Samsung might be skipping the Galaxy Note line for this year, forgoing a Galaxy Note 21, the company admitted at a shareholder meeting.
In comments shared by the Verge, Samsung co-CEO DJ Koh said: “[The] Note series is positioned as a high-end model in our business portfolio. It could be a burden to unveil two flagship models in a year, so it might be difficult to release [a] Note model in 2H. The timing of [the] Note model launch can be changed, but we seek to release a Note model next year.”
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In other words, since Samsung already released the Galaxy S21 Ultra this year, putting out a second flagship-level device too soon could be seen as a “burden.” If this strikes you as weird, it is — Samsung has traditionally released multiple flagships a year, in the form of the S and Note lines, with no real problem up to this point. There’s no reason, on the face of it, why it would be difficult now.
One could argue that the inclusion S Pen support on the S21 Ultra would make the Note line redundant this year, and both lines have come closer and closer together over the years. As the Galaxy S grew in size to meet the Note with the introduction of the “Plus” and “Ultra” models, there’s an argument to be made that this move was inevitable. Adding the S Pen may have been the final nail.
On the other hand, the introduction of the Galaxy Z Fold and Galaxy Z Flip lines cold serve to fill a niche that the Note line previously occupied: The futuristic all-capability phone with new features. Samsung had previously said that it’s also bringing the Note’s S Pen to those devices, so what is characterized as a delay today might eventually turn into the status quo tomorrow.
Another factor that’s influencing this decision is a recent chip shortage impacting most of the tech world. It’s affecting devices from cars all the way down to phones. Qualcomm has been affected as well, with demand for its Snapdragon chips almost being more than it could handle producing this year.
Koh said, via Bloomberg: “There’s a serious imbalance in supply and demand of chips in the IT sector globally. Despite the difficult environment, our business leaders are meeting partners overseas to solve these problems. It’s hard to say the shortage issue has been solved 100%.”
It is possible this would also contribute to the Note 21’s absence, though it probably isn’t a primary reason considering how much lower Note sales are, historically, compared to the Galaxy S series. If Samsung can only order a certain number of chips, it makes little sense to divert supply to a phone model that essentially duplicates the functionality of one of your existing bestsellers.