What to expect from Samsung’s UNPACKED event 2020
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, there are rumors that we might see anything from new earbuds to wearables and even foldables.
Specifically, the current rumors floating around suggest that Samsung could unveil a 5G version of its recent Galaxy Z Flip handset. There have also been a bunch of leaks pointing toward the imminent reveal of a Galaxy Watch 3 smartwatch as well as a new pair of oddly shaped true wireless earbuds called the Galaxy Buds Live.
Based on what made an appearance at Samsung’s Note 10 launch event last year, there’s a good chance that all of these might make an appearance in August. Last year, in addition to the Galaxy Note 10, the company announced a new Under Armour edition of the Galaxy Watch Active 2 and a new Galaxy-branded laptop running on ARM-based Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx chips.
Read on for a rundown of everything we’re expecting to see at Samsung’s next Unpacked event.
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 6.42-inch 2345 x 1084 display, according to SamMobile) as well as a bigger Note 20 Ultra with a curved screen. 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 and the Ultra could be the same device.
Our first proper look at the phone came to us from Samsung itself, which appeared to mistakenly post a photograph of the Note 20 Ultra 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.
Our best look at the standard Note 20 comes to us from Ice Universe, who recently leaked renders of the device. Compared to the Note 20 Ultra, the Note 20 appears to have a less prominent camera bump and flatter screen that doesn’t curve around the edges of the device.
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. There aren’t any firm details on what kind of resolution we can expect from the Note 20 Ultra’s cameras specifically. But when it comes to the Note 20 Plus (which may or may not be the same device), leaker Ice Universe has said that its main camera will have a 108-megapixel main sensor like the S20 Ultra. He also says that this time, its zoom lens will reportedly top out at 50x rather than 100x and will have a 13-megapixel rather than a 48-megapixel sensor. 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.
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.
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. Reports suggest the Note 20 Plus’ screen will also have a refresh rate of 120Hz, so motion on 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.
SAMSUNG’S GALAXY FOLDABLES
When it comes to foldables, there are two main devices that Samsung is thought to have in development: a 5G version of the Galaxy Z Flip, Samsung’s recent smartphone that folds to become more compact, and a successor to the Galaxy Fold which, in contrast, was a tablet that folded to become the size of a smartphone.
Let’s start with the Galaxy Z Flip 5G, which is the less interesting of the two but also the most likely to appear. Specs of the device have leaked from a number of regulators around the world, and tipster Evan Blass has even leaked what appears to be the handset’s launch trailer. Compared to the previous 4G model, it’s thought to have a faster Snapdragon 865 Plus processor, but it will otherwise reportedly have identical specs to its predecessor.
Samsung also reportedly has a Galaxy Fold successor in the works, which SamMobile recently reported will be called the Galaxy Z Fold 2 as part of Samsung’s attempt to unify its foldable’s branding. However, recent reports suggest the phone is unlikely to make an appearance at Unpacked in August, meaning Samsung may only have a single foldable device to show off at its event.
If the Galaxy Z Fold 2 does appear, however, it’s 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. 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.
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 and renders. 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. 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.
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 and subsequently detailed by Gizmodo UK, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live (or the “Galaxy Beans” as Giz calls them) are a new pair of noise-canceling true wireless earbuds that feature a bizarre bean-shaped design. Unfortunately, battery life reportedly won’t be as good as the Galaxy Buds Plus, with six rather than 11 hours of playback. Apparently, you’ll be able to get 24 hours of extra charge out of the case, the design of which was shown in a recent leak from Evan Blass.
In the UK, the Buds Live will reportedly retail for £179 (around $225) and are due to release in August, according to Gizmodo. If true, this would make them a shoo-in for the Note 20 launch.
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 and 12.4-inch 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.
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.