Even Samsung is dropping hints the Galaxy S21 will eat its dying Note

Samsung may not be ready to officially retire the Galaxy Note quite yet, but the writing is on the wall for the original phablet as the company's mobile chief confirms it'll be sharing its so-far-unique features with other phones in 2021. The teasing comes amid rumors that the Galaxy Note 20 – launched earlier this year – will be the last of the Samsung phones to bear that name, given the way the high-end smartphone space has contracted.

Originally, the Galaxy Note occupied a fairly distinct niche in Samsung's range. While its digital S Pen was one distinguishing factor, its large screen and focus on performance made it the company's workhorse, albeit with the demand on owners that they have sufficiently deep pockets both to pay for, and carry, the handset.

In more recent years, however, the high-end market has shifted. The Galaxy S20 Ultra, for example, is almost as large as the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, has largely the same performance, and epitomizes the latest breed of large, screen-first smartphones. We're at the point now where the only real difference between the Galaxy S series sand the Galaxy Note series are the S Pen, with even much of the software being identical across both families.

TM Roh, President and Head of Samsung's Mobile Communications Business, isn't quite ready to officially call time on the Note, but 2021 is definitely going to bring some changes. The company has "been paying attention to people's favorite aspects of the Galaxy Note experience," Roh writes in an official blog post published today, "and are excited to add some of its most well-loved features to other devices in our lineup."

The mobile chief doesn't go into specifics about just what elements of the Note he and the rest of the company has in mind. All the same, given that narrowing of the gap between the Note series and Samsung's other high-end devices, it's hard not to read between the lines and see this as a reference to the S Pen.

Samsung has, in the past, confirmed that it sees a role for the stylus when paired with other devices. The S Pen – which has, over time, evolved to not only be a note-taking and art tool, but a Bluetooth remote control for selfies, presentations, and more – would seem to find a natural place alongside the Galaxy Fold series, just as soon as Samsung figures out a way to avoid its nib scratching up the still-delicate folding OLED screens.

That foldable space is going to expand in Samsung's 2021, too, with Roh confirming that the company will "be expanding our portfolio of foldables, so this groundbreaking category is more accessible to everyone." Previous rumors have suggested potentially four Galaxy Fold devices next year, at least, with some targeting lower price points than the handful of smartphones the company has released with flexible OLED screens so far.

The first new Galaxy we see with S Pen support could be closer at hand than you think, too. Rumors have circulated that the Samsung Galaxy S21 will not only be launched early in the new year, but use Samsung's stylus as well as introducing a new design language with less obtrusive cameras.