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Is going more premium with the Galaxy S20 Ultra the best strategy for Samsung?
In about a week, Samsung will officially show us all the brand new entries in the flagship Galaxy S series. Along with the anticipated Samsung Galaxy S20 and Galaxy S20 Plus, we also expect a new variant to emerge known (for now, anyway) as the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra.
Samsung hasn’t confirmed anything about the Galaxy S20 Ultra. However, what we’ve seen so far from the rumor mill paints a picture of a kind of superphone in which Samsung pulls out all the stops. It should make even the Galaxy S20 Plus seem paltry by comparison.
I’ll get into the specifics of what we expect for the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, but the question I have on my mind is this: is there really a large enough audience for this phone to justify its existence? Are there really people out there who are ready to spend the likely enormous amount of money the Galaxy S20 Ultra will probably cost?
Before we get into all that, though, let’s start with a simple synopsis of what we can expect from the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra.
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra: What is it?
In a nutshell, the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is the phone for people who thought the Galaxy S10 Plus was too much of a mid-ranger for them. The S20 Ultra will likely be such a specs monster that it’s possible we won’t see any other phone this year that can top it.
Once again, we don’t have any confirmed specs for the Galaxy S20 Ultra, so take what I’m saying here with a grain of salt. But here are just a portion of the specs we are likely to see on the Ultra based on rumors and leaks:
|Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra Specs (Rumored)|
6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED
WQHD+ resolution (3,200 x 1,440)
Infinity-O design with centered cutout
120Hz refresh rate
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
(Processor depends on region)
12 or 16GB
128, 256, or 512GB UFS 3.0
microSD slot up to 1TB
10x optical zoom, up to 100x digital zoom, up to 8K 30FPS video recording
Up to 4K 60FPS video recording
45W fast wired charging
Dolby Atmos stereo speakers
No headphone jack
IP68 water resistance
Ultrasonic in-display fingerprint
Android 10 skinned with One UI 2.0
167 x 76 x 8.8mm
I don’t even know what to think about all that. A 6.9-inch display? 16GB of RAM? 8K video recording? Additionally, the phone should be 5G-ready, which will allow it to connect to the ultra-fast, low-latency networks of the future.
I don't know about you, but the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra seems to scream 'extra.'
Obviously, all that power isn’t going to be cheap. We’ve heard several different rumors about pricing for the S20 Ultra, but the most reliable ones suggest it could start around $1,300. If that’s the price for the 128GB version, the 512GB version could be anywhere from $1,400 to as much as $1,500.
Now that we’ve got the basics of the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra out of the way, let’s move to our first question.
Who is this phone even for?
For years now, the Galaxy S line has been the go-to brand for general consumers who want the absolute best of Android. The phones have the fastest processors, the best features, top-of-the-line cameras, and, most importantly, are available around the world and work on nearly every carrier.
For the professionals who want all of that but with some additional features catered towards business, Samsung offers the Galaxy Note series. The included S Pen stylus makes giving presentations a breeze, and the high price of the phone is a lot more palatable for those professionals who are able to write it off as a necessary work expense.
The Galaxy S and Galaxy Note lines have easily-defined demographics. But who wants to buy this beast of a phone?
The Galaxy S20 Ultra, though, doesn’t really fit with any demographic. It’s possible Samsung will market it to people who work in creative fields, such as video production. The 108MP camera sensor and the ability to record 8K video seem like the kind of features creatives would appreciate. But are creatives even looking for a smartphone that can do those things? It’s not like they are going to leave their DSLR at the studio and record a wedding on their smartphone.
Perhaps Samsung is simply hoping there are enough die-hard Android fans who will shell out big bucks for a phone with maxed-out specs. That seems like a stretch, but it is possible.
The issue I’m struggling with is that just last year, Samsung was banking on people wanting to spend less on flagship smartphones, which is why the Samsung Galaxy S10e existed. Now, in 2020, Samsung is likely not releasing a Galaxy S20e and instead tipping the scales in the complete opposite direction and offering consumers a bigger, far more expensive alternative.
That brings us to our final question.
Do we really want to spend even more on smartphones?
Smartphones have gotten ridiculously expensive over the years, there’s no doubt about it. The first Samsung Galaxy S smartphone started at $400. The Samsung Galaxy S10 cost double that and then some, starting at $899.
One of the chief complaints we hear from readers at Android Authority is how expensive flagships are. The Google Pixel 4, LG G8 ThinQ, OnePlus 7T Pro, and yes, even the Samsung Galaxy S10 series were all heavily criticized in our comments sections for being too expensive.
Does Samsung know something we don’t? Because the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is probably going to make those phones seem like bargains.
One would think consumers would be clamoring for cheaper phones, not more expensive ones.
The strangest thing about the S20 Ultra for me is that it’s just a smartphone. The Samsung Galaxy Fold, shown above, costs $2,000, but it folds in half, something we’re just seeing now for the first time ever. The Motorola Razr, another foldable, costs $1,500. The Galaxy S20 Ultra, though, is just a phone. Sure, it’s one that’s overpowered to the extreme, but it’s just a run-of-the-mill smartphone once you stop looking at its spec sheet.
I’m not sure how the S20 Ultra will fare for Samsung. Part of me thinks that consumers will balk at spending the money they’ll need to spend to get it. Another part of me thinks there might be enough people out there who genuinely don’t care what a smartphone costs and just want to own the best-of-the-best.
There are only a few days left until Samsung takes the lid off the Galaxy S20 Ultra. We’ll need to wait and see what happens.