Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 S-Pen support could mean the end of the road for the Galaxy Note series, and a higher cost of entry for S-Pen ownership
Industry sources recently informed ETNews that the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 may feature Galaxy S-Pen support. If true, this would have major implications for the Galaxy Note lineup, effectively eliminating the only reason for its existence as a separate product line from the Galaxy S flagship series.
According to the ETNews report, implementing S-Pen support was actually a key R&D challenge Samsung spent years to overcome. This included devising a way to actually store the S-Pen and getting a foldable pressure-sensitive digitizer to work. Moreover, foldable screens (including those in Samsung's own Fold lineup) have acquired something of a reputation for being fragile. A key challenge was in making the foldable display itself robust enough to withstand repeated S-Pen use.
ETNews reports that the Galaxy Z Fold 3 will release in Q3 of 2021. If this report holds true, it'll have a number of interesting implications. For starters, we might see Samsung ending the Galaxy Note lineup. Currently, S-Pen support and a slightly different design are the only real points of differentiation between the Galaxy S20 Plus and the Galaxy Note 20. In earlier days, the Note series had a bigger, more capable display, but that's not the case with the current generation.
Both the S20 Plus and Note 20 feature 6.7-in AMOLED panels, but the S20 Plus features a higher resolution and a 120 Hz refresh rate. There are very slight differences in terms of hardware capabilities (some versions of the Note 20 ship with the Snapdragon 865 Plus as opposed to the vanilla Snapdragon 865 on the S20 Plus). Barring S-Pen support, there's really no compelling reason to pick a Note 20 over the S20 Plus.
By introducing S-Pen support for their foldable lineup, Samsung could effectively drive the final nail in the Note lineup's coffin. This could have an unpleasant side effect: Samsung's Galaxy Fold phones are significantly more expensive than either the Note or Galaxy S series'. Limiting S-Pen support to the Z Fold 3 could increase the cost of ownership for anyone looking to buy a flagship Samsung phone with S-Pen support.