The Samsung Galaxy Note 21 is a curious case – curious because we're not sure if we're getting one at all.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 actually arrived ahead of schedule, and in any ordinary year that would mean we could look forward to a Note series next. However, the general consensus seems to be that a Note 21 won't arrive this year, or at least not in the traditional form.
Remember that Samsung has added S Pen support to the Galaxy S21 Ultra, and the stylus is heading to the Galaxy Z Fold 3 (or maybe the Galaxy Z Fold 3 Ultra next). Is the Note all that necessary any more?
Samsung has gone on record to reaffirm its commitment to the Galaxy Note series, and in more recent comments has said getting a Note out will be difficult this year – but the company has yet to say there will be no Note 21 or that the series will be discontinued entirely.
All that means that the Galaxy Note 20 might be the last in the line, and so might the Galaxy Note 21. It's really anyone's guess right now, and it's likely that not even Samsung has decided what it wants to do.
We're sure to get a clearer picture as we go through the year, but for now, here's everything we know about the Samsung Galaxy Note 21 so far.
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Galaxy Note 21: release date
The Galaxy Note 20 series debuted in August last year at the Samsung Galaxy Unpacked event. The Note line has been making a summer appearance since the Galaxy Note 5, so if we do see a Galaxy Note 21, we'd expect Samsung to introduce it at another Unpacked event later on in the year.
Twitter tipster Max Weinbach said last year that he doesn't think we'll see a new Galaxy Note in 2021, but an industry insider spoke out not long after, claiming that Samsung will launch only a single Galaxy Note model this year, set for the latter half of 2021.
Another rumour that has been doing the rounds is that the Galaxy Z Fold 3 will actually take the place of the Note in the Samsung line-up. In other words, one way of looking at it is that the Note isn't getting killed off: it's becoming a foldable and getting a new name.
Galaxy Note 21: price
There's no word on the price for the Galaxy Note 21, but we'll be interested to see if Samsung opts for a single premium model as the swansong of the series, or if it goes down the more affordable route with a Galaxy Note model that cuts down on premium features to hit an appealing price point.
At launch, the Galaxy Note 20 started at £849 / AU$1,499 for the 4G model (not available in the US), $999 / £949 / AU$1,649 for the 5G variant, and from $1,299 / £1179 / AU$1,849 for the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G model, so don't expect the Galaxy Note 21 to be all that cheap.
Galaxy Note 21: display and design
When it comes to the Galaxy Note 21's design, there won't be too drastic of a leap from the Galaxy Note 20 aesthetically, given the tried-and-tested candy bar form factor. Expect the phone to follow the example set by the Galaxy S21 series.
While there are no leaks yet of the actual phone in the wild, concept designers and creators have been getting busy imagining what the Galaxy Note 21 could look like. Take a peek at the concept image below for example, put together by LetsGoDigital in-house designer Giuseppe Spinelli (there's another one at the top of this page): it's just possible that the final Note in the line will be a more affordable SE version.
The Galaxy Note's holepunch camera could be banished forever, based on rumors saying that Samsung is testing two variants; one with the traditional front-facing camera placement, and one with an under-screen camera. We may have already seen the UDC Galaxy Note model already, with a reported sighting during CES 2021.
An under display camera paired with the sizeable display panel of the Galaxy Note would be a treat for fans, and if Samsung can shave down the bezels, it'll be a step towards an even more immersive display.
If we get a single model, the screen size will probably lie somewhere between the Galaxy Note 20's 6.7-inch, and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra's 6.9-inch screen. Previous Note models have had a larger discrepancy between the two variants, but given how close last year's panels were, the effect of offering just the one size shouldn't make that much of an impact for fans. The Galaxy Note 21 will likely also sport an AMOLED QHD+ panel with 120Hz refresh rate.
More clues are given in a concept video put together by the talented Technizo Concept (below). You'll see it comes with that in-screen selfie camera that we mentioned, which is something that no Samsung handset has launched with yet.
As with the camera housing redesign between the Galaxy S20 and Galaxy S21, we'll probably see the Galaxy Note 20's camera housing extend to the corner of the chassis, rather than a standalone rectangular panel.
When it comes to the body, Samsung is faced with going down the route of the more premium Galaxy S21 models' rear glass panel – which is horrifyingly fragile – or the glasstic that was so divisive on the Galaxy Note 20, but which has proven to be more durable than it's glass counterpart.
Galaxy Note 21: specs and features
The Galaxy Note 21 may be sharing its once-unique S Pen support with the Galaxy S21, and maybe even the Galaxy Z Fold 3, but the under display camera that we've mentioned would give it some new exclusivity.
For the rear camera setup, we're likely to see either a triple or quad camera setup, echoing one of the Galaxy Note 20 models, depending on whether Samsung goes for an ultra premium Galaxy Note 21 – or even cut-price Galaxy Note 20 FE, as industry analyst Ross Young has suggested might release instead.
Interestingly, Samsung's Exynos 2100 can support up to six cameras (via SamMobile (opens in new tab)), and that's not something being utilised in the Galaxy S21 series. The hexa-camera support includes the front shooter, meaning a handset touting the new SoC could support another five lenses on the rear; that might encompass an improved ToF sensor for the Galaxy Note 21 (via SamMobile (opens in new tab))
Last year's Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy S20 series both utilised the same processor – Qualcomm's Snapdragon 865, or Samsung's Exynos 990, depending on the region: this year's Galaxy S21 series houses the new Snapdragon 888 or Exynos 2100 (depending on the region), so expect the Galaxy Note 21 to follow suit.
All the usual premium features will be available on the Galaxy Note 21 we would expect, so you'll no doubt get plenty of RAM and internal storage with the phone. Battery life could be one of the areas where we get an improvement over the previous model, if Samsung can squeeze in a battery above the 4,300 mAh capacity one packed into the Note 20.
If the Galaxy Note is dead in the water, there are rumors emerging of a third device in the foldale category that Samsung is working on that could take its place – namely the rollable Galaxy Scroll. The company has even teased a new foldable with a brand new form factor to sit alongside the Galaxy Z Fold and Galaxy Z Flip series.