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Killing the Galaxy Note was Samsung’s brilliant plan to save Galaxy S series

Opinion
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Last updated: February 26th, 2022 at 15:50 UTC+02:00

The Galaxy S and Galaxy Note series have been a permanent fixture of Samsung’s smartphone strategy for years. In the first half of the year, Samsung would launch new Galaxy S flagships. The Galaxy Note would come in the second half with almost similar specs but that didn’t prevent people from loving this series.

The S Pen is what attracted people. The Galaxy Note series remained the only flagship option for users who wanted a stylus with a high-end phone. So the Note ended up with a very loyal following. Most didn’t care how good that year’s Galaxy S phone was. They would just wait until the second half to pick up the new Galaxy Note.

All that changed last year when Samsung announced that it won’t launch a new Galaxy Note device in 2021. The Galaxy S21 Ultra had already been launched by then. This was the first Galaxy S flagship to have support for the S Pen but it was far from a Note. The Galaxy S21 Ultra didn’t ship with the S Pen and it couldn’t be stored inside the device. Nevertheless, it was a sign of things to come.

Before long, there were rumors and reports that Samsung would kill the Galaxy Note lineup. Expansion of the S Pen support to the Galaxy Z Fold 3 only added fuel to the fire. Note loyalists didn’t appreciate that possibility. Our fan petition calling on Samsung to launch a new Note flagship in 2022 gained over 40,000 signatures.

The writing was on the wall, though. Something had to go. Samsung had the Galaxy S series for the first half of the year and the Galaxy Z foldables for the second half. There simply wasn’t enough room to squeeze new Galaxy Note flagships into the lineup. The risk that these devices would end up cannibalizing sales was all too real.

What a lot of fans didn’t realize was that Samsung had another problem. Its Galaxy S flagships were struggling in the market. Despite featuring the bonkers Galaxy S20 Ultra, sales of the Galaxy S20 series were disappointing. Last year’s Galaxy S21 series actually performed worse than the Galaxy S20.

It became clear that interest in the Galaxy S series was dying down. Even the Ultra models, packed to the gills with camera upgrades, weren’t doing enough to put the wind back in the sails. When you see how Samsung has managed to turn it around with the new Galaxy S22 lineup, the company’s brilliant plan becomes clear.

The Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22+ are familiar flagship smartphones. They don’t get any major design changes but they do come with top-notch specs. With prices being kept at the same level, they’re safe options for customers looking to buy a high-end phone without breaking the bank.

Samsung had to make sure that the Galaxy Note loyalists didn’t jump ship. That’s why it completely redesigned the Galaxy S22 Ultra. It looks nothing like its predecessors. The device has the iconic Note shape and silhouette. It’s also the first Galaxy S device to ship with the S Pen, one that can be stored inside the device.

For all intents and purposes, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is the reincarnation of the Galaxy Note. It’s a device built by Samsung purely for the Note loyalists who continue to be some of its most passionate supporters. The plan appears to be working.

Samsung is seeing incredible demand for the new Galaxy S flagships, particularly the Galaxy S22 Ultra. The new series has broken pre-order records across the globe. In South Korea, over 300,000 units were sold on day one.

More than 1.02 million pre-orders were received in total, breaking a record previously set by the Galaxy S8. Despite being the most expensive in the lineup, the Galaxy S22 ultra accounted for more than 60% of all pre-orders in Samsung’s home country.

The situation is much the same in other countries across the globe. Samsung has officially confirmed that the Galaxy S22 series has received more pre-orders in the first week than any other Galaxy smartphone to date. Yet again, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is seen generating the vast majority of sales.

The Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22+ alone couldn’t have achieved this. An Ultra model without the Galaxy Note DNA wouldn’t have moved the needle by much. Samsung needed something big to save the Galaxy S series and that required absorbing the Galaxy Note in the Galaxy S series.

Going forward, the millions of people who bought a new Galaxy Note flagship every year will pick up the top-of-the-line Galaxy S model instead. This will prevent a major sales slump for the Galaxy S series. That’s important for Samsung. The Galaxy S flagships compete with every other high-end smartphone. Samsung can’t have not selling well, it simply doesn’t look good.

There was a lot of anger among Galaxy Note fans when it emerged that the series was being discontinued. Many felt betrayed and said that they wouldn’t buy another Samsung phone again. For them, nothing could replace the familiarity of a Note handset.

It would have been wrong to assume that Samsung would leave some of its most loyal customers out to dry without providing them with an alternative. That wouldn’t make much business sense. What this tells fans is that you’ve got to trust the process, trust the fact that Samsung wouldn’t take a step to harm its own business.

Samsung took two years to put all the pieces together. It started with the Galaxy S21 Ultra and its support for the S Pen. That allowed the company to ease customers into the idea. Once it saw that the plan would work, it effectively brought back the Galaxy Note flagship just under a different name.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra is every bit the Note that we’ve come to love. It’s the top-of-the-line model which means it gets the best of everything. The best cameras, the best specs and the best design. All credit to Samsung for executing the plan brilliantly. It’s easier said than done.

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