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Samsung’s struggle: Selling the pricey Galaxy Note 20 in a pandemic – CNET

samsung-galaxy-note-10-plus-13

Samsung’s Note lineup — including last year’s Note 10 — has fervent fans.

Angela Lang/CNET

Samsung’s mobile business has a new test this year: Getting buyers to fork over $1,000 during a pandemic. 

At 7 a.m. PT on Wednesday, the company will host its first virtual Unpacked event, broadcasting live from South Korea. It’s expected to unveil five devices, which likely include a new smartwatch and earbuds, as well as a tablet. Importantly, Samsung will show off its new Galaxy Note 20 and its Galaxy Z Fold 2.

Those phones won’t be cheap. The Note and foldable lines are actually the most expensive mobile devices Samsung makes. Even before the pandemic, Samsung was struggling to sell phones that cost $1,000 or more. One of the biggest innovations of last year’s Note 10 was a $50 price drop to $950. (Its Note 10 Plus, however, came in higher, at $1,099).

This year around, prices likely won’t be lower. The full Note 20 lineup, at least in the US, is expected to include 5G connectivity, which boosts the cost of making a device. Consumers who’ve been waiting for a Note that can tap into many different 5G networks may scoop up the device. Others could decide to save their money and wait until those 5G networks are more widespread. 

“People who had been waiting to upgrade their phones may decide this is the time to do it,” Technalysis Research analyst Bob O’Donnell said. “But I do think it’s going to be more challenged.”

The Note 20 isn’t the first major phone to launch during the pandemic. Apple and Samsung have both sold new phones this year, as have LG, Motorola and OnePlus. But Samsung’s phones tend to sell in much higher volumes than the devices from its Android peers. And its chief rival, Apple, hasn’t yet attempted to sell a high-end, flagship phone during the pandemic. Apple’s lone new smartphone this year has been the $399 iPhone SE. Its first 5G iPhones aren’t expected until this fall.

Samsung’s flagship phone from earlier this year, the Galaxy S20, went on sale as China and parts of Europe grappled with COVID-19. About a week after it hit stores, regions of the US started issuing stay-at-home orders to battle the virus. At the time the Galaxy S20 became available, most consumers had no idea how much the pandemic would change their lives.

Now millions are out of work amid a recession that is hitting the US hard, hundreds of thousands have died and places around the globe continue to battle a seemingly unending surge in infections. In the US, Samsung sold about 44% fewer Galaxy S20 models in the first four months of sales than the Galaxy S10 last year, according to M Science, a data analytics provider that tracks stats like mobile adoption. 

Now playing: Watch this: Samsung Galaxy Note 20: What we want to see

5:17

This year was supposed to be a good one for the phone industry. Last year’s new innovations of 5G and foldable screens were supposed to get cheaper and more readily available in 2020, giving consumers a reason to upgrade. Instead, financial struggles and worries about COVID-19 will limit the number of devices companies can make and how many phones people will actually buy. Even once the worst of the pandemic is behind the US and other markets, the global economy will likely continue to struggle.

Samsung isn’t only dealing with hesitation about $1,000 devices, it’s also facing the challenge of selling a pricey flagship phone — as well as an even more expensive foldable — during a global pandemic.

Tae-moon Roh, the Samsung executive who oversees the company’s mobile business, in July wrote a blog post calling the current era the “Next Normal” and said there will be “even bolder innovation” going forward. “We’ll make mobile technology that’s more personal, intelligent, useful and secure,” he wrote. 

Still, the global smartphone market should tumble 12% this year, according to International Data Corp. The industry has its worst three months ever in the second quarter and shipments likely won’t grow until early 2021, the firm says. 

“There’s no question that challenges lie ahead for the smartphone industry,” IDC analyst Ryan Reith said. 

Cheaper and cheaper

Most of the high-profile phones launching since the pandemic have fallen in the mid- or low-price brackets. Apple’s iPhone SE, its first major revamp of its popular small phone in four years, arrived in mid-April with a starting price of $399. That seemed to be the perfect phone for the times. The device costs $300 less than the iPhone 11 but contains many of the same specs, appealing to people who can’t afford a $700 phone, let alone a $1,000 iPhone 11 Pro

Apple has sold nearly 3 million units of the device in the US from mid-April through early July, according to M Science. 

“The iPhone SE is performing better than expectations even in the pandemic,” said Mark Bachman, the lead tech and telecom analyst at M Science. “It’s proven to be a nice, low-cost opportunity to be an Apple [device] owner.”

Samsung in April unveiled lower-priced phones of its own, its new Galaxy A Series. The devices range in price from $110 for the Galaxy A01 to $600 for the Galaxy A71 with 5G. On the other end of the spectrum is a 5G version of Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip, which goes on sale Aug. 7 for $1,450 — $70 more than the 4G model from February. 

While its lower-priced phones have tended to do well over the last few months, other high-end phones have hit the market during the pandemic, including the $800 LG V60 ThinQ (add $100 to $150 for the Dual Screen case), the $999 Moto Edge Plus, the $899 OnePlus 8 Pro and the $1,200 Sony Xperia 1 II

But prices for 5G phones are dropping a lot faster than for 4G phones in their early days, analysts say. That’s especially true as consumers spend their money on devices like computers and other tools for working from home, not necessarily new smartphones. 

“This will result in even more aggressively priced 5G smartphones than expected prior to the pandemic,” IDC’s Reith said. 

Note fanboys

Working in Samsung’s favor is the popularity of the product it’s launching. The Note has a fervent fan base, even with the battery problems and 2016’s Note 7 recall.

The first Galaxy Note, from late 2011, was an anomaly for its time. It included a 5.3-inch screen, much larger than the iPhone 4S’ 3.5-inches screen, with a stylus to scribble on the display. Early reviews didn’t know what to make of the Note, but Samsung didn’t abandon the lineup. Instead, it put its riskiest and most innovative technologies, like its curved display and iris scanner, into the Note before expanding them to other devices.

That stopped with last year’s Galaxy Fold, the first Samsung device to incorporate a foldable display. The move — effectively creating a flashier, higher end lineup — raised questions about who the Note is really for and where it fits in Samsung’s portfolio. At the same time, the Galaxy S lineup has gotten bigger and has started incorporating innovative technologies before they head to the Note. 

Even though the Note may not be Samsung’s flashiest device anymore, it still has plenty of fans. And its admirers tend to be tech early adopters and people who don’t mind spending more money on a phone. It’s likely many of those people haven’t seen their finances change during the pandemic. If they had planned to buy a Note before COVID-19’s spread, they’ll probably still do so.  

“At the end of the day, the people who are the target market for these products,” Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi said, “have not been necessarily impacted by the pandemic.” 

Fold challenges

Even with its loyal fans, Samsung’s sales may not be as high as for normal Note launches. And when it comes to the Fold, Samsung could face an even bigger challenge attracting buyers. The first version of the device, which featured a small front screen and opened into a tablet, cost $1,980 when it went on sale in September. And that version only included 4G. Samsung didn’t offer a 5G version in the US, but it likely will this time around. 

Adding 5G to this year’s Galaxy Z Flip boosted that device’s price by $70 to $1,450 and Samsung likely will increase the Fold 2’s price or at least keep it the same as the first model. 

Fold buyers in particular may need some sort of incentive to purchase the device, like offering an upgrade program. Earlier this year, Samsung launched a buyback program that offers to credit 50% of the full retail price to a customer’s payment account if they buy a Galaxy S20 directly from Samsung and return the device within two years. In late July, it said it would do the same for its upcoming, unnamed Galaxy device, likely the Note 20. 

It didn’t mention its foldables, which weren’t yet old enough to be ready for upgrade. But now, the second-generation Fold is expected to make big improvements from the first generation, especially when it comes to the materials and front-facing screen. 

Last year’s Fold used a plastic foldable display, while the Flip uses glass. It’s likely that Samsung will switch to glass for its Fold 2. And one of the big criticisms against last year’s Fold was the difficulty using the small front screen. Samsung could boost the display’s size and it’s also rumored to be including a stylus with this year’s Fold. 

Those are all features that an earlier Fold user may like to have — but may not want to spend another $2,000 on so soon. To get around that, Samsung could offer some sort of trade-in program or other benefits to someone buying the new Fold. 

“Why not encourage the upgrade and give them either a high-value trade-in or something they actually get them on the new product?” Milanesi said. “Especially given the times, it would be a nice gesture.”

5G first

One of the biggest expected changes in the Note 20 from last year’s Note 10 is the incorporation of 5G across the whole lineup. 

5G is expected to change the way we live, particularly as the world grapples with the pandemic. It could improve everything from simple video conferencing to telemedicine and advanced augmented and virtual reality. But networks are still being rolled out across the US and world, limiting 5G’s benefits. And 5G-enabled devices still cost more than their 4G predecessors. 

Last year’s Note lineup came with a 5G variant, but it was hobbled in many ways. The device didn’t work on all networks or tap into all flavors of 5G. The first Galaxy Note 10 Plus with 5G was initially only available for $1,300 on Verizon’s network. Later in 2019, a model with a different modem for AT&T and T-Mobile become available. Both versions could only tap into certain early 5G networks, not the broad and super-fast networks planned by the carriers. 

Buying a 5G Note 10 meant it would really only be useful for a year or so — at best — if a user wanted to access the full benefits of 5G. As people hold onto their phones for longer — three years in the US, up from the previous two — it’s key to future-proof whatever devices they buy. It’s likely that Samsung’s Note 20 will tap into more types of 5G and Samsung likely will only introduce 5G variants of the device, at least in the US. 

At the same time, adding 5G to the Note will likely add to the cost of the device, something that could work against the company. The base Galaxy S20 costs $250 more than last year’s lowest-end Galaxy S10 and this year’s Note 20 could also be pricier than previous 4G-only models.

