For the past two years or so, there have been rumors of Samsung either merging the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note lines or axing the latter. Galaxy Note users find that proposal almost unacceptable, especially considering it might involve “downgrading” their beloved line to a smartphone without an S Pen. But considering Samsung’s trends from the past years, that might actually be the inevitable and best outcome, provided it does make one concession towards lovers of the productive and creative stylus.
Bridging the Gap
Samsung created the Galaxy Note line to offer a larger than normal screen size and a built-in stylus for making notes and making art. Over the years, however, the line that divides the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note families continue to blur to the point of disappearing.
Today, phablets are the new normal and the Galaxy Note’s remaining differentiating factor is the S Pen which some consider no longer a sufficient reason to keep it alive.
That does make both logical and business sense, as the latest Galaxy S and Galaxy Note flagships start to look more similar every year. As this trend continues, Samsung may feel forced to introduce differences for the sake of differentiation, even when it puts one or the other product line at a disadvantage.
When that happens, it might be better to just smash the two worlds together rather than cause one or the other to die a miserable and embarrassing death.
Some would claim that the Galaxy Note line has represented Samsung’s innovative efforts and that may have been true for a while. Disregarding the S Pen, the Galaxy Note phones have usually been the ones to first sport new processors, more memory, and new, experimental technologies before becoming stable enough to integrate into next year’s Galaxy S flagship.
Responding to market trends and practices, Samsung has started to put innovation into the Galaxy S phones immediately, especially when sales of the Galaxy Note the year before tanked. Since last year, it has also introduced experimental features into the Galaxy A series instead, making that argument moot.
By consolidating its two flagship lines into one, Samsung can free up its second slot of the year for true innovative products, giving those who want a bit more excitement, along with some uncertainty, to look forward to each year.
Of course, nothing is perhaps more exciting and more uncertain than the Galaxy Fold. There’s still no assurance it will be the hit that Samsung wants it to be. Based on reports, it’s quite the hot item, perhaps thanks to its scarcity as well.
If it turns out to truly be a success despite all those odds and its price, then Samsung already has a sure product to release in the second half of the year. Turns out the Galaxy Fold’s delay may have had a benefit after all.
But even if the Galaxy Fold folds, Samsung could still make use of the slot at IFA to put out its new designs and technologies. In the past, it has dared to launch things like the Galaxy Round and it may be time to wake the smartphone market up and prove that it hasn’t lost its touch and hasn’t stagnated just yet.
Don’t kill the S Pen
If Samsung decides to have only one premium flagship per year, the one thing it must not do is to throw away years of innovation on the S Pen. It may sound a bit biased, coming from a stylus lover, but Samsung should continue supporting the Wacom-powered stylus, whether it builds it into the phone or as an external and separate accessory.
In a world where smartphones are starting to look more and more alike in design and features, the S Pen remains Samsung’s one unique feature that no other smartphone maker or accessory maker has been able to replicate.
Given the incessant requests or wishful thinking for Apple Pencil support, it might only be a matter of time before the iPhone gains the feature and you can bet it won’t have a silo for that stylus. When that day comes, Samsung will probably boast through many ads how, just like with large screens, it has been leading that space for years.