Samsung is looking to continue its dominance in the new decade. With their first major release of 2020, rumors indicate Samsung is mixing things up. Not only will their Galaxy S series phones switch to a new name, Galaxy S20, they will also get a new higher-end model, the Galaxy S20 Ultra.
Last year the Galaxy S10 series was different from previous years. Instead of releasing two phones, they release three, two major release and budget options that strips a few features for a $200+ saving. The industry saw this as a response to Apple who in the previous year release the Apple iPhone XR alongside the Apple iPhone XS and XS Max.
Whether it is because of lackluster sales or because they wish to mix things up, Samsung is going away from this strategy. Instead, rumors have it they are opting for a special higher model instead of lower end variant. And this model, known as the Galaxy S20 Ultra, will likely be the very best smartphone you can purchase for the first half of the year.
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The Galaxy S20 Ultra will likely be the best smartphone on the market until the Galaxy Note20 releases in August 2020. It has a 6.9 inch Dynamic AMOLED panel which supports HDR10+ and 120 Hz display. It contains a 5,000 mAh battery, the largest release on any Samsung flagship for all day (and more) battery life. But the real star is the rear cameras which include two big addition, a 108 MP primary camera and 48 MP periscope camera with 10x optical zoom and 100X digital zoom.
The Samsung Galaxy S20, S20+, and S20 Ultra will be announced on February 11, 2020, in San Francisco, CA. Samsung will announce the entire Galaxy S20 series alongside the sequel to the Galaxy Fold. Preorders should start the day after the announcement with most rumors indicate a shipping date of March 6th.
- Release date: March 6, 2020
- Preorder date: February 2020
- Announcement date: Feb. 11, 2020
All three Galaxy S20 series phone will start with 128 GB of internal storage. However, as you would expect from the Ultra variant, the S20 Ultra will the only to offer 512 GB of internal storage as well. All three will use the UFS 3.0 standard and will be faster than other phones using the standard thanks to Samsung usage of the F2FS file system. MicroSD card support is on board, supporting up to 2 TB of expandable storage (although, currently the largest microSD card available is 1 TB).
- Storage available: 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB
- Specification: UFS 3.0
- Expandable storage: no
Pricing appears to be the same MSRP as the Galaxy S10+ which if turns out to be true would make this phone one of the best prices to performance smartphones in 2020. The Galaxy S20 Ultra contains more improvements and upgrades that a typical year-to-year upgrade, creating a new bottom threshold for phones at this price point.
- Price: starting at $1099
The Galaxy S20 Ultra uses glass on both the front and back cover of the phone which are protected by at least Gorilla Glass 5. The frame should be aluminum once again, which minimizes the weight while remaining durable to most drops.
- Frame: aluminum, glass (Gorilla Glass 5)
- Finish: grey
Thanks to shrinking bezels, the Galaxy S20 Ultra is able to pack a huge display (6.9 inches) in a body that neither too tall or wider for most hands. According to rumors, the Galaxy S20 Ultra will be 6.57 x 2.99 inches, similar dimensions to the Sony Xperia 1. Because the Galaxy S20 Ultra is clearly the best phone in the lineup, we do know that many users who hands are too small for this phone will purchase this phone because they want the best and for them, we strongly recommend taking advantage of apps like Bottom Quick Setting to minimize drops.
Despite its large 5,000 mAh battery, it still manages to keep its thickness at 0.35 inches, which is thicker than last year Galaxy S and Note series, but nowhere near to thicker to hold in most hands. There is no reason to believe it will not have an IP68 rating again. What is in question is if it will be limited to 1.5 m of water or higher to match the iPhone 11.
- Height: 6.57 inches
- Width: 2.99 inches
- Depth: 0.35 inches
- Weight: 7.8 ounches
- Dust/water resistance: IP68 under IEC standard 60529
- Supported carriers: Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint
- Infrared blaster: no
The Galaxy S20 Ultra will run Android 10 out of the box. Samsung has already push out Android 10 on several phones including the Galaxy S10 and Note10 series, so there is no reason to believe the newest phone won't run this version of Android.
