It is finally about that time, meet the brand new Samsung Galaxy S20 series. What the company dubs as its first full 5G flagship lineup, and an interesting blend of old and new, with some departures from what made its predecessors popular.
See, you’d think that the jump from S10 to S20 would also involve a dramatic leap that would be ten times what we saw last year, but in reality that’s not necessarily the case. I had the opportunity to play with these devices right before Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked, and there is a lot to say. You can additionally check out our other hands-on article including its own photo gallery.
So yes, new decade, new Galaxy, so I kind of get the point for the numeric jump of the lineup to match the year it get’s launched, even that’s just more my assumption than anything. During our briefing the company mentioned how it’s changing its strategy to be an innovator of mobile experiences and 5G, and they also shared how photography is one of the major drivers for this new Galaxy S, so it involved a completely new camera architecture when compared to its predecessors.
There’s a lot of ground to cover so let me begin with the similarities between these two phones, and that begins with the design elements and materials. All three devices are made of the typical aluminum and glass, but with design that leans more into the Galaxy A lineup. I mean, I even had to asked if these displays were curved because they don’t seem to be, even if they sort of are. Now, an improvement from last year is that regardless of the size you pick, certain Samsung is not cheaping out on certain elements.
For example, the Galaxy S20 sports a a 6.2-inch display, The S20+ a 6.7-inch panel, and the Galaxy S20 Ultra goes to 6.9-inches, but these are all of Quad HD+ resolution and with an even smaller punch hole for the Infinity O cut-out. The company is dubbing this technology its dubbing its Dynamic AMOLED 2X display that’s HDR10+ certified, and also capable of 120Hz across the board. And yes, the Ultrasonic fingerprint scanner which some loved and some didn’t is also now a standard on all, and it doesn’t seem to be the more updated module.
Their specs are also, mostly the same. No processor names were given but we assume it’s the typical blend that varies per region with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 or its respective Exynos, and they all start at 12 Gigs of RAM and 128GB of expandable storage. All have Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5, NFC and MST for Samsung Pay, Faster wired and wireless charging and power share, Stereo speakers, Earphones in the box tuned by AKG, and no headphone jack. Good bye darling, you will be missed.
Differences start with the fact that you can get the Ultra with up to 16 Gigs of RAM and 512 gigs of storage, the obvious variations in battery sizes going from 4000, to 4500 to 5000 mAh respectively, and the fact that even if all these devices are 5G, the S20 only supports Sub-6, while the S20+ and S20 Ultra support Sub-6 and mmWave.
Color options also vary based on the variant with Cloud Pink being exclusive to theS20, Cloud Blue being shared with the S20+, Cosmic Gray being a standard on all three, and Cosmic Black only being available on the S20+ and S20 Ultra.
Software didn’t really changed much, but this new update to OneUI 2 does bring some logical improvements. For starters, the animations are now far less evident than before, finally. All three devices now actually feel as fluid to use as their internals were designed to make them.
We also now get integration to Google Duo from the phone dialer, and Full HD video calls are actually an exclusive feature only to Galaxy phones. Even with the screen not necessarily being curved the features we know seem to have not changed from previous variants. We’ll obviously have to report more when our review unit arrives.
Obviously that 120hz display matched with a 240hz touch sensor allows new gaming experiences. New AI powered performance allows up to 5 aps to be ready to go , which you designate to remain permanently in RAM. Samsung even mentioned an exclusive partnership with Microsoft Forza Street, which you will be able to pre-register to today.
I think the biggest change and feature that was most discussed about in the briefing is the new camera system. Samsung dubs this its pro-grade camera where all devices are getting super-high resolution sensors, and this time all three have at least 3 cameras. Now the numbers are different as the standard is 12 megapixels, the ultra-wide is also 12 megapixels, but then the Telephoto is of 64 megapixels to achieve zoom as more of a crop. The company calls it Space Zoom which is a hybrid up to 3X, and then Super Resolution Zoom through AI up to 30X.
The Galaxy 20 Ultra is obviously the cream of the crop with an 108 megapixel standard, a 12 megapixel ultra-wide, and a 48 megapixel telephoto with a periscopic design. Space Zoom here is hybrid up to 10X and then Super Resolution with AI up to the crazy 100X being mentioned in the hump.
There is more to it, though. The company employs nona-pixel binning on the primary camera, meaning 9 pixels to one, which achieves a 12 megapixel shot at a crazy 2.4 microns, which means double the night mode capabilities of the Note 10, and even allowing multiple-ISO compositions through AI.
Now, even with the differences in specs, the capabilities are similar. 8K video recording at 24 frames per second, with options for On-device trimming and also casting in 8K to certain Samsung QLED TVs. You also get 8K video snap, which helps you take a photo of a video clip at up to 33 megapixels.
Software enhancements include a Super Steady vide improvement now with anti-rolling and improved low-light, but still limited to 1080p, and there’s now also a night hyper lapse mode which we’ll also be looking out to test. There’s also a Single Take mode, which takes up to 10 photos and 4 videos of a specific moment in different angles in order for you to get the same event in different perspectives for you to choose from.
We also got to see the new Galaxy Buds+ which now bring up t o 11 hours of audio playback, another 11 with the case, 2 way dynamic drivers with 3 microphones, one touch shortcuts, same design, and best of all, same affordable price at $149, now with new color options. We even hear of new features like Music Share and a way to curate your playlists through Bixby, even if we know the later is still a debatable service.
But yes, this is the new Samsung Galaxy S20 lineup. Not sure if I love their design or colors, but I do love the features. Pre-orders begin on February 21st, pretty much 10 days from now, with devices reaching stores or your doorstep on March 6th. Prices begin at $999 for the S20, $1199 for the S20+ and $1399 for the S20 Ultra.
Yes, definitely a steep entry, and no more e-variant to start prices off aggressively, but what Samsung is doing is bringing the Galaxy A50 for $349, and then keeping the entire S10 lineup in stores starting at $599 and up to $849 if you’re looking for affordable phones.
It’s clear that the theme of this launch is that these are the new experiences all powered by 5G, so that’s what drives the price accordingly. Thing is I just saw the Oscars, I know the Z Flip just got teased on one of the ads, so I know this is not all we’re gonna see at Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked, so stay tuned for more coverage from that coming soon.