After Samsung introduced sweeping changes with the Galaxy S10, many expected the following Galaxy S-series phone to be a mostly iterative affair. However, the closer we get to Samsung's Feb. 11 Unpacked event, where the company's next generation flagships will be unveiled, the more we're learning about major changes in store.
For one, there's the name. Leaked images of pre-release hardware indicate that Samsung will call the upcoming handset the Galaxy S20, not the S11 as many assumed. Massive upgrades may be waiting in the wings for the imaging stack as well, as one S20 variant in particular looks to offer a groundbreaking new camera equipped to capture whopping 108-megapixel pictures, thanks to Samsung's new breakthrough, ultra-large Isocell image sensor.
The plot thickens. Samsung is reportedly planning as many as five models in the S20 series — some of which will be 5G capable, although not all will. Those 5G models will likely employ Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 865 processor. Additionally, displays with superfast, 120-Hz refresh rates also could be in the cards.
With the iPhone 11 lineup wowing critics with their cameras, the OnePlus 7T impressing reviewers with its value and Google's Pixel 4 offering even better computational photography, Samsung will have its work cut out for it. But there are plenty of reasons to be excited about the company's next flagships, and the possibility of the S20 beating the next iPhone seems within reach for the first time in years.
Here are all the top Galaxy S20 leaks and rumors so far.
Galaxy S20 rumors (updated Jan. 27)
- Prolific leaker Evan Blass claims that you can get a free pair of Samsung's rumored Galaxy Buds Plus when you pre-order an S20 Plus or S20 Ultra.
- The first official renders of the S20 series were leaked by Ishan Agarwal and 91mobiles - and it looks like many rumors have been proved right.
- While potentially able to use a 120Hz refresh rate, the S20 might be set to 60Hz by default, according to Max Weinbach.
Galaxy S20 release date
Samsung has sent out invitations for a Feb. 11 Galaxy Unpacked event, just as rumors earlier indicated. It'll be held in San Francisco at 11 a.m. Pacific.
That's all well and good, but what does that mean for the phone's actual sale date? For the Galaxy S10, Samsung held the product launch a few days before the Mobile World Congress 2019 trade show in Barcelona. It was unveiled on Feb. 20, but devices only started shipping March 8.
A French website has claimed the S20 will arrive in France on March 13, which one can assume will be likely be the same date as the rest of the world as Samsung has typically done global launches for its phones. This roughly matches with the S10's timings too, so that's perhaps enough evidence for you to mark your calendars for mid-March.
Galaxy S20 price and models
A tweet from Max Weinbach of XDA Developers names five Galaxy S20 models:
- Samsung Galaxy S20
- Samsung Galaxy S20 5G
- Samsung Galaxy S20+
- Samsung Galaxy S20+ 5G
- Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G
Note the distinction between the S20+, S20+ 5G and S20 Ultra 5G. The Ultra variant is expected to lead the range this time, offering the best camera technology of the bunch and perhaps a larger display to match. Weinbach reports that the 4G LTE versions may not release in the U.S.; given that they lack 5G connectivity, these models will likely forfeit the Snapdragon 865 as well, possibly opting for one of Samsung's Exynos chips instead.
Weinbach has since tweeted the prices of the S20 range (albeit in euros). If you directly convert the numbers, you end up with prices of $1,110/£850 for the S20, $1,221/£935 for the S20 Plus, and $1,443/£1105 for the S20 Ultra.
For context, the Galaxy S10e cost $749 when it debuted. The regular Galaxy S10 with its larger display cost $899 and the largest Galaxy S10 Plus cost $999. The Galaxy S10 5G cost $1,300.
Weinbach does however predict that the actual price will be around $200 less than the estimates given above, which would mean the S20 range is in fact slightly cheaper than the previous generation. This would no doubt be welcomed by Samsung fans around the world, and has something of a precedent in Apple's decision to reduce the price of the iPhone 11 versus the price of the iPhone XR, the preceding model.
If you want a little extra gift with your S20, you can apparently get a pre-order deal with either the S20 Plus or S20 Ultra which gets you a free pair of Galaxy Buds Plus, the advanced version of last year's Galaxy Buds. We don't know which retailers will offer this deal, but this will no doubt be appreciated by Samsung fans who need some wireless headphones for their new headphone jack-lacking smartphone.
