Samsung’s next major smartphone is coming next month, but it could be more difficult than ever to convince people to buy it

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9.

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The Samsung Galaxy Note 9.
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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

  • Samsung is expected to announce its Galaxy Note 10 next month.
  • But with so many choices available in the Galaxy S10 line, it’s getting more difficult for Samsung to distinguish the Note from its flagship phones.
  • The Note’s larger screen used to make it stand apart from Samsung’s other phones and competitors, but the discrepancies in display size and features has gotten slimmer in recent years.
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Apple may be credited with inventing the modern smartphone, but it was Samsung’s Galaxy Note in 2011 that laid the foundation for the big-screened devices we use today. The Note popularized the concept of making mobile devices bigger while the rest of the industry was making them smaller and more portable.

With its bigger screen, included stylus, and increased memory and storage capacity, the Note proved to be a fan-favorite, especially among power users. But in 2019, it could be harder than ever for Samsung to differentiate its Note from the Galaxy S line – especially now that the Galaxy S10 comes in four different versions at various sizes and price points. Samsung typically unveils its Note around the August and September timeframe, and it looks like that will probably be the case again this year since the firm just sent out invites for an event on August 7.

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The Note’s massive screen used to be one of the key characteristics that distinguished the Note from its Galaxy S cousins. However, the discrepancy in screen size and other differentiating features has gradually dwindled over the years.

Other than than Samsung’s S Pen stylus, the major differences between last year’s Galaxy S9 Plus and the Galaxy Note 9 are the latter’s slightly larger screen and battery and the option to purchase it with a lot more storage and memory than the S9 Plus. The Note 9’s screen is only 0.2 inches larger than the S9 Plus’, and the two phones otherwise offer the same functionality when it comes to important features like the camera.

That wasn’t the case several years ago when the Note was still relatively new. The Galaxy Note 2, which debuted in 2012, had a 5.5-inch display, making its screen 0.7 inches larger than the 4.8-inch display on the Galaxy S3 Samsung released that same year. Back then, Samsung didn’t release its Galaxy S smartphones in different sizes, making the Note an attractive option for those who wanted a device with a screen that was noticeably larger than what most phone manufacturers were selling at the time.

Now, Samsung offers more choice than ever when it comes to its Galaxy S phones. Not only does the S10 come in the familiar standard and plus models from years past, but the company also sells a more powerful version called the Galaxy S10 5G that will be able to connect to next-generation wireless networks. The 5G-enabled model features a 6.7-inch display that’s noticeably larger than that of the S10 (6.1 inches) and the S10 Plus (6.4 inches) and a quadruple camera setup that includes a 3D depth camera. That differs from the S10 and S10 Plus, which have triple-camera arrangements that lack the S10 5G’s depth sensor.

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Samsung also sells a version of the S10 Plus that comes with 12 GB of RAM and 1 TB of storage, while other models like the standard S10 and S10 5G max out at 8 GB of memory and 512 GB of storage.

With so many choices already available when it comes to screen size, storage, and camera quality, it’s unclear what the next-generation Note will offer besides the S Pen that the S10 doesn’t already have. Even rumors that have emerged so far indicate that the new Note will feel a lot like the S10 and will likely adopt many of its features. While similarities between the latest Galaxy S phones and the Note have always existed, the existence of the Galaxy S10 5G and the Performance Edition Galaxy S10 Plus make the Note feel less relevant.

If the stylus is truly the one feature that separates the Note from the Galaxy S10 family, Samsung will have to do more to make the case as to why it’s worth buying over its flagship phone.