If Samsung is to continue biannual updates to its flagship lines, a new Galaxy Note phone is expected this September. Besides the feature-rich S Pen, it's become increasingly difficult to tell the Note and S lines apart in recent years, so we're expecting a slew of upgrades this autumn.
Specs for the device have already leaked on Geekbench, and unsurprisingly point to top-of-the-line internals for Samsung's next flagship. However, this includes the Snapdragon 865 (in the US at least), which is thought to be much slower than the A14 Bionic chipset on the upcoming iPhone 12.
While a previous rumour reported by Sammobile suggested the baseline storage will drop from 256GB to 128GB, that may not be a concern as it would mark the return of the microSD card slot. It could also lead to a lower entry price.
We've also recently heard that Galaxy Note 20, which will not launch until August 2020, will have the ultimate curved display. New patents discovered by Patently Mobile reveal a waterfall display with buttons that protrude through the screen glass. Although there is no guarantee that this design will ever end up in a retail product, it is interesting for it means the Samsung phone would have a glass- rather than metal frame. That might look cool, but what about durability?
The patent follows another that was recently granted by the US Patent and Trademark office that instead shows a curved display with touch buttons, much like we saw in the Huawei Mate 30 Pro.
No doubt Samsung will be experimenting with both approaches, and whichever works the best could be seen in the Note 20 or a later Samsung Galaxy smartphone.
In the meantime, we can draw some more concrete conclusions about the Note 20 from Samsung's February Galaxy S20 launch - and one of those things might in fact be that there is no Galaxy Note 20 at all.
Samsung has gone so big with the top model in the line-up, with the new S20 Ultra (pictured below) adorning a colossal 6.7in screen, that you do have to wonder whether there is a need for yet another Samsung phablet, albeit one that comes with a clever S Pen stylus. It's not like there hasn't been rumours in the past that the Galaxy Note's days are numbered as the two flagship lines grow increasingly close to one another.
But, in our opinion, the Galaxy S20 Ultra is just too damn big, and the smaller, cheaper Galaxy S20 is - for now, at least - the one you want. So maybe that does leave room for some fine-tuning in the upcoming Galaxy Note series.
Some headline features new to the now-confirmed Galaxy S-series will almost certainly make it through to the Note 20 - you'll also note the name change here, not Note 11 but Note 20, following in the S series' footsteps.
There's a 120Hz display and a quad-lens camera that includes a 108Mp sensor, for example, and both are likely to be seen in the next Note (if not the standard version then certainly the Pro). Samsung has also killed off the headphone jack and dedicated Bixby button, so don't expect either to make the cut later this year.
Then there's the 8K video recording, enhanced camera features, enlarged battery capacity, and refined design with slimmer bezels than ever. There's a new processor too, with the Snapdragon 865 ensuring 5G is possible on all versions of the phone (you can buy a 4G version of the entry-level S20, but by the time Note 20 launches 5G should be more widespread). Expect all to make the grade for Note 20.
In one of very few leaks concerning the upcoming Galaxy Note 20, reliable leakster Ice universe shares the framework design that gives away the placement of ports, suggesting that this new phone may also see the new Domino-style camera assembly.
This may be the framework design of the Galaxy Note20, which is logical. pic.twitter.com/bO5w937vy2— Ice universe (@UniverseIce) January 26, 2020
At the bottom we also see space for a mic, speaker, USB-C charging port and S Pen stylus, but no 3.5mm headphone jack.
The volume rocker and power button are visible once again on the left side of the phone, making room for the S Pen, whereas on the S20 they sit on the right side. For right-handed users this may feel unnatural, but lefties rejoice. It may make using a traditional wallet case difficult, of course.
Something else missing here is a fingerprint sensor, suggesting we will see one integrated to the display.
Early renders such as the video we’ve posted below should be taken with a big pinch of salt. Renders, until you get closer to launch and start seeing official press renders, are always based on rumours - and when rumours are thin on the ground they become more a case of what the creator wants to see in the new phone, or what will attract the most interest.
In this case we’re pretty sure there are some aspects of the design that are incorrect, particularly the rear penta-lens camera assembly, and potentially the overly curved edges of the display, with Samsung adopting a flatter design with Galaxy S20.
But some of the specifications mentioned - a 6.9in, 1440x3040, 19:9 full-screen Dynamic AMOLED display with HDR10+, Gorilla Glass 6 and an integrated ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, the Snapdragon 865 with Adreno 650, up to 12GB of RAM and 1TB of expandable storage, IP68 waterproofing, Android 11, and USB 3.1 Type-C with a 5,000mAh battery that supports 55W wired, 25W wireless and 18W reverse wireless charging - are more likely.
Another leak from Ice Universe suggests the Note 20 will have a 120Hz refresh rate. This was true for the now confirmed S20, but the Note's will be 'more fine-tuned'. What this means exactly is unsure, but it could mean that it will be able to offer 120Hz at higher resolutions than Full-HD and could also be variable with the phone adjusting the rate automatically.
It’s worth noting that this is not the only source to suggest under-glass cameras as a possibility, with Ice Universe tweeting back in October that Samsung would release such a phone in 2020 and it would be neither the Galaxy S20 nor the Galaxy Z Flip (Galaxy Fold 2). Korean site The Elec has also backed the theory.
Still, the video is interesting as one digital designer’s impression of what Note 20 could look like. We have also used some screen grabs from the video to illustrate this article.
So what about the models? With the S20 we saw standard, Plus and Ultra models, differentiated in size (6.4in/6.5in/6.7in), battery capacity (4,000mAh/4,500mAh/5,000mAh) and cameras (64Mp/108Mp). We would expect the Note 20 to come with a Plus model as previously, but with a spec jump to match the S20 Ultra it’s possible we won’t see a Note 20 Ultra. Instead, Note 20 Pro could feature a 108Mp camera and 120Hz display.
We wouldn’t necessarily expect Note 20 to be larger than the biggest S20 model, which is already way too big, so rumours of a 6.9in screen could be a bit out there for the standard Note 20. After all, the standard Note 10 has only a 6.3in screen, while Note 10+ has a 6.8in panel. It is possible for the larger model, though we’d expect the standard Note 20 to be in line with the S20 at around 6.5in.
There is also a possibility of a Note 20 Lite, successor to the Note 10 Lite, but if Samsung chooses to go down that path again there is not guarantee it will arrive at the same time as the main Note 20.
Battery life is likely to increase from the 3,500/4,300mAh we saw in 2019 to meet the increased power drain of a 120Hz display, but a 5,000mAh battery would add considerable size and weight. Still, we saw exactly that in the Galaxy S20 Ultra.
The one key difference between S-series and the Note-series is of course the S Pen, and Samsung is unlikely to unveil a new Note without upgrading the stylus in some form.
When is the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 coming out?
Following previous fashion, we would expect Samsung to announce its next flagship phablet ahead of IFA at an Unpacked conference in August 2020. The Note 10 and Note 10+ were announced on 7 August 2019.
Rumours suggest Q3 of 2020 which makes August likely.
How much will the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 cost?
Although we’re certain Samsung would love to keep its pricing constant, if 5G does become a constant in the Note 20 line it may not be able to. No credible leaks on pricing have been released yet, but we will share here anything we hear.
For reference, the Note 10 went on sale at £899, and the Note 10+ at £999, while the cheapest 5G S20 costs £899. Both Note models are now available online for significantly less.
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