When the Galaxy Note launched in 2011, it had two outstanding features that helped it stand out from the crowd of Android handsets that tried to compete against the iPhone. The Note had a bigger screen than anything else available, and it packed a built-in stylus, the S Pen. Fast-forward to 2019, and the Note series lost one of its advantages over rivals. Screen tech advancements allowed smartphone vendors to significantly reduce bezels and extend the screen all the way to the corners. That’s why screen size is no longer an advantage for the Galaxy Note — in fact, the Note 10 is already expected to come in two distinct display sizes. But the S Pen is still there, complete with more advanced features than before. However, that stylus will apparently prevent the Galaxy Note 10 from being a much better phone.
A Samsung insider who delivers details about unreleased devices regularly revealed on Twitter that the S Pen prevented Samsung from making several improvements to the Galaxy Note phones, improvements that fans would have certainly appreciated.
I learned through Samsung engineers that SPen's presence has made Galaxy Note cut 800mAh batteries, unable to use aggressive cameras, and can't use a narrower Bezel design.
— Ice universe (@UniverseIce) July 8, 2019
According to Ice Universe, the Note could have had an extra 800 mAh battery, more “aggressive” cameras, and a narrower bezel were it not for the stylus. It’s unclear what the more aggressive cameras are, but Samsung’s rivals including Huawei and Oppo, employ periscope cameras on their 2019 flagships for better optical zoom. Also, in an earlier series of tweets, the leaker said that Samsung prototyped screens with extreme curvatures, but the company eventually dismissed those designs.
But removing the S Pen from the Note series is no easy task for Samsung. That’s the feature that makes the Galaxy Note a Galaxy Note. Without it, the Note 10 would be a mildly redesigned Galaxy S10 version, and that could hurt sales.
Some reports argued in the past that Samsung should discontinue the Galaxy Note line, or merge it with the Galaxy S series. Samsung dismissed that notion and kept making the phone even after the Note 7 recall that could have ruined the brand.
Should Samsung ditch the S Pen in favor of the kind of upgrades the leaker mentions, it’ll have to find a new reason to keep the Note series in place.
On the other hand, Ice’s tweet might also be an indication of things to come to the Galaxy S11 phones. Let’s not forget that the Galaxy S10 5G has a bigger display than the Galaxy Note 9. It’s essentially a Note 10 phone without an S Pen. That means its successors could always pack a better battery, “aggressive” cameras, and a narrower bezel.
The Note 10 launches on August 7th, while the Galaxy S11 will likely be unveiled next February.