Samsung’s Note series may be in for the biggest shake up of its existence.
In the second half of 2014, Samsung officially announced the Galaxy Alpha, the first device in the company’s stable with true metal, albeit just a frame. Shortly thereafter, the Galaxy Note 4 (and Galaxy Note Edge) launched and saw repeated use of the premium material. All these devices, however, shipped with a plastic rear that allowed for battery swapping and microSD card support.
This year however, Samsung has gone the full nine yards and produced a pair of products that have won over the media yet angered some longtime supporters. Both the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge feature a unibody design with two slabs of glass sandwiching an aluminum alloy frame, but sans the expandable memory and replaceable power cell. Rumors had initially pointed to a Galaxy S6 Active that would see the return of both, yet such would not come to pass. Now, it seems, the same might hold true of the much-vaulted Galaxy Note series…
Courtesy of the folks over at nowhereelse.fr, the same site that brought us early leaks of the Galaxy S6 and HTC One M9 among various other devices, we have what are -allegedly- the first pictures of the Galaxy Note 5. Suffice to say, some people aren’t going to be happy: the render above is missing any semblance of a removable back cover. In fact, it looks just like a larger Galaxy S6, or even the leaked Galaxy A8 but with a cut-out for the S-Pen.
In truth, this development isn’t exactly a surprise given Samsung’s clear focus on refining the design and recreating the very idea of what its flagship products are to consumers in 2015. The stiff competition in key markets like China and India, coupled with the fact that Apple has enjoyed fantastic sales with its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus means that the Korean giant’s A-game needs to be brought to the table this year. What’s more however, numerous OEMs around the world have taken to the phablet size and thus what was once a novel idea has gradually become a status-quo. This is all the more true for consumers who don’t actively make use of the S-Pen and who could just as well buy a Nexus 6 or even the rumored metal-clad “Note rival” LG is said to be releasing later this year.
This case render, published several days ago (originating from a source at nowhereelse.fr) would seemingly mesh well with the new, leaked press render.
Somewhat concerning however, is what this potential development might mean for Samsung’s bottom line. Chances are high that many customers will be outraged by the unibody design as the Note series has always been about business productivity, with heavy usage being off-set by a removable battery and on-the-go “plug-and play” type file access being facilitated by the presence of microSD. Whereas the Galaxy S-mainstay could more easily get away with the loss of such features, those actively seeking to buy the Note are looking for vastly different purchase points.
Granted, there are some potential caveats to be had. For one thing, there is technically nothing stopping Samsung from including microSD support on the Note 5, as it would require little more than a separate tray (like the HTC One M9) or even a double-sized single tray a la the Dual-SIM variants of the S6. Indeed an alleged conversation with a Samsung representative made reference to a specific decision to remove said feature to make its product more comparable to those of of its competitors in terms of design, storage options, and “core functionality.”
As for the battery issue however, while Forbes has imagined a scenario wherein the product could theoretically contain a removable glass rear, the chances of such an inclusion would seem to be extremely low. Also becoming increasingly unlikely: any hope of the device making use of USB Type-C, something that has been rumored for some time now along with a 4K screen and other lofty desires.
Waiting for the fall? Could the Galaxy Note 4 actually see a resurgence of sales pending the announcement of a “fractured feature” Galaxy Note 5?
The real question here is perhaps truly one of self-reflection: when Samsung takes a long, hard look in the mirror, does it see a collage of diverse users who all seek to use the Note series for work and play, or does it instead see a collection of individuals who really just want a big phone with a nice screen. In the event that the latter describes the majority of Note users, then perhaps there is nothing to worry about. On the other hand, if the former is true then there might be a great migration (or at the very least, a resurgence of Galaxy Note 4 sales).
Before closing, it’s essential to mention that this is a leak, and thus until the device is formally and officially announced, we need to keep our aggression, outrage, or even excitement in-check. With that said, what do you make of this possible development?