Commentary: It would be another sign that the Galaxy Z Fold lineup is replacing the Galaxy Note.

The Galaxy Z Fold 4 just launched in August, but rumors about the Galaxy Z Fold 5 have already surfaced. If a report from Korean news outlet The Elec turns out to be true, one of the Z Fold 5’s biggest upgrades could be the addition of an S Pen slot. It would be a small but important change that addresses one of the Z Fold 4’s shortcomings and cements its place as a successor to the now-extinct Galaxy Note family.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra is Samsung’s Note replacement in a literal sense, considering it has the Note’s signature embedded S Pen and the largest screen of any non-folding Samsung phone. But the Z Fold is the Galaxy Note’s successor when it comes to the purpose it serves in Samsung’s lineup.

More importantly, making the S Pen a more integral part of the Galaxy Z Fold could further define its purpose. While Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold and Z Flip phones have drastically improved over the last two years, foldable phones feel like a solution in search of a problem. Seemingly small changes like the addition of an S Pen port could go a long way in defining exactly who and what the Fold is for. That’s especially true since Samsung is pitching the Z Fold as a productivity-oriented device, as evidenced by new features like the ability to use the bottom half of the phone as a mini trackpad when folded halfway.

Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold 5 May Get an S Pen Slot. Here's Why That's a Big Deal

Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4 James Martin/CNET

The Elec’s report doesn’t outright say the Z Fold 5 will have an S Pen slot, but suggests it’s being heavily considered. Samsung reportedly cited the introduction of an S Pen holster as a key challenge that needs to be overcome to make foldable phones more popular, along with making the phone lighter and minimizing the screen’s crease. Samsung did not respond to a request for comment on The Elec’s report.

The Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Z Fold 3 are both compatible with the S Pen, but the stylus must be purchased separately and there’s no mechanism for attaching it to the device. Embedding the S Pen likely presents a challenge because it would add more thickness to a device that’s already chunkier than the average phone when closed. But in his review, CNET’s Patrick Holland said he wished the pen could at least magnetically stick to the Z Fold 4 the way Apple’s Pencil does with the iPad.

It’s a conundrum that I hope Samsung solves on the Z Fold 5, as The Elec suggests, and not just for convenience’s sake. The Galaxy Note debuted in 2011 and set the stage for today’s large-screened phones in our pockets, and Samsung has similar ambitions for its foldables lineup.

“Just three years ago, this category didn’t even exist,” TM Roh, president and head of Samsung’s mobile experience business, said during the company’s August keynote before announcing the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Flip 4. “Now we are leading it into the mainstream.”

A more seamless S Pen experience could help it get there, which is important considering foldable phones are only expected to account for 1.1% of global smartphone shipments in 2022, according to the International Data Corporation.


Even without a fully integrated S Pen, the Galaxy Z Fold is increasingly beginning to feel like the new incarnation of the Galaxy Note. The Galaxy Note was never meant to be for everyone; that’s what the Galaxy S lineup is for. Instead, Samsung positioned the Note as an option for those willing to pay a higher price for extras you couldn’t get on most other phones, like a bigger screen, the latest processor and the ability to take handwritten notes.

The Galaxy Z Fold’s story is similar: It comes at a premium price, but does something few other phones can. In a sense, both phones represent Samsung’s attempt at blending the smartphone and tablet experience. The Galaxy Note was sometimes referred to as a “phablet” in the years following its 2011 launch because it had a 5.3-inch screen that was abnormally large for a smartphone at the time. The Galaxy Z Fold is a more modern twist on the same idea.

The Galaxy Note was successful in part because it came at the right time. As smartphones became ubiquitous and the app economy boomed, we began relying on phones for everything from reading the news to playing games, paying bills and hailing a cab. It seems logical that people craved larger screens as they started spending more time on their phones. The Galaxy Note ultimately paved the way for the direction that Samsung’s premium smartphones eventually took, as evidenced by the fact that it was absorbed into the Galaxy S line.

Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold 5 May Get an S Pen Slot. Here's Why That's a Big Deal

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Angela Lang/CNET

Samsung certainly expects its Z-line to fill the gap left by the Note. The company even said on its second quarter earnings call that it wants sales of foldables to surpass those of its Galaxy Note series.

