Samsung Galaxy S20 series goes big on screen size, cameras and 5G

When Apple adds three cameras, Samsung steps up to four – and puts 5G into the mix.

By Mark Gurman, February 12 2020
Samsung Galaxy S20 series goes big on screen size, cameras and 5G

Samsung is starting a new decade with a new chief in charge of its mobile business, but it’s doing it in the same old fashion: by leaning into its semiconductor advantage to overwhelm consumers with unmatched specs on its latest Galaxy devices.

Announced at simultaneous Galaxy Unpacked events in San Francisco and London on Tuesday, Samsung’s Galaxy S20 family of Android phones has a 6.9-inch Ultra model with four cameras on the rear – which include a 108-megapixel sensor as well as 100x zoom – 16GB of memory, a huge battery and an eye-watering A$1,999 starting price.

At a time when Apple is looking to make its iPhones more affordable, with reports of a new low-cost model on the way, the cheapest Galaxy S20 costs $1,349.

From left to right: Samsung Galaxy S20, S20+ and S20 Ultra smartphones.
From left to right: Samsung Galaxy S20, S20+ and S20 Ultra smartphones.

The three Galaxy S20 models – Samsung appears to jumped from the S10 series of 2019 to a new year-based branding – will be released in Australia on March 6, 2020. Here's the full line-up: note that all S20 smartphones come with a single SIM card slot and a secondary eSIM module intended for roaming.

Galaxy S20

8GB + 128GB

$ 1,349

Galaxy S20 5G

12GB + 128GB

$ 1,499

Galaxy S20+

8GB + 128GB

$ 1,499

Galaxy S20+ 5G

12GB + 128GB

$ 1,649

Galaxy S20+ 5G

12GB + 512GB

$ 1,899

Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G

12GB + 128GB

$ 1,999

Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G

16GB + 512GB

$ 2,249 

Samsung also made official its Galaxy Z Flip foldable phone, which represents the company’s more compact and attainable offering from its future-facing foldable device portfolio, although there's no word on Australian availability.

The Galaxy Z Flip features a folding 6.7-inch display.
The Galaxy Z Flip features a folding 6.7-inch display.

The Galaxy S20 series come in three sizes, with the Galaxy S20 measuring in at 6.2 inches, the S20+ at 6.7 inches and the S20 Ultra at a sliver under 7 inches diagonally.

Samsung's Galaxy S20 Ultra packs four-lens photo prowess.
Samsung's Galaxy S20 Ultra packs four-lens photo prowess.

All have 120Hz displays, which – like Apple’s iPad Pro – means they’re capable of smoother and prettier animations.

This partners well with the 5G support offered across the range, as 5G promises to bring more and better streaming content and the display will take full advantage by making it look as good as possible, whether it’s for gaming or movies.

More screen, less bezel on the Galaxy S20.
More screen, less bezel on the Galaxy S20.

The non-Ultra models step the cameras down to 64 megapixels of maximum resolution and 30x max zoom, which are still vastly higher numbers than anything Apple or most other smartphone rivals are able to offer.

Samsung’s continuing with the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor tech in its S20 generation that proved problematic in 2019 when it was shown it could create a security vulnerability, which the company had to quickly fix.

Samsung's Galaxy S20 line-up lands in Australia on March 6, 2020.
Samsung's Galaxy S20 line-up lands in Australia on March 6, 2020.

“I think Samsung is ahead of the smartphone competition when it comes to certain types of hardware innovation,” said Cliff Maldonado, a senior analyst at BayStreet Research in San Francisco. Still, Samsung “lacks ownership of its own software” and “struggles to match the user experience” of Apple’s products, he said.

Rather than building up a closed ecosystem like Apple’s iOS, Samsung is looking to collaborate with partners. Its Bixby voice assistant will integrate Spotify into its morning routines, the YouTube app will support 8K video uploads from S20 devices, Netflix is integrating its service more deeply into Samsung’s interface, and Microsoft will debut its Forza Street game on mobile inside Samsung’s Galaxy Store.

Samsung's Galaxy Buds+ boast extended battery life.
Samsung's Galaxy Buds+ boast extended battery life.

Alongside the S20 update, Samsung is releasing its upgraded Galaxy Buds+ wireless earphones, whose biggest improvement is an 11-hour battery life in the earpieces with another 11 hours in the provided carry case.

Ahead of Samsung’s unveiling, Counterpoint Research projected that shipments of the S20 series will rise to more than 40 million units for the year, improving on the predecessor S10 family’s 36 million units thanks to the headline camera and 5G upgrades. For the foldable phone, shipments of the Galaxy Z Flip are expected to be around 2 million this year, the researchers said.

The Galaxy S20 series ranges in price from $1,349 to $2,249.
The Galaxy S20 series ranges in price from $1,349 to $2,249.

“Foldable phones have a lot of merit that consumers don’t realize yet,” said Sujeong Lim, analyst at Counterpoint in Seoul. “We have done focus group interviews and more than 70% of users who were indifferent changed their opinion once they used one for a day or two."

Samsung’s effort to develop new categories and spur demand in the plateaued smartphone industry will be driven by Taemoon Roh, a person who’s engineered the Galaxy empire behind the scenes from its outset. “It’s our responsibility and opportunity to shape the next ten years of mobile innovation, starting right now at Unpacked,” Roh wrote in a blog post ahead of the event. “No company is better suited to take on this massive challenge than Samsung.”

Additional reporting by David Flynn

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This article was published under license from Bloomberg Media and the original article can be viewed here

Mark Gurman

Mark Gurman covers consumer technology for Bloomberg

29 Jan 2019

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When 2 cameras isn't enough add 2 more.


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