For people living in areas without 5G, it could be more attractive to buy an older, cheaper 4G Samsung device or wait to buy a new phone until 5G is widespread. 

Samsung’s Galaxy S20 lineup was the first to include all 5G options, something very new for consumers. In the US, many people still prefer to see phones in person at a carrier or electronics stores before buying them. Because the pandemic closed many stores across the country, that hurt sales.

Hesitation about 5G in general likely played a role in the Galaxy S20’s lower sales, M Science’s Bachman says. In the US, consumers bought 2.3 million Galaxy S20 units in their first four months on the market, well below the 4.1 million tallied for the Galaxy S10 and 4.7 million for the Galaxy S9, his firm said. 

Instead, Galaxy S20 sales were on par with those of the Note, which has never sold as well as the Galaxy S lineup. Last year, US consumers purchased 2.4 million Note 10 devices in the first four months it was available. 

“The S20 … was made for somebody who could operate on a 5G network,” M Science’s Bachman said. “Of course, it would operate on a 4G network, but you’re paying a premium for that phone.” The 5G tax is something many people weren’t willing to pay.  

Samsung’s new Galaxy A71, which costs $600 for the 5G model, is likely cannibalizing some Galaxy S20 sales, Bachman said. It hit the market in the US in June and buyers save about $400 by buying that device and not the lowest end Galaxy S20. 

Now Samsung has to hope potential Note buyers don’t do the same.

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Samsung’s struggle: Selling a pricey, flagship phone in the middle of a pandemic – CNET

samsung-galaxy-note-10-plus-13

Samsung’s Note lineup — including last year’s Note 10 — has fervent fans.

Angela Lang/CNET

Samsung’s mobile business has a new test this year: Getting buyers to fork over $1,000 during a pandemic. 

At 7 a.m. PT on Wednesday, the company will host its first virtual Unpacked event, broadcasting live from South Korea. It’s expected to unveil five devices, which likely include a new smartwatch and earbuds, as well as a tablet. Importantly, Samsung will show off its new Galaxy Note 20 and its Galaxy Z Fold 2.

Those phones won’t be cheap. The Note and foldable lines are actually the most expensive mobile devices Samsung makes. Even before the pandemic, Samsung was struggling to sell phones that cost $1,000 or more. One of the biggest innovations of last year’s Note 10 was a $50 price drop to $950. (Its Note 10 Plus, however, came in higher, at $1,099).

This year around, prices likely won’t be lower. The full Note 20 lineup, at least in the US, is expected to include 5G connectivity, which boosts the cost of making a device. Consumers who’ve been waiting for a Note that can tap into many different 5G networks may scoop up the device. Others could decide to save their money and wait until those 5G networks are more widespread. 

“People who had been waiting to upgrade their phones may decide this is the time to do it,” Technalysis Research analyst Bob O’Donnell said. “But I do think it’s going to be more challenged.”

The Note 20 isn’t the first major phone to launch during the pandemic. Apple and Samsung have both sold new phones this year, as have LG, Motorola and OnePlus. But Samsung’s phones tend to sell in much higher volumes than the devices from its Android peers. And its chief rival, Apple, hasn’t yet attempted to sell a high-end, flagship phone during the pandemic. Apple’s lone new smartphone this year has been the $399 iPhone SE. Its first 5G iPhones aren’t expected until this fall.

Samsung’s flagship phone from earlier this year, the Galaxy S20, went on sale as China and parts of Europe grappled with COVID-19. About a week after it hit stores, regions of the US started issuing stay-at-home orders to battle the virus. At the time the Galaxy S20 became available, most consumers had no idea how much the pandemic would change their lives.

Now millions are out of work, hundreds of thousands have died and places around the globe continue to battle a seemingly unending surge in infections. In the US, Samsung sold about 44% fewer Galaxy S20 models in the first four months of sales than the Galaxy S10 last year, according to M Science, a data analytics provider that tracks stats like mobile adoption. 

Now playing: Watch this: Samsung Galaxy Note 20: What we want to see

5:17

This year was supposed to be a good one for the phone industry. Last year’s new innovations of 5G and foldable screens were supposed to get cheaper and more readily available in 2020, giving consumers a reason to upgrade. Instead, financial struggles and worries about COVID-19 will limit the number of devices companies can make and how many phones people will actually buy. Even once the worst of the pandemic is behind the US and other markets, the global economy will likely continue to struggle.

Samsung isn’t only dealing with hesitation about $1,000 devices, it’s also facing the challenge of selling a pricey flagship phone — as well as an even more expensive foldable — during a global pandemic.

Tae-moon Roh, the Samsung executive who oversees the company’s mobile business, in July wrote a blog post calling the current era the “Next Normal” and said there will be “even bolder innovation” going forward. “We’ll make mobile technology that’s more personal, intelligent, useful and secure,” he wrote. 

Still, the global smartphone market should tumble 12% this year, according to International Data Corp. The industry has its worst three months ever in the second quarter and shipments likely won’t grow until early 2021, the firm says. 

“There’s no question that challenges lie ahead for the smartphone industry,” IDC analyst Ryan Reith said. 

Cheaper and cheaper

Most of the high-profile phones launching since the pandemic have fallen in the mid- or low-price brackets. Apple’s iPhone SE, its first major revamp of its popular small phone in four years, arrived in mid-April with a starting price of $399. That seemed to be the perfect phone for the times. The device costs $300 less than the iPhone 11 but contains many of the same specs, appealing to people who can’t afford a $700 phone, let alone a $1,000 iPhone 11 Pro

Apple has sold nearly 3 million units of the device in the US from mid-April through early July, according to M Science. 

“The iPhone SE is performing better than expectations even in the pandemic,” said Mark Bachman, the lead tech and telecom analyst at M Science. “It’s proven to be a nice, low-cost opportunity to be an Apple [device] owner.”

Samsung in April unveiled lower-priced phones of its own, its new Galaxy A Series. The devices range in price from $110 for the Galaxy A01 to $600 for the Galaxy A71 with 5G. On the other end of the spectrum is a 5G version of Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip, which goes on sale Aug. 7 for $1,450 — $70 more than the 4G model from February. 

While its lower-priced phones have tended to do well over the last few months, other high-end phones have hit the market during the pandemic, including the $800 LG V60 ThinQ (add $100 to $150 for the Dual Screen case), the $999 Moto Edge Plus, the $899 OnePlus 8 Pro and the $1,200 Sony Xperia 1 II

But prices for 5G phones are dropping a lot faster than for 4G phones in their early days, analysts say. That’s especially true as consumers spend their money on devices like computers and other tools for working from home, not necessarily new smartphones. 

“This will result in even more aggressively priced 5G smartphones than expected prior to the pandemic,” IDC’s Reith said. 

Note fanboys

Working in Samsung’s favor is the popularity of the product it’s launching. The Note has a fervent fan base, even with the battery problems and 2016’s Note 7 recall.

The first Galaxy Note, from late 2011, was an anomaly for its time. It included a 5.3-inch screen, much larger than the iPhone 4S’ 3.5-inches screen, with a stylus to scribble on the display. Early reviews didn’t know what to make of the Note, but Samsung didn’t abandon the lineup. Instead, it put its riskiest and most innovative technologies, like its curved display and iris scanner, into the Note before expanding them to other devices.

That stopped with last year’s Galaxy Fold, the first Samsung device to incorporate a foldable display. The move — effectively creating a flashier, higher end lineup — raised questions about who the Note is really for and where it fits in Samsung’s portfolio. At the same time, the Galaxy S lineup has gotten bigger and has started incorporating innovative technologies before they head to the Note. 

Even though the Note may not be Samsung’s flashiest device anymore, it still has plenty of fans. And its admirers tend to be tech early adopters and people who don’t mind spending more money on a phone. It’s likely many of those people haven’t seen their finances change during the pandemic. If they had planned to buy a Note before COVID-19’s spread, they’ll probably still do so.  

“At the end of the day, the people who are the target market for these products,” Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi said, “have not been necessarily impacted by the pandemic.” 

Fold challenges

Even with its loyal fans, Samsung’s sales may not be as high as for normal Note launches. And when it comes to the Fold, Samsung could face an even bigger challenge attracting buyers. The first version of the device, which featured a small front screen and opened into a tablet, cost $1,980 when it went on sale in September. And that version only included 4G. Samsung didn’t offer a 5G version in the US, but it likely will this time around. 

Adding 5G to this year’s Galaxy Z Flip boosted that device’s price by $70 to $1,450 and Samsung likely will increase the Fold 2’s price or at least keep it the same as the first model. 

Fold buyers in particular may need some sort of incentive to purchase the device, like offering an upgrade program. Earlier this year, Samsung launched a buyback program that offers to credit 50% of the full retail price to a customer’s payment account if they buy a Galaxy S20 directly from Samsung and return the device within two years. In late July, it said it would do the same for its upcoming, unnamed Galaxy device, likely the Note 20. 

It didn’t mention its foldables, which weren’t yet old enough to be ready for upgrade. But now, the second-generation Fold is expected to make big improvements from the first generation, especially when it comes to the materials and front-facing screen. 

Last year’s Fold used a plastic foldable display, while the Flip uses glass. It’s likely that Samsung will switch to glass for its Fold 2. And one of the big criticisms against last year’s Fold was the difficulty using the small front screen. Samsung could boost the display’s size and it’s also rumored to be including a stylus with this year’s Fold. 

Those are all features that an earlier Fold user may like to have — but may not want to spend another $2,000 on so soon. To get around that, Samsung could offer some sort of trade-in program or other benefits to someone buying the new Fold. 

“Why not encourage the upgrade and give them either a high-value trade-in or something they actually get them on the new product?” Milanesi said. “Especially given the times, it would be a nice gesture.”

