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Samsung confirms 'Galaxy Unpacked' event for February, signals end of the road for the legendary Note

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Every year since its launch in 2011, Samsung has been releasing a new Galaxy Note handset around August and September. 2021 was different. For reasons unknown, Samsung did not launch a 2021 edition of the Galaxy Note and now, has all but signalled an end to the era- and class-defining handset.

Samsung confirms 'Galaxy Unpacked' event for February, signals end of the road for the legendary Note

For the past couple of years, there were murmurs that South Korean giant Samsung was looking to do away with its storied Galaxy Note flagship phone lineup. When Samsung released the Galaxy S21 Ultra with S-pen support last year and did not release a Note lineup, the writing was finally on the wall.

On Friday, Samsung confirmed the Galaxy Unpacked event for February and it is widely expected that the Galaxy S22 Ultra (or whatever it ends up being called) will come with an inbuilt S-pen and other productivity features hitherto confined to the Note series, effectively sounding the death knell for the Note, a device that, when it first released, changed the smartphone productivity landscape forever.

Every August since its debut in 2011, Samsung has without fail released a new Galaxy Note, with 2021 being the notable exception. According to industry observers, the move to kill the Note is has a three-pronged goal: reduce costs, position the Galaxy S Ultra as the indisputable flagship, and allow it to focus on its fast-expending--and improving--foldable phone segment.

Before we say goodbye to our  old friend the Galaxy Note, let's take a walk down memory lane and look at its 'Note'worthy moments (pun entirely intended)--its highs and lows.

The Debut

The Samsung Galaxy Note was launched in 2011 with a then-gargantuan 5.3-inch display. It also shipped with a stylus, the very idea of which had been dismissed by Apple founder Steve Jobs in 2007. The phone was powered by a dual-core Exynos processor with 1GB RAM and 16GB/32GB of expandable storage. The Note had a 2,500 mAh removable battery and a single 8-megapixel camera on the back.

Much to the chagrin of Apple, which had been in the smartphone business for four years by then, the Samsung Galaxy Note was a roaring success among business-focussed customers. Within a month of its launch, Samsung sold over 1 million units and by August next year, sales crossed 10 million units.

The following year, Samsung released the Galaxy Note 2, with an even larger 5.5-inch display and a better stylus. The South Korean tech giant sold 5 million units of the Note.2 within the first two months of launch and over 30 million units in its lifetime.

From 2013 to 2015

By 2013, Samsung was looking at tapping enterprise and business users. The company made the Galaxy Note 3 even more appealing to business users with a 5.7-inch display and a full HD panel. The phone had 4K video recording capabilities,  Gorilla Glass 3 and a high-quality DAC. It sold more than 10 million units in the first two months.

The Note 4, announced in September 2014, was considered an incremental update over its predecessor, with identical display size and design language. Note 4 sold over 5 million units in the first month, but its overall sales were lower compared to those of the Note 3.

The same year, Samsung brought in the Galaxy Note Edge, which retained most of the hardware specs of the Note 4, but had a display curved towards the edges, similar to the Galaxy S6 Edge.

In 2015, the Note 5 brought in several changes -- the processor got faster, but the microSD card slot and removable battery were removed. In a surprise move, Samsung did not release this phone in European markets, but instead, pitched the Galaxy S6 Edge series there.

The Big Bang

Samsung skipped the Galaxy Note 6 and launched the Note 7 in 2016, possibly to bring all of its devices under the same numerical naming convention--this was the year the Galaxy S7 series was released. The phone brought back expandable storage and boasted of IP68 water and dust resistance, and was among the first handheld devices to sport an iris scanner for biometric authentication.

Soon after the launch, however, reports surfaced about the phone overheating and even exploding, forcing the company issue a total recall of all Galaxy Note 7 units. But when the reworked Note 7 models also started catching fire, it pulled the plug on the model entirely. Many experts said Samsung was a little too eager to release a phone with the largest battery and did not do enough stress-testing of the component.

To add to the company's humiliation, airlines around the world issued a blanket ban on carrying the Note 7 onboard their aircraft.

The company later launched Galaxy Note 7 FE with smaller batteries in select markets in Asia, but the Note lineup was tarnished severely.

Note 8 and 9

After the fiasco, Samsung launched the the Galaxy Note 8 in 2017 with a smaller battery and dual cameras. The model sold over 2,70,000 units in the first weekend of sales.

The company did not experiment too much and released Note 9 in 2018, which sported most of the features of the earlier edition and was only an incremental upgrade.

In 2019, Samsung appeared to have recovered its mojo and launched not one, but two Galaxy Note devices on the same day -- the Galaxy Note 10 and the Note 10+, the latter sporting a 6.8-inch AMOLED display, with the smaller model boasting of a 6.3-inch Full HD display. Both handsets omitted the 3.5mm audio jack. Breaking sales record in South Korea, the Galaxy 10 Note series sold a million units in the first 25 days of sale.

The final Note

The final Note handset was launched in 2020. The Galaxy Note 20 lineup too came with incremental upgrades over the previous line-up, but the Note 20 Ultra was a big hit for its form factor and all that power under the hood.

But now, as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end, and so it is for the era-defining Galaxy Note. In a sort of farewell, TM Roh, president and head of MX Business, Samsung Electronics, said the Note leaves behind “a legacy in which a large display is now the standard”.

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