The Samsung Galaxy Note 21 family has a huge question mark hanging over it, and it could end up being one of the biggest pieces of tech news of the year: Samsung’s own CEO has said the next Note phone could be cancelled, with plans to release one in 2022 but not 2021.
Usually, the Note series follows the S line roughly six months after the latter’s launch, but while the Samsung Galaxy S21 series dropped as per usual, we might not end up seeing the Note 21 at all.
There are a few reasons this could be the case, which we’ll explore below, but it follows months of speculation that the Samsung Galaxy Note line had been cancelled, a persevering idea not helped by the fact the Galaxy S21 Ultra was confirmed to support the company’s S Pen stylus. So people have been building the Note 21’s coffin for a long while.
Samsung hasn’t cancelled the whole Note line, despite speculation suggesting as such, and it may just be the 2021 entry. We could very well see a Note 22 in 2022, according to the company.
And we may still see stylus-toting Samsung phones in 2021 – the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 FE, a budget version of the Note 20, has been rumored, and word is the Galaxy Z Fold 3 could pack an S Pen too, as could the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3.
If the Samsung Galaxy Note 21 has been cancelled, why have we listed loads of leaks and rumors on it below? Well, it’s not certain the smartphone won’t appear and there’s equal chance some of these details will apply to the Galaxy Note 22 (if that’s what the next phone is called).
A leak suggests that the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE could take the Note’s slot this year in place of the Galaxy Note 21.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The successor to the Samsung Galaxy Note 20
- When is it out? Probably not at all
- How much will it cost? If it happens, expect a high price
Samsung Galaxy Note 21 release date and price
If a Galaxy Note 21 does happen, expect to pay a high premium for the handset. In recent years Samsung has always announced new Note models in early August and shipped them roughly two weeks later, so the same again is likely for the Note 21.
The price is slightly harder to guess as that does change year to year, but the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 started at $999 / £849 / AU$1,199, so we’d expect the Samsung Galaxy Note 21 will cost at least that much.
We’ll explore the likelihood of the Samsung Galaxy Note 21 showing up in the next section, but hypothetically, if it does get released, when could we expect it? Well, Samsung usually launches the Note handsets around August, so we’d expect the same release pattern to repeat.
Is the Samsung Galaxy Note 21 cancelled?
Samsung’s CEO has heavily suggested the company won’t be providing a new Galaxy Note phone in 2021. DJ Koh, Samsung’s CEO, said “It is not that we do not release new products. The timing may vary, but next year we are preparing to continue to do so.”
Koh told Bloomberg, “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 Note model in 2H.”
That likely means you’ll have to wait until 2022 for a S-Pen-toting flagship smartphone from the company. Expect that to be called the Samsung Galaxy Note 22 too as the company now matches release years with its model numbers.
We’ve heard repeatedly that there won’t be a Galaxy Note 21 in 2021, so this information from DJ Koh matches previous leaks from certain sources. While we can’t confirm this is exactly the case, it looks very likely there won’t be a new Note flagship until 2022.
A more recent leak on that front takes the form of a Samsung roadmap for the rest of 2021, with no Galaxy Note 21 listed on it. There’s an August 19 launch mentioned, which is around when we’d expect to see the Note 21 if it was coming, but the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is instead listed for then.
It’s worth noting though that this roadmap is almost certainly incomplete, as there’s not much on it.
Still, the source (leaker Evan Blass) has since said that the Galaxy S21 FE is being positioned as a follow-up to the Galaxy Note 20, in the place of a Note 21, so it’s really looking very unlikely that we will see a Samsung Galaxy Note 21 this year.
All that said, previously, an anonymous Samsung official had also claimed that there will be a new Galaxy Note in 2021 though, which suggests the range isn’t entirely dead. This could be a budget version of the Note 20, or a foldable stylus phone coming under the Note name, or it could just be incorrect information.
Either way, there are rumors that we’ll see the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 with an S Pen stylus this year, as well as a Z Flip 3 and a Samsung Galaxy S21 FE, so there should be no shortage of high-end Samsung phones still to come this year even without a new Note.
Leaks and rumors
There isn’t much in the way of Samsung Galaxy Note 21 leaks yet, and that’s likely because the company is waiting until 2022 to refresh its top-end S Pen toting range.
What can we expect from the next Samsung Galaxy Note phone? For example, the phone is sure to support – and come with – an S Pen stylus, since that’s the main selling point of the range.
There will also probably be multiple models, with a Samsung Galaxy Note Ultra or Plus likely joining the standard model.
The range is also likely to have top-end power, with US users probably getting the top Qualcomm chipset of the time, and most other regions probably getting the top Samsung Exynos chipset.
We’ve been hearing Samsung is readying an under-display camera for its smartphones, and it could come in the next Galaxy Note. In Korea the company trademarked the marketing name ‘Under-Panel Camera’ or UPC making it seem imminent.
What we want to see
While we wait for more Samsung Galaxy Note 21 rumors to roll in, we’ve come up with a list of what we want to see.
1. Snapdragon for all models
Samsung typically packs different chipsets into its Note phones for different regions, with the US getting a Snapdragon one, while the UK and much of the rest of the world gets an Exynos one. The problem with this is that the two chipsets are never equal, so one version of the phone is usually better than the other.
In recent years it’s tended to be the Snapdragon one, so we’d like all models of the Samsung Galaxy Note 21 to use whatever the best Snapdragon chipset is at the time. But we’d even take them all using Exynos – mostly we just want them to be equal.
2. A glass back
While the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has a glass back, the standard Samsung Galaxy Note 20 is stuck with a plastic one, which is quite surprising given how much the phone costs.
So for the Samsung Galaxy Note 21 we want all models to have a glass back, or use some other premium material such as metal. Just no plastic please.
3. 120Hz on all models at all resolutions
The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 only has a 60Hz refresh rate, which is low for a premium phone, and while the Note 20 Ultra ups it to 120Hz, it drops the screen resolution in the process, so you have to choose between a high refresh rate and a high resolution.
So for the Samsung Galaxy Note 21 range we want all models to feature a 120Hz refresh rate, and for all of them to do it whatever other screen settings you have.
4. Camera improvements
Great as the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is, its camera isn’t quite up there with the best in low-light situations, with the phone resorting to texture smoothing to compensate for noise. This results in less detailed images than recent phones from Apple and Google manage, so we want to see this improved for the Galaxy Note 21.
We also wouldn’t say no to more lenses – both Galaxy Note 20 models have a triple-lens rear camera, while the top-end standard is increasingly quad-lens.
5. Faster charging
Both the Galaxy Note 20 and the Note 20 Ultra have 25W fast charging, which isn’t bad but it pales in comparison to the 65W charging on the OnePlus 8T.
It’s also oddly a lot slower than the 45W charging offered by the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus, so we want at least a return to 45W with the Samsung Galaxy Note 21 range, and ideally more.