones, a term Samsung didn’t embrace in the early years. It had what was then considered a monster sized 5.3-inch display, small by today’s standard. And it was the first Samsung device with the S Pen stylus that was tucked into the bottom edge of the phone.
That original Note was something of a surprise hit—yes, I was among the early skeptics—and through the years Samsung said Note models engendered the most loyalty among the company’s fans. Many of those people stuck with Samsung during the combustible 2016-2017 period when the Note 7 had to be thrice recalled and was ultimately discontinued, because of batteries that tended to catch fire.
We can’t say the Note is necessarily gone for good but that indeed may be the case. It has been getting harder to differentiate the Notes from the large display Samsung Galaxy S series flagships that typically arrive in the spring, and that are more of direct competitor to the iPhone. And now a version of the S Pen becomes an optional accessory for the first time on the Z Fold3.
There will be time to take a closer look at Samsung’s new foldables. What I’ll say for now is while costs are coming down a bit, these are still really expensive. Suffice it to say, foldable form factors aren’t yet mainstream. Will they be?
The Galaxy Z Flip3 and Galaxy Z Fold3, start at $999.99 and $1,799.99 respectively, with $150 or $200 Samsung credits for people who preorder either device between August 11 and August 26, and further discounts for trade-ins.
The Z Fold3 has a 7.6-inch QXGA main screen, and a cover screen that measures 6.2-inches—like I said that first Note screen was quite small by comparison. And The Z Flip3 devices (pictured above) has a 6.7-inch full HD+ display and 1.9-inch cover display.
Samsung fans, will you miss not having a new Note? And what do you think about foldables?
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Photos courtesy of Samsung