Samsung Galaxy Note 20 leak reveals biggest design change in 6 years

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Plus render
(Image credit: OnLeaks/Pigtou)

Samsung may leave the Galaxy Note 20 without one of the company's most famous features: a curved display.

This surprising and unofficial news comes from Ice Universe (via SamMobile) on Twitter, who noted that the smaller of the Galaxy Note 20 handsets will come with a flat display. Ice Universe has a solid track record for tech leaks, so this screen titbit could be on the money. 

Samsung first offered curved displays on 'Edge' variants of its main flagship lines, starting with the Galaxy Note Edge in 2014, with 2015's Galaxy S6 Edge Plus being the first curved display phone the company released globally. The company then moved to curved displays only with the Galaxy Note 7 and Galaxy S8, including last year's Galaxy Note 10 and Galaxy S10. However some cheaper versions of these phones, for example the Galaxy S10e, Galaxy S10 Lite and Galaxy Note 10 Lite, had flat screens instead.

Perhaps we should have expected this earlier in the year when the Galaxy S20 was revealed to have a less pronounced curve in its edge-to-edge display than its predecessors. And some people tend to find that phones with large displays are easier to handle if they don't have curved edges; for example, we found the curved display on the OnePlus 8 Pro made it too easy to accidentally tap the screen.  

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Given that the Note series' calling card is the S Pen, a flat panel on the Galaxy Note 20 might make using the stylus on the expanse of the phone's screen easier, as no curved edges make it less likely the S Pen will slip off the screen. 

However, the Galaxy Note 20 is expected to come in a couple of different sizes, with a Plus or even Galaxy Note 20 Ultra variants. And so far there's been no indication that the larger Note 20 handsets will drop the curved display. Having the smaller Note 20 use a flat screen and equipping the larger phones with curved displays will be one way for Samsung to inject some variation between the Note 20 models.  

We'll know how true this rumor will be in August. That's when Samsung is apparently planning a Galaxy Unpacked event that will show off the Galaxy Fold 2, Galaxy Watch 2 and Galaxy Z Flip 5G as well as the Note 20. 

We can expect the Note 20 to use the same design cues, 5G-ready Snapdragon 865 chipset, camera sensors as the Galaxy S20 series. However, the Note 20 Plus may add a laser focus sensor on the back to help its cameras focus faster as well as gain access to an improved 108MP sensor. 

There are rumors that only the Note 20 Plus and Note 20 Ultra will get access to a 120Hz refresh rate display. But the jury is still out on this. 

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.