We’re weeks away from Samsung’s Unpacked event on Feb. 11 in San Francisco, but the rush of leaked blurry photos and specs is pointing to three versions of a phone called the Galaxy S20 and not the Galaxy S11 as originally suspected. What’s in the mix? 5G, tons of cameras, a giant battery and extra fast 120Hz screens, according to the many rumors.
Unlike the $2,000 Galaxy Fold or $1,100 Galaxy Note 10 Plus, Samsung’s next family of premium devices will be designed to appeal to the mainstream, not just enthusiasts looking for the most cutting-edge or powerful handset.
Samsung’s Galaxy S20 family of phones is especially noteworthy for its likely role in bringing 5G’s faster data speeds to the masses. Samsung got a start with the faster data network in 2019 with four 5G phones — the S10 5G, Note 10 Plus 5G, Galaxy A90 5G and Galaxy Fold (in the UK and South Korea). But it’s now in 2020 that 5G networks are starting to become widespread, and that the technology inside the device — like the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 — is more powerful and streamlined than the first generation of 5G chipsets.
Heading into the Galaxy S20 launch, Samsung is in a much stronger position than it was a year ago. The brand made waves in 2019, nabbing a CNET Editors’ Choice award for the Galaxy Note 10 and releasing the unforgettable Galaxy Fold. 2020 is only destined to get better — and that goes for Samsung’s next foldable phone, which could be called the Galaxy Z Flip.
There are a lot of specs to absorb, so here they are — the phone’s most important rumored features so far, plus what we don’t know and what we think we might get. I throw in my own educated guesses too because Samsung often follows historical patterns and topical trends. Here we go!
Galaxy S20, S20 Pro, S20 Ultra
The exact names of the three Galaxy S20 models have been bouncing around, but are starting to settle on Galaxy S20 for the “standard” version, S20 Pro or S20 Plus 5G for the middle version and S20 Ultra 5G for what is presumably the largest, most advanced of the three.
Early rumors said we’d get the S11E, S11 and S11 Plus, but the latest hews a lot closer to Apple’s strategy with the iPhone 11, the base model for that line.
Here are the rumored specs in aggregate, based on Max Weinbach from XDA Developers and Twitter leakers Ice Universe and Evan Blass.
Galaxy S20 (rumored specs)
- 6.2- to 6.4-inch AMOLED display
- Cameras: 12-megapixel main, 64-megapixel telephoto with 3x optical zoom, 12-megapixel ultra-wide
- 10-megapixel single punch-hole front-facing camera (Thank goodness. I don’t miss the S10’s side-selfie camera at all.)
- 4,000-mAh battery
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor
Galaxy S20 Pro/Plus (rumored specs)
- 6.7-inch AMOLED display with 120Hz refresh rate
- Cameras: 12-megapixel main, 64-megapixel telephoto, 12-megapixel ultra-wide, time-of-flight sensor
- 128GB of storage (starting)
- 12GB RAM
- 4,500-mAh battery with 25-watt fast charging
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor
Galaxy S20 Ultra (rumored specs)
- 6.9-inch AMOLED display with 120Hz refresh rate
- Cameras: 108-megapixel main, 48-megapixel telephoto with 10x optical zoom, 12-megapixel ultra-wide, time-of-flight sensor
- 128GB, 256GB, 512GB internal storage
- MicroSD card support12GB or 16GB RAM
- 5,000-mAh battery with an optional 45-watt fast charger
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor
Confirmed: Feb. 11 launch date in San Francisco
Samsung has officially announced its Unpacked event for Feb. 11 at San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts. It’s widely believed that Samsung will also take the wraps off its second foldable phone, perhaps called the Galaxy Bloom, which bends into a square, similar to the Motorola Razr.
Look for the Galaxy S20 to go on preorder shortly after Feb. 11, with phones shipping a week or two after the reveal. I’ll continue to update this story with fresh rumors, so come back for more.
Wait, what happened to the Galaxy S11?
If you thought Samsung’s next flagship phone was going to be called the Galaxy S11, you’re in good company. But the momentum has shifted away from the Galaxy S11 as the natural successor to the Galaxy S10 and toward the Galaxy S20.
The scuttlebutt is that Samsung will align the product name with the year, so the Galaxy S20 for 2020, the Galaxy S21 for 2021 and so on.
I have a thing about product names becoming ridiculously long or meaningless, especially when thinking about the following generation. At some point, the Galaxy S series did have to top out, unless you really expect to buy the Galaxy S34 and Galaxy Note 52. With a new system, those numbered names just get higher, faster.
108-megapixel camera, periscope lens, monster optical zoom
You’ve seen the outline several sections above that parse out what cameras might go with which S20 version. Let’s dig into those a bit because a rumored 108-megapixel main camera sensor for the S20 Ultra is something to talk about.
Logic holds that the larger the camera pixel, the more light can flow in, the better the photo is. That’s why more megapixels won’t necessarily mean better photos. The camera processing plays a huge role in image quality. Is this madness?
It sounds like madness. But Chinese brand Xiaomi already beat Samsung to it with the Mi CC9 Pro, which already uses a 108-megapixel shooter.
A 108-megapixel camera may sound insane, but the Snapdragon 865 chip we talked about above can support a 200-megapixel camera. You may not be using all 108 million pixels all the time, but having that extra resolution can be helpful for zooming in and cropping. If you like the sound of all that, thank the chipmaker for making it happen.
