The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 is almost certainly going to be unveiled at the Samsung Unpacked virtual product launch event on August 5, but there are still several things we don’t know about the Android phone.
Samsung has traditionally releases its stylus-packing phones in August, and it always seems to incorporate the features introduced in that year’s S-series phones from six months prior. But there’s still plenty to wonder about the Note 20.
Then there are all the other Note-specific questions we have for the next phone in the stylus line: will there be more features for the S Pen? Will the display be even bigger than last year’s models? Will productivity tools like DeX get improvements, too?
We’ve still got plenty of questions, but we’re going to narrow them down to the five biggest things we still don’t know about the next flagship Samsung phone line.
Will there be a Note 20 Ultra in addition to a Note 20 Plus?
Perhaps the biggest question is whether we’ll see a Note 20 corollary to the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra with an appropriately huge screen and extreme specs.
At this point, it’s hard to be certain – heck, early rumors strongly suggested we might not even see a Note 20 Ultra. Given we’ve seen more and more leaked images of the supposed extra-large model, we suspect that rumors we initially assumed referred to the Note 20 Plus were, instead, about the Note 20 Ultra – especially since a recent specs leak referred to just the base and Ultra models, with no mention of the Plus.
We could still see a Plus model, but Samsung might be splitting the difference and dividing its choices between a smaller, more basic model and a max-specced Ultra version.
Will the Note 20 come in a 4G version, too?
Given most 2020 flagship phones support 5G, we’re expecting the Note 20 line to follow suit – especially since it will most likely pack the leading Snapdragon 865 or 865 Plus chipset, which require a discrete 5G modem. But given the nominal price bump we’ve seen to get 5G phone connectivity, is there a cheaper 4G-only Note 20 phone in the works?
We’ve seen pricing leaks that deliberately call out a 4G version – and recent certifications from US and Thailand regulatory agencies (FCC and NBTC, respectively) have surfaced revealing a 4G-only device is at least registered in those markets. Whether they’ll end up coming to more regions is another question, as phonemakers don’t always release all variants of their phones globally – or might wait some time to do so, like with the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite.
Will it have all the S20's cameras? Or have even more advanced tech?
The Galaxy S20 line has a well-rounded suite of rear cameras, with a main 12MP f/1.8 shooter, 64MP telephoto with 3x optical zoom, and 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide camera, along with 8K at 24fps video recording and its new Super Stabilization feature. The S20 Ultra even packed a 108MP main camera, which enabled its staggering 100x ‘Space Zoom’ feature.
Is all that coming to the Note 20 line? Hard to say: leaks claim that the Plus or Ultra will have a 108MP main, 12MP ultra-wide, and 13MP telephoto lens with periscope tech, though another rumor suggests it won’t reach the 100x maximum zoom of the S20 Ultra. Instead, expect a more modest 50x zoom, but it’s unclear whether this will come to both the standard Note 20 and the Ultra.
What’s more interesting is that the Note 20’s selfie camera could ditch the punch-hole for an under-display camera, according to rumor and even a video tease by Samsung itself. While it could be a pop-up camera, that’s not really Samsung’s style (not outside of the Samsung Galaxy A80’s pop-and-flip cameras, anyway). But again, will such a prestigious feature come to both the standard Note 20 and its pricier sibling?
What about the Note 20 chipset and specs?
We’re still not certain about the Note 20’s set of specs: given the line’s productivity focus, we expect more battery but not exactly show-stopping internals.
Some rumors presume the Note 20 will get the same Snapdragon 865 chipset as the Galaxy S20 line, while a leaker believes it will instead opt for the slightly more powerful Snapdragon 865 Plus chipset instead. While the Note 10 and Note 10 Plus didn’t upgrade its processor over the Galaxy S10 (both go the Snapdragon 855), including one would give the Note 20 an edge to compete with other mid-year flagships that have launched with the Snapdragon 865 Plus, like the Asus ROG 3.
Outside the US, we’ve heard the Note 20 will get Samsung’s Exynos 992 chipset, which would be a slight upgrade on the Exynos 990 appearing in the Galaxy S20 line, though another leak suggests the new phone could just stick with the Exynos 990, too. We love conflicting rumors!
There’s been more chatter about Note 20 battery life, though, with estimations from a minimum of 4,000mAh capacity in the standard Note 20, a more recent leak suggesting 4,300mAh, and up to 4,500mAh in the Note 20 Plus/Ultra. At least we have a range.
Will there be more S Pen gestures and productivity software?
Sadly, there’s even less we know about improvements that might come for the Note 20’s signature feature, the S Pen stylus.
We have heard rumors that you’ll be able to use the S Pen as a more proper pointer with mid-air gestures allowing navigation around the interface, which could iterate on some similar (and rather clumsy) way to get around with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 S Pen.
What’s more exciting for the productivity-minded user: DeX, the Samsung feature that used its smartphones and tablets to power a desktop-computing experience through an external monitor, may finally be going wireless. Instead of requiring a dedicated dock and/or cord, you may be able to fire up the PC experience (with a Windows-like file system) wirelessly, according to this rumor.
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David is now a mobile reporter at Cnet. Formerly Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, he covered phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made. He's most interested in technology, gaming and culture – and where they overlap and change our lives. His current beat explores how our on-the-go existence is affected by new gadgets, carrier coverage expansions, and corporate strategy shifts.