The Samsung Galaxy Note series is one of the most iconic smartphone product lines. Samsung's Galaxy Note series has gone places that no other phones have ever gone before.
It has been an equal flagship to the Galaxy S line-up because of its cutting-edge tech, design focus, and unique USP. It has proudly accepted the stylus as a niche device and continuously innovated to make it more than a pointing device.
We take a look at the highs and lows in the long-standing series of smartphones as Samsung unveils the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and Note 20 Ultra. The original Galaxy Note, which influenced the Android smartphone market for many years to come, to the brief-lived Galaxy Note 7 and the two-punch of the Galaxy Note 10 series and Notes 20 series.
2011 was a significant year for the smartphone industry. Nokia switched from Symbian phones to Windows Phones, Android Froyo was the most popular OS and the Dell Streak was regarded as too large to be real.
The Samsung Galaxy Note is here. The phone, which boasted a massive 5.3-inch display (lol), was criticized for being too big and not having mass appeal. The stylus was even restored, an input mechanism that had been deemed archaic due to the advent of capacitive displays. The original Galaxy Note was a landmark smartphone that set the standard for Android flagships.
The phone sold 10 million units and changed the perception that people don't want large displays.
It actually legitimized the phablet category through its use of top specs, and a software program that made use of the pressure-sensitive stylus rather than relegating the device to just navigating the interface.
The original Galaxy Note proved that there was a demand for large-display phones with stylus support. 2012's Galaxy Note 2 focused on improving the experience. Samsung was able to sell more than 3 million units in just two months after launching the refinements.
This curvier design made it easier to use the device. Samsung reduced the dimensions of Note 2 in all dimensions, including the bezel. This allowed Samsung to fit a larger 5.5-inch display panel into the phone without making it bulkier.
Samsung also reduced latency for stylus input, and the S-Pen has been improved to support new uses. Air View allowed you to use your stylus as a pointer. You can use the stylus to magnify text in emails and contextual drop-downs on the calendar.
Samsung wanted to reach out to business and enterprise users, as the public loved the large-screen experience.
Samsung has improved the design of the Galaxy Note 3 to appeal to business users. With a larger 5.7-inch screen, the hardware was of top quality.
This phone's Full HD panel was an original feature. Samsung packed the phone with many features, including 4K video capture, Gorilla glass 3, a high-quality DAC, and a host of new sensors, such as those for temperature and humidity.
Samsung's design team teamed the faux-brushed aluminum look with the faux leather back to create a sophisticated feel for men on the go. The phone was a big seller due to its sophisticated design and new features. Samsung sold over 10,000,000 units in its first two months. This makes it one of the most popular premium smartphones of 2013.
The Air Command menu was added to the S-Pen. This update brought major improvements to the S-Pen. It was similar to a right-click button, but it offered quick access shortcuts to the most commonly used functions. You can also link to specific commands with the notepad.
While many of these features may seem trivial today, Samsung's determination to get more from the stylus cannot be ignored.
The Galaxy Note series was already a formidable force in 2014! Its large screen size, S-Pen features, and high-performance performance made it a popular choice for many. Samsung opted for a standard back with a plastic frame to enhance its appeal, while adding an aluminum frame to give it a premium look.
The screen resolution was increased to a Quad HD panel with Gorilla Glass 4. This makes it one of the most impressive displays ever made. Samsung began to focus on an ecosystem rather than just a hardware product with the Note 4.
The home button now has a fingerprint reader and the 16MP camera is upgraded. Samsung included OIS, which is a feature we take for granted today. Samsung had begun to focus on building a wider ecosystem rather than just selling phones. Samsung's commitment to fitness and health was reflected in Note 4, which included a pulse oximeter and heart-rate monitor.
The S-Pen's pressure sensitivities increased to 2048 levels, which allows for greater control when drawing.
After the Galaxy Note series was a solid seller and a part of Samsung's flagship lineup, the company decided to try something new and created the Galaxy Note Edge.
Although the specification sheet was the same as the Note 4, Edge made bold, for its time, innovative steps. This was the first mainstream phone to have a usable, curved display. Sidebars were included on the curved edge that could display shortcuts and panels.
Samsung also opened API access to developers for apps that can sit alongside your primary apps to provide faster access. A neat feature of Samsung's phone was the ability to display a timer on the edge panel, which can be used even when the display is off.
The Galaxy Note 5 was released in 2015 as part of its annual refresh cycle. It made many improvements. The processor was faster, but the design and finish were significantly improved.
Note 5 featured an all-glass and metal design that was focused on usability and ergonomics. The phone was not as user-friendly as it should have been and omitted some important features.
The Galaxy Note 5 did not have a removable battery. The phone lost the microSD card slot, which was even worse. The spring-loaded S-Pen assembly was broken by a design flaw. This happened when the stylus wasn't inserted correctly.
Despite these issues, the Note 5 set sales records and became one of the most loved phones of that year.
Samsung launched the now-famous Galaxy Note 7 instead of the number 6. The Galaxy Note 7 had many advantages. It was the first phone in the series to feature a USB-C connector. Note 7 also features expandable storage, which was absent from the Note 5, and an IP68 rating. The Galaxy Note Edge also inspired it to incorporate dual curves. However, the curvature was not quite as dramatic.
