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New Galaxy Note might not happen this year, Samsung exec says

The company says its next high-end Note phone probably won't show up until next year.

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The Galaxy Note 20, left, alongside the Note 20 Ultra.

John Kim/CNET

Samsung appears to have confirmed we won't be getting a new Galaxy Note phone this year. During its annual shareholders meeting on Wednesday, co-CEO D.J. Koh said the company may skip introducing its next flagship Note phone in 2021, but that it's looking to next year. 

"Note series is positioned as a high-end model in our business portfolio," Koh said during the shareholders meeting in Seoul, as reported by Bloomberg. "It could be a burden to unveil two flagship models in a year so it might be difficult to release Note model in [the second half of 2021]. The timing of Note model launch can be changed, but we seek to release a Note model next year."

Samsung, like virtually all companies around the world, is facing a severe semiconductor shortage. Koh attributed the Note's possible delay to efforts to streamline Samsung's portfolio, Bloomberg reported, but he also noted that "there's a serious imbalance in supply and demand of chips in the IT sector globally."

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When the coronavirus pandemic hit last year, people stayed at home and stopped shopping. Factories closed, and companies pared back orders. But then demand roared back faster than anyone expected, especially for devices to help people work and attend classes from home. Semiconductor manufacturers can't build chips fast enough, and the shortage is impacting everything from cars to gaming consoles. It's also hurting the mobile-device industry and is likely forcing Samsung to choose which phones to prioritize with its limited supply. This year, it's not the Note that's the most important device; instead it's Samsung's cheaper phones that are selling in high numbers as consumers watch their spending

Samsung's Galaxy Note line is known for its large screens, high-end specs, and stylus accessories that allow for writing on the display. The Note lineup is generally released in the late summer or early fall, while the company tends to unveil its other flagship lineup, the Galaxy S series, in late winter or early spring. When Samsung introduced the Galaxy S21 Ultra in mid-January, the phone came with a feature that was once exclusive to the Galaxy Note lineup: S Pen support. 

Though the launch timing of the next Galaxy Note may be different, Koh said Samsung "will make sure that we don't let Galaxy Note consumers down."

The news came as Samsung was set to show off its Galaxy A lineup at a virtual Unpacked event on Wednesday. The company unveiled three new devices in its lineup, the A52, A52 5G and A72. The devices all feature high-end specs at about half the price of its high-end Galaxy S21 lineup. Samsung's A series has proved to be popular during the pandemic. Last year, three out of every four phones Samsung shipped around the world came from the Galaxy A family, according to Strategy Analytics. 

That stands in contrast to the Note lineup, which sells in much lower numbers. The device, which is known for its S Pen stylus and big display, long was the phone in which Samsung introduced its high-end mobile technology. That gave it a loyal fan following, even as Samsung recalled the Note 7 for battery problems in 2017. But Samsung's foldables lineup has now become the place with its most advanced technologies, raising questions about where the Note fits. There's been speculation that Samsung will discontinue the Note, but Koh's comments seemed to refute that. 

Samsung said in a statement Thursday that it "is committed to the Galaxy Note category, which has been beloved by our most loyal fans and consumers for more than 10 years." It added that it'll share more information about the next Galaxy Note device "once we are ready to announce."

See also: How to watch the 'awesome' Galaxy A series phone announcement