5G first

One of the biggest expected changes in the Note 20 from last year’s Note 10 is the incorporation of 5G across the whole lineup. 

5G is expected to change the way we live, particularly as the world grapples with the pandemic. It could improve everything from simple video conferencing to telemedicine and advanced augmented and virtual reality. But networks are still being rolled out across the US and world, limiting 5G’s benefits. And 5G-enabled devices still cost more than their 4G predecessors. 

Last year’s Note lineup came with a 5G variant, but it was hobbled in many ways. The device didn’t work on all networks or tap into all flavors of 5G. The first Galaxy Note 10 Plus with 5G was initially only available for $1,300 on Verizon’s network. Later in 2019, a model with a different modem for AT&T and T-Mobile become available. Both versions could only tap into certain early 5G networks, not the broad and super-fast networks planned by the carriers. 

Buying a 5G Note 10 meant it would really only be useful for a year or so — at best — if a user wanted to access the full benefits of 5G. As people hold onto their phones for longer — three years in the US, up from the previous two — it’s key to future-proof whatever devices they buy. It’s likely that Samsung’s Note 20 will tap into more types of 5G and Samsung likely will only introduce 5G variants of the device, at least in the US. 

At the same time, adding 5G to the Note will likely add to the cost of the device, something that could work against the company. The base Galaxy S20 costs $250 more than last year’s lowest-end Galaxy S10 and this year’s Note 20 could also be pricier than previous 4G-only models.

For people living in areas without 5G, it could be more attractive to buy an older, cheaper 4G Samsung device or wait to buy a new phone until 5G is widespread. 

Samsung’s Galaxy S20 lineup was the first to include all 5G options, something very new for consumers. In the US, many people still prefer to see phones in person at a carrier or electronics stores before buying them. Because the pandemic closed many stores across the country, that hurt sales.

Hesitation about 5G in general likely played a role in the Galaxy S20’s lower sales, M Science’s Bachman says. In the US, consumers bought 2.3 million Galaxy S20 units in their first four months on the market, well below the 4.1 million tallied for the Galaxy S10 and 4.7 million for the Galaxy S9, his firm said. 

Instead, Galaxy S20 sales were on par with those of the Note, which has never sold as well as the Galaxy S lineup. Last year, US consumers purchased 2.4 million Note 10 devices in the first four months it was available. 

“The S20 … was made for somebody who could operate on a 5G network,” M Science’s Bachman said. “Of course, it would operate on a 4G network, but you’re paying a premium for that phone.” The 5G tax is something many people weren’t willing to pay.  

Samsung’s new Galaxy A71, which costs $600 for the 5G model, is likely cannibalizing some Galaxy S20 sales, Bachman said. It hit the market in the US in June and buyers save about $400 by buying that device and not the lowest end Galaxy S20. 

Now Samsung has to hope potential Note buyers don’t do the same.

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Can coronavirus live on your phone? How to clean it without damaging the screen and what not to do – CNET

phone-screen

Make sure you’re cleaning your phone the right way.

Derek Poore/CNET

For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

If you’re concerned about the possibility of coronavirus living on surfaces you touch frequently, including Amazon packages, clothes and shoes, you’re not alone. Early studies showed that RNA of the novel coronavirus may be able to survive on some surfaces — including your beloved phone — for nine days or even longer, though so far there is insufficient evidence to determine if the virus can infect you after that long. And in general, any germ that is on your phone or case can potentially transfer to your fingers and face.

As coronavirus cases continue to rise across the US and around the world, wearing face masks and paying close attention to hygiene like correctly washing your hands will help lower your risk. Cleaning your phone more often can’t hurt, either. But what’s the right way to clean your phone? 

We’re going to tell you which products to avoid and the best ways to disinfect your phone and clean off fingerprint smudges, sand and lint from the ports and tenacious makeup off the screen. (Hint: never with makeup remover.) We also tell you how to care for phones rated for water resistance.

Read more16 practical tips to help limit your exposure to coronavirus

Disinfect your phone: Wipes, not pure alcohol

If you touch your phone after touching a public door handle or grocery cart, you may immediately think to clean it with rubbing alcohol. Don’t. Straight alcohol can strip the oleophobic and hydrophobic coatings that keep oil and water from damaging your display and other ports. 

Some websites suggest creating a mix of alcohol and water yourself, but it’s crucial to get the concentration right. Get it wrong and you could damage your phone. The safest bet is to use disinfectant wipes that contain 70% isopropyl alcohol to clean your phone screen. 

springclean

springclean

Drop the window cleaner and counter spray, now.

Derek Poore/CNET

Read more: 6 essential cold and flu products you need whether you’re sick or not   

In the past, we were instructed to not use disinfectant wipes on our phone screens, but now Apple says it’s OK to use Clorox Wipes and others with similar concentrations. 

AT&T’s revised cleaning guidelines suggest that you “spray a nonabrasive or alcohol-based (70% isopropyl) disinfectant directly on a soft lint-free cloth and wipe down your device while it is powered down and unplugged.” An earlier version of the company’s post suggested using paper towels, which are far too abrasive (see below). After we reached out, AT&T changed its post to reflect the soft cloth. Samsung has also said you can create an alcohol-based solution of 70% ethanol or isopropyl alcohol, applied with a microfiber cloth.

Another option for day-to-day cleaning is investing in a UV light, such as PhoneSoap. This UV light company claims to kill 99.99% of germs and banishes bacteria. As far as we know, it hasn’t been tested in relation to this strain of coronavirus.

How to clean fingerprint smudges from your screen

Fingerprint smudges are hard to prevent because your skin constantly produces oils. That means that every time you pick up your phone, it’s bound to get fingerprints all over it.

The safest and most effective way to clean your screen is with a microfiber cloth. If the screen is in desperate need of cleaning, use distilled water to dampen the microfiber cloth and then wipe down your screen — avoid squirting the water directly on the screen. This method can be used on the back and sides of your phone, too.

You can also try a microfiber screen cleaner sticker, which you stick to the back of your phone and can pop off when you need to give it a wipe-down.

Check out Samsung’s tips on cleaning your phone, too.

Now playing: Watch this: How to clean your phone (and things to never do)

2:34

dirty phone screen

dirty phone screen

Remove your fingerprint smudges and other muck with these cleaning tips.

warat42/iStockphoto

Remove sand and lint with this trick

Lint and sand can get stuck in the small ports of your phone and in the crevices where the screen meets the body. 

The best solution for removing sand and lint is Scotch tape. You can lay it along the creases and speaker, and roll it up and gently place it in the ports. The tape’s stickiness will pull out any lint or sand that may be stuck in your phone.

For the smaller speaker holes that tape can’t reach, use a toothpick or try to vacuum the debris out with a small crevice tool. These tools can also be used for other small appliances or hard-to-reach areas in your car.

Remove makeup safely

When you have a full face of makeup and need to make a call, guess what that foundation is about to stick to? That’s right, your phone screen. And while you may use makeup remover to take off your makeup every night, you shouldn’t use it as a screen cleaner due to some chemicals that could be lurking in the ingredients. Organics.org explains the chemicals that could be in your makeup remover.

Instead, you could get your phone its own makeup remover, such as Whoosh. The company claims it’s safe for all screens and contains no alcohol, chlorine, ammonia or phosphates that could damage the various screen coatings.

You can also use a damp microfiber cloth to clean it — and then throw that cloth in the wash. Make sure to use a spray bottle to spritz the cloth, rather than running it under water. The less water, the better.

Can you wash waterproof phones?

If you have a water-resistant phone, rated for IP67 and above, you can rinse it with water. Although these phones, like the iPhone 7 ($169 at Back Market) and newer and the Galaxy S phones, can withstand submersion for up to 30 minutes in up to 3 feet of water, it’s a much better idea to use a damp or wet cloth to clean your phone. Then dry your phone with a dry, soft cloth to remove the water. Make sure to pat dry all speakers and ports.

Dunking the phone in water or running it under a faucet will get water into the ports, which means you won’t be able to charge it until they’re dry, and that can take time. Remember that having a water-resistant phone is more about peace of mind than it is about purposely taking your phone for a swim.

317-galaxy-fold

317-galaxy-fold

If you make a call while wearing makeup, guess what gets on your phone.

Sarah Tew/CNET

9 things you should never use to clean your phone

We’re not here to shame you, but drop that bottle of Windex, stat. This is how not to clean your screen.

Hand sanitizer

Since some hand sanitizers have ingredients, like fragrances and ethyl alcohol, it’s best to keep it off your phone’s screen. However, if you’ve touched anything outside your home, you should sanitize your hands before touching your phone to prevent viruses and bacteria from spreading. For best results, use a manufacturer’s hand sanitizer rather than making your own at home (they’re not as effective).

Window cleaner

You clean your mirrors and windows with window cleaner, and they’re squeaky-clean, so it must be OK to use on your phone? Wrong! Some newer phones, such as the iPhone XR ($599 at Apple), have a protective coating that resists water and oil, which can wear out over time.

Using harsh cleaners can strip the coating and could leave your phone more vulnerable to scratches. James LeBeau, an associate professor of materials science and engineering at MIT, told us that any cleanser with an abrasive agent will likely scratch the surface, so those should be avoided entirely.

Now playing: Watch this: Make your own gadgets to protect you from coronavirus

1:30

Kitchen cleaners

A screen’s scratch-resistant properties won’t get ground down by cleaning agents, but stripping that protective coating is still a problem. That’s why Apple also suggests not using household cleaning products to clean your iPhone, including bleach. Bar Keepers Friend, for example, states that its abrasive formula may harm the protective layerBon Ami states not to use on glass with coatings. 

Paper towels

They may be the go-to for cleaning your desk, but keep them away from your phone. The paper can shred, making the debris on your phone much worse. Paper towels can even end up leaving scratches on your screen. 

