Samsung’s latest Galaxy Note phones are divisive. The Note 20 Ultra is a do-everything beast of a phone with a sky-high price tag that jars slightly with consumer priority during the pandemic.
The regular Note 20 feels like a straight misstep, with a plastic back, 60Hz display and lower camera specs but still coming in at a cool £949 if you want 5G. With rumours that Samsung is looking to merge the features and release dates of its S and Note phones, there’s a chance the Note 20 range could be the last traditional Note phones ever.
If they do come out though, they will very likely be called the Note 30 and Note 30 Ultra, seeing as Samsung has released two Notes for the second year in a row but changed branding from Plus to Ultra.
The Note 20 phones are still relatively new, so we are still several months away from the normal Note launch. Here’s what we know about the Note 30.
Samsung Galaxy Note 30 release date
The Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra were revealed in a virtual Unpacked event on 5 August 2020, with the Note 10 and Note 10 Plus first announced on 7 August 2019. It’s possible we’ll not be seeing the Note 30 range until the first week of August 2021 if these dates are anything to go by.
But there’s a persistent rumour that Samsung is considering adding an S-Pen to one of its Galaxy S phones and merging the S and Note lines together. It has been reported since 2019 and hasn’t happened yet, but 2021 might be the year that it does.
If that happens then we could see a new Note come February 2021 along with the Galaxy S30. Samsung may do this so it can use the August release window solely for its growing foldable phone releases instead of the Note.
Samsung Galaxy Note 30 price
The Note 20 costs £849/$999, with the Note 20 Ultra setting buyers back £1,179/$1,299. It’s worth noting that the regular Note 20 is 4G-only at that price, and it’s £949 if you want 5G. The Note 20 Ultra is 5G-only.
In the US where the Notes run on Snapdragon chips rather than Samsung’s Exynos, there are only 5G models.
We expect Samsung not to offer a 4G Note in 2021, so all Note 30 models will likely break the £1,000/$1,000 barrier. A Note 30 Ultra is likely to cost around £1,200/$1,200.
Samsung Galaxy Note 30 specs
Thanks to the cyclical annual updates of phones, we can hazard some pretty confident guesses as to the specs of the Note 30 series.
Like with the Galaxy S phones, Samsung uses its Exynos chipsets in the Note in regions like Europe and India but uses Qualcomm’s 8-series Snapdragon chips in the US and its home country of South Korea.
While performance is usually largely the same, year after year the Exynos version of the phone struggles with battery life. US reviews always reflect well on the Snapdragon version’s longevity and it’s a major annoyance for people in regions where the Note has an Exynos chip.
We are pretty Samsung will keep this strategy though. Apart from the difference in chipsets, we should be seeing at least 8GB RAM if not more on even the lowest end model, with storage of at least 128GB. This year the Note 20 didn’t have microSD expansion but the Note 20 Ultra did.
Both handsets also have triple cameras, but the Note 20 Ultra had a mega 108Mp main sensor and 5x optical zoom, outshining the 3x hybrid zoom on the normal Note 20.
The design of the Note 20 is very similar to the Note 10, so it could be that the Note 30 is fairly tame in its design update. The Note 20 is even more austere than the Note 10, with matt bronze and a huge camera bump where the Note 10 had a multicoloured glass option. The Note 30 is likely to carry on the industrial feel.
We’d hope that however many Note 30s there are that they all have 120Hz displays, and that they’ll be able to run at full resolution. The S20 and Note 20 Ultra can only run either 120Hz or QHD+, and not both. Come on Samsung, these are expensive phones.
The Note 30 will necessarily have an S-Pen as standard of course, but to be honest we won’t mind if Samsung does away with the air gestures gimmick where you control the software remotely with it.
Samsung Galaxy Note 30 wish list
The Note 30 is probably a way off, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a list of things we want from it.
A lower price
The regular Note 20 would have made more sense at around £700, not £849. If Samsung is going to release a lower spec Note then we want it to make it more accessible to those who can’t afford to spend close to £1,000 on a phone.
Better battery life
The European Note 20 Ultra’s main flaw is its unremarkable battery life. When the most expensive Note is marketed as a do-all phone for pros, you end up using it a lot, and it’s a pain when the battery hits red before you’re done. The Note phones are big, so either get more battery out of the set up or switch to Snapdragon globally please Samsung.
Under display camera
2021 could be the year that Samsung works out how to put the front facing camera under the display instead of having to use a cut-out circle. Its debut on the Note could be an excellent opportunity to sell it as a differentiator, particularly if the Note 30’s specs are quite similar to the Note 20’s. There is not much companies can add to phones at the moment, but this is one of them. ZTE just did it.
A smaller version
We’d love to see a smaller Note device like we did with the Note 10. With the Note 20 Samsung oddly turned out two very large phones with a mishmash of specs and design differences. A return to a small and large Note release would make more sense, offering a more compact and manageable device to people who don’t want a phone as big as their head.
This could be where we see the S-Pen make its debut on the Galaxy S30 in February and frankly we are all for that.