As we approach a new decade, it looks like the ‘20s are all the rage. In Samsung’s case, make that the S20.
In launching its new flagship phone, Samsung joined Huawei in skipping the numbering convention that is still being followed by Apple. While the iPhone moved from the X to the 11, Huawei had jumped from its “P10” edition to the P20 two years ago, followed by the P30 last year, with the P40 expected next month. Similarly, Samsung is moving from the S10 to the S20, avoiding the impression of following in the wake of the iPhone 11.
The S20 flagships were codenamed “Picasso”. This emphasised the fact that the camera and screen would, once again, be the headline feature across the range, led by three devices.
The Galaxy S10e has been succeeded by the Galaxy S20, the Galaxy S10 by the Galaxy S20+, and the Galaxy S10+ by the Galaxy S20 Ultra. This may cause some confusion between the Plus devices, but does move the S20 away from the “e” positioning as a cheap phone.
The devices have screens of 6.2″, 6.7″ and 6.9″, respectively – a big leap over the S10 range. That makes the smallest and largest versions only marginally smaller than Note10 and Note10+, emphasising the fact that the smartphone market has now transitioned entirely towards large display formats.
All feature a three-camera set-up on the back, with an additional “time-of-flight” distance sensor that give it the look of a 4-lens array. The handsets all feature 8K recording on the back and 4K recording from the selfie camera on the front.
The cameras on the S20 and S20+ are 12MP main wide + 64MP telephoto + 12MP Ultra-wide sensors, with a time-of-flight sensor. This translates to 3X optical zoom, with 8K 30FPS video recording.
The Ultra features an absurdly powerful sensor: a 108-megapixel monster that is augmented by artificial intelligence, combining 9 pixels into 1. That means dramatically more detail, and better low-light photography.
It also features 48MP telephoto + 12MP ultra-wide sensors, with a time-of-flight sensor. The 108MP camera uses pixel binning to create one large 2.4μm pixel, with a 12-megapixel final image size. It features 10X optical zoom with 100X digital zoom.
The Galaxy Unpacked event, held in San Francisco and live-streamed globally, was streamed entirely with Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra devices, showing Samsung walking their talk about the devices being ready for professional use.
Leaving off the headphone jack – which is becoming superfluous in the age of wireless earpods – gives the devices more space for bigger batteries. The S20 features a 4000mAh battery, the S20+ a 4500mAh unit, and the S20 Ultra a whopping 5000mAh. The better to keep that 8K video recording going. Luckily, the baseline storage on these devices will be 128GB, probably going up to 1 Terabyte – a cool thousand gigs.
The Galaxy S20 will be available for R18999, the Galaxy S20+ for R20999, and the S20 Ultra for R26999. Preorders of the S20+ and S20 Ultra will include the Galaxy Buds+.
In short, everything is bigger in the twenties.
- Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee
- The original version of this story was written prior to the launch of the Galaxy S20 range. It is being updated as details are confirmed and added.
Read the announcement from Samsung on the next page.