Rubbing alcohol

Since many newer phones have a protective coating, rubbing alcohol can wear it away quicker over time, causing your phone to be more prone to scratches. Make sure to check for alcohol in product ingredients on any “safe to use” phone screen cleaners. Apple says to avoid alcohol when cleaning its devices.

Makeup remover

Some makeup removers may have chemicals that can be harsh to an electronic screen. LeBeau suggests avoiding makeup remover and instead use a soft cloth with a little bit of water.

Compressed air

Your phone is delicate, so blowing an intense amount of air into its portals can cause some damage, specifically to your mic. Tech companies, like Apple, specifically warn not to use compressed air.

Dish soap and hand soap

While your dish and hand soaps may be gentle, the only way to use them is to combine them with water. Most phone companies suggest keeping water away from your phone, so again, stick to a damp cloth.

Vinegar

This is a no-no. Vinegar will strip the screen’s coating. You could, as Lifehacker suggests, use very diluted vinegar to cleanse other parts of your phone. Android Central suggests a 50/50 mix with distilled water for cleaning the sides and back.

Now that your phone is disinfected, it’s time to move on to other areas. Here’s how to help kill coronavirus in your home and car after you’ve gone outside, what to do with your delivered packages and mail and why you shouldn’t make your own hand sanitizer at home.

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How to use our top 5 favorite Android 11 features – CNET

android-11

Android 11 has a bunch of goodies. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

It’s been awhile since Google launched the Android 11 public beta, allowing Google Pixel users to help test and get an early preview of the changes that are included. There are plenty of under-the-hood features for developers and brave users alike, but there’s so much more to Android 11 than that. 

You’ll need a compatible phone and some patience to deal with random bugs, but you can install the Android 11 beta right now if you don’t want to wait for its full release.

I’ve been using Android 11 on a Pixel 4 XL and have found several features that will change the way I use Android — for the better. The quick controls page is in the running for my favorite addition, followed by the revamped media controls. The new Bubbles feature, on the other hand, will take some getting used to.

The five features I outline below aren’t everything that’s included in Android 11. Google is almost guaranteed to have more surprises in store for us. Meanwhile, get acquainted with these Android 11 features now, so you know what’s coming to your phone later this year. 

Android 11 Quick Controls are a true highlight

The first thing you should do after installing Android 11, whether it’s the beta or when it’s officially released, is long-press the power button on your phone to bring up the new quick controls screen. On the Pixel, at least, this screen gives you power control options along the top, provides shortcuts to your Google Pay cards and boarding passes, and then below that you’ll find my favorite feature of Android 11 — quick controls for smart home devices. 

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android-11-quick-controls.png

Android 11’s quick controls are my new favorite controls. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

My phone automatically picked a few devices I’ve linked to Google Assistant, like the Nest thermostat in my office and my Nest video doorbell. I can even view a livestream from my doorbell directly on this screen, without having to open the Nest app (which is slow and a pain to use). It’s great. 

You can add or remove smart home devices from this grid by tapping on the menu button and selecting add or edit controls. 

Messaging Bubbles for your friends look like they’ll be useful 

Remember Bubbles? This feature was supposed to be part of Android 10, but Google pulled it at the last minute. Well, they’re back. 

Bubbles are similar to Facebook Messengers “chat heads” feature. When activated, a small avatar — or Bubble — on your screen that is visible no matter what app you’re using. Tap on the avatar and it will open a small window for you to read and send new messages in that thread, without fully opening the app. You can drag the Bubble around your screen, or drag it to the bottom of the screen to delete it. 

Google updated the Messages app to work with Bubbles shortly after the public beta launched. You might have to opt in to the Messages beta program to get the update.

android-11-bubbles

android-11-bubbles

Bubbles are convenient, but will take some adjusting. 

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

In order to use Bubbles for a conversation, tap on the small Bubbles icon in the bottom-right corner of the notification. Tapping on it will immediately enable Bubbles for that thread.

Another way to activate Bubbles for specific conversations is to long-press on its notification and mark it as a priority. Doing so will not only turn on Bubbles for that thread, but it will also allow that conversation to break through Do Not Disturb ensuring you don’t miss any messages. 

You can then drag the icons for your various Bubbles chats around on your screen, or tap on the avatar for the person you want to talk to, and the thread will open up all without ever leaving the app you’re currently using. I’m glad this is an opt-in feature, based on each thread, instead of an all or nothing feature like Chat Heads. It’s messy and downright overwhelming. 

To get rid of a bubble for a specific conversation, just drag the icon to the small X that shows up at the bottom of your screen.

App Suggestions replace your app dock

Immediately after installing the public beta and unlocking my Pixel 4 XL, I was greeted with an option to enable app suggestions on the home screen. Unsure of what exactly that was, I reluctantly agreed. Turns out, it’s pretty darn cool. 

Previously, Android made suggestions in the app drawer of apps it thought you’d want to use, depending on the time of day and other mysterious factors. In Android 11, there’s now a row of app suggestions on the bottom of your home screen where your main app dock would normally show up. 

android-11-app-suggestions

android-11-app-suggestions

App suggestions on the home screen are new. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

The apps have a glowing border around them, and frequently change when you return to your home screen as you use your phone. You can long-press on any of the app icons to pin that suggestion to your home screen. 

You can also block apps from showing up as suggestions if you don’t want something like Gmail showing up even though you use a different email app. 

To access App Suggestions and tailor how it works for you long-press on your home screen and select Home Settings then Suggestions. There you can control suggestions in the app drawer and on the home screen or block apps from showing up on the list. 

Android 11 gets fancier music controls

In the blog post announcement for the Android 11 public beta, Google showed off a new music control interface that looked amazing. Instead of playback controls looking more like a pending notification, they’re placed in the Quick Settings panel at the top of your screen. And when you interact with them, there’s a new option to control where the music is playing. 

For example, if you have Google’s new Pixel Buds 2 and a Nest Hub ($90 at Crutchfield), you can quickly switch between the two devices with a couple of taps. 

android-11-music-controls

android-11-music-controls

The new media controls sure look nice. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

As of public beta 2, the feature should be enabled by default and you don’t have to do anything to get it to work. However, if you install the Android 11 beta, and the feature is nowhere to be found when you begin playing music. Don’t get discouraged — it’s there, but it’s hidden. 

You’ll need to enable Developer Options on your phone by opening the Settings app and going to About phone. Scroll to the bottom of the screen where you’ll find Build Number. Tap on it until you see a small notification show up saying something like “Congrats! You’re now a developer.” 

Next, we’ll need to go into Developer Options in Settings > System. Once there, find Media resumption, turn it on, and then reboot your phone. 

The next time you start playing some music, the new media controls will be available. 

A built-in screen recorder

Screenshots are a quick and easy way to capture something on your screen, but there are times when a recording is better suited to the task at hand. For example, if you want to show off your gaming skills, or highlight the steps to reproduce a bug — screen recording FTW! 

android-11-screen-recorder

android-11-screen-recorder

You can finally record your screen with an official Google tool. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

You can find the Screen Record tool in the Quick Settings panel after installing Android 11. If it’s not visible, tap on the pencil icon to add it to your panel. 

Tap on the Screen Record icon and select whether you want your microphone to record audio and if you want your touch interactions to be highlighted in the video. To stop recording, tap the Screen Record notification. The video will be saved to your camera roll where you can then edit and share the recording. 

We’re going to keep digging into Android 11 and see what other goodies are hidden or added throughout the rest of the beta process. There are some important changes to how Android handles privacy settings you should know, as well. In the meantime, if you just can’t wait for Android 11 to launch later this year, you can install it right now

Now playing: Watch this: Android 11: What’s new in the public beta

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Galaxy Z Flip: Even I’m surprised by how much I still love this phone – CNET

galaxy-z-flip-samsung
Juan Garzon/CNET

Last year, if you told me about all the things that would happen in 2020, I’d shake my head with disbelief. This includes the fact that I’d like the Galaxy Z Flip foldable phone. (By the way, Samsung recently announced the Galaxy Z Flip 5G, to be released Aug. 7.) When it launched in February I was skeptical because just a year before, Galaxy Fold reviewer units had a number of issues. Then there was the Motorola Razr. It launched before the Flip and even though it was more expensive and had less impressive specs, I found its approach to foldable design more appealing.

Fast forward to now though, and the Galaxy Z Flip has won me over. I use it just like a regular phone, which seems silly to say but one of my biggest knocks against foldable phones so far is how they don’t quite hold up to real-world use. Initially, I was protective about the phone; now I’m less cautious and it’s still holding up.

Most of all, the Galaxy Z Flip is fun and that’s something I don’t say about many phones. Folding and unfolding it is as enjoyable as it was the first time I did it. Closing the phone shut to end a call brings me a level of satisfaction that I don’t get from an iPhone 11 Pro or Pixel 4. And opening it with a whip-like flip of my wrist makes me feel like a badass.

I know the Galaxy Z Flip isn’t the perfect phone or the most powerful. It doesn’t have the best cameras or battery life. It is laughably expensive. And yet I can’t stop using it. After three months, is the Galaxy Z Flip worth $1,380? Yes. The high price reflects that it is a phone that can physically fold in half. Should you pay $1,380 for this phone? No. But for those of you who want to flirt with the Wild West of mobile phone design, the Z Flip offers much to enjoy.

The Z Flip’s beautiful but cursed display

I love and hate this display. When it’s clean, the tall narrow screen is amazing and vibrant. Videos look outstanding. The 21.9:9 aspect ratio is also really wide, so there are black bars on the sides of most videos. I watched widescreen films like The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, though, and they fit the display incredibly well. 

But once in a while, the plastic polymer coating got in the way of the screen’s beauty, especially when there were fingerprints on the screen which the coating seems to attract endlessly. When I wipe smudges clean with my shirt sleeve, they don’t come off as easy as a phone without plastic polymer on it.

