The Samsung Galaxy Note was released in late 2011 and arrived with a 1.4 GHz dual core Exynos processor and a 5.2-inch screen, but looked something like an enlarged Galaxy S II i9100. It was not the first large screen “phablet” style device, nor was it the first device to ship with a stylus (called the Samsung S Pen in order to differentiate it from a “normal” stylus) but it was the first device to receive mainstream marketing. We’ve now seen five models of the Samsung Galaxy Note spread over four generations; each has used cutting edge components and an increasingly bewildering array of software features but has concentrated on providing the customer with a large screen, high performance device backed up by the S Pen user interface. The fourth generation range included two models – the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge, which had slightly different internals and a curved, functional edge to the design. We’ve now seeing a number of patents released by Samsung and some illustrations showing that perhaps the next Galaxy Note will include dual displays. It’s also possible that they’ll be using a curved or flexible display too. Project Valley even hints at a foldable device. We’ve also seen Samsung Display citing that the company is working towards supplying foldable displays by the end of 2015 or early 2016. The question remains: where have and will Samsung innovate the next generation Galaxy Note?
Some recent patent filings appear to show some of Samsung’s ideas, including using an input pen containing a camera (called “the Photographer”). The input pen’s location is recognized through a mix of a magnetic coil embedded into the pen and the necessary sensors in the device, combined with an infrared proximity sensor. The pen contains a contact to allow it to be recharged when connected with the device. The Photographer is described as a high-end camera and may be positioned or aimed anywhere the user so desires. Software features will include the ability to touch up the image using the device screen and voice recognition that allows the customer to annotate the image. The pen will also include optical character reading, OCR, plus the software may be used to recognize a character in the image. The Photographer pen’s optical character recognition could be used for enhanced functionality, for example when scanning a city name the device pulls up “navigation” and “road view” on the screen.
Another patent includes an illustration of a foldable, dual-screen smartphone. The image I’ve used with the article is not meant to alarm readers, thinking that they’ve dropped into the latest Nintendo and Android rumor post (last report is that they won’t, by the way), but instead appears to show an idea Samsung has had regarding a “new” smartphone configuration; except it looks like a Nintendo DS or older Windows Mobile 5 era mobile device. Apparently, Samsung have been working on this project for years and it is now just around the corner. There is a chart showing the in-air gestures that can be used to control the device or manipulate images on the screen. And whilst Samsung appears to be reinventing an existing wheel through the aid of additional software features, a hinged dual screen would appear at odds with the sleek, slimline designs we’ve seen from the company for their Galaxy Note lineup. Perhaps Samsung see the Galaxy Note as being converged into the Galaxy Notebook?