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Built-in stylus for S22 Ultra signals end of Note era

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra with the S-Pen is on display on Tuesday in San Francisco. (AP-Yonhap)
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra with the S-Pen is on display on Tuesday in San Francisco. (AP-Yonhap)
The release of Samsung Electronics‘ Galaxy S22 Ultra showed that its Note era might have just ended, with the S series phones inheriting features that had defined the Note series.

Since August 2020, the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer has yet to announce a new Note lineup, with Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra being the last to be released in the decade-long history of the Note series.

The virtual Unpacked event held on Thursday (Seoul time) showed that the S22 Ultra -- the highest-end variant of Samsung‘s newest S22 lineup -- could instead cater to a demand for big-screen phones from consumers who want to type, slide and handwrite on the screen.

“Samsung‘s Ultra model is anticipated to replace the Note series, whose new model was not released last year,” Oh Hyun-jin, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities, noted Thursday. “We are keenly watching for whether the Ultra model would absorb the consumer demand for the Note series.”

According to Samsung, the S22 Ultra differentiates itself from its predecessor, the S21 Ultra -- the first S series smartphone to be compatible with Samsung’s S Pen stylus -- in that it has a built-in slot to store the stylus.

Moreover, the new device’s 6.8 inch screen is three times more responsive to the S Pen than those of the S21 and Note 20 Ultra, both of which had 9 milliseconds of latency. Latency for the new device was reduced by 70 percent, meaning the input delay of the stylus for the S22 Ultra stood at 2.8 milliseconds, in combination with its display with a 120Hz refresh rate.

The stylus for S22 Ultra will also have Bluetooth wireless connectivity, allowing the S Pen to be used as a remote control.

Samsung said in a statement that the S22 Ultra “embraces the legacy of the Note” in terms of both stylus compatibility and design, which features sharp angles unlike the other S22 variants.

Aside from the hardware improvement, the artificial intelligence-based point prediction software powered by the industry‘s most advanced 4-nanometer processor will give S22 Ultra stylus users a smoother handwriting experience.

The transition comes two years after Samsung’s S series gave birth to its first Ultra variant in 2020 with the S20 Ultra.

However, the transition did not come overnight. The premium Note series has long been under a series of controversies regarding its subpar camera specifications, pricing, heat control and weight.

Moreover, Samsung in September ruled out the Galaxy Note‘s trademark rights renewal in South Korea, which is set to expire in April 2023. Meanwhile, it renewed rights for all other lines, such as the S, Z, A and M series.

Should Samsung make public its plan to discontinue its production of the Note model, Note fans would be left with the S22 Ultra or foldable Galaxy Z Fold lineups as alternatives. The latest Z Fold 3 would be compatible with the S Pen as an accessory.

The S22 Ultra’s specification improvements, including the stylus, is likely to accelerate its sell-in, analysts said. The S22 Ultra is likely to take the largest sales share among S22 variants, and one-up the S21 Ultra model‘s current 35 percent sales share.

“While all S22 series phones came up with enough changes to drive more consumers to switch to higher quality devices, the S22 Ultra model, in particular, is likely to address deferred demand to buy Note series smartphones and see an increased shipment,” noted Park Chan-ho, analyst at Hyundai Motor Securities.

He added that the global demand for premium phones priced at $600 or more is seeing a recovery.

(consnow@heraldcorp.com)
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