05/03 Update below. This post was originally published on April 30
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 20 looks like one of the year’s best smartphones, and now the company has suddenly confirmed its release.
In a surprising development, Samsung used its Q1 Financial Results to confirm not only the release of the Galaxy Note 20 (renders via LetsGoDigital), but the Galaxy Fold 2. The company states that they are “for the second half” of the year and it made a point of referring to them as “differentiated products in the premium segment” which makes sense, given the Fold’s folding display and the Note 20’s radical S Pen revamp.
05/02 Update: Samsung may have confirmed the release of the Galaxy Note 20, but now major news about the phone has broken via ZDNet. The site reports that Samsung will give it an upgraded chipset, compared to the Galaxy S20 line-up but this comes with a sizeable caveat. ZDNet explains that Samsung had planned to use Qualcomm’s upcoming Snapdragon 865+ chipset but, due to production delays caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, that is unlikely to arrive on time. Consequently, Samsung is looking to move the Note 20 to an upgraded in-house Exynos 992 CPU instead. The implications for this are significant because a licensing agreement stops Samsung from selling its flagship smartphones with Exynos chips in the US. So will Samsung find a way around it, or will Galaxy Note 20 models in the US be launched with the Galaxy S20’s older Snapdragon 865 chip, instead? Right now, we just had to wait and see.
05/03 Update: prominent Samsung Insider Ice Universe has shared new Galaxy Note 20 firmware which reveals the company is unlikely to release an ‘Ultra’ version of the Note 20 to match the (eye-wateringly expensive) Galaxy S20 Ultra. Consequently, it looks like Samsung will release just a Note 20 and Note 20+ but this news also poses more questions than it answers. The Galaxy S20, for example, is a lower spec model (like the iPhone 11) with two flagships above it. So will Samsung opt for a pair comprised of a budget entry-level model or a pair of flagships, and will the flagship get the S20 Ultra’s 108MP / 100x camera? My hunch is the fundamental problems with the Ultra’s camera system will see Samsung opt for the Note 20 equivalents of an S20 and S20+, but expect more twists and turns to come in this most unprecedented of years.
ZDNet reported that Samsung may use its Exynos processor instead of Snapdragon in the upcoming Galaxy Note series. Due to the Coronavirus situation, the production of the Snapdragon 865+ processor seems to be uncertain. So, Samsung is planning to release the upcoming Note series with the new Exynos 992 processor which is built on the 6nm process to offer better power/performance ratio when compared to the current Exynos 990 processor.
It’s worth pointing out that the time frame makes perfect sense, new Notes typically launch August – October, but Samsung confirming the phones on the record in April is a shock. Interestingly, Samsung also stated that it “plans to enhance product competitiveness by expanding 5G adoption to mass-market smartphones and improve operational efficiency across all areas throughout R&D, production, supply, channel and marketing.”
For smartphone buyers at lower price points, this is great news. But it’s also a fascinating insight for buyers at the high end, given the addition of 5G forced Samsung to substantially increase prices of the Galaxy S20 range, which now starts at $999 and rises to $1,399. Consequently, commoditization should have a positive impact on the price of both the Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy Fold 2. They will need to.
For Note fans, we also know there’s a lot more to look forward to, including next-gen OLED panels, faster memory, dramatically faster storage, new biometrics, the aforementioned S Pen changes and a surprise chipset upgrade.
With Apple also planning a war on price, it looks like the big winner here will be all of us.
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