Samsung launches 5G-powered S20 series and a new foldable phone

The flagship phone of the latest series, S20 Ultra, starts at about $1,400

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Samsung unveiled three 5G-enabled phones under the S20 series and a foldable model as the South Korean smartphone manufacturer looks to expand its customer base and wrestle market share from rivals Apple and Huawei.

Released simultaneously in San Francisco and London on Tuesday, the new models – S20, S20+ and S20 Ultra – offer improved cameras, longer lasting batteries, smart sensors and enhanced artificial intelligence capabilities.

“As we enter this new decade, 5G will completely change how we communicate and how we experience the world around us,” said TM Roh, president and head of mobile communications business at Samsung.

“Samsung is providing next-generation devices to transform people’s lives,” added Mr Roh, who took charge of the company's mobile business last month.

Samsung's S20 Ultra with a 17.5-centimeter screen has four cameras on the rear. Weighing only 220 grams, its starting price is set at $1,399.99 (Dh5137.96). The S20+ variant offers 17cm screen and S20 has a 15.7cm display. The company has begun accepting orders for the 5G models until March 6.

The cheapest of the new phones – S20 – is priced at $999.99 as Samsung tries to attract customers from all budget classes. Rival Apple is also planning to launch a low-cost iPhone to broaden its customer base.

Powered by a battery of up to 5,000 milliampere hours, the Galaxy S20 series has a super-fast charging option. The models also offer larger storage variants – 128GB for S20 and 128GB, 256GB and 512GB options for Galaxy S20+ and S20 Ultra.

The Samsung Electronics Co. Galaxy Z Flip smartphone is displayed on screen during the Samsung Unpacked product launch event in San Francisco, California, U.S. on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. Samsung is starting a new decade with a new chief in charge of its mobile business, but it's doing it in the same old fashion: by leaning into its semiconductor advantage to overwhelm consumers with unmatched specs on its latest Galaxy devices. Photographer: Michael Short/Bloomberg

Higher image sensors have significantly enhanced camera resolution and the quality of images. The S20 and S20+ have 64 megapixel cameras, while S20 Ultra comes with a 108MP camera.

"You can clearly see that the focus is on the camera with the S20 series", said Abbas Ali, managing editor of TechRadar Middle East.

"Though Samsung has had decent cameras on their phones in the past few years, competitors had pulled ahead and with the S20, Samsung is looking to change that.”

Industry analysts project shipments of the S20 series to reach more than 40 million units in 2020, an improvement over the predecessor S10 family's 36 million units in 2019. Better cameras and 5G upgrade will be the game changer, said Counterpoint Research in Hong Kong.

A member of the media takes a selfie while holding s Samsung Galaxy Z Flip phone displayed during the Samsung Galaxy Unpacked 2020 event in San Francisco, California on February 11, 2020.  Samsung unveiled its second folding smartphone, a "Z Flip" handset with a lofty price tag aimed at "trendsetters." The smartphone flips open, like a pocket cosmetics case, opening into a 6.7-inch screen. / AFP / Josh Edelson

Devised for ultimate portability, Samsung's second foldable phone Galaxy Z Flip bends into the size of a wallet. It is a compact palm-sized device when folded, but its screen size nearly doubles to 17cm display when opened.

“The Galaxy Z Flip is an important next step as we look to build the foldable category by bringing to consumers a new form factor, new display and most importantly, a new kind of mobile experience,” said Mr Roh.

Designed to be marketed aggressively to women in their twenties, the Z Flip has the shape of a foldable make-up case with mirror.

Samsung spent nearly eight years developing its first foldable phone – Galaxy Fold. However, it had to delay its global release on April 26, last year, after initial reviewers reported display problems and crack on screens.

The Fold was launched in select markets in September after fixes and has since 500,000 units have been sold, according to Samsung.

China's biggest technology company Huawei also announced its first foldable phone – Mate X – at the Mobile World Congress in February last year.

Currently available only in China, Huawei said it is selling at least 100,000 Mate X per month since November.

Samsung shipped 68.8 million smartphones worldwide in the last quarter of 2019, a 1 per cent annual drop to December 31, according to market researcher Strategy Analytics in Boston.

The company's global market share remained flat at 18.4 per cent. After trailing behind Samsung for three years, Apple became the top smartphone vendor in the last quarter of 2019 with a 19 per cent market share. Huawei came in at number three with 15 per cent.

Unlike Apple's closed ecosystem of iOS, Samsung is open to more collaborations with global technology companies.

The company said streaming services Netflix will further integrate with the Samsung interface. Bixby voice assistant by Samsung will also interconnect with Spotify and YouTube plans to support high-quality video uploads starting with the S20 devices.


S20 series Specs

Galaxy S20

Display: 15.7cm screen and 163g body

Rear Camera: Triple camera, with wide-angle and ultra-wide 12MP lenes

Front Camera: 10MP lens

Memory: 12GB RAM with 128GB internal storage

Battery: 4,000mAh (milliampere hours)

Availability: Accepting orders and device will be available from March 6

Price in UAE: Starting from Dh3,700

Galaxy S20+

Display: 17cm screen and 186g body

Rear Camera: Quad camera, with telephoto lens of 64MP and wide-angle and ultra-wide 12MP lenses

Front Camera: 10MP Lens

Memory: 12GB RAM with internal storage between 128GB and 512GB

Battery: 4,500mAh

Availability: Accepting orders and device will be available from March 6

Price in UAE: Starting from Dh4,400

Galaxy S20 Ultra

Display: 17.5cm screen and 220g body

Camera rear: Quad camera, with telephoto lens of 64MP, wide-angle 108MP lens and ultra-wide 12MP lens

Front: 40MP lens

Memory:  RAM between 12GB and 16GM while internal storage between 128GB and 512GB

Battery: 5,000mAh

Availability: Accepting orders and device will be available from March 6

Price in UAE: Starting from Dh5,137

Galaxy Z Flip

Display: 17cm screen and 183g body

Rear Camera: Wide-angle 12MP Lens. It comes with an optical image stabilisation feature

Front Camera: 10MP Lens

Memory:  8GB RAM with 256GB internal storage

Battery: 3,300mAh

Availability: Starting in select markets, including the US and South Korea on February 14

Price in UAE: Starting from Dh5,065