A few days ago, Samsung warned investors and fans that the current chip shortage might prevent it from launching a new Galaxy Note smartphone this year. But there was no evidence that Samsung was actually developing a Note 21 phone before the company said the chip shortage could impact smartphone production. Early rumors always seem to reveal specs and design choices for the next Galaxy flagship well before the phone is ready to launch. That hasn’t happened with the Note 21 series. If anything, longstanding rumors said that Samsung would cancel the Note series, which is increasingly difficult for Samsung to differentiate from its Galaxy S phones. The Galaxy S21 Ultra is the best proof of that. It features a large display and supports the S Pen. Screen size and stylus interaction were the signature features of the original Note.
Various rumors also claimed that Samsung might replace the Note with the obvious choice that would keep the Note legacy intact. A foldable phone would offer a bigger display than traditional smartphones and could continue to support S Pen functionality like the Note. A new report from Asia says that Samsung is indeed looking to diversify and expand the foldable phone lineup for 2021 by launching a third device that would fold not once, but twice. The double-folding phone would join the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 2 phones that are both still expected to launch later this year.
Sources familiar with Samsung’s plans told Nikkei Asia the Samsung aims to increase foldable phone production “sharply,” despite chip shortages. Samsung also aims to make up for the lost Note sales with foldables, hopefully increasing revenue in the process. Samsung sold an estimate of 3.5 million foldable handsets last year, and wants to raise that figure to over 10 million a year in the near future, which would match Note sales.
People who claim to be familiar with Samsung’s plans said that “the suspension of the Note series was pretty much decided last year. The company wants to bet more on foldable phones that have much higher prices with distinctive designs.”
A different person said that Samsung has “long struggled to differentiate its two premium phone series, the Galaxy S and Note, which are often set for the first half of the year and the second half, respectively… The company is thinking to use foldable phones as a key differentiator and hopefully to replace its Note series in some ways.”
A double-folding Galaxy phone wouldn’t necessarily be a surprise. We’ve already seen several patents from Samsung detailing such devices. The handset would feature two hinges instead of one. When unfolded, the device would offer users even more screen real estate than the Galaxy Z Fold. And a smartphone design like this could potentially replace the Note. This year’s foldable Galaxy handsets are supposed to feature S Pen functionality, according to rumors.
Nikkei makes no mention of the stylus but offers other details about the double-folding handset. “The design is set to make the unfolded screen aspect ratio be in line with the mainstream ratio of 16:9 or 18:9, so more video games and other apps could run more smoothly with better resolutions on the device,” according to a person with knowledge of the matter.
The Galaxy Z Fold 2 has a 25:9 aspect ratio, making it harder to develop apps that take advantage of the whole screen. On the other hand, Samsung has always stressed that the bigger display can be split between different apps to enhance multitasking.
According to the report, the unnamed double-folding Samsung phone will be unveiled as early as late-2021. Samsung usually launches the new Note flagships during an Unpacked event set in early August. It’s unclear when the 2021 Galaxy Z Flip and Fold versions will be announced.