- Version: Android 10
Running on top of Android 10 is One UI 2. The latest upgrade from Samsung adds dark mode to more apps and shrinks portions of the UI to make it more accessible, especially with the larger display. It isn't a huge upgrade (on Samsung's end), but with the addition of Android 10's features, there is more than enough reason to get excited.
- Version: One UI 2
An ultra phone will need an ultra screen and Samsung has done just that. There are so many specs and features packed in this screen that hard to figure out where to begin. The Galaxy S20 Ultra has 6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED display. It is an Infinity-O Display which means it uses a punch hole to house the front-facing camera which this year is position in the center of the phone (and only one camera).
Because refresh rates were all the rage last year, Samsung has jumped on the bandwagon with its own high refresh rate display, 120 Hz. You read right, 120 Hz is the refresh rate of the Galaxy S20 Ultra. That is the same refresh rate on the Razer Phone (and Razer Phone 2) and ASUS ROG Phone II, neither of which uses an AMOLED panel at such a high resolution. How high of a resolution? Well thanks to a new 20:9 aspect ratio (which makes the phone long but not wide), it has a resolution of 3200 x 1440 for an impressive 506 ppi at such a large screen. There is also support for HDR10 and HDR10+ for the highest of quality HDR.
One thing we don't know is the touch sample rate which is usually set higher than the refresh rate. This technique was popularized by Apple which adds a 120 Hz touch sample rate on their 60 Hz display so touches are register faster which further speeding up animations. The other thing we don't know is if the 120 Hz is limited to 1080p or available at 1440p as well.
- Screen size: 6.9 inches
- Screen resolution: 3200 x 1440 pixels
- Total pixels: 4,480,000 pixels
- Pixel density: 506 ppi
- Screen type: Dynamic AMOLED
- HDR: HDR10/10+
- Notch: no
- Punch hole: yes
- Screen-to-body ratio: Unknown
- Aspect ratio: 20:9
- Minimum brightness: Unknown
- Maximum brightness: at least 1000 nits
- Refresh rate: 120 Hz (Unknown Hz for touch-sensing)
- Color temp: Unknown
- Color gamut: Unknown
The Galaxy S20 Ultra will be powered by the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 865. This SoC offers a 20% increase to CPU performance and a 17–20% increase in GPU performance. It uses the same tri-cluster core configuration with one Gold core clocked higher than three other Gold cores (for a total of four), paired with four Silver cores.
Another exclusive feature to Ultra is the availability of 16 GB of RAM. And this is 16 GB of LPDDR5X RAM, the newest standard for mobile phones which has a faster transfer rate than its predecessor while consuming less power. But as you can expect, 16 GB is the highest configuration and will jump the price noticeably. For nearly everyone on this planet who doesn't need that much RAM, you can enjoy the entry amount of 12 GB (also overkill) which is also LPDDR5X.
- Memory: 12 GB or 16 GB LPDDR5X
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
- Chip size: 7 nanometer
- CPU frequency: 2.84 GHz (1x A77), 2.42 GHz (3x A77), and 1.8 GHz (4x A55)
- CPU cores: 8 cores (1 + 3 Gold Cores, 4 Silver Cores)
- GPU: Adreno 650
- GPU frequency: 587 MHz
Samsung has quickly reshaped its image from an OEM who didn't prioritize battery life, to OEM that leads the pack. The Galaxy S20 Ultra has the largest battery Samsung ever place in its flagship lineup, 5,000 mAh.
And to this beefy battery, Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra will support Samsung's new proprietary fast-charging standard, Super Fast Charging 2.0. Like the Galaxy Note10+, it will come with 25 W charger in the box. You can purchase the 45 W charger separately ($49.99 on Amazon). You probably want to get the latter as speed up charging to 74 minutes from 0-100%.
As far as wireless charging, the Galaxy S20 Ultra will support Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 which will allow it to use up to 15 W charger. Additionally, it will support PowerShare, the marketing name for reverse wireless charging.