Galaxy S20 rumored specs
|Galaxy S20||Galaxy S20 Plus||Galaxy S20 Ultra|
|Display (Resolution, Max. refresh rate)||6.2 inches (3200 x 1440, 120Hz)||6.7 inches (3200 x 1440, 120Hz)||6.9 inches (3200 x 1440, 120Hz)|
|CPU||Exynos 990/Snapdragon 865||Exynos 990/Snapdragon 865||Exynos 990/Snapdragon 865|
|Rear Cameras||12MP main, 64MP 3x optical telephoto, 12MP ultra-wide||12MP main, 64MP 3x optical telephoto, 12MP ultra-wide, time-of-flight||108MP main, 48MP 5x optical telephoto, 44MP ultra-wide, time-of-flight|
|Battery Size||4,000 mAh||4,500 mAh||5,000 mAh|
|Size||152 x 68 x 7.9mm (5.9 x 2.7 x 0.3 inches)||162 x 74 x 7.8mm (6.4 x 2.9 x 0.3 inches)||167 x 76 x 8.8mm (6.5 x 2.9 x 0.3 inches)|
|Weight||164g (5.8 ounces)||188g (6.6 ounces)||221g (7.8 ounces)|
Galaxy S20 name
Logic would dictate that Samsung would call this year's model the Galaxy S11. After all, the Galaxy S10 came out a year ago, and the Galaxy S9 came out a year before that.
Samsung is apparently not convinced by your logic. A report in December hinted that a new name was in the works, and more recent rumblings from Korean outlet Ajunews and XDA Developers claim that Samsung has met with partners to tell them that the Galaxy S model introduced in February will be called the Galaxy S20.
The reason for the switch? A new decade. After all, the first Galaxy S phone debuted in 2010, so Samsung is flipping the number as we enter 2020. (It also probably helps that S20 is numerically greater than iPhone 12.)
Galaxy S20 display: Bigger, central punch-hole and 120Hz (kinda)
A leak from Evan Blass points to 6.4 inches for the smallest Galaxy S20, as well as larger devices at 6.7- and 6.9-inch sizes. All of those phones would be significantly larger than the Galaxy S10 lineup at 5.8, 6.1 and 6.4 inches, respectively. (Thus, the rumored Ultra moniker for the biggest handset makes sense; in January, Korea's Ajunews reported that the 6.9-inch handset would gain the Ultra name.)
As for the resolution, XDA Developers' pre-release S20 Plus handset has allowed them to discover that all three S20 versions will have a resolution of 3200 x 1440. That works out as a Quad HD display with an aspect ratio of 20:9, meaning all the phones will be tall and narrow despite the differing overall sizes.
According to an Ice Universe tweet, we can expect the S20 to still come with bezels, but narrower than the already small ones on the Note 10. XDA Developers' story claims the display glass on the S20+ 5G is remarkably flat compared to previous Samsung phones, so those steeply curved edges might just be a thing of the past. We'll have to wait a bit before Samsung creates a rival to the Huawei Mate 30 Pro's "waterfall display," it seems.
We had been hoping that Samsung would debut a 120Hz refresh rate display on the S20, but a tweet by Ice Universe, backed up by a user associated with XDA Developers with a pre-release S20+ handset has highlighted a big problem. The well respected Twitter leaker has said that the display on the S20 won't be able to use the full WQHD display at 120Hz, meaning you can either use the phone at FHD resolution with the higher refresh rate, or the full resolution at 60Hz. We've also heard that the display will be set to 60Hz by default, meaning you'll have to make aa deliberate choice to enable the high refresh rate mode. This is bad news for Samsung if it's true, since OnePlus has just revealed the 120Hz display that will likely appear on the OnePlus 8.
While not part of the display itself, beneath the panel on the S20 series you'll find an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, just like the one on the S10 and Note 10 series. It's only confirmed to be on the S20 Plus so far, but it's likely to appear on the standard and Ultra models too.
Galaxy S20 Design
While other companies have achieved a bezel-free look with the aid of pop-up cameras, Samsung and others are also working on embedding the camera sensor underneath the screen. However, for now, it looks like the Galaxy S20 will still have to make do with a cutout like the Galaxy Note 10.