Note 7 gave the S-Pen new capabilities, including translation and a screen magnifier. You can also record GIFs with the Note 7. Samsung Pass, which combines the new-fangled Iris scanner with the device, allowed secure payments. The Note 7 also brought back the MicroSD slot, which was a much-missed feature of Note 5. Note 7 was revived as the Note 7FE one year after its death, like a Phoenix rising from the ashes.
This phone was a major upgrade to the series, and there was much excitement. Pre-orders for the Galaxy Note 7 were high in South Korea, but they fell short elsewhere. Soon after the Galaxy Note 7 was launched in August 2016, owners began to report that their phone was overheating and even exploding. Samsung initially recalled the phone. However, some replacement Note 7 models caught on fire. The Note 7 was finally recalled by Samsung less than two months after its initial launch.
The phone returned to life in mid-2017, like a phoenix rising from the ashes. Under the Galaxy Note Fan Edition brand, refurbished Note 7 models with smaller batteries were made available in selected countries in Asia. This phone also included Samsung's Bixby digital assistant right out of the box, making it the first Note series model to do so.
Samsung needed to prove its worth again after the Galaxy Note 7 launch disaster. Samsung chose to play safe with the Galaxy Note 8 by making some concessions such as a smaller battery in order to avoid potential problems.
Samsung introduced Dex on Note 8 as well as Specs upgrades. The Galaxy Note 8 could be used as a computer if it was connected to a monitor or keyboard. The Galaxy Note 8 was the first Note series device with two cameras, a 12MP primary camera, and a 12MP zoom lens.
Note 8 was a record-breaking seller, with more than 270,000 units sold in the first weekend alone. This is due to Samsung's handling of the Note 7 disaster.
Although the Galaxy Note 9 was an iterative upgrade in many ways, it didn't lack features. It was true to its name, with a top-of-the-line chipset. The first Samsung phone to offer 8GB RAM and 512GB storage.
Samsung's Note 9 was all about refinement. It now allows for Dex support with no need to use a dock. Note 9 also included a carbon heat pipe for better heat dissipation while gaming.
However, the S-Pen received the most significant upgrades. The S-Pen now has Bluetooth capabilities and a built-in battery. This stylus can be used to shortcut actions, move forward or backward in presentations, and other uses.
However, sales have reflected the slowing pace of innovation. The Galaxy Note 9 sold 9.6 million units, less than the Note 8. This was due to slower demand for Samsung's premium smartphones.
It was time to make a major decision, as smartphones are getting larger. The Galaxy Note 10 launched with two models. After the disappointing sales of the Galaxy Note 9, these two models allowed Samsung to target different market segments and price segments.
The larger display featured a 6.8-inch AMOLED screen with dynamic tone mapping to improve color accuracy. Due to its size, the phone was slightly larger with a 19-to-9 aspect ratio. The smaller model had a 6.3-inch Full HD display, but it was much smaller in physical dimensions.
Both Galaxy Note 10 models were very similar, with only the battery size and display being the main differences.
The phones were not limited by their screen size. They also shared a lot of similarities, including the processor and camera configuration. The new ultra-wide 16-megapixel camera was added to both the primary and telephoto dual-aperture lenses.
Samsung made the Note 10 Plus larger with a 4300mAh battery, while the regular model was smaller with a 3500mAh cell. This was done to differentiate them. The larger model could charge at 45W, while the smaller one could only charge at 25W. The Galaxy Note 10 finally dropped the 3.5mm audio jack.
South Korea's Galaxy Note 10 series sold over a million units within the first 25 days. The smaller dimensions actually helped to attract another demographic. Samsung revealed that the Note series saw a rise in female customers.
This brings us to Samsung’s latest and greatest. The Note 20 series takes things up a notch. Although the design is similar to the Note 10, the two models offer a major upgrade.
Let's begin with the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. This big, heavy chunk of aluminum is now available in a beautiful new shade, mystical bronze. Although the camera module is distinctively shaped, some may find it a little too protruding. The Note 20 Ultra takes the best bits of the Note 10 Plus and refines them to perfection.
The display is now at a 120Hz refresh rate, which allows for smooth navigation. Also, the S-Pen latency on the Note 20 Ultra has been reduced to 9ms. The Note 20 Ultra's camera setup is quite different from that of the Galaxy S20. The camera setup includes a 108MP primary sensor and a 12MP Telephoto sensor that can be 5x zoomed. It also has a 12MP ultra-wide camera.
The standard Note 20 is, unfortunately, a downgrade, as it has been in previous years. Note 20 uses an aluminum-free Ultra build to create a 'classic back'.The display is also being downgraded with the Note 20 sporting a 60Hz panel. Camera setups have been upgraded to include a last-gen 12MP prime, 64MP telephoto sensor with hybrid optical zoom, and a 12MP ultrawide camera.
Samsung is also looking into wider ecosystem tie-ins as hardware saturation creeps in.A close partnership with Microsoft, and exclusive features when using Windows 10, could help you make a buying decision.
You can download the My Phone app to any Android phone. However, the Note 20 series allows you to run all of the apps directly from your phone on your computer. These apps can be pinned to the start bar. Samsung plans to make some of these features available to older hardware. This integration is something we have yet to see elsewhere. This phone is also eligible for Xbox Game Pass, which is not available on other devices.
That concludes our look at every Samsung Galaxy Note smartphone to date. From a humble beginning to power-packed specs and a greater focus on software, the series has come a long way. Do you have a favorite Galaxy Note? Cast your vote in the poll below.
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