- Battery: rechargeable lithium-ion
- Capacity: 5,000 mAh, 3.86 volts (19.3 watt-hours)
- Wired charging: yes, Super Fast Charging 2.0 25 W (in the box), Up to 45 W
- Wireless charging: yes, Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 (15 W)
- Reverse Wireless charging: yes, PowerShare
Unlike the Galaxy S20 and S20+, the Galaxy S20 Ultra will use a new 40 MP wide-angle front-facing camera. We are not sure if it is Sony or Samsung sensor or any other information besides the megapixels. There is a rumored Samsung is integrating a ToF sensor into these lenses to make facial recognition possible. At first we didn't believe this rumor but based on how much the Galaxy S20 Ultra is separating itself from the pack, it won't be surprising if Samsung made this feature exclusive to the Galaxy S20 Ultra.
Besides the megapixels, we do know that video capture up to 4K support at 60 fps is making a return as well.
- Resolution: 40 MP
- Aperture: Unknown
- Zoom: Unknown
- Flash: yes, screen flash
- Image stabilization: yes, EIS
- RAW support: yes
- Object detection: yes, face
- Formats: JPEG, RAW
The other big change is the rear cameras of the Galaxy S20 Ultra and it hears that most people will feel they have to get the Galaxy S20 Ultra. On paper, this is where the phone will really shine, challenge the likes of Google and Apple with both the versatility of lenses and quality of each lens.
The Galaxy S20 Ultra has a 108 MP primary lens. This is the second generation of Samsung Bright HMX, the HM1. So far the only update (in regard to photos) we know is that the HM1 will use pixel binning with 9 adjacent pixels instead of four converting the photos from 108 MP to 12 MP. This will also increase the pixel size from 0.8 µm to 2.4 µm, one of the largest one smartphone, that will significantly improve low-light photography.
According to the rumors, Samsung will also include a 48 MP periscope lens capable of 10x optical zoom. Apparently, it can truly zoom to 5x, and will use pixel cropping to reach 10x (similar to how OnePlus 7 Pro reached 3x optical zoom). This lens is also capable of 100x digital zoom and may be known as "Space Zoom," a feature highlight the camera's ability to capture close up images of celestial bodies (such as the Moon).
Finally, rounding up the rear cameras is the 12 MP ultrawide lenses and ToF camera. The former is the Samsung ISOCELL S5K2LA and we believe it will have a 1.4 µm pixel size and a 1/2.55" sensor size.
However, great camera hardware isn't enough. Based on an APK teardown by XDA, we learned of several new innovative features coming to S20 Ultra's camera interface. Single Take Photo is a new feature that has you pan the phone around while it takes photos, then recommends the best images it was able to capture. There are four new Live Focus effects: Artify, Mono, Side light, and Vintage. There is also a new Glitch effect for Live Focus Video. Zoom-in Audio will have now been improved thanks to Android 10 (which has native support) and its placement in the camera array.
- Resolution: 108 MP (12 MP when using pixel binning), 48 MP (telephoto), 12 MP(ultra-wide)
- Sensor size: 0.8/2.4 µm (primary), Unknown (ultra-wide), 1.4 µm (telephoto)
- Aperture: Unknown (primary), Unknown (ultra-wide), Unknown (telephoto)
- Zoom: 10x optical, 100 x digital
- Flash: High CRI LED
- Image stabilization: yes, OIS + EIS (primary and telephoto)
- RAW support: yes
- Lens cover: sapphire crystal
- Object detection: yes, food, faces
- Formats: JPEG, RAW
Another advantage of the 108 MP Samsung ISOCELL Bright HM1 is the upgrade to 8K video capture (at 30 fps). Qualcomm Snapdragon 865's Image Signal Processor can handle video capture at this size so the process should be very similar to recording video at a lower resolution. This upgrade makes sense as Samsung is one of the only OEMs to sell affordable 8K TV despite there being limited content at this resolution. Thanks to Galaxy S20 Ultra, you now have 8K content to enjoy.
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 also improves super slow motion capture by adding native support. Instead of past years where Samsung had to use a clever workaround to add this feature with limited duration, the SoC supports it which means you can record at 960 fps for a much longer time (heat will likely be the only factor preventing unlimited capture). We also expect HDR10+ video capture to make a return.