Given that the Galaxy S20 could tout four to five lenses on the back, it'd be best to prepare yourself for a prominent camera array. Spy shots and renders alike, have illustrated Samsung's next-gen flagship will feature a massive, elongated camera patch; less square like the iPhone 11 Pro's or Pixel 4's, and more rectangular to house that mess of optics.
There could be a reason three of the S20's lenses will be stacked vertically, with a remaining shooter pushed off to the side, says leaker Ice Universe: it would leave space for a periscoping mirror to boost the phone's optical zoom capabilities. (More on the Galaxy S20's camera below.)
You can see plenty of artists' unofficial renders of the S20 throughout this page, but the closest we've got to seeing the real thing is a short video shared by Max Weinbach of XDA developers. You can see this video below, with its center camera cut-out, and its large square camera bump in the top left corner.
We've also had a leak of supposedly official Samsung renders of the S20 series have shown us the available colors for the three different models. All versions can get Cosmic Gray, while you can also have Cosmic Black on the the S20 Ultra and S20 Plus, Cloud Blue on the S20 Plus and S20, and Cloud Pink on the S20. You can see the gray color on the S20 Ultra below.
Taking a cue from the iPhone 11 Pro, the S20 Ultra will have a stainless steel frame according to other rumors, making the most expensive version of the S20 also the toughest.
Galaxy S20 108MP camera: This could be big
It was hard not to be underwhelmed by the cameras on the Galaxy Note 10, which features the same triple lens setup that Samsung introduced with the S10 lineup earlier this year. Better photos might should be on the way with the Galaxy S20, though.
According to XDA Developers, the Samsung Camera app code has a 108MP photo mode. Max Weinbach found out that the latest version of the camera software in the One UI 2.0 beta — Samsung’s flavor of Android 10 — contains support for 12000x9000 pixel images. In other words: 108 megapixels.
The Galaxy S11+ uses a 1 / 1.3-inch 108MP Samsung exclusive custom sensor, which is superior in quality to ISOCELL Bright HMX and has a high cost.December 8, 2019
This discovery was backed up by an identical finding within the Samsung Camera app. The breakdown also revealed 8K video support (since reconfirmed by an inside source to SamMobile), support for a 20:9 screen ratio device (which may be the S20), and new modes named Director’s View, Single Take Photo and Night Hyperlapse.
Unfortunately, it's looking likelier that the Isocell Bright HMX sensor will not make it into all S20 variants, only the S20 Ultra, along with a 48MP 10x zoom lens and a 12MP wide lens. A report out of Korea seemingly confirms that strategy with other variants of the S20 reportedly getting a camera module that supports a 5x optical zoom.
The lower-end S20 and S20+ will simply make do with improved 12-MP hardware, based on information from XDA Developers and backed up by a source in possession of a pre-release handset, which apparently uses a 12MP main sensor, a 64MP secondary, plus two cameras with unknown resolution, as well as a flash module and a microphone with the same Zoom-in feature as the Note 10. This is then topped off by a 10MP selfie camera, although it looks as if this has now been equipped with a wide-angle lens.
Even with 108 megapixels at its disposal, it's likely the Isocell Bright HMX will not output at the full resolution by default. Instead, it will choose to group its pixels in clusters of four or nine, saving 27-MP or 12-MP photos. That will dramatically increase the light sensitivity of the camera, and is a popular tactic used by devices with sensors claiming high megapixel counts.
Samsung essentially confirmed all this with a video showing off the Isocell Bright HMX sensor back in December. Besides the high pixel count, the sensor is 1/1.33-inch in size — which rivals the size of sensors in compact cameras. That size, plus the ability to use pixels in groups of four, should give the Galaxy S20 the ability to take very detailed photos in all lighting conditions.
According to Samsung's video, the sensor also supports Super Phase Detection, which means a faster that's better at auto-focusing even in low light.
Further digging in newer versions of One UI by XDA Developers has revealed more camera features for the S20. These include Director's View, which lets the phone track an object with all its cameras so the user can switch between them as they want; Single Take Photo which automatically takes a shot when the phone thinks it's the optimal moment (based on AI analysis of Samsung's library of professionally taken photographs); Pro Video, which allows lots of customization options for video recording enthusiasts, and a handful of new bokeh modes.
A user with a pre-release S20 has been able to confirm all these features except for Director's View, and recorded a small clip of how Single Take Photo works (see below). This user also found a feature named Smart Selfie Angle, which uses the wide-angle lens now added to the 10MP front camera to switch between standard and wide shots depending on how many people the phone detects in the frame.
