Today, at its annual Galaxy Unpacked hardware event in San Francisco, Samsung announced its flagship (read: very expensive!) line of Galaxy phones, as well as a few more affordable alternatives and a smattering of other accessories.
Samsungs glitzy gala comes at a turbulent time for phone companies. Smartphone sales have been slow for a while, and makers are trying to get those numbers up by doubling down on expensive pro models, testing experimental form factors, andcraziest of allreleasing phones that are actually affordable, in markets where premium typically sells.
The event is also happening as the world is keeping a close watch on the coronavirus, which has killed more than 1,000 people so far. Its macroeconomic impact is widespread as well. According to a report released last week by technology analyst Canalys, the coronavirus could cut smartphone production in half. Samsung execs have already pulled back from the Mobile World Congress conference scheduled for later in February, as other companies like LG, NVIDIA, and Amazon have cancelled entirely. Still, Samsung is pushing forward, hoping its release of a $1,000 phone is the good news people are looking for.
You can watch the whole event here, or read on for the most important stuff.
Samsungs new Galaxy S20 line presents some more practical options. There are three phones, each slightly larger than the last. The S20 and its big sibling, the S20 Plus, are the successors to last years Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus. Other than size, price, and some differing 5G options, the two models are identical.
But Samsung has shaken things up this year by offering a third option: The Galaxy S20 Ultra. Its a huge, shiny brick of a phone, with blazing fast internal specs and a spider-eyed monstrosity of a camera on the back. The S20 and S20 Plus have a 6.2-inch display and a 6.7-inch display, respectively, while the S20 Ultra has a 6.9-inch display. The Ultra is also thicker than its sibling phones.
You can read hands-on impressions of the Galaxy S line of phones from our colleague Julian Chokkattu.
Each phone has an AMOLED display with 120 hz refresh rate (though that faster refresh rate only applies to HD content, not 4K), and a super responsive touch sensor for people looking to absolutely destroy some Candy Crush. The phones come with 128 GB of storage space (expandable up to 512 GB on the Ultra), and allow for microSD cards up to 1 TB. All phones are running on Qualcomms Snapdragon 865, a seven-nanometer, 64-bit octa-core chip.
Samsung says the Galaxy S20 phones are all 5G ready, whenever the wireless tech happens to roll out more broadly. There is a slight variation in 5G support across the phones. The S20 (the cheap phone, haha) supports sub-6 Ghz 5G, while the other two phones will support both sub-6 and millimeter wave 5G networks. Both are technically 5G, but devices that support multiple 5G bands are expected to offer the superfast downlink speeds that have been promised with this next-generation wireless standard.
Not one of these new Galaxy phones is cheap. The starting price is the same as the most expensive model from last year. The S20 is $1,000, the S20 Plus is $1,200 and the S20 Ultra is an astounding $1,400. They all go on presale on February 21 and will be in stores March 6. Samsung says the phones will be offered by all major US carriers.
The rear cameras on the Galaxy S20 Ultra (left) and the Galaxy S20 (right).
Photograph: Samsung