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What to expect from Samsung’s Galaxy Note 20 event

It’s official: Samsung’s next big product launch is happening on August 5th at 10AM ET, and it’ll be a virtual event as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The main product reveal is almost certainly going to be the next phone in Samsung’s Galaxy Note series, its top-of-the-range smartphone lineup that pairs some of the most powerful phone hardware around with a big, beautiful screen and its signature S Pen stylus. Alongside it, however, we’re expecting to see anything from new earbuds to wearables and even foldables.

Samsung hasn’t been shy about teasing additional product reveals. And since we originally published this article, Samsung said in a blog post that it plans to unveil five devices at the event, and more recently, it used a teaser trailer to show off five silhouettes. To our eyes, they look like silhouettes for a new tablet, smartwatch, true wireless earbuds, a foldable smartphone, and, of course, the Note 20.

Those silhouettes tie neatly into recent reports about products Samsung has in development including a Galaxy Tab S7 tablet, a Galaxy Watch 3 smartwatch, Galaxy Buds Live true wireless earbuds, and a successor to the Galaxy Fold called the Galaxy Z Fold 2.

This article originally noted that rumors suggested Samsung might unveil a 5G version of its Galaxy Z Flip handset, but the company has since officially announced it, so that’s off the table for August.

Read on for a rundown of everything we’re expecting to see at Samsung’s next Unpacked event.

The biggest Galaxy Note 20 Ultra leak came from Samsung, which posted what appeared to be a photo of the phone on its own site.
Image: Samsung Russia

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 20 series

Samsung’s stylus-equipped Note phones tend to be the company’s big focus at its August Unpacked event each year. This year, we’re expecting Samsung to have at least two Note phones to show off, including a standard Note 20 (which will reportedly have a flat 6.7-inch 2400 x 1080 display) as well as a bigger Note 20 Ultra with a curved 6.9-inch 3200 x 1440 display, according to WinFuture. Some reports have also referred to a Note 20 Plus with a 6.87-inch 2345 x 1084 display, but there’s also been speculation that this could be the same device as either the regular Note 20 or the Ultra.

Our first proper look at Note 20 Ultra came to us from Samsung itself, which appeared to mistakenly post a photograph of the phone on its website. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to confirm that the device exists (which… duh) and will have a redesigned camera bump this time around. This seems to include three cameras along with a fourth sensor that could be either a 3D ToF sensor or a laser autofocus, which would help with portrait shots and focus speed, respectively.

We subsequently got another look at the Note 20 Ultra, thanks to a short hands-on video and photos from YouTuber Jimmy Is Promo whose channel specializes in news about Samsung phones. Included in his leak were a couple of shots of the front of the device, showing off its Note 10-style centered hole-punch selfie camera, along with its slightly smaller bezels and a larger camera bump. Renders of the phone that were subsequently published by WinFuture, appear to corroborate this leak.

When it comes to the step-down Note 20, meanwhile, WinFuture has shared what appear to be marketing renders of the phone. These images appear to show that the Note 20 has a less prominent camera bump and flatter screen that doesn’t curve around the edges of the device.

Image: WinFuture

In terms of cameras, the leaked images and video of the Note 20 Ultra appear to show that Samsung’s “folded” periscope zoom lens is making a comeback from the S20 Ultra, allowing for the kinds of zoom that, until recently, were difficult to pull off in the limited space allowed by a smartphone. When it comes to the Note 20 Plus (which may or may not be the same device), leaker Ice Universe initially said that its main camera will have a 108-megapixel main sensor like the S20 Ultra. However, he also said that this time, its zoom lens will reportedly top out at 50x rather than the 100x we saw with the S20 Ultra, and that its zoom lens will have a 13-megapixel rather than a 48-megapixel sensor. (WinFuture has since corroborated that the Ultra’s camera’s main sensor and ultrawide cameras would have resolutions of 108-megapixels and 12-megapixels, though reported that its zoom lens will be 12 megapixels.) That sounds like a downgrade, but in practice, the S20 Ultra’s 100X zoom shots were mostly unusable, so stopping at 50X this time around seems sensible. Using a lower-resolution sensor could also mean better low-light performance from zoom shots.