Then there’s the crease. Ah, the crease. One thing I noticed after three months of using it is that I physically feel the crease constantly with my fingers. The Z Flip’s crease cuts across the middle of the screen and if I scroll through apps like Instagram or Twitter, my finger goes over it like a car rolling over a seam in a concrete driveway. But this doesn’t particularly bug me and because it’s a horizontal crease instead of the vertical one on the Galaxy Fold, I actually see it less. To me, the crease is like background music at a restaurant. I notice it but forget about it after awhile. Just like how I got used to notches on phones, I am now used to the crease.

The Z Flip’s Flex Mode

It brings me an endless amount of delight how small the phone is closed. I never hesitate to take it with me because it’s very pocketable (though the mileage inside women’s pants pockets may vary). The Z Flip opens up into a phone as tall as the Galaxy S20 Ultra, albeit a skinner version of that.

I like having to open the phone in order to use it because I’m more selective about what I’m doing. The only time this feels tedious is messaging, I have to open the phone to read a text and reply and then I close it. If I get another reply, I have to start the process over. I’d be so happy if I could reply to messages from the outside display even just with my voice, 

Over time, I stopped closing the phone shut as much and instead left it open at a 90-degree angle. This made it look like a mini laptop and it meant I could keep a message thread open or mindlessly scroll Instagram or Twitter. Samsung calls this half-fold position Flex Mode, and it is excellent for filming vertical video too. I honestly didn’t expect to use the Z Flip this much as a video camera but in Flex Mode the phone becomes its own tripod, meaning I had more options where I could set it to get the perfect shot than a regular phone.

samsung-galaxy-zflip-9445

samsung-galaxy-zflip-9445

Angela Lang/CNET

In the next version of the Z Flip (after the Z Flip 5G, that is), I hope Samsung embraces the video capture aspect more. There are rumors that the Galaxy Z Flip 2 will have a third exterior camera. If that turns out to be true, there is an opportunity here to turn the Z Flip into the ultimate phone for capturing video. Samsung would need to make the third camera identical to the main one, but rotate it 90 degrees (think Motorola One Action). That way when the phone is in Flex Mode it can capture vertical video with the existing two cameras and horizontal video with the third camera.

Flex Mode also has a software component where apps adapt to the L-shaped position. But only a few apps take advantage of it, and even then it feels limited. The Gallery app, for instance, puts photos on the top half and navigation controls on the bottom. But when I go to edit a photo, the picture moves from the top half of the screen to the center. Why not keep it at the top part of the screen and use the bottom half to make adjustments?

With Android 10, I can have two apps display in a split screen, which I’ve done for Zoom meetings (on the top) and email (on the bottom). It is a nice way to use the device without holding it. But again, functionality is limited.

One of the things I enjoy most about positioning the Z Flip at different angles is that I can fit the phone around my face when I’m talking on a call instead of having it be flat. It’s so early 2000s and I enjoy it almost as much as ending calls by closing the phone shut.

The itsy-bitsy teenie weenie exterior display

The tiny, pill-shaped display on the phone’s exterior is incredibly cool and minimalist, but it’s also kind of useless. I enjoy seeing the time and battery status, and using it to skip tracks in Spotify. But the display turns off too quickly to read notifications and I can’t find a setting to adjust that. 

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

Sarah Tew/CNET

Taking selfies with it is an odd experience too. The display becomes a viewfinder and allows you to use the exterior cameras for higher-resolution images, but the preview on the screen is misleading because it doesn’t reflect the actual framing of the photo.

The usefulness of exterior displays on foldable phones varies. The one on the Galaxy Fold tries to do too much and feels cramped. On the other hand, the Galaxy Z Flip’s screen is horribly simplistic. The Motorola Razr hits the sweet spot in-between the two.

While I understand that phone makers have to strike a balance between the size and utility of exterior displays, the one on the Z Flip can still be improved. Samsung could go the Motorola route and make the screen a touch larger, or enable notifications to be displayed longer. It also needs to have some capability to let users take basic actions with notifications.

Now playing: Watch this: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip: 3 months later, I can’t stop using…

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Dust, debris and durability

When the Z Flip launched, there were concerns about its flexible display and long-term durability. After three months of regular use, I don’t see a single scratch or nick on the display (though again, there are lots of smudges). The body has a tiny scuff from when the phone slid off my desk and onto the floor. While we’re on that subject, I haven’t dropped the phone but it has dropped by itself several times. The exterior coating is ridiculously slippery and there were many times when I’d leave it on a counter or table and come back to find it on the ground because it slid off. 

When closed, there is an air gap between the two halves of the screen. The only downside I’ve noticed is that it lets dust and lint collect on the display. Unlike with review units of the Galaxy Fold, I haven’t had problems with dirt or dust getting under the display or into the hinge mechanism.

My biggest takeaway when it comes to durability is that I can use it just like a regular old smartphone. I don’t baby this phone, or worry that I might break it. Daily use over months and years will be the true test for its durability.

Last year’s performance is fine in use

In terms of performance, using the Z Flip is like using a Samsung Galaxy S10E. Both aren’t at the top of the Samsung spec heap; that title goes to the equally priced Galaxy S20 Ultra. But I never felt limited by the phone’s performance. Animations look smooth and apps launch quickly. I do wonder what the lifespan of this phone will be in terms of software support, however.

The battery, which is middling, is perhaps the biggest compromise when compared to a regular phone. I barely get through a day and a late-afternoon charge is typical. It’s not awful, but it needs a charge by dinner time.

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samsung-galaxy-zflip-9578

Angela Lang/CNET

Galaxy S10 cameras on the Galaxy Z Flip

In terms of cameras, I won’t go in-depth on this (just check the original review for that info). In short, the cameras are good, but not great. It’s essentially the S10 camera system, which includes an ultrawide-angle camera (with less resolution than the S10) and a main wide angle camera that lacks a dual-aperture. Photo and video image quality earns a solid B compared to the A+ of the Google Pixel 4 or iPhone 11 Pro.

In use, the camera always had chops for capturing a photo or video in any situation. Heck, there’s even night mode on this puppy. Check out the video below made entirely of footage filmed on the Galaxy Z Flip.

At the end of the day, I think there is a lot to admire about the Galaxy Z Flip, but for most people it is still far more of an experiment than a dependable daily driver. That said, if you want the cutting edge, warts and all, it’s definitely worth checking it out in a store (when we can do that again) or waiting for it to go on sale.

Now playing: Watch this: Galaxy Z Flip: 8 features to try on your new foldable…

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Galaxy Note 20 rumors: Everything we know ahead of Samsung Unpacked – CNET

rumored-note-20-ultra-screenshot.png

If this is the Galaxy Note 20 in copper, sign me up.

Screenshot by CNET

Now that Samsung has officially announced that Unpacked 2020 will take place Aug. 5, the rumor mill has gone into overdrive. Samsung is expected to launch a slew of new hardware, including an extra-large version of the Note 20, called the Note 20 Ultra, the rumored Galaxy Z Fold 2, a confirmed 5G version of the Galaxy Z Flip (in bronze!) and the Galaxy Watch 3

Following in the footsteps of Huawei, OnePlus and Apple, the unveiling will take place completely online. 

It’s been a strange year for Samsung and other phone makers, whose plans to go big into 5G and foldable phones have been largely torpedoed by the coronavirus pandemic. Despite Samsung warning that phone sales would suffer as a result of COVID-19 and the global recession, the company reported on July 6 that its profits are up as a whole, just likely not due to phone sales.

Read on for the top Galaxy Note 20 rumors, including all the specs we’ve heard of or think we know. This story updates frequently, so check back for the latest rumors.

note-20-camaras

note-20-camaras

The Galaxy Note 20 is expected to look a lot like the Galaxy S20 phones.

WindowsUnited

Confirmed: Samsung will unveil new products Aug. 5 

Samsung Unpacked 2020 will take place Wednesday, Aug. 5 at 7 a.m. PT (10 a.m. ET, 3 p.m. BST) during a completely virtual event. It will stream on Samsung.com, and CNET will also host a live show and cover the event with live analysis and news.

The official invitation depicts a liquid “splash” in the same copper color as the leaked Note (more on that below). 

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image001

Samsung will introduce its new mobile devices during a digital event on Aug. 5.

Samsung

Samsung Unpacked trailer

Just a little over a week before the Aug. 5 Samsung Unpacked event, Samsung released a 30-second Vimeo teaser trailer on its Mobile Press website. The trailer gives a brief sneak peek at the lineup of products to be announced, in the form of a stylized silhouette that appears to include the Galaxy Note 20. You can catch a glimpse at the 23-second mark in the video below.

New video hands-on leak: Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

A short YouTube video posted by user Jimmy Is Promo shows a device purported to be the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. We see a large-screen device, in black, with squared corners and a large camera module consistent with previous leaks. There’s also an S-Pen stylus to indicate this is part of the Note series.

The video demonstrates a few things:

  • S-Pen software includes using the stylus as a pointer (tweet below).
  • Android 10 operating system (which is expected, since Android 11 may not launch until Sept. 8).
  • The S-Pen and speaker grille may move to the left side.
  • Large, raised camera module on the left with the appearance of substantially larger sensors compared to the Galaxy Note 10.

Samsung’s own website leaks show the Note 20 in sultry copper

On July 1, photos of a phone said to be the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra appeared online, captured from a Samsung website in Russia. Samsung seems to have accidentally leaked the image itself, and not just on one site. 

On Twitter, journalists and phone fans also chimed in that it appeared on Samsung Ukraine and Samsung China as well. Engadget’s Richard Lai suggested it might have been an error affecting multiple Samsung websites in the Asia Pacific region.

