Samsung’s latest Galaxy Note phones are divisive, to say the least.
The Note 20 Ultra is a do-everything beast of a phone with a sky-high price tag that jars slightly with consumer priority during the pandemic. The regular Note 20 feels like a straight misstep, with a plastic back, 60Hz display and lower camera specs but still coming in at a cool £949, if you want 5G.
With rumours that Samsung is looking to merge the features and release dates of its S and Note phones, and up its focus on foldables, there’s a chance the Note 20 range could be the last traditional Note phones ever.
If they do come out, we’re not sure if they’d be called the Note 30 or Note 21 series, though either way the larger phone is likely to be an ‘Ultra’ rather than a ‘Plus’.
When is the Samsung Galaxy Note 21/30 release date?
The Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra were revealed in a virtual Unpacked event on 5 August 2020, with the Note 10 and Note 10 Plus first announced on 7 August 2019. It’s likely we won’t see the Note 21/30 range until the first week of August 2021, if these dates are anything to go by.
But there’s a persistent rumour that Samsung is considering adding an S-Pen to one of its Galaxy S30/S21 phones and merging the S and Note lines together. It has been rumoured since 2019 and hasn’t happened yet, but Reuters reports that 2021 might be the year that it does.
If that happens then we wouldn’t see a Note launch at all next year. Samsung may do this so it can use the August release window solely for its growing foldable phone releases, instead of the Note, with a Galaxy Z Fold S and Z Fold Scroll both rumoured to be on the way, alongside the Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 2.
We discuss this possibility in an episode of our weekly video podcast Fast Charge, which you can watch right here:
How much will the Samsung Galaxy Note 21/30 cost?
The Note 20 costs £849/$999, with the Note 20 Ultra setting buyers back £1,179/$1,299. It’s worth noting that the regular Note 20 is 4G-only at that price, and it’s £949 if you want 5G. The Note 20 Ultra is 5G-only.
In the US, where the Notes run on Snapdragon chips rather than Samsung’s own Exynos silicon, there are only 5G models.
We expect Samsung not to offer a 4G Note in 2021, so all Note 21/30 models will likely break the £1,000/$1,000 barrier. A Note 21/30 Ultra is likely to cost around £1,200/$1,200.
What about Note 21/30 specs?
Thanks to the cyclical annual updates of phones, we can hazard some pretty confident guesses as to the specs of the Note 21/30 series.
Like with the Galaxy S phones, Samsung uses its Exynos chipsets in the Note in regions like Europe and India but uses Qualcomm’s 8-series Snapdragon chips in the US and its home country of South Korea.
While performance is usually largely the same, year after year the Exynos version of the phone struggles with battery life. US reviews always reflect well on the Snapdragon version’s longevity and it’s a major annoyance for people in regions where the Note has an Exynos chip. We are pretty confident Samsung will keep this strategy though, so we’d likely see a new Exynos chip (thought to be the Exynos 2100) in most markets, and the Snapdragon 888 in the US.
Apart from the difference in chipsets, we should be seeing at least 8GB RAM if not more on even the lowest end model, with storage of at least 128GB. The Note 20 didn’t have microSD expansion but the Note 20 Ultra did, so that trend would likely continue.
Both handsets also have triple cameras, but the Note 20 Ultra had a mega 108Mp main sensor and 5x optical zoom, outshining the 3x hybrid zoom on the normal Note 20.
Add more to the leaks: the Note21 is the Note21 Ultra successor and (no lying) the Note21 is probably the 1st Galaxy phone to debut with UDC (or CUP, or what the hell they will call). The main reason they go development this early is because they want to release this phone earl.. https://t.co/MrirZhvJmr
— Snapdrachun 888 5G (@chunvn8888)
December 3, 2020
One of the more unusual Note 21/30 camera leaks that has surfaced has to do with its front camera. Vietnamese tipster @chunvn8888 suggests that, not only is Samsung potentially bringing the phone’s launch forward by a month or so, but the phone is also set to serve as the debut device from Samsung’s first under-display selfie camera (UDC or CUP – short for Camera Under Panel)-toting smartphone.
ZTE has already released a phone in China – the Axon 20 5G – that showcases this technology but if this rumour rings true, this will likely be the first example of a Korean smartphone utilising such hardware.
The design of the Note 20 is very similar to the Note 10, so it could be that the Note 21/30 is fairly tame in its design update. The Note 20 is even more austere than the Note 10, with matt bronze and a huge camera bump, where the Note 10 had a multicoloured glass option. The Note 21/30 is likely to carry on the industrial feel.
We’d hope that however many Note 21s/30s there are that they all have 120Hz displays and that they’ll be able to run at full resolution. The S20 and Note 20 Ultra can only run either 120Hz or QHD+, and not both. Come on Samsung, these are expensive phones.
The Note 21/30 will have an S-Pen as standard, of course, but to be honest we wouldn’t mind if Samsung did away with the air gestures gimmicks that let you wield it like a magic wand and focus more on reducing latency and improving pressure and tilt response.
Samsung Galaxy Note 21/30 wish list
The Note 21/30 is probably still a ways off, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a list of things we want from it.
A lower price
The regular Note 20 would have made more sense at around £700, not £849. If Samsung is going to release a lower spec Note then we want it to make it more accessible to those who can’t afford to spend close to £1,000 on a phone.
Better battery life
The European Note 20 Ultra’s main flaw is its unremarkable battery life. When the most expensive Note is marketed as a do-all phone for pros, you end up using it a lot, and it’s a pain when the battery hits red before you’re done. The Note phones are big, so either get more battery out of the setup or switch to Snapdragon globally, please Samsung.
A smaller version
We’d love to see a smaller Note device as we did with the Note 10. With the Note 20, Samsung oddly turned out two very large phones with a mishmash of specs and design differences. A return to a small and large Note release would make more sense, offering a more compact and manageable device to people who don’t want a phone as big as their head.
This could be where we see the S-Pen make its debut on the Galaxy S21/S30 in February and frankly we are all for that.
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