Leaker Ishan Agarwal, while not able to show us the real rear camera block of the S20 Ultra, instead posted a mock-up of the bump, including the text which proudly states the 100x zoom capability of the telephoto camera, which is notably set apart from the rest of the sensors outside the main bump.
Ice Universe recently shared a small detail about the S20 Ultra's main 108MP camera: that it takes photos nearly instantly, and can automatically turn on HDR. This will make it easier than ever to get amazing impromptu and candid photos, making sure you don't miss any beautiful details of your subjects.
In the move from 12MP to 108MP, Samsung is no longer using the dual aperture feature on the S20 Ultra, nor its dual phase-detection autofocus technology, potentially not on any of the S20 series phones. While these were unique to Samsung, it didn't make their photos significantly better than rival phones, if at all. Hopefully all these major overhauls to the camera system will mean Samsung can be a class leader in photography once again, despite the stiff competition.
Galaxy S20 special features: Spectrometer, motion detection and more
While not designed for photography, an extra sensor that Samsung may include on the S20 is a spectrometer, or material sensor. These sensors can be used to analyze the chemical makeup of a given object, allowing you to analyze your own health via body fat or skin moisture, or check fruit for sugar levels, pills to verify they’re genuine, or drinks to find out their alcohol content. While it’s just confirmed as a patent for the time being, the applications for this technology are enormous, and would be an amazing feature for Samsung to put on the S20.
Samsung could be considering other sensors for the Galaxy S20, too, and they sound a lot like what Google added to the Pixel 4 this fall. Samsung has filed a request to trademark the name Isocell Motion for “dynamic vision sensor for object and motion detection; motion detection sensors: object detection sensors; camera image sensors for smartphones and tablets.” That description sounds a lot like the Pixel 4's Motion Sense feature which lets you control some aspects of the phone with gestures.
Similarly, XDA Developers' Max Weinbach has highlighted lines of code that hint at the Galaxy S20 adding more advanced facial recognition features, similar to the ones found in the iPhone's Face ID as well as the new face unlocking capabilities of the Pixel 4.
Galaxy S20: Snapdragon 865 power
The Galaxy S lineup is usually the first to feature the latest Qualcomm mobile processor. This year, that figures to be the Snapdragon 865, following on from the Snapdragon 855 that powers both the Galaxy S10 and Note 10. This was confirmed by XDA Developers who had access to an early version of the S20 Plus, although this will probably not be the only CPU found in S20 phones because of Samsung's own Exynos series chips (read more below).
The newly unveiled Snapdragon 865 is highlighted by an improved image signal processor that can support the 108-megapixel image sensor slated for the S20, a brand new Qualcomm AI engine that should speed up digital assistant performance and image recognition among other capabilities, and better graphics performance geared at gamers.
Of course, any new chip raises questions about how fast it will be. We've had the chance to benchmark the Snapdragon 865 on a Qualcomm-supplied reference device, and on the Geekbench 5 measure of general performance, the 865-powered device produced a multicore score that nearly matched the result we recorded with the A13 Bionic-powered iPhone 11 Pro Max. (The iPhone still outpaces the single core score of thee Snapdragon 865.)
The new Qualcomm chip outperformed the iPhone in some graphics tests, though it still lags the iPhone in our real-world video conversion test using Adobe Rush. Our preliminary conclusion, though, is that the Snapdragon 865 compares very well to the best processor Apple uses in its phones — at least until the iPhone 12 and its A14 processor ships in fall 2020. (We're not putting too much stock in some leaked Galaxy S20 benchmarks that showed underwhelming results, as it's likely they're from a preproduction model that has yet to be optimized.)
As for Galaxy S models released outside the U.S., they tend to run on Samsung's own Exynos chips. Samsung just unveiled a new, 7-nanometer version, the Exynos 990. This new mobile processor is capable of supporting up to six cameras and a 120-Hz refresh rate on displays; it's also got a built-in 5G modem.
The 990 seems like it's headed for non-U.S. versions of the Galaxy S20 that don't incorporate 5G, though recent news of major layoffs within Samsung's CPU development team suggests that the Exynos program may be winding down, and future Galaxy S handsets could incorporate Qualcomm silicon worldwide.