Is it copper? Is it bronze? A July 10 tweet from frequent Twitter leaker Evan Blass suggests that the color, Mystic Bronze, will come to the Galaxy Z Flip 5G, too. Either way, the renders look beautiful so far. Seeing the play of light on the actual finish, in person, will make all the difference. 

Aug. 20 sale date for the Note 20?

Now that one rumor has been confirmed — that the new phone will launch on Aug. 5 — there’s more credence than ever that the Note 20 phones will go on sale Aug. 20. 

An Aug. 20 sale date also makes sense according to Samsung’s historical pattern. The annual August unveiling of nearly every Note phone is strategic, timed to predate Apple’s fall iPhone launch and set Samsung up for the holiday rush. It’s rumored that Apple may postpone its iPhone 12 sales release to as late as October as a result of the pandemic.

What we know about the Note 20 specs

Twitter leaker Ice Universe dropped some spec details June 18 for the variant that could be known as the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. While the image is of the Note 10 Plus and not the suspected Ultra as some outlets (including this one) originally reported, it’s expected that the variant will have two curved screens, whisper-thin bezels to free up maximum screen space, and a slightly thinner body overall compared to the Galaxy Note 10 Plus.

Confirmed: Yes, we know the ‘Galaxy Note 20’ exists

Without revealing the device name, Samsung announced in April that the company is making another Note phone. What we don’t officially know… is everything else. The company hasn’t announced the name — we’re going with Galaxy Note 20 in this article — price, announcement date, camera configuration or any new stylus tricks.

Two new Note 20 phones or three?

Last year, Samsung unleashed the Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10 Plus. It would be unusual not to see two new Notes this year. Numerous rumors support the expectation of a Note 20, Note 20 Plus and Note 20 Ultra, though the latest chatter is that there may just be the Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra. 

Rumors suggested that the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra would be a whopper, with a screen over 7 inches at the diagonal. 

Here are some possible Note 20 screen sizes promoted over the weeks, with details from PigtouPhone Arena and Ice Universe, citing additional tweets from Young that are no longer available (SamMobile posted the text here):

  • Galaxy Note 20: 6.4 to 6.7 inches (From Young: 6.42 inches tall, 2,345×1,084-pixel resolution)
  • Galaxy Note 20 Plus: 6.9 inches (From Pigtou: 165 millimeters tall, 77.2mm wide and 7.6mm thick)
  • Galaxy Note 20 Ultra: Over 7 inches (QHD Plus screen and 120Hz option can be on at the same time.)
note-20-plus-samsung-foto

note-20-plus-samsung-foto

Samsung is rumored to be working on an under-the-screen front-facing camera. Some think the Galaxy Note 20 could be the first phone to use it. Then again, maybe not.

OnLeaks via Pigtou

Ultrafast 120Hz screen could save more battery than the S20 Ultra

If the high-end Galaxy S20 phones got a 120Hz screen, it’s a smart bet that the Note 20 phones will have it, too. Phones with high screen refresh rates are a trend in the premium market. Any screen with an option to refresh each pixel more often than the standard 60Hz (i.e., 60 times a second) promises liquid-smooth scrolling and gameplay.

Frequent phone leaker Ice Universe suggests a more “fine-tuned” version of the feature. Danish blog Galaxy Club goes a little deeper, suggesting that the update will use 15% to 20% less energy than the Galaxy S20 Ultra, a phone whose review unit guzzled battery in 120Hz mode rather than sipped it. Here’s more information about the battery-saving 120Hz display technology, called LTPO.

5G is practically a given 

We scarcely need a rumor to feel certain that the Galaxy Note 20 line will support 5G speeds. The Galaxy S20 phones do, with a caveat. There are some variants of the standard S20 that are 4G LTE-only in certain regions, such as Australia. 

It may be that some carriers in some regions will also sell a 4G LTE version of the standard Galaxy Note 20, such as if the region is still building out its 5G networks, or if the carrier prefers a cheaper 4G version for its portfolio. Globally, we strongly suspect these will be known and marketed as 5G devices.

Here’s where US 5G plans stand now, and pointers on how to pick the best 5G carrier for you.

Last year’s phone was the Galaxy Note 10. Why is this the Note 20?

Precedent is as good a reason as any to assume that the Note 20 is what Samsung’s calling this phone — just look at the Galaxy S20 line. That said, precedent would also suggest we’d see the Galaxy S11 and Note 11. Samsung shook up its naming convention to align with the year. By that token, we could expect the Galaxy S21 and Note 21 in 2021. I can hardly wait for the Samsung Galaxy Note 32!

Note 20 cameras: 100x ‘space’ zoom or no?

Now we come to one of my favorite phone topics: camera specs. Will the Galaxy Note 20 series have 100x zoom or not? The answer to this question has an interesting edge to it. Samsung proudly announced the Galaxy S20 Ultra’s 100x AI-assisted zoom called Space Zoom, a unique asset among the S20 range and one of the features meant to justify the phone’s stratospheric price. 

If Samsung doesn’t include Space Zoom, as Twitter leakers Ice Universe and Sleepy Kuma seem to suggest (via the Korea Joongang Daily), it could be read as a rare admission of defeat on Samsung’s end that its marquee feature didn’t hit the right notes. 

It should be noted that many of the rumor-fueled image renders and supposed leaks of case designs show square cutouts for large camera bumps similar to those on the Galaxy S20 range.

So what cameras could we see? According to the Korea Joongang Daily and Ice Universe (via Weibo chat app):

  • Galaxy Note 20: 12-megapixel wide-angle (main), 64-megapixel telephoto, 12-megapixel ultrawide-angle
  • Galaxy Note 20 Plus: 108-megapixel (main), 12-megapixel telephoto, 12-megapixel ultrawide-angle. 50x zoom. Laser focus could help fine-tune focus in close-up shots (an issue for the Galaxy S20 phones).

Frequent Twitter leaker Max Weinbach, who also writes for XDA Developers, agrees that the Note 20 Plus will have a 108-megapixel sensor.

What about the front-facing camera?

A juicy rumor is going around that the Galaxy Note 20 could use Samsung’s first-ever camera that sits beneath the display. If true, it means that the sensor wouldn’t be visible most of the time. It might be that you may only “see” the sensor when using an app that works with the camera, for example, to indicate where to look when you’re taking a selfie or video chatting.

Galaxy Note 20’s battery, processor, storage size, RAM

We’ve compiled some possible specs based on various rumors, including from ZDNet Korea, Phone Arena and Galaxy Club.

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865, Samsung Exynos 990 or Exynos 992
  • Internal storage: 128GB or 256GB
  • RAM: 8GB, 12GB, 16GB
  • Battery: Note 20: 4,000mAh. Note 20 Plus: 4,500mAh

Android 10 for now, Android 11 to follow

We don’t even need a rumor to know that the Galaxy Note 20 will come with Android 10 to start with and upgrade to Android 11. That’s because Android 11 is in beta and isn’t ready for prime time. 

Furthermore, Google postponed its virtual event for June 3 in response to the protests that began sweeping the US on May 26. The software giant intended to make Android 11 beta available to all Android users, not just to developers as it is now — a crucial step before releasing the final software update. 

It’s entirely possible that Android 11 will be ready or mostly ready for carriers, but Samsung, which uses a complex software layer over the Android base, typically needs more time than other phone brands to fully test and release new Android versions.

note-20

note-20

This unofficial render imagines what the Note 20 could look like with a purple stylus and blue-to-purple gradient finish on the back.

@BenGeskin

Price: How much could the Galaxy Note 20 phones cost?

Galaxy Note phones are not for the budget buyer. Or at least that’s how the lineup has been since its early days. I’d expect the Note 20 and Note 20 Plus to largely follow last year’s pricing structure.

Galaxy Note 10 vs. Note 10 Plus prices

Galaxy Note 10 Galaxy Note 10 Plus
Price off-contract (USD) $949 $1,099
Price (GBP) £899 £999
Price (AUD) AU$1,499 AU$1,699

For context, two things changed in the last year to make the Note series more affordable and, Samsung surely hopes, more approachable, too. 

The first thing that happened was the standard Note 10 started at a more approachable $950, down from the $1,000 starting price of the Note 9. (Meanwhile, the Note 10 Plus debuted at $1,100.) Samsung didn’t give the Note 10 quite as many extras as the Plus, but the sub-$1,000 price made it a better value overall. 

Samsung’s second decision was to announce the Galaxy Note 10 Lite in January. Never intended for the US market, the phone nevertheless struck me as significant, suggesting that Samsung may be willing to change one or two “rules.”

Now playing: Watch this: Everything there is to know about the Galaxy Note 20

5:28

At the time, I said, “Samsung’s impulse to create a ‘Lite’ Note completely reverses everything the Note has come to stand for as the brand’s best of the best. In making a cheaper, more basic Note, Samsung is also democratizing the Note’s most distinct and enduring feature: the digital stylus.”

Does that mean Samsung will surprise us with a Galaxy Note 20 Lite? Probably not at this event. But it does mean there’s a chance the standard Note 20 could cost right around $950 again. However, with the addition of 5G, which tends to drive costs up, the Note 20’s final cost is still uncertain.

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Dark Sky for Android stops working tomorrow. Switch to these weather apps instead – CNET

rip-dark-sky

Dark Sky will be missed, but it’s time to move on. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

It was nice knowing you, Dark Sky. After being acquired by Apple in May, the Android weather app will cease to work starting Saturday, Aug. 1. It’s terribly sad news for those of us who came to rely on the app’s push notifications for impending rain or snow. Dark Sky had over 1 million installs, according to its Play Store listing that’s since been taken down as part of the transition away from Android.

If you have an active Dark Sky subscription on Aug. 1, you should receive a refund. Whether it’s prorated or not remains to be seen.

