Samsung's next high-end smartphone, almost certainly to be called the Galaxy S21 Ultra, will feature support for the S Pen stylus. That corroborates a string of rumors and recent comments from Samsung that it would bring the Galaxy Note's "most well-loved features" to other Galaxy phones. At this point, S Pen support is pretty much the exclusive feature of the Note — bringing it to other devices may suggest the end of the Note line altogether.
Mention of new S Pen support comes in an FCC filing from Samsung for a portable handset device with the model number SMG-998B. While we can't be sure this is the Galaxy S21 Ultra, the model number of the S20 Ultra was SMG-988B.
Blurring the lines — It's long been rumored that Samsung would phase out the Note as originally its uniquely large screen justified stylus support. For a time it was the only phone on the market with the type of real estate necessary for note-taking. Now that the rest of the Galaxy lineup has similarly large (or even larger) screens, it makes sense to offer stylus support across more devices.
The only question is where the S Pen is going to be stored or charged. Current Note devices have a built-in slot that houses and juices up the S Pen when it's not in use.
Will the Galaxy S21 Ultra will feature a slot to store the S Pen when it's not in use that can be plugged if users don't want it? We wouldn't bet on it. Because we don't expect Samsung will bundle the S Pen with the S21 Ultra when it can instead sell it as an optional accessory.
Ideal for foldables — Samsung has been focusing much of its energy on the nascent foldable smartphone sector these days. That form factor is arguably the perfect successor to the Note as the Galaxy Z Fold 2 opens up to reveal a 7.6-inch display — much more real estate for note-taking than the Note 20's 6.7-inch screen.
The company has also said it plans to introduce more affordable foldables in the coming year. Adding S Pen support to those would make them even more appealing and could provide an option for those consumers looking for Apple Pencil-like functionality on a phone, something Apple doesn't yet offer.
Beyond more phones having larger displays, it's not surprising that the Note may be in its final days. The S Pen is for a niche group of people who enjoy handwriting or drawing on their phones. And the rest of the Galaxy line offers plenty of screen space and performance. Simplifying the lineup could be a cost effective move after an underwhelming 2020 for the Galaxy Note.