Galaxy S20 RAM and storage
You won't be wanting for space on the S20 if you believe the rumors. According to Max Weinbach on Twitter, the S20 Ultra (the top-specced version), there will be 128GB, 256GB or 512GB storage, and either 12GB or a staggering 16GB RAM backing it up. Plus Weinbach also claims there is the option for SD card expansion of up to another terabyte.
Weinbach added to these rumors with his examination of a pre-release S20 Plus, which features 12GB RAM and 128GB storage. We don't know what other RAM/storage combinations will be available for the S20 Plus (or at all for the standard S20), but even these initial numbers look promising.
Galaxy S20 5G
Speaking of 5G, when Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon 865 chip, the company also noted that it will include an X55 5G modem to complement the chip, rather than integrating the modem inside of it. This isn't as space efficient as the smaller 765 chip which has its modem built-in, but it will still give the new top-tier CPU the 5G abilities it needs to stand out.
Qualcomm's 5G modems — the X50 initially, and now the X55 — are standalone chips that sit alongside the handset’s processor. That tends to create chunkier devices that might not be as power-efficient as some would like. For example, the Galaxy S10 5G features a massive 6.7-inch screen and huge 4,500 mAh battery. It’s also 0.31 inches thick and weighs 6.98 ounces, compared to the 6.17-ounce Galaxy S10 Plus, which is slightly thinner at 0.3 inches.
Still, the X55 modem destined for the Galaxy S20 will support the full range of 5G deployments across the whole spectrum of bands carriers are using — from the low- and mid-band service that travels far but isn't significantly faster than LTE, to the lightning-quick millimeter wave signal that offers speeds well in excess of 1Gbps, albeit over very short distances.
Galaxy S20 battery
It's almost a given that a phone will have a greater battery capacity than the model that preceded it, but the S20 series may be seeing a big jump in this area. According to a leak published by Ice Universe, even the smallest could have a battery capacity as high as 4,000mAh, a jump of 900mAh over the S10e. This leads Ice Universe to suggest that the S20 Ultra, the assumed largest version of the S20 series, could have up to a 5,000mAh battery. That's bigger than any other premium flagship on the market right now, and would seal Samsung's spot at the top of the battery life charts.
A newer leak from SamMobile suggests a battery capacity of 4,500 mAh for the standard S20, which makes sense in the context of the previous leaks, and blows even the iPhone 11 Pro Max out of the water in terms of battery capacity (the 11 Pro Max has a 4,000 mAh battery). However, a hands-on by XDA Developers on a pre-release S20 Plus revealed a 4,500 mAh battery powering the phone. This could mean both the standard and Plus versions of the S20 use the same sized battery, but since larger phones usually use larger batteries, it could mean that the normal S20 has a smaller capacity than rumored, but as long as it hits or breaks the 4,000 mAh barrier, there shouldn't be too many complaints.
On the charging front, XDA Developers' previously mentioned hands-on revealed that the S20 Plus comes packaged with a 25W fast charger, which isn't class leading but is still good, and beats the 20W charger found in the boxes of the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max.
We also know at least the S20 Ultra will be capable of 45W fast charging, allegedly filling up from empty to 100% in 74 minutes. The Note 10 was also equipped with 45W fast charging compatibility, but only shipped with a 25W charger, so we'll have to see if Samsung are feeling generous enough in 2020 to provide their top charging tech in the box of their top S20.
Unfortunately, the quest for bigger batteries may also have pushed out one of the Galaxy brand's longtime beloved features: the 3.5-millimeter headphone jack. A pre-release S20 Plus hands-on by XDA Developers shows there is no headphone jack to be found, which probably means owners of any S20 variant will have to spring for wireless earbuds or use a dongle for old-fashioned 3.5-mm headphones.
The fact that the Note 10 and Note 10 Plus have ditched the headphone jack makes it all but certain that we've seen the last of the 3.5-mm port on Samsung's flagship phones.
The more we've heard about the Galaxy S20, the more excited we've become. Some things are staying the same that you may not like, such as the punch-hole display and subtly curved screens, plus the introduction of what looks to be an enormous camera patch taking up the back of the handset.
However, the key upgrades to battery size, the display and the cameras are more than welcome, and could propel the S20 well ahead of its rivals. We're eagerly looking forward to the unveiling next month, and for some official news from Samsung that may confirm or deny any of the rumors we've been hearing.