Samsung might be planning for a major shift in its smartphone strategy in 2021. According to a recent analyst report, Samsung may drop the popular Galaxy Note family in favor of a foldable having a stylus. The issue, it appears, is that the Note series isn’t as common as it once was. The stylus functionality could remain, though, as part of the upcoming third-gen Samsung foldable phone.

The Galaxy Note series launched in 2011, also it seemed extremely silly initially. Who would want a phone having a humungous 5.3-inch screen? It turns out Samsung had a hit on its hands. It has released a Galaxy Note every year since, and just one of them has shown an inclination to explode. The Note 7 fires didn’t stop people from buying these to.

However, reports now claim Samsung was disappointed with sales of the Note20 and Note20 Ultra. The company is allegedly considering ending the Note line and focusing on stylus features for the Z Fold line. This makes sense at first glance — the Z Fold3 have a much more screen real estate to create an S Pen useful, and it will fold just like a real notebook, which is an enjoyable bit of skeuomorphism.

The Note series has been a proven winner for Samsung, and any suggestion that Samsung is causeing this to be decision spur of the moment strikes me as improbable — there’s lots of engineering work that should happen before you add an S Pen towards the Fold. Currently, foldable screens are made of soft plastic. Even Samsung’s panels with ultra-thin glass (UTG) have a plastic layer on the top that's softer than human fingernails. Stabbing it with a stylus of any type would quickly destroy the screen, so Samsung will have to come up with a vastly improved foldable display to make this workable.

So when the Fold stylus happens, this was probably around the roadmap for a long time. Whether or not Samsung kills the Note is another matter. I suppose this will depend on how bad Note20 sales have been and how much that can be blamed on the obscene MSRP of $1,300 for the Note20 Ultra. Samsung also got roasted in early 2021 for selling the S20 Ultra for $1,400, and that phone who has sold poorly by all accounts. The Galaxy Z Fold2 costs $2,000, and there’s no reason to anticipate adding an S Pen to the loadout would make it any cheaper. On the flip side, the Galaxy S20 FE is a mere $700, and it’s getting excellent reviews.