Is the Galaxy S22 Ultra a worthy successor to the Galaxy Note series?
All signs point to yes
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is likely the best phone that Samsung has ever released. It’s the most interesting phone out of the trio of smartphones launched at this year’s major Unpacked event — primarily because it’s the first Galaxy S phone with an integrated S Pen. The Galaxy S21 Ultra from last year had support for the stylus, but it had no place to store it without an additional case. With the Note series well and truly dead, though, Samsung has taken the idea of a dockable S Pen and made it a reality in the Galaxy S22 Ultra. But does making it dock inside of the smartphone make it a worthy successor to the Note series?
Pulling back to the last Note series that launched, I think it’s clear that Samsung was lost when it came to planning what came next. The “Note” series from Samsung has always encapsulated a testing ground of sorts, with cutting-edge hardware for enthusiast smartphone users. The S Pen was a niche that many wouldn’t ever use, and the original Galaxy Note also introduced the curved display (albeit on one side) that we now see on pretty much every single flagship smartphone out there. We’ve seen other innovations along the way too.
The question remains though if the Note series was supposed to encapsulate a playground for Samsung to test features in, why did Samsung launch the regular Note 20? It didn’t fit that branding philosophy whatsoever. The Note 20 Ultra made sense, but nobody should have been buying the regular Note 20 if they wanted the true Note experience. At that point, amidst rumors swirling of it being the last addition to the Note series, the writing was on the wall in the eyes of some — the Note series had lost its way and was likely on the chopping block.
Why Samsung “killed” the Note line
When viewed in that light, it’s clear what Samsung’s approach is. Without even comparing both of these devices, it certainly didn’t make sense for Samsung to essentially maintain two flagship smartphones every year, and with supply chains strained (that Samsung apparently struggles with more than most), it’s looking increasingly likely that it was no longer feasible for the South Korean company to maintain its heavy-handed release cycle of multiple glass-slab flagships in a year.
There are the foldables jostling for attention in the second half of the year now, and it would make sense to load all the firepower that Samsung had for the glass-slab flagships onto one device itself, instead of doing a half-half split for the year. The result would be a stronger announcement for powerful glass slabs in the beginning of the year, followed by a showcase of all the bendiness and innovation of foldables in the second half of the year — while smaller upgrades keep adding up over a longer period to build excitement for the next generation of both of these. The Note really looked out of place in this new timetable. Coupled with the gradual democratization of the S Pen experience across foldables and non-Note devices (like the Galaxy S21 Ultra), a lot of people wondered what a new Galaxy Note would even claim as its forte.
Given that the “Note” series hasn’t been officially announced as dead, does that mean that there will be a future Note branded device in the future? Honestly, it’s hard to say. It would be pretty difficult to revive the brand without requiring a lot of explanations, but ultimately, Samsung controls its own destiny (and marketing) in that regard. The company hasn’t ever definitely said that the series is dead, leaving the door wide open for a Note-branded successor in the future.
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is arguably a Note device anyway
Compare the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra to the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. Both phones adopt a similar design philosophy, and one could be forgiven for taking the Galaxy S22 Ultra and assuming that it was a Note device. It looks similar, acts similar, and without the moniker, could easily be recognized as a Note device. In fact, without its naming scheme, I think some who were less in the “know” about smartphones would assume that it was just a new Note series device. After all, it’s just a name.
If we’re going to assume that the design philosophy is retained, then the next step is discerning whether or not the Galaxy S22 Ultra actually meets the criteria. It has a dockable S Pen, which is the main feature, and it includes all of the Note-series features we’ve come to know and love over the years. If you can attach a name to a smartphone and it can reasonably be suspected to fit in that branding, then it’s very likely that it’s worthy of being a successor.
Out with the old, in with the new
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is the new Note, and I think it’s hard to argue against that. It has all of the hallmarks defined by previous Note devices, and that’s without even mentioning the coveted S Pen. If this phone were released as a Note device, nobody would know any different. It’s just as much a Note device in spirit as it is an S series smartphone in branding.
This smartphone is the pinnacle of Samsung, and we’re excited to see where Samsung takes the future of Ultra smartphones. The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is a great deal if what you want is a smartphone that can do everything.