The Note 20, meanwhile, will reportedly have a 64-megapixel zoom camera with an optical zoom of 3x, according to WinFuture, while its maximum zoom overall will top out at 30x. This zoom camera will reportedly be joined by 12-megapixel main and ultrawide cameras.

According to the Jimmy is Promo video, the Note’s signature S Pen has a broadly similar design to last year (the video even shows the Note 20’s stylus being slotted into the Note 10 and vice versa), but it will reportedly have a new “pointer” mode that could allow you to remotely control an on-screen cursor using the S Pen. It’s potentially a big step forward from the Note 10’s relatively simple gesture controls, giving you more options if you want to control your phone remotely using just its stylus. And the S Pen on the Ultra may only have 9 milliseconds of latency, while the S Pen on the standard Note 20 could have a higher 26 milliseconds of latency, according to separate WinFuture reports.

Samsung’s images show a handset with a large camera bump featuring three rear cameras.
Image: Samsung Russia

Internally, we’re expecting to see a Snapdragon 865 or even an 865 Plus processor powering the Note 20 Ultra. Neither processor has an integrated 5G modem, but since they’re designed to work with Qualcomm’s X55 5G modem, the Note 20 lineup is likely to be 5G-enabled.

The Note 20 Ultra will apparently have a 6.9-inch screen with a 3200 x 1440 resolution with a variable refresh rate of up to 120Hz, according to WinFuture. Other reports suggest the Note 20 Plus’ screen will also have a refresh rate of 120Hz. So regardless of whatever the actual name for the super-powered note is, it seems like its screen should look every bit as smooth as on the Galaxy S20. The big question is whether you’ll be able to use this 120Hz refresh rate while the screen is set to its maximum 1440p resolution since this wasn’t possible on the S20 series. One leak has claimed that you’ll be able to on the Ultra, but it’s far from certain.

Elsewhere, there have also been reports that the Note 20 Plus will have a Low-Temperature Polycrystalline Oxide (LTPO) display similar to what we saw Apple use on the Apple Watch Series 5. It’s a technology that could give Samsung much more control over the phone’s refresh rate, with the option of reducing it when necessary to conserve battery life. It’s a useful technology to have, and it could help mitigate the higher-power draw of a 120Hz display.

According to WinFuture, meanwhile, the standard Note 20 will have a slightly smaller 6.7-inch display with a resolution of 2400 x 1080, and it will be limited to a refresh rate of 60Hz.

Finally, both the Ultra and the standard Note 20 may be optimized to play games over Microsoft’s xCloud game streaming service, according to WinFuture.

Samsung’s Galaxy foldables

Samsung released a 5G version of the Galaxy Z Flip, its recent smartphone that folds to become more compact, on July 22nd, so if the company is going to show a foldable at its August 5th event, it seems likely it will be a successor to the Galaxy Fold. (The Fold, in contrast to the Z Flip, is a tablet that folds to become the size of a smartphone.) SamMobile recently reported that successor will be called the Galaxy Z Fold 2 as part of Samsung’s attempt to unify its foldable branding, and leaker Max Weinbach reports it will be unveiled in August to release in October.

The Galaxy Z Fold 2 is expected to have a larger display on the cover of the device, which should mean it’s much more usable while folded compared to the original Galaxy Fold with its small cover display. Its internal screen, meanwhile, is rumored to have a much smaller hole-punch cutout for its selfie camera compared to the beefy notch on the Galaxy Fold. You can get an idea of how it might look from this blurry image of the foldable that leaked earlier this month. It’ll also reportedly support 5G, which seems sensible for what’s likely to be another very expensive folding handset.

If some slightly older rumors are to be believed, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 will have an 8-inch display covered by ultra-thin glass, a 108-megapixel camera, and it will also come with an S Pen stylus. It’ll reportedly be powered by a Snapdragon 865 processor.

