Samsung's Galaxy S20 to usher in 5G upgrade cycle, savvy pricing, camera upgrades, futureproof specs

Samsung's Unpacked event on Tuesday is set to unveil the Samsung Galaxy S20 lineup and will likely kick off the real 5G upgrade cycle for both businesses and consumers.

The catch for Samsung will be hitting the price points for a 5G value proposition that lacks a killer app for consumers. Enterprises may look to Samsung's Galaxy S20 lineup to future-proof devices and use 5G to keep employees off coffee shop Wi-Fi while improving collaboration as well as security.

Based on numerous leaks, Samsung is likely to highlight the following at Unpacked:

A major camera upgrade as Samsung looks to close a gap with Apple's iPhone 11, which has fared better-than-expected due to its photo-taking ability. The Galaxy S20 will reportedly have an Ultra model that offers a whopping 108MP camera as well as potential 100x zoom.

Storage and RAM upgrades that will make applications run better. The Galaxy S20 line is expected to have anywhere from 12GB to 16GB of RAM.

5G capability across the Galaxy S20 screens, which may range from 6.2 inches to 6.9 inches.

A foldable model potentially called the Flip. This model is expected to rhyme with Motorola's Razr reboot.

Pricing designed to hit multiple price points and needs for consumers and businesses. Keep in mind that the latter may be more important to Samsung given device longevity is approaching the three-year mark.

Make no mistake, the Samsung Galaxy S20 launch will be critical to the consumer electronics giant, which is also making a B2B push in 2020. Counterpoint is projecting Galaxy S20 shipments to be at least 40 million units in the first year. That tally should prop up Samsung's smartphone unit, which hasn't delivered a massive upgrade cycle since the Galaxy S7 launch.

Counterpoint noted:

We expect 2020 shipments to exceed 40m units, driven by the rumored camera and hardware spec improvements, default 5G, and competitive retail pricing.

Here are the themes to watch for Samsung Unpacked and key questions.

Does 5G by default spur a smartphone rebound and give Samsung an early 2020 boost? Last year, the smartphone conundrum revolved around future-proofing. Why buy a 4G phone when you're likely to have a better network option 12 months later? That question haunted the Galaxy S10 as well as the Galaxy Note 10. The 5G question haunted the entire industry even though Apple fared better than expected due to camera upgrades and good pricing decisions. With 5G networks rolling out in more areas and Qualcomm's Snapdragon 865 platform, 5G will be the norm. Samsung is aiming to benefit early on.

Will Samsung's camera upgrade drive sales? Two years ago, Samsung was a clear camera leader, but Apple and other rivals closed the gap. Google with its Pixel devices highlighted how algorithmic photography can make up for lower megapixels. The Qualcomm Snapdragon platform, however, is enabling better photography. Samsung is combining that advance with its own upgrades that equate to a hybrid of AI as well as sheer hardware specs. The S20 Ultra is rumored to have multiple cameras and a 108MP capability. The big question is: What sort of camera will the lower-end S20 devices feature?

Pricing strategy is everything. Samsung has become a lot savvier with its pricing models. The Galaxy S10 Lite and Galaxy Note 10 Lite illustrated how Samsung is thinking through pricing. By offering lower price points, Samsung can bring more premium features down market while keeping kitchen sink, high-spec devices high priced. The Galaxy S20 lineup is likely to keep that approach going with Counterpoint betting that the base Galaxy S20 will start at $850. Also, keep in mind that the Galaxy S10 line is likely to see price cuts. It's unclear whether the Note 10 will see price cuts too.

Samsung will also be speaking to the enterprise. Aside from Knox for security and DeX for productivity and desktop usage, Samsung is likely to tout 5G's impact on tasks like video conferencing, collaboration and sharing documents. The specs of the Galaxy S20 line point to more enterprise-grade apps and usage. Look for Samsung to tie 5G, Galaxy S20, and digital transformation together. Samsung may also tout specific use cases like it has with its sleek rugged devices like the Galaxy XCover Pro.



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