Will the Samsung Galaxy S22 signal the end for the Note series?

New smartphones expected to have improved cameras and battery, with the high-end S22 Ultra having a slot to hold the S Pen

The Samsung Galaxy S21's camera from last year featured a 108MP lead sensor. AFP
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Samsung Electronics, the world's biggest mobile phone manufacturer, confirmed its first major event for 2022, in which it will announce the latest iteration of its flagship Galaxy S series.

The Galaxy Unpacked event on February 9, wherein Samsung is expected to unveil the Galaxy S22 line-up, is bringing about more curiosity on whether – based on purported specifications and a cryptic statement from a top official – the highest-end version of the S22 will indeed be the replacement of the successful Note series.

“True innovations don’t just evolve with the world – they help shape it. To create the devices that push us ahead, rewrite the future and bring light to the dark, we must continue to break the rules of what is possible with a smartphone,” the Seoul-based company said on its website. It added that it will “set an epic new standard for smartphones with the most noteworthy S series ever created".

Samsung is expected to launch three versions of the Galaxy S22 – the S22, S22 Plus and the premium-end S22 Ultra.

One feature the S22 Ultra will reportedly have a slot to hold the S Pen, the signature accessory of the Galaxy Note series. Samsung started integrating the S Pen's capabilities into the S series last year with the S21 Ultra and then the Galaxy Z Fold3 in August, albeit as a sold-separately add-on.

We know many of you were surprised when Samsung didn’t release a new Galaxy Note last year ... and we haven’t forgotten about these experiences you love
T M Koh, president and head of Samsung's mobile experience business

The company has never officially spoken about the future of the Note, whether it would return in one form or another, or be discontinued altogether, given that both the Galaxy S and Galaxy Z series have now been given S Pen support. The Note's traditional August launch – at least last year's – has also been taken over by Samsung's foldables.

However, T M Roh, president and head of Samsung's mobile experience business, might have given a hint in a blog post teasing the Unpacked event.

“We know many of you were surprised when Samsung didn’t release a new Galaxy Note last year. You loved the unparalleled creativity and efficiency of the Galaxy Note series, which enabled you to switch from gaming nirvana to high-octane productivity in the blink of an eye,” Mr Koh said.

“You raved about the lifelike S Pen, which many say rivals putting ink to paper. And we haven’t forgotten about these experiences you love … the next generation of Galaxy S is here, bringing together the greatest experiences of our Samsung Galaxy into one ultimate device.”

As with any new iteration, the Galaxy S22 devices are expected to have improved cameras, a segment that has become a battleground for smartphone manufacturers. Early speculation suggested that the S22 series may come with a 200-megapixel camera, but there has been no concrete evidence to support that. Both the S20 and S21 had a 108MP lead sensor, with the latter featuring a significant improvement.

Detailed leaks from WinFuture suggest the S22 and S22 Plus will come with 8GB of RAM and storage capacities of 128GB and 256GB, similar to last year's, while the high-end S22 Ultra has an additional 512GB option. But it seems the S22 Ultra will be limited to RAMs of 8GB and 12GB, as opposed to its predecessor's 12GB and 16GB.

The cap of 512GB is potentially an issue for content-heavy users, who presumably enjoyed past Samsung devices that had a maximum capacity of 1.5TB – 512GB of flash and 1TB of microSD – last seen in the Galaxy S20.

Samsung has been consistently the top smartphone vendor globally, but in the fourth quarter of 2021, it was overtaken by rival Apple, preliminary data from research firm Canalys showed. Canalys also said the iPhone maker had a 22 per cent market share in the period ending December 31 compared to Samsung's 20 per cent.

On Thursday, Samsung reported a 53 per cent surge in fourth-quarter operating profit, jumping 43.4 per cent to 51.63 trillion won ($42.9 billion), on the back of a record 279.6tn won in sales, driven by the strength of its semiconductor business.

China's OnePlus started off the big smartphone launches of 2022 when it unveiled the OnePlus 10 – which comes with a camera set-up developed with top-tier lens maker Hasselblad – at the Consumer Electronics Show this month.

Updated: February 09, 2022, 5:41 AM