A flagship, a foldable, and some new Buds
Samsung’s next Unpacked event is scheduled for February 11th at 2PM ET / 11AM PT, and in typical Samsung fashion, we already have a pretty good idea of what it’s preparing to announce. At the top of the billing is almost certainly its flagship Samsung Galaxy S20 series of smartphones, but there’s also the foldable Galaxy Z Flip and a new pair of true wireless earbuds.
Beyond the announcements we’re sure we’ll see, there’s still a chance that Samsung might have something to surprise us with at the show. Persistent rumors over the past couple of weeks have claimed that we could see the company announce a release date for one of its long-delayed Bixby-powered smart speakers, and there’s always a chance that Samsung might have another surprise announcement up its sleeve, even if the lack of leaks make that seem pretty unlikely.
Samsung Galaxy S20 series
All of the rumors this year suggest that there will be three main versions of Samsung’s flagship handset, down from the four we saw last year. There’s the regular Galaxy S20, the larger S20 Plus, and the premium S20 Ultra, which appears to be replacing the S10 5G from 2019. And yes, this means that Samsung is almost certainly going to skip the S11 through S19 and jump straight from S10 to S20. Poor Galaxy S11. We hardly knew ye.
Conspicuously missing from the rumor mill this year is any mention of a budget S20 device to replace the Galaxy S10E. Potentially, that’s because Samsung announced two affordable handsets, the S10 Lite and Note 10 Lite, at the beginning of the year. Given that none of this is official information, though, it’s impossible to know for sure.
My colleague Chaim Gartenberg recently put together a big piece collecting the various rumors about the S20 lineup here, but broadly speaking, there are three main things to expect from the S20 and S20 Plus.
First is support for 5G. Although Samsung released a 5G version of the S10 last year, this year, the networking standard is likely to be available across most of the lineup — at least in the US. We know this because the phones are expected to use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 chipset, which is designed to pair with a 5G modem out of necessity. Meanwhile, in international markets, Samsung will use its Exynos 990 processor, which comes with both a 4G and 5G modem.
Then there’s the S20 display, which this year could have a refresh rate of up to 120Hz. So far, the rumors suggest that the high refresh rate will only be available when the software is set to 1080p, meaning you’ll be limited to 60Hz if you want to set your phone to 1440p. The hole-punch notch has also moved from the right of the screen to the center, similar to what we saw with the Note 10.
The S20 Ultra will sit at the top of the lineup
Finally, there are the cameras, which, this year, appear to be encased within a rectangular camera bump that is all the rage right now. The S20 Plus will apparently have a quad-camera array consisting of a 12-megapixel main camera, a 64-megapixel telephoto camera, a 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera, and a 3D time-of-flight sensor. Meanwhile, the standard S20 will reportedly drop the ToF sensor.
Now that 5G looks set to be available across the entire Galaxy S20 series, the premium device in the lineup will have to work a little harder to stand out from the rest of the pack. The Galaxy S20 Ultra, as it’s rumored to be named, should have a bigger 5,000mAh battery, a larger 6.9-inch screen, and up to 16GB of RAM. But the big feature here is its cameras, which center on Samsung’s ridiculously high-resolution 108-megapixel sensor. It seems like Samsung plans to put the resolution to good use, offering a new 100x zoom mode it’s calling “Space Zoom.”
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip
Alongside the S20, Samsung is heavily rumored to be planning to announce a new foldable handset called the Galaxy Z Flip. Unlike the Galaxy Fold that it released last year, which used its folding form-factor to try to be both a tablet and a smartphone, the Z Flip is just a smartphone that folds down to be more compact, much like the new Motorola Razr.
But it’s not just the form-factor that’s changed. The Z Flip could also be Samsung’s first foldable to feature a glass screen, which should make it far more durable and resistant to some of the issues that plagued its first-generation foldable. The OLED display is thought to be around 6.7 inches, with an exceptionally wide 22:9 aspect ratio screen.
Otherwise, the Z Flip’s specs wouldn’t look out of place on any other flagship phone. It’s rumored to include a Snapdragon 855 Plus processor, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of internal storage. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like there will be a 3.5mm headphone jack, nor will it likely support 5G.
In terms of price, the latest rumors suggest the phone will retail for $1,400. That’s expensive for a smartphone, but compared to the $1,499 Motorola Razr and $1,980 Galaxy Fold, it could help push foldables toward a more affordable price point.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus
Last on our list of devices that are all but guaranteed to show up at Samsung’s Unpacked is a new set of its true wireless earbuds called the Galaxy Buds Plus. The pitch for these is fairly simple: they look just like the existing Galaxy Buds, but reports suggest they’ll have much longer battery life (11 hours compared to six) and a new dual-driver design that should result in better sound quality.
There’s no word on how much they’re likely to cost, but one leak suggests that they’ll be offered for free with preorders of the Galaxy S20 Plus.
Samsung Galaxy Home Mini
Recently, a leaked promotional page on Samsung’s site suggested that Samsung’s Galaxy Home Mini could be released on February 12th, the day after the Unpacked event. Given the source, there’s a good chance the release date could be accurate, although that’s no guarantee that this means it’ll actually appear at Samsung’s event.
For those who’ve lost track of the saga of Samsung’s Bixby-powered smart speakers, we don’t blame you. It’s been quite the ride. The Galaxy Home was initially announced back in 2018 before being delayed and then delayed again. Then Samsung announced a smaller version of its smart speaker called the Galaxy Home Mini, which is apparently coming out early this year. Given the latest reports, February 12th makes as much sense as any for a release.