Twitter leaker Weinbach corroborates that the S20 Ultra 5G will be the only one to get the 108-megapixel male camera of the three new phones, with a 48-megapixel 10x optical zoom lens and a 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens for group and landscape shots to go along with it.
Meanwhile, leaker Ice Universe tweeted that the S20 and S20 Plus will have 12-megapixel cameras, while the two higher-end devices will also have time-of-flight sensors (ToF), which are useful for portrait video mode and AR applications.
5G guaranteed, but there’s a catch
I mentioned 5G earlier. This is a rumored feature, but also a given. The Galaxy S20 is 99.9% likely to use the powerful Snapdragon 865 processor in it, which chipmaker Qualcomm won’t make available to phone brands without the 5G modem it pairs with. Ipso facto, you get a phone with the Snapdragon 865, you get a 5G-ready phone.
The same goes for any region that will package the Galaxy S20 with Samsung’s in-house Exynos 990 5G processor, which often happens in Asia, especially Samsung’s home country of South Korea. (Ice Universe says Samsung is “determined” to use Snapdragon 865 for South Korean models.)
I promised a catch and here it is. While the Galaxy S20 will be 5G-ready, not every phone may be able to access 5G. Cities and countries that are 4G-only will only be able to use 4G networks, so the 5G Galaxy S20 could very well act as a 4G phone.
We’ll see how it all shakes out, but I’d be surprised if Samsung used any chip other than Snapdragon 865. The Galaxy S series is its mainstream flagship and Samsung is the world’s largest phone maker. It will want to put its best foot forward by delivering the phone with the “best” chip.
Screen: 120Hz AMOLED display
We talked about phone screens earlier, but here’s what else we’re likely to get: the ability to turn on a 120Hz screen refresh rate. That will make animations and scrolling a whole lot smoother than the standard 60Hz refresh rate we have now.
While a 120Hz refresh rate is great for gaming and other quick transitions, it’s a battery hog. Still, the OnePlus 8 is getting support for a 120Hz screen. The Galaxy S20 could put the power in your hands with settings to switch between 60Hz to preserve battery life and 120Hz if you want to rev up animations.
This is pretty much a done deal since both the Snapdragon 865 and Exynos 990 5G support 210Hz screens.
What about that whopping 5,000-mAh battery?
Different size phones get different size batteries, and another rumor from the prolific Ice Universe dials in the Galaxy S20 “Plus” battery at 5,000 mAh, which is terrifically large. Max Weinbach suggested the same for the Ultra in his recent specs dump.
Keep in mind that the “Plus” could also be the “Ultra” (e.g., the highest-end model of the trio), which makes far more sense to me than the middle phone getting a battery that size. For reference, the Galaxy Note 10 Plus battery is 4,300 mAh and battery life is outstanding.
There have been some phones with ultra-large batteries before, so a 5,000-mAh battery would fit my expectations. For instance, the Asus’ new ROG Phone II is an Android specs powerhouse, which makes it a gaming beast.
In-screen fingerprint reader
I loved the concept of an in-screen fingerprint reader until I used it in the Galaxy S10. The accuracy, speed, and convenience never quite lived up to the promise for me.
My best-case scenario would be to the Galaxy S20 return to some form of secure face unlock, combined with the in-screen reader. Samsung already knows how to do this well. Remember, the series got iris scanning in the S7, but dropped it for the S10. Google has now done it better, with the Pixel 4’s gesture tracking lending a hand.
We could at least see a more robust form of the in-screen biometric scanner if Samsung decides to take advantage of the Snapdragon 865’s support for two-finger scanning, which is meant to improve the technology on all fronts. I sure hope it does.
Android 10 and Samsung One UI 2
There’s little doubt that every Samsung phone in 2020 will run on Android 10 and the company’s own One UI 2, which was announced in October and is now available in beta.
I’m much more excited about Android 10, which brings systemwide dark mode to phones, gesture navigation, some seriously impressive live captioning and new privacy settings. One UI 2 aims to push icons and screen controls toward the bottom of the phone so they’re easier to reach one-handed.
Storage and RAM
Let’s not forget on-board storage, external memory, and RAM. According to Weinbach’s recent tweet, the S20 Ultra will have:
- 128GB, 256GB and 512GB storage options
- 12GB and16GB RAM configurations
- MicroSD card slot for external storage, with support for up to, 1TB
Galaxy S20 series: Price will break $1,000
Now for the question on everyone’s mind: How much is the Galaxy S20 going to cost me? As always, it will depend on which model you buy.
Let’s start with the Galaxy S10 prices for the base storage configuration:
- Galaxy S10E: $749, £669, AU$1,199
- Galaxy S10: $899, £799, AU$1,349
- Galaxy S10 Plus: $999, £899, AU$1,499
- Galaxy S10 5G: $1,300, £1,099, AU$2,950
5G costs the phone makers more to buy and integrate, so we could see a price bump right off the bat. You’ll also spend more if you opt for a model with greater storage, say 512GB, assuming Samsung offers it and begins storage at 128GB.
If the largest version (“Pro” or “Plus,” depending on the rumors) lines up with the S10 Plus pricing, it’ll start at $1,000. With the 5G component and more camera tech, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that rise to $1,100, a price that matches the Galaxy Note 10 Plus today.