- Resolution: 720p, 1080p, 4K, and 8K
- Max frame rate: 720p at 30fps, 1080p at 60 fps, 4K at 60 fps, 8K at 30 fps
- Slow motion: up to 720p at 960 fps, 1080p at 240 fps
- Time-lapse: yes, 1080p
- Photos: yes, higher than 9.1 MP still photos during 4K recording
- Zoom: yes, see above
- Flash access: yes, see above
- Image stabilization: yes, VDIS (video digital image stabilization)
- Object detection: Unknown
- Autofocus: Unknown
- Audio: stereo
- Formats: H.264 (AVC), H.265 (HEVC)
Let cut straight to what you care about — the headphone jack is gone. Samsung is likely done with including 3.5mm jack in their flagship, limiting the availability of this port on flagship caliber phones to LG and ASUS. But it will have even more powerful stereo speakers. And the speakers include Dolby Atmos support.
However, what I believe is even more troubling is that rumors indicate Samsung will not include the dongle in the box. We know the USB-C AKG earbuds were included in the Note10 series instead, and leaks indicates Samsung plans to do the same substitution again. We strongly recommend picking up a headphone adapter such as the Samsung official adapter ($14.99 on Amazon) now. Another option is to take advantage of the Galaxy S20 Ultra hi-fi support with something like the Soditer headphone adapter ($26.99 on Amazon) which lets you output 32 bit/384 kHz audio files.
- 3.5 mm headphone jack: no
- Stereo speakers: yes, top firing and bottom-firing
- Mics: 3
- Max speaker volume: Unknown
We currently haven't heard of any changes in media format support so we assume it will be the same its predecessor.
- Audio: MP3, M4A, 3GA, AAC, OGG, OGA, WAV, WMA, AMR, AWB, FLAC, MID, MIDI, XMF, MXMF, IMY, RTTTL, RTX, OTA, APE, DSF, DFF
- Video: MP4, M4V, 3GP, 3G2, WMV, ASF, AVI, FLV, MKV, WEBM
We believe the sensors will be the same as the Galaxy S10 series with the exception of the ultrasonic fingerprint scanner (we believe they will opt for facial recognition using the integrated ToF sensor).
- Sensors: Accelerometer, RGB Ambient Light Sensor, Barometer, Gyro sensor, Geomagnetic sensor, Hall sensor, Proximity sensor
The Galaxy Note 10+ was the first Samsung device released in the US to support dual-frequency so we fully expect this same feature will make it way all three S20 series phones.
- GPS: yes, L1 + L5
- aGPS: yes
- Glonass: yes, L1
- BeiDou: yes, B1
- Galileo: yes, E1 + E5a
- QZSS: no
Wi-Fi 6 should once again be available on the Galaxy S20 Ultra. We know it uses Bluetooth 5.1, a small upgrade that adds better location determination, faster connection initiation using less power, and improvements to how Bluetooth devices announce its availability to connect to devices. It could include e-SIM support, but we haven't heard anything regarding this change.
- Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax
- Bluetooth: 5.1
- NFC: yes
- Cellular: nano-SIM
- Port: USB Type-C
As far as cellular bands, Qualcomm is forcing OEMs to purchase the separate 5G modem with each purchase of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865. While the other models will have 4G and 5G variants (overseas), the Galaxy S20 Ultra will only be available with 5G support.
- GSM: 850/1900
- UMTS: 850/1700/1900
- CDMA: BC0, BC10
- LTE Bands: 2/4/5/7/12/13/14/25/26/30/38/41/48/66/71
- 5G Non-Standalone (NSA), Sub6 / mmWave
There is a rumor that Samsung will adopt a secure facial recognition using a ToF sensor. While at first, we didn't think this would happen, now that we know that Samsung plans to make this phone the high-end model, there is a chance this comes to fruition. The other possibility is the use of an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner.
- Fingerprint scanner: no
- Face scanner: yes, ToF sensor (secure)
- Iris scanner: no
- Manual authentication: password, PIN, pattern, swipe
We expect Samsung will consist of the 25 W Super Fast Charging adapter. The USB-C AKG earbuds will be included as well, help relieve users who no longer have access to a headphone jack.
- Samsung Galaxy S20
- Samsung USB Type-C Cable
- Samsung Power Adapter (25W)
- USB-C Earphones sound by AKG
- SIM Tray Ejector
- Pattern Cover
- Quick Start Guide
- Protective Film