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Will the Galaxy Note 10’s design suffer because of the phone’s signature feature?

Published Apr 4th, 2019 10:12AM EDT
Galaxy Note 10 Design
Image: Zach Epstein, BGR

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The Galaxy S10 has been a great success for Samsung and the company is getting ready to launch the 5G version of the phone in select markets. Then the Galaxy Fold, Samsung’s first ever foldable smartphone, will also be made available to consumers later this month. That said, we’ve already seen a bunch of rumors detailing the next major Samsung flagship, the Galaxy Note 10, which should hit stores at some point in August. We’ve heard some great things about the Galaxy Note 10 so far, but a new report suggests that the phone’s signature feature might actually end up having a negative impact on its design.

When the Galaxy Note was unveiled back in 2011, it had two iconic features that helped it stand out from a growing crowd of Android handsets: it had a massive display and a built-in stylus. Those features were unavailable on rival devices and for many years, every new Note was bigger than the Galaxy S model from the same year.

Just a few months ago, Samsung launched a variety of Galaxy S10 handsets including the Galaxy S10 5G that’s even bigger than the Galaxy Note 9. In other words, one of the Note’s signature feature was effectively killed. That’s not surprising, considering that all smartphone makers are pushing smartphone display designs to the edges, looking to maximize the screen size without making phones too much bigger.

Samsung, meanwhile, is rumored to be prepping two Note 10 phones for release this year, including a smaller version. Samsung launched two Note models back in 2014 as well, including the Note 4 and Note Edge versions, but this would be the first time we’d see a smaller Note hit stores. This is another sign that screen size is no longer a signature feature for the Note series.

The only thing that remains is the stylus that’s tucked away inside the phone. In the era of all-screen phones, the S Pen and accompanying features are the only things that differentiate the Galaxy S and Note lines. And now, the top Samsung insider thinks that the S Pen might be hurting the new Note:

Without the S Pen, Samsung could reduce the thickness of the phone and side bezel, and increase the battery size of the Note 10, Ice Universe argued on Twitter.

In a subsequent tweet, the insider pondered whether the S Pen and a 10X optical hybrid zoom camera can coexist inside the Note 10, given the amount of internal space they require.

However, abandoning the S Pen would transform the Note 10 into a phone without an identity, reducing it to an updated Galaxy S10 version. Some reports said in the past that Samsung has been considering merging the Galaxy S and Note lines, but that’s yet to happen. And as long as there’s a stylus in the picture, the Note line will still have a future.

There is one compromise Samsung might make for the Note in the future, but this is just speculation from yours truly. Samsung could abandon the Note’s stylus slot, and use the internal space for other components. The S Pen would still be offered to buyers as a free accessory that ships with every new Note. That would ruin the magic of the Note phone to an extent, as one would have to find a different way to carry the S Pen and actually remember to pick it up when leaving the house. But the Note would still retain its signature feature, and the one reason many people prefer the Note over the Galaxy S.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.