September 22, 2020

Samsung’s best ever devices but you’ll need big bucks, and more tech news today

Samsung's gone ultra-premium, but who's buying the non-Ultra Note 20? Google Pixel news, and more in tech you need to know.

Your tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily tech newsletter, for Thursday, 6 August 2020.

1. Galaxy Unpacked best yet, but is it the right time?

The biggest announcements from yesterday’s Samsung Unpacked 2020 event were not exactly under wraps if you’ve been following the leaks and news.

But Samsung came to the party with the Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra, the Galaxy Tab S7 tablet series, Galaxy Watch 3, and the Galaxy Buds Live, also known as Beans.

  • There was one big surprise with Samsung announcing it’ll increase its device support to three years, matching what Google offers and beyond the usual two years of availability.
  • That’s great news for many reasons, both for supporting longer life-cycles but also just reducing unnecessary obsolescence from devices that keep working beyond 24 months.

I want to start with the device not mentioned above, the Galaxy Z Fold 2. It’s the device that has the tech industry buzzing most.

Galaxy Z Fold 2

  • The announcement of the Galaxy Z Fold 2 came right at the time, but it was its best device. This is bleeding-edge technology that improves upon the controversial original Galaxy Fold and makes it look like a true first-gen device.
  • This second-generation Fold now has a full-size outer display, at 6.2-inches, and it unfolds now to a bigger 7.6-inch inner display, and the chunky notch at the top is gone.
  • It also features a 120Hz refresh rate, and it’s protected by ultra-thin glass, doing away with the problems of plastic in the original Fold.
  • The hinge is improved, too.
  • Samsung, probably cleverly, didn’t announce full specs, pricing, or availability. I think that’s smart because it’s still probably going to be about $2000. Announcing it in full would’ve detracted from Samsung’s other devices.
  • Make no mistake. All my tech friends and true geeks are super excited about the new Fold. That’s because the original was actually a great device.
  • Early gadget-guy excitement doesn’t always tell the full story. Niche devices do stay niche. But sometimes that does overflow into the mainstream.
  • I don’t think the Fold 2 will, based on the expected pricetag alone, but with the compromises fixed, it looks great.
  • The Fold seems to be the new Note series. Samsung used to push the boundaries further with the Note, one of the first popular big screen devices.
  • We find out all the details on September 1st.

Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra

  • There’ll be a lot said about where Samsung has positioned the Note 20 range now, because figuring that out is not easy.
  • The new Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra devices remain super-premium, with the focus on the huge screen, refined design, S-Pen, a Swiss Army knife camera system, and top specs including 5G.
  • Which, ahem, is also what the Galaxy S20 was about this year as well. The Note 20 is a flat 6.7-inch device, the Note 20 Ultra is a more curved 6.9-inch device, 120Hz refresh rate, and all the best specs you could want.
  • So why Note 20? Well, actually, I’m not sure about the base model. It will retail for $1000, and it’s slightly smaller in display and drops back in resolution, and offers 60Hz refresh rate only, and fewer camera lenses. And it features a ‘glasstic’ back, doing away with glass and going for a glass mimic, with plastic. It may be durable, but it may not be that nice at $1000. We await full reviews.
  • The Note 20 Ultra, though, looks like everything you could want. But you’ll have to pay $1300 to get it, and that value looks stretched even with all of Samsung’s efforts to make this the best.
  • I look forward to reviews that will have to balance the price with the performance. In any case, it goes head-to-head with the OnePlus 8 Pro at $900/$1000, the LG V60, the S20 range of course, and the iPhone 11 Pro for now starting at $1250. Plus the top-spec iPhone 12 is out within a month or two.

Galaxy Tab S7

  • I’m impressed with the new tablet from Samsung. The Android ecosystem isn’t amazing for bigger screen Android devices, but this tablet is amazing, with 120Hz refresh rate, and 5G support.
  • The 11-inch S7 is an LCD panel, and brings high-end specs, S Pen, and Samsung’s productivity software, with an 8,000mAh battery. It starts at $650.
  • The 12.4-inch S7 Plus brings all that plus AMOLED display, and a 10,090mAh charger, and an $850 starting price.
  • These look so, so good, but of course, the iPad range is the killer tablet experience. I await to see how these stack up.
  • The Samsung-Microsoft integrations may count. That includes being able to run Android apps on Windows 10, but you’ll probably need to buy the keyboard-trackpad accessory for another $80 to get the most out of it.

Galaxy Watch 3

  • The Watch 3 is now lighter and much more powerful than the original, with a bigger 1.4-inch round screen, at 41mm and 45mm sizes.
  • Big three improvements: additional health and safety features that will even give the Apple Watch more competition than before, including VO2 max, SpO2, and deeper sleep tracking, along with smartwatch functionality.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Live

  • Samsung’s successor to its Galaxy Buds range are these bean-shaped devices, now with 12mm drivers. $170, available today. More on these here.

More on where and when can you buy the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra.


2. Did Google accidentally leave in the expected date of the Pixel 4a 5G and the Pixel 5 in a French blog post? It could be: October 8th was the date left in. Also, in another sign, Google has already discontinued the Pixel 4 and 4 XL (Android Authority).


3. There’s also a rumor about a foldable Google Pixel in 2021, via a reported internal Google document (Android Authority).


4. Intel, MediaTek 5G laptops are one step closer to launch, via new modem for 2021 laptops (Android Authority).


5. Instagram Reels is now out in 50 countries, built into IG (TechCrunch).


6. Animal Crossing catapults Nintendo to stratospheric earnings. Wow: the game sold more copies than GameCube consoles: 22.4M. Still second to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, though! (The Verge).


7. Audi drops E-Tron price by nearly $9,000 and ups the range by 18 miles, plus new Sportback model (Engadget).


8. Insecure satellite Internet is threatening ship and plane safety (Ars Technica).


9. “I walked Spot, the Boston Dynamics robot dog, remotely — and only crashed once� (CNET).


10. Dutch hackers found a simple way to mess with traffic lights (Wired).


111. Satellite observations identify at least 11 new Emperor penguin breeding sites by spotting guano stains on the ice, lifting the population by as much as 10% (BBC).


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