Even after several leaks, Samsung had plenty to share at its Unpacked 2020 event today. The company officially unveiled its Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra, as well as the Galaxy Tab S7 and S7 Plus, Galaxy Watch 3 and Galaxy Buds Live. It continued to tease the Galaxy Z Fold 2 and let us in on new Notes and ultra-wide band features. We’ve rounded up the highlights below.
Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra
Samsung officially revealed the Galaxy Note 20 ($999) and Note 20 Ultra ($1,299) today. Like the rest of the Galaxy Note line, these new phones pack big screens, powerful processors, and, of course, the S Pen (though now it’s on the bottom left corner).
The Note 20 Ultra has a 6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with a 120 hertz refresh rate. What makes it stand out from devices like the Galaxy S20 Ultra is what’s on the inside: one of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865+ chipsets, currently Qualcomm’s fastest available offering. The Note 20 Ultra is also the first Samsung device to come with an ultra-wideband (or UWB) radio for short-range data transmission, and of course, it’s available in “mystic bronze,” the color Samsung pushed throughout today’s event.
The Note 20 is similar to the Note 20 Ultra, but it falls short in many ways. Overall, the hardware is considerably less impressive than the Ultra. The screen has a lower resolution and refresh rate, 2400x1080 at 60Hz, and memory is limited to 8GM of RAM and 128GB of storage. Even its cameras are toned down. Though, it does have the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ chipset.
Galaxy Tab S7 and S7 Plus
Designed to “combine the power of a PC, the flexibility of a tablet and the connectivity of a smartphone,” Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S7 and S7 Plus will be the first tablets to support 5G in the US.
They’ll come with 11-inch (LCD) and 12.4-inch (AMOLED) displays and a high 120Hz refresh rate. The keyboard cover, which has an improved trackpad, and useful software make the Tab S7 and S7 Plus strong 2-in-1 devices meant to compete with your PC. Both have the Snapdragon 865+ processor that’s in the Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra and will run Android 10.
Like Samsung’s recent tablets, the Tab S7 and S7 Plus both come with the S Pen. This iteration reduces latency to just 9ms, making it a stronger Apple Pencil competitor. The S Pen now supports Air Actions, so you can use the pen as a remote control and do things like draw circles in the air, and updates to the Notes app allow you to mark up PDFs you import, tidy up your scribbles and more.
Galaxy Watch 3
The Galaxy Watch 3 is the first new Samsung Galaxy Watch in years. The biggest changes are that the rotating bezel is back, the fitness companion is improved and there are new health features, like updated sleep tracking, an ECG, trip detection and blood oxygen monitor. ECG will only be available in South Korea to start, but Samsungs says the feature just earned FDA authorization, so it may arrive in the US before too long.
Beginning August 6th, the Galaxy Watch 3 will be available in 41mm and 45mm options, $400 and $430 respectively.
Galaxy Buds Live
The Galaxy Buds Live were no surprise at today’s event, as they’ve leaked several times. Now, the earbuds are official. The standout features are an “open type” design and active noise cancelation (ANC), which is designed to allow important background noise. The noise-canceling feature focuses on low-frequency noises, like cars, transit and voices, while cutting out the background noise you don’t need. How well that works is debatable due to the lack of a seal in your ears.
Another notable change is that the Buds Live offer hands-free access to Bixby for the first time. Beyond that, the bean shape does make these more comfortable, and the battery will last up to eight hours with both ANC and always-on Bixby disabled (21 additional hours in the case).
Galaxy Z Fold 2
Like the Buds Live, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 was widely leaked before today’s event. Still, the changes compared to its predecessor are notable. For starters, it’s bigger. The cover display measures 6.2-inches and the primary screen is 7.6-inches.
Samsung is saving most of the device’s specs for its Fold 2 event on September 1st. But it did share that the Fold 2 has a 4,500 mAh battery and it’s thinner than the original thanks to improved miniaturization. New caps on the ends should prevent some of the trouble that the original Fold ran into, and Samsung has had plenty of time to work out some of the other kinks.
Notes and Reminders Syncing
Samsung’s updated Notes App will sync with Microsoft’s more popular OneNote platform and play nicely with Microsoft Outlook. It will capture notes and audio simultaneously, and by clicking around in a note, you’ll be able to jump to audio bookmarks. The improved Notes app will automatically straighten your handwriting and keep things organized in a new folder system.
Meanwhile, Samsung’s Reminder app will sync with Outlook, Microsoft To-Do and Teams. You’ll be able to do things like drag and drop reminders into your calendar.
Note 20 Ultra’s UWB Benefits
In the near term, Samsung plans to use the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra’s UWB tech to power Google’s new Nearby Share, which will let you share files with nearby UWB-capable handsets.
In the future, UWB could turn your phone into a digital key that will sense when you’re approaching a door and unlock it. It might also guide you to items you’re trying to locate using AR.
Xbox Games Pass Bundle
Samsung says the Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra work like a computer and play like a gaming console. To push the gaming aspect, Samsung is partnering with Microsoft to offer an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Bundle for the Galaxy Note 20. That includes Power A’s MOGA XP5-X+ Bluetooth controller, a clip to hold your phone in place and three months of Game Pass Ultimate service, which usually costs $15 per month.
The bundle will be available on August 21st. You’ll get a $150 Samsung Credit if you pre-order the Note 20, and you can use that towards the bundle. When xCloud goes live on Game Pass Ultimate on September 15th, you’ll be able to download a dedicated Game Pass app from the Galaxy Store.