Even though the Galaxy Z Fold is four generations old, it’s unclear whether Samsung will stick with the same approach over the long term for its book-shaped foldable phones. The company showcased new concepts at CES 2022, suggesting Samsung has many ideas for where foldable phones could go in the future. “It’s everything you saw [at CES] plus more,” Samsung’s TM Roh said to CNET in August when asked about upcoming foldable designs.

But getting to the future that Samsung envisions ultimately starts with refining today’s foldables. And for now, that means making refinements to the Z Fold and Z Flip — as small as they may seem — that give these devices a more intentional purpose.

NEWS RELATED

Latest Windows 11 beta brings cloud storage settings to Galaxy Book

Microsoft is rolling out two new beta builds for Windows 11 laptops and PCs, and you can install them on your Galaxy Book. Windows 11 beta build 22623.1180 is rolling out with new features, while the Windows 11 beta build 22621.1180 update brings features that are turned off by default. ...

View more: Latest Windows 11 beta brings cloud storage settings to Galaxy Book

Galaxy A52s 5G’s January 2023 update brings Maintenance Mode

Samsung has released the January 2023 security update to many smartphones and tablets. Now, the company has released a new update to the Galaxy A52s 5G as well. The latest Galaxy A52s 5G software update comes with firmware version A528BXXU1DWA4. The update comes with the January 2023 security update ...

View more: Galaxy A52s 5G’s January 2023 update brings Maintenance Mode

Carrier-locked Galaxy Z Flip grabs January 2023 security update in the US

The Galaxy Z Flip was one of the first devices to get the January 2023 security patch. However, back then, Samsung rolled out the update only to the international LTE and the 5G variants of the device. Today, the company is making the January 2023 security patch available for ...

View more: Carrier-locked Galaxy Z Flip grabs January 2023 security update in the US

Galaxy XCover Pro, XCover 5 get January 2023 security update

Samsung started rolling out the January 2023 security patch to its smartphone right from the first day of the year. So far, the company has pushed the latest security update to many Galaxy S, Galaxy Note, Galaxy M, Galaxy A, and Galaxy Z series devices. Now, Samsung has started ...

View more: Galaxy XCover Pro, XCover 5 get January 2023 security update

You can no longer use Google Voice Smart Reply on your Samsung phone

With the latest update to Google Voice, Google has removed the Smart Reply feature from the app. This feature is no longer supported on your Samsung or any other Android phone. Also, this feature isn’t available on iOS either. Google added the Smart Reply feature to Google Voice last ...

View more: You can no longer use Google Voice Smart Reply on your Samsung phone

Galaxy Z Fold 4 gets served with January 2023 security update

Earlier today, we reported that the Galaxy Z Flip 4 has started getting the January 2023 security update. Now, even the Galaxy Z Fold 4 has started getting Samsung’s newest security update in various African, Asian, and European countries. The latest software update for the Galaxy Z Fold 4 ...

View more: Galaxy Z Fold 4 gets served with January 2023 security update

Galaxy M31 starts getting January 2023 security update

The Galaxy M31, being more than two years old now, currently has a biannual security status. It means the phone is eligible to receive at least two security updates every year, and today, the phone is receiving one. The latest update for the Galaxy M31 (SM-M315F) brings January 2023 ...

View more: Galaxy M31 starts getting January 2023 security update

Check out the features of the new Bespoke 4-Door Flex with Family Hub+

At CES 2023, Samsung launched its Bespoke AI Oven and Bespoke 4-Door Flex, both powered by Family Hub+ and the most recent SmartThings Cooking capabilities. These devices have enhanced AI capabilities and a new level of customization to help with your daily chores. Particularly noteworthy is the new Bespoke ...

View more: Check out the features of the new Bespoke 4-Door Flex with Family Hub+

Xiaomi phone with Samsung E6 OLED breaks Android display brightness record

Galaxy S20 FE gets January 2023 security update

Samsung is reportedly making OLED displays for iPad Pro, MacBook Pro

Galaxy S10 5G gets January 2023 security update

Third-party Twitter apps are now officially dead

Samsung’s new OLED screen can be folded inward and outward

Daily Deal: Samsung’s most stylish flash drive gets 63% price cut

US pricing has leaked for Samsung’s Galaxy S23 series – it’s good news

One UI: I much prefer default icon colors to palette-matching ones

Galaxy Tab S6 Lite (2020) gets Android 13 One UI 5.0 update

SmartThings Galaxy Watch update brings new smart home controls

First post-Android 13 update to Galaxy A72 brings January 2023 security patch

OTHER NEWS