Leaked images show a watch with two physical buttons and a rotating bezel.
Image: Evan Blass

New wearables

At this point, a new Galaxy Watch is almost a given. Samsung appears to be skipping the Galaxy Watch 2 entirely and is jumping straight to the Galaxy Watch 3, which has already appeared in regulatory filings as well as leaked images, renders, and even a hands-on video.

The big rumor is the return of a physical rotating bezel, which was sadly missing from last year’s Galaxy Watch Active and Active 2 and provides a convenient physical control for the smartwatch. The watch will reportedly be available in 41mm and 45mm sizes and LTE and Wi-Fi-only variants.

Samsung’s Tizen software appears to be getting a facelift for the new smartwatch. New watchfaces could let you add custom details like your heart rate or step count to the edges of the display. There are also reportedly new gesture controls for taking photos or answering incoming calls. We’ve been fans of Samsung’s smartwatches in the past and currently rate the Galaxy Watch Active 2 as the best smartwatch for Android users, so we’ve got high hopes.

Alongside the Galaxy Watch 3, Samsung also has what appears to be a new fitness tracker on the way if a recent Federal Communications Commission filing is to be believed. Details are currently slim on the device, which appears to be a successor to Samsung’s Galaxy Fit from last year, but expect heart rate tracking and automatic exercise detection. Given Samsung’s subsequent comments about having five devices to unveil, however, it seems unlikely that we’ll see this new fitness device make an appearance.

The Galaxy Buds Live have a bean-shaped design and will reportedly have active noise cancellation.
Image: Evan Blass

Samsung Galaxy Buds Live earbuds

Earlier this year, Samsung released a pair of true wireless earbuds, the Galaxy Buds Plus, that quickly became our top pick for the best true wireless earbuds you can buy today. Now, it looks like it might have another pair on the way that include their single biggest missing feature: active noise cancellation.

First leaked back in April by WinFuture, the Galaxy Buds Live have subsequently appeared in Samsung’s official Galaxy Buds companion app, confirming the name and support for active noise cancellation.

Reports indicate that the new noise-canceling functionality means that battery life won’t be as good as the Galaxy Buds Plus, with as little as 4.5 rather than 11 hours of playback, according to WinFuture. Apparently, you’ll be able to get a maximum of 20 hours of charge when used alongside their case, the design of which was shown in a recent leak from Evan Blass. If you want a look at what appear to be the final designs and colors for the headphones, check out this video from Twitter user @h0x0d, which appears to show a leaked marketing clip:

The Galaxy Buds Live will reportedly retail for €190, according to WinFuture, which translates to roughly $225 or £174.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 and S7 Plus

There aren’t many manufacturers that take Android tablets seriously these days, but Samsung continues to release new entries in its Galaxy Tab lineup year after year. According to a recent report from SamMobile, it will have a Tab S7 and S7 Plus to show off at its August Unpacked event.

If reports are accurate, the S7 and S7 Plus will have 11-inch LCD and 12.4-inch OLED displays, respectively, and be powered by Snapdragon 865 Plus processors. Both will work with Samsung’s S Pen, and you’ll have the option of either 6 or 8GB of RAM and 128 or 256GB of storage. There’s also apparently a 5G version of the Tab S7 Plus, but it will be limited to supporting sub-6GHz 5G, meaning there’s no support for mmWave’s gigabit speeds. Finally, expect in-display fingerprint sensors on the tablets, though SamMobile can’t confirm whether they’ll have an optical or ultrasonic sensor.

The Galaxy Home, first announced in 2018, is still yet to be released.
Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

Anything else?

At this point, it’s probably foolish to expect Samsung’s Galaxy Home to make an appearance. First announced back in 2018, the Bixby-powered smart speaker has faced delay after delay, although Samsung has announced and released a miniature version in South Korea. Given the delays, it’s almost getting to the point where we’re half-expecting Samsung to announce an AirPower-style cancellation. But we’d be surprised if it did so at a time when it could steal the Note 20’s thunder.

Update July 27th, 4:07PM ET: Updated with new details and rumors as well as the official announcement of the Galaxy Z Flip 5G.


Credits: Theverge

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