The time has come, fellow Dark Sky users, to pick a different weather app. And, thankfully, there are several worthy options that fill the void quite nicely. Below are three apps you can replace Dark Sky with and surely there’ll be more releases leading up to the app’s sunset. Some suggestions below even use Dark Sky’s data, which Apple has promised will continue working through the end of 2021. So while the Dark Sky app itself will be shut down, you can still take advantage of the same information, just in another form. 

appy-weather-android

appy-weather-android

Appy Weather has a minimal look that is soothing. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Appy Weather

Appy Weather has received several updates since Dark Sky announced it was shuttering its Android app. Updates have brought new features, a redesigned radar, custom notifications and a Dark Sky-like widget. Appy is powered by Dark Sky’s API, but presents it in a totally different, cleaner, format. It’s akin to your Twitter feed, but instead of random memes, the feed includes periodic weather updates and sunrise/sunset time in expandable cards that provide more information in the main timeline view. You can also view the forecast in hourly or daily increments. 

Appy has also added two more weather providers, so it’ll be ready to make the transition when the Dark Sky API is shut down. 

I like the minimal feel of Appy and scrolling through the forecast has a natural feel to it. Appy is free to use its basic features, or $3.99 a year to unlock all features including widgets, notifications, radar and remove ads.

weather-underground-android

weather-underground-android

Weather Underground has a lot of data points. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Weather Underground

Weather Underground takes a hyper-local approach to weather forecasting, leveraging data from personal weather stations. With access to over 250,000 stations, Weather Underground is able to create its own forecasts and provide weather information that you may find more accurate to your specific location, instead of other apps that apply an overall forecast to a city. In fact, I have my own weather station feeding into Weather Underground’s data set right now. 

You can use Weather Underground for free, or pay $19.99 a year or $3.99 a month to unlock premium features like smart forecasts, extended hourly forecasts and remove ads. 

accuweather

accuweather

AccuWeather recently saw a big update. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

AccuWeather

AccuWeather recently saw a complete redesign, adding a Dark Sky inspired precipitation and temperature chart to the top of the app. You can scroll sideways to view exactly when to expect the rain. The interface is easy enough to get around, but you’ll have to put up with ads mixed into your forecast. You can remove ads through an in-app purchase for $3.99. 

fu-weather-android

fu-weather-android

Maybe don’t let your kids check the forecast with this one. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Fu*** Weather (Funny Weather)

If you’re looking for a weather app with a bit of personality, Fu*** Weather is it. Instead of just presenting numbers and percentages, Fu*** Weather uses an entertaining mix of weather jargon and curse words to motivate you to get outside or warn you of horrible weather in the forecast. Fu*** Weather uses a combination of Dark Sky and AerisWeather for its data. 

The app is free to download and use, with in-app purchases removing ads and unlocking more features like updating the forecast more often. 

After finding a new weather app, make sure to check out our best Android apps list of 2020. We even have a list of the best password managerswhich you should totally be using. Or if you’re looking forward to Android 11, we highlighted some of our favorite features

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Galaxy Note 20 rumors: Everything we know the week before Samsung Unpacked – CNET

rumored-note-20-ultra-screenshot.png

If this is the Galaxy Note 20 in copper, sign me up.

Screenshot by CNET

Now that Samsung has officially announced that Unpacked 2020 will take place Aug. 5, the rumor mill has gone into overdrive. Samsung is expected to launch a slew of new hardware, including an extra-large version of the Note 20, called the Note 20 Ultra, the rumored Galaxy Z Fold 2, a confirmed 5G version of the Galaxy Z Flip (in bronze!) and the Galaxy Watch 3

Following in the footsteps of Huawei, OnePlus and Apple, the unveiling will take place completely online. 

It’s been a strange year for Samsung and other phone-makers, whose plans to go big into 5G and foldable phones have been largely torpedoed by the coronavirus pandemic. Despite Samsung warning that phone sales would suffer as a result of COVID-19 and the global recession, Samsung reported on July 6 that its profits are up as a whole — just likely not due to phone sales.

Read on for the top Galaxy Note 20 rumors, including all the specs we’ve heard of or think we know. This story updates frequently, so check back for the latest rumors.

note-20-camaras

note-20-camaras

The Galaxy Note 20 is expected to look a lot like the Galaxy S20 phones.

WindowsUnited

Confirmed: Samsung will unveil new products Aug. 5 

Samsung Unpacked 2020 will take place Wednesday, Aug. 5 at 7 a.m. PT (10 a.m. ET, 3 p.m. BST) during a completely virtual event. It will stream on Samsung.com — CNET will also host a live show and cover the event with live analysis and news.

The official invitation depicts a liquid “splash” in the same copper color as the leaked Note (more on that below). 

image001

image001

Samsung will introduce its new mobile devices during a digital event on Aug. 5.

Samsung

Samsung Unpacked trailer

Just a little over a week before the Aug. 5 Samsung Unpacked event, Samsung released a 30-second Vimeo teaser trailer on its Mobile Press website. The trailer gives a brief sneak peek at the lineup of products to be announced, in the form of a stylized silhouette that appears to include the Galaxy Note 20. You can catch a glimpse at the 23-second mark in the video below.

New video hands-on leak: Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

A short YouTube video posted by user Jimmy Is Promo shows a device purported to be the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. We see a large-screen device, in black, with squared corners and a large camera module consistent with previous leaks. There’s also an S-Pen stylus to indicate this is part of the Note series.

The video demonstrates a few things:

  • S-Pen software includes using the stylus as a pointer (tweet below).
  • Android 10 operating system (which is expected, since Android 11 may not launch until Sept. 8).
  • The S-Pen and speaker grille may move to the left side.
  • Large, raised camera module on the left with the appearance of substantially larger sensors compared to the Galaxy Note 10.

Samsung’s own website leaks show the Note 20 in sultry copper

On July 1, photos of a phone said to be the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra appeared online, captured from a Samsung website in Russia. Samsung seems to have accidentally leaked the image itself, and not just on one site. 

On Twitter, journalists and phone fans also chimed in that it appeared on Samsung Ukraine and Samsung China as well. Engadget’s Richard Lai suggested it might have been an error affecting multiple Samsung websites in the Asia Pacific region.

Is it copper? Is it bronze? A July 10 tweet from frequent Twitter leaker Evan Blass suggests that the color, Mystic Bronze, will come to the Galaxy Z Flip 5G, too. Either way, the renders look beautiful so far. Seeing the play of light on the actual finish, in person, will make all the difference. 

Aug. 20 sale date for the Note 20?

Now that one rumor has been confirmed — that the new phone will launch on Aug. 5 — there’s more credence now than ever that the Note 20 phones will go on sale Aug. 20. The rumored dates came early in June.

An Aug. 20 sale date also makes sense according to Samsung’s historical pattern. The annual August unveiling of nearly every Note phone is strategic, timed to predate Apple’s fall iPhone launch and set Samsung up for the holiday rush. It’s rumored that Apple may postpone its iPhone 12 sales release to as late as October as a result of the coronavirus.

What we know about the Note 20 specs

Twitter leaker Ice Universe dropped some spec details June 18 for the variant that could be known as the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. While the image is of the Note 10 Plus and not the suspected Ultra as some outlets (including this one) originally reported, it’s expected that the variant will have two curved screens, whisper-thin bezels to free up maximum screen space, and a slightly thinner body overall compared to the Galaxy Note 10 Plus.

Confirmed: Yes, we know the ‘Galaxy Note 20’ exists

Without revealing the device name, Samsung announced in April that the company is making another Note phone. What we don’t officially know… is everything else. The company hasn’t announced the name — we’re going with Galaxy Note 20 in this article — price, announcement date, camera configuration or any new stylus tricks.

Two new Note 20 phones or three?

Last year, Samsung unleashed the Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10 Plus. It would be unusual not to see two new Notes this year. Numerous rumors support the expectation of a Note 20, Note 20 Plus and Note 20 Ultra, though the latest chatter is that there may just be the Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra. 

Rumors suggested that the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra would be a whopper, with a screen over 7 inches at the diagonal. 

Here are some possible Note 20 screen sizes promoted over the weeks, with details from PigtouPhone Arena and Ice Universe, citing additional tweets from Young that are no longer available (SamMobile posted the text here):

  • Galaxy Note 20: 6.4 to 6.7 inches (From Young: 6.42 inches tall, 2,345×1,084-pixel resolution)
  • Galaxy Note 20 Plus: 6.9 inches (From Pigtou: 165 millimeters tall, 77.2mm wide and 7.6mm thick)
  • Galaxy Note 20 Ultra: Over 7 inches (QHD Plus screen and 120Hz option can be on at the same time.)
note-20-plus-samsung-foto

note-20-plus-samsung-foto

Samsung is rumored to be working on an under-the-screen front-facing camera. Some think the Galaxy Note 20 could be the first phone to use it. Then again, maybe not.

OnLeaks via Pigtou

Ultrafast 120Hz screen could save more battery than the S20 Ultra

If the high-end Galaxy S20 phones got a 120Hz screen, it’s a smart bet that the Note 20 phones will have it, too. Phones with high screen refresh rates are a trend in the premium market. Any screen with an option to refresh each pixel more often than the standard 60Hz (i.e., 60 times a second) promises liquid-smooth scrolling and gameplay.

Frequent phone leaker Ice Universe suggests a more “fine-tuned” version of the feature. Danish blog Galaxy Club goes a little deeper, suggesting that the update will use 15% to 20% less energy than the Galaxy S20 Ultra, a phone whose review unit guzzled battery in 120Hz mode rather than sipped it. Here’s more information about the battery-saving 120Hz display technology, called LTPO.

5G is practically a given 

We scarcely need a rumor to feel certain that the Galaxy Note 20 line will support 5G speeds. The Galaxy S20 phones do, with a caveat. There are some variants of the standard S20 that are 4G LTE-only in certain regions, such as Australia. 

