Nearly nine years ago, Samsung revealed the first Galaxy Note to the world. A smartphone with a large 5.3-inch screen and a stylus were unheard of at that time. In many ways, Samsung’s Galaxy Note was a revolutionary device, because it created a new category of the ‘Phablet’, part phone and part tablet.
Rival companies quickly followed with their own iterations, but none managed to create a space of its own like Samsung’s Galaxy Note series by addressing the market for people who want powerful big-screen phones that are great for consuming multimedia content and doing work on the go.
With the new Galaxy Note 10 on the way, Samsung is once again ready to impress its loyal Galaxy Note fans with a new flagship. As a reminder of how far the Galaxy Note series has come, here’s a list of every single Galaxy Note device Samsung has launched since the original made its debut in 2011.
The original Galaxy Note
Announced at IFA 2011, the Galaxy Note established the phablet category that never existed before. It was the first high-end Android smartphone with a gigantic 5.3-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels, and a pixel density of 285ppi, which was pretty impressive for a phone of its size in 2011. The phone featured a plastic cover and included a 2,500mAh removable battery. The Galaxy Note was powered by a dual-core Samsung Exynos 4 chipset coupled with 1GB RAM, which was the fastest phone of its time.
The device was launched with Android 2.3 Gingerbread, and had an 8MP camera on the back and a 2MP front camera. It’s also the phone that made headlines for a retractable stylus, or the S Pen which allowed users to jot down notes and save it digitally on the phone.
Despite getting flack for the large display and size, the Galaxy Note was a massive success. In fact, Samsung had sold roughly 10 million units that year. By today’s standards, the original Galaxy Note might look old, but it will always be lauded as an industry changer.
The Galaxy Note wasn’t perfect, though. So Samsung upgraded the original model next year and released the Galaxy Note II at IFA 2012 in Berlin. In every aspect, the Galaxy Note II was better in comparison to the original model.
The Note II was heavily inspired by the Galaxy SIII in terms of design and boasted an impressive spec sheet. The phone was even bigger with a 5.5-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels, and this time a quad-core Samsung Exynos 4412 and 2GB RAM. The handset featured a beefier 3,100mAh battery too. The goal was also to improve the photo-taking ability of the camera and the S Pen.
By now, Samsung had established the Galaxy Note series in the market. The Galaxy Note II set the standard for the ultimate productivity smartphone but Samsung wanted to take the Galaxy Note series to a new level and therefore it created the Note III.
Announced in 2013, the Galaxy Note III had the faux leather stitching of the back, a radical departure from the previous-generation plastic-backed phones. It was marketed as a premium device, featuring a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED Full HD display and 3GB RAM for better multitasking. The phone had a more advanced camera (13MP, to be exact) to help users take better photos. It was also the first Samsung phone that could record 4K videos. The phone also featured the S Pen, which by now has become the signature feature.
The Galaxy Note 3 Neo was introduced in 2014 and marketed as a cheaper the Note III. It was envisioned as an affordable Galaxy Note device. Think of this as the Galaxy Note III for the masses. It didn’t offer the same specifications as the high-end Galaxy Note devices and also didn’t have superior cameras. The Galaxy Note 3 Neo was priced at Rs 40,900, when it launched, making it significantly cheaper than the Galaxy Note III. Interestingly, the Galaxy Note 3 Neo was the first and the last “affordable” Galaxy Note. Samsung didn’t repeat the experiment with a low-cost Galaxy Note again.
Introduced in September 2014, the Galaxy Note 4 was the top-rated Android smartphone of the year. The phone offered everything a consumer would expect from a flagship phone. It shipped with a Quad HD Super AMOLED display, a Snapdragon 805 processor (in some countries), 3GB RAM, a 16MP camera on the back, and a 3220mAh removable battery with fast charging support. It also included a number of sensors that weren’t available on other smartphones, including a UV sensor and heart-rate monitor. Not many remember that the Galaxy Note 4 was the first Galaxy device ever to come with a fingerprint scanner.
The Galaxy Note Edge‘s had one feature that was far ahead of its competitors: a curved display. It was the first Galaxy Note with a curved screen that waterfalls down the right side. The phone was almost the same size as the Galaxy Note 4, but had a slightly different shape thanks to the edge. Otherwise, there was no major difference between the two phones.
Both featured a Snapdragon 805 processor, a fake leather back and a 16MP main camera and the S Pen. The advantage of the edged screen was that it gave you quick access to your favourite apps and different widgets, which you could swipe between. The Galaxy Note Edge’s curved screen was a major technological leap forward and this still holds true today. If the Galaxy Note Edge didn’t exist, there wouldn’t have been a Galaxy S10 or Galaxy Note 9.
There’s no doubt Samsung builds excellent hardware, but the Galaxy Note 5 phone made consumers a bit angry. Samsung took away a removable battery in favour of a non-removable battery and no microSD card slot for expandable storage.
So what else actually got improved? The phone’s performance got slightly better with the Exynos 7420 octa-core processor and 4GB RAM. But things got really annoying when it was discovered that the S Pen could be inserted backwards into the slot of the phone, resulting in permanent damage. Samsung later acknowledged the issue by making changes to the instruction manual, and eventually the design.
Galaxy Note 7
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was supposed to compete with Apple’s iPhone 7, but instead ended up doing serious damage to Samsung’s reputation. Due to bad battery design and rush to release earlier caused some of the phones to overheat and explode. This led to Samsung to recall about 2.5 million Note 7s in early September, just two weeks after the phone was launched. The Galaxy Note 7 fiasco cost Samsung $5 billion in losses and lost sales.
Cash-rich Samsung quickly recovered from the Note 7 fiasco and released the Galaxy Note 8 in 2017. The phone featured a gigantic 6.3-inch screen, the S Pen stylus with new features, metal and glass design and a dual camera sensor on the rear for improved photography experience.
The arrival of the Note 8 showed Samsung’s confidence in the Galaxy Note series, which is known for focusing on productivity centre features. The Note 8 was critically and commercially successful.
Last year, in August, Samsung released the Galaxy Note 9 as the latest flagship in the hit Galaxy Note series. The high-end Android smartphone, even though resembling the Note 8, was bristling with new features, including a better screen with thinner bezels and camera upgrades.
It featured new and improved S -Pen stylus that connects to the smartphone via Bluetooth so that it can also be used for activating the camera shutter when the device is away. The Note 9 also had a desktop mode called DeX which lets users connect the phone to a monitor without the add-on dock. At $1000, the Galaxy Note 9 was never intended to be a volume seller but it is still an important category for Samsung.