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February 10, 2022

Samsung merges Galaxy Note and Ultra phones

Samsung officially merged its productivity Note line of phones and the multimedia-centric Ultra phones at its first Galaxy Unpacked event of 2022 where it announced its new line of flagship phones, the Galaxy S22 series. The category merging was widely expected after Note phones disappeared from Samsung’s lineup last year.

Industry reports estimate that Samsung’s Galaxy S phone shipments fell 47 percent over the past two generations, including reduced numbers for the S21. Adding to the issue are continual chipset shortage issues and supply chain constraints that have made it difficult for OEMs to sustain their SKU counts. Samsung is also bent on redefining hardware with its folding phones which are increasingly expected to take on the flagship mantle as its prices decrease.

Continued remote working has seen consumers rely heavily on their smartphones and expect more out of them. A combined Ultra and Note allows Samsung to reduce SKUs, navigate supply chain and component scarcity issues, as well as address a growing category of users who demand high productivity combined with entertainment from their devices.

Forward-looking features

The $799 Galaxy S22, $999 Galaxy S22+, and $1,199 S22 Ultra come with mmWave and sub-6 5G support, futureproofing them as carriers continue to build out their 5G networks. The phones build on the pro-grade camera experience that Samsung phones are known for, with attributes such as nightography, new multiframe processing skills, and vision booster. Longer equipment installment plans terms of 36 months, which have now become the norm in the US, coupled with aggressive carrier promotions amounting to $1,000 off the sales price, will make the flagship phones nearly free, helping them gain sales traction.

Even with a rise in mid-range 5G phones, premium phones have largely been responsible for mainstream adoption of 5G services. According to GlobalData, 5G mobile service revenues in North America will reach $195.7 billion by 2026. Carriers will continue to use Samsung and Apple 5G phones to upsell premium service plans to consumers.

Samsung is the US Android leader

The flagship Galaxy series have been Samsung’s profit margin generators historically, but the mid-range Galaxy A series have steadily become Samsung’s shipment stars. Nevertheless, premium phones remain key to Samsung’s financial health as Xiaomi breathes down its neck in Europe.

Samsung is the foremost Android vendor in the US; its new phones bring improvements in camera tech, and there is a lot of consumer anticipation around them. Google opted out of the CES 2022 trade show, which was held January 5-7 in Las Vegas and closing one day early citing Covid concerns. But the company made multiple Android announcements for the show via a digital platform. Google expanded Android’s Fast Pair support for varied product categories, with extended Chromecast backing and Windows OS integration, as well as announced spatial audio support for its devices with compatible headsets.