Samsung Galaxy Note 20 specs leak is a big letdown

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

If you were looking forward to the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 in part for its 120Hz display, well, we have some bad news.

As it turns out, the 120Hz refresh rate could be limited to the higher-end Galaxy Note 20 Plus or Ultra variant, along with the long-rumored LTPO display technology that's supposed to allow that model to dynamically adjust its refresh rate on the fly in response to use cases and power demands. Meanwhile, the smaller, cheaper Note 20 will have to make do with no LTPO, and only 60Hz animations.

That's according to well-known leaker Ice Universe via Twitter, who has a pretty solid track record with leaks of the Samsung nature. Up until this point, it was largely thought that the fast refresh-rate and LTPO system would be a factor in all upcoming Note devices. Notably, all three Galaxy S20 models can pull off 120Hz, though they lack LTPO and therefore, are constrained to either 120Hz at a peak Full HD resolution, or 60Hz at QHD.

Disappointing though this may be, it's a decision that makes sense, given the toll doubled refresh rates tend to take on phone batteries. The regular 6.4-inch Galaxy S20 lasted an hour and a half less in our custom battery test when running at 120Hz vs 60Hz, and a similar story played out for its larger, pricier brethren.

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The idea is that the benefit to efficiency offered by LTPO technology should mitigate that drain, meaning the phone's refresh rate will only ascend to its peak when absolutely necessary. LTPO displays are actually out there in the wild right now — Apple employs them in the Apple Watch Series 5 — and they're especially ideal for wearables that need to coax a day's worth of use or more from their exceptionally tiny batteries.

Two days before Ice Universe tweeted about the Note 20's display specs, Ross Young of Display Supply Chain Consultants tweeted a list of handsets releasing in 2020 with 120Hz panels. On this list, the regular Note 20 was nowhere to be found, while the Plus/Ultra variant was listed, alongside Apple's iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max.

Besides the refresh rate discrepancy, the two Note 20 models are expected to differ in size (6.4 inches for the smaller model; 6.9 inches for the Note 20 Plus/Ultra), camera hardware, battery size and potentially even storage.

Considering we're still in the dark on what Samsung intends to ask folks to pay for these two phones, it seems like the gap in price could be vast — and there was already a $150 difference between the Galaxy Note 10 and Galaxy Note 10 Plus last year.

While the Note 20 leaks are coming fast and furiously these days, we won't know precisely what Samsung's planning for its next phablets until August at the soonest. That's when Samsung is expected to reveal these phones, as well as the Galaxy Fold 2, a 5G version of its Galaxy Z Flip clamshell foldable and a host of wearables and other accessories, during an online event.

Adam Ismail is a staff writer at Jalopnik and previously worked on Tom's Guide covering smartphones, car tech and gaming. His love for all things mobile began with the original Motorola Droid; since then he’s owned a variety of Android and iOS-powered handsets, refusing to stay loyal to one platform. His work has also appeared on Digital Trends and GTPlanet. When he’s not fiddling with the latest devices, he’s at an indie pop show, recording a podcast or playing Sega Dreamcast.