It may be that some carriers in some regions will also sell a 4G LTE version of the standard Galaxy Note 20, such as if the region is still building out its 5G networks, or if the carrier prefers a cheaper 4G version for its portfolio. Globally, we strongly suspect these will be known and marketed as 5G devices.

Here’s where US 5G plans stand now, and pointers on how to pick the best 5G carrier for you.

Last year’s phone was the Galaxy Note 10. Why is this the Note 20?

Precedent is as good a reason as any to assume that the Note 20 is what Samsung’s calling this phone — just look at the Galaxy S20 line. That said, precedent would also suggest we’d see the Galaxy S11 and Note 11. Samsung shook up its naming convention to align with the year. By that token, we could expect the Galaxy S21 and Note 21 in 2021. I can hardly wait for the Samsung Galaxy Note 32!

Note 20 cameras: 100x ‘space’ zoom or no?

Now we come to one of my favorite phone topics: camera specs. Will the Galaxy Note 20 series have 100x zoom or not? The answer to this question has an interesting edge to it. Samsung proudly announced the Galaxy S20 Ultra’s 100x AI-assisted zoom called Space Zoom, a unique asset among the S20 range and one of the features meant to justify the phone’s stratospheric price. 

If Samsung doesn’t include Space Zoom, as Twitter leakers Ice Universe and Sleepy Kuma seem to suggest (via the Korea Joongang Daily), it could be read as a rare admission of defeat on Samsung’s end that its marquee feature didn’t hit the right notes. 

It should be noted that many of the rumor-fueled image renders and supposed leaks of case designs show square cutouts for large camera bumps similar to those on the Galaxy S20 range.

So what cameras could we see? According to the Korea Joongang Daily and Ice Universe (via Weibo chat app):

  • Galaxy Note 20: 12-megapixel wide-angle (main), 64-megapixel telephoto, 12-megapixel ultrawide-angle
  • Galaxy Note 20 Plus: 108-megapixel (main), 12-megapixel telephoto, 12-megapixel ultrawide-angle. 50x zoom. Laser focus could help fine-tune focus in close-up shots (an issue for the Galaxy S20 phones).

Frequent Twitter leaker Max Weinbach, who also writes for XDA Developers, agrees that the Note 20 Plus will have a 108-megapixel sensor.

What about the front-facing camera?

A juicy rumor is going around that the Galaxy Note 20 could use Samsung’s first-ever camera that sits beneath the display. If true, it means that the sensor wouldn’t be visible most of the time. It might be that you may only “see” the sensor when using an app that works with the camera, for example, to indicate where to look when you’re taking a selfie or video chatting.

Galaxy Note 20’s battery, processor, storage size, RAM

We’ve compiled some possible specs based on various rumors, including from ZDNet Korea, Phone Arena and Galaxy Club.

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865, Samsung Exynos 990 or Exynos 992
  • Internal storage: 128GB or 256GB
  • RAM: 8GB, 12GB, 16GB
  • Battery: Note 20: 4,000mAh. Note 20 Plus: 4,500mAh

Android 10 for now, Android 11 to follow

We don’t even need a rumor to know that the Galaxy Note 20 will come with Android 10 to start with and upgrade to Android 11. That’s because Android 11 is in beta and isn’t ready for prime time. 

Furthermore, Google postponed its virtual event for June 3 in response to the protests that began sweeping the US on May 26. The software giant intended to make Android 11 beta available to all Android users, not just to developers as it is now — a crucial step before releasing the final software update. 

It’s entirely possible that Android 11 will be ready or mostly ready for carriers, but Samsung, which uses a complex software layer over the Android base, typically needs more time than other phone brands to fully test and release new Android versions.

note-20

note-20

This unofficial render imagines what the Note 20 could look like with a purple stylus and blue-to-purple gradient finish on the back.

@BenGeskin

Price: How much could the Galaxy Note 20 phones cost?

Galaxy Note phones are not for the budget buyer. Or at least that’s how the lineup has been since its early days. I’d expect the Note 20 and Note 20 Plus to largely follow last year’s pricing structure.

Galaxy Note 10 vs. Note 10 Plus prices

Galaxy Note 10 Galaxy Note 10 Plus
Price off-contract (USD) $949 $1,099
Price (GBP) £899 £999
Price (AUD) AU$1,499 AU$1,699

For context, two things changed in the last year to make the Note series more affordable and, Samsung surely hopes, more approachable, too. 

The first thing that happened was the standard Note 10 started at a more approachable $950, down from the $1,000 starting price of the Note 9. (Meanwhile, the Note 10 Plus debuted at $1,100.) Samsung didn’t give the Note 10 quite as many extras as the Plus, but the sub-$1,000 price made it a better value overall. 

Samsung’s second decision was to announce the Galaxy Note 10 Lite in January. Never intended for the US market, the phone nevertheless struck me as significant, suggesting that Samsung may be willing to change one or two “rules.”

Now playing: Watch this: Everything there is to know about the Galaxy Note 20

5:28

At the time, I said, “Samsung’s impulse to create a ‘Lite’ Note completely reverses everything the Note has come to stand for as the brand’s best of the best. In making a cheaper, more basic Note, Samsung is also democratizing the Note’s most distinct and enduring feature: the digital stylus.”

Does that mean Samsung will surprise us with a Galaxy Note 20 Lite? Probably not at this event. But it does mean there’s a chance the standard Note 20 could cost right around $950 again. However, with the addition of 5G, which tends to drive costs up, the Note 20’s final cost is still uncertain.

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Galaxy Z Fold 2 rumors and leaks so far: Buh-bye, ugly screen notch – CNET

samsung-galaxy-fold

The Galaxy Z Fold 2’s screen could get a makeover.

Ice Universe

With less than one week left until the Aug. 5 Samsung Unpacked event, the rumor mill was abuzz earlier this week with not one, but two Galaxy Fold photo leaks, one of which seems to confirm that it’ll be called the Galaxy Z Fold 2, as previously speculated. Next week, Samsung is expected to reveal not only the Galaxy Z Fold 2 but also two new Galaxy Note devices (presumed to be called the Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra) and the Galaxy Watch 3. The $1,450 Galaxy Z Flip 5G was also confirmed earlier this month. 

It’s noteworthy that Samsung could release two phones expected to cost more than $1,400 during a global recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Global device shipments are expected to dip by 14% in 2020 as a result of the downturn, according to Gartner. 

Perhaps Samsung is counting on the hype machine — and a possible second stimulus check for the US — to stoke interest in the speculated Galaxy Fold 2? We’ll find out soon enough. This story updates frequently with the most important rumors. 

Now playing: Watch this: Everything there is to know about the Galaxy Fold 2

5:04

Could Samsung drop the ugly screen notch?

A notch the size of my thumb on the original Galaxy Fold’s 7.3-inch internal screen was one of the phone’s most enduring drawbacks. According to one rumor from prolific leaker Ice Universe, that’ll go away for good.

The July 28 leak also seemed to confirm the rumored hole-punch display, though it’s difficult to see in the image. 

A second photo leak, first reported by MySmartPrice, showed the Galaxy Z Fold 2 design in more detail and higher resolution, revealing not only a hole-punch camera but also a much larger cover display, slimmer bezels compared with the original Galaxy Fold and a triple camera setup. The photos showed two color options for the Fold, Mystic Black and Mystic Bronze.

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A leaked image of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G.

MySmartPrice

Samsung Unpacked trailer

Earlier this week, Samsung released a trailer in advance of its Aug. 5 Unpacked event, which gave a shadowy look at its rumored five new devices (including the Tab S7 Android tablet and the Galaxy Buds Live). The teaser image can be seen at around the 23-second mark of the 30-second Vimeo trailer, originally posted to Samsung’s Mobile Press website.

Galaxy Z Fold 2 coming in Mystic Bronze?

First came the rumors and leaks that the Galaxy Note 20 would arrive in a bronze or copper finish. Then came Samsung’s official invitation for Unpacked, which pretty much seals the deal. A leak from frequent Twitter leaker Evan Blass later showed the Galaxy Z Flip 5G in a color called — you guessed it — Mystic Bronze.

If Samsung is embracing this shade for two phones expected at Unpacked, could we see a Mystic Bronze Z Fold 2, too?

Aug. 5 launch. Now what about Z Fold 2 sale dates? 

We know Samsung Unpacked 2020 will take place Aug. 5 online, starting at 7 a.m. PT (10 a.m. ET, 3 p.m. BST). Samsung will livestream the event, which CNET will also cover in a live show. Since the first Galaxy Fold was introduced in February 2019 during the same Unpacked event that brought us the Galaxy S10, it’s likely we’ll see the Z Fold 2 at this event.

The rumors agree on that much. But the sale date is still up in the air, with rumors ranging from Aug. 20 (the same speculated sale date as the Note 20) to September, as suggested by Korean outlet ET News and Twitter leaker Riccolo.

Notably, Samsung’s Galaxy S20 Unpacked event was the last time the mobile industry congregated in full before concern over the spread of coronavirus put a stop to dozens of events within and beyond the tech world… including Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest mobile-focused show, and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (now 2021, we hope). 

5G for the US, and will sell on Verizon

Frequent Twitter leaker Max Weinbach tweeted an image of firmware said to belong to the Galaxy Z Fold 2, which cites a version for Verizon. That could indicate that the Galaxy Z Fold 2 could support 5G, specifically Verizon’s mmWave version of the ultrafast data standard. The original Fold was released with 4G carrier support in the US, but was sold as 5G in Korea and the UK.

Galaxy Z Fold 2 sale price: $2,260?

Twitter leaker Riccolo cited a 2,000-euro price tag, which converts to roughly $2,260, £1,790 or AU$3,230 — or about $1,880 if you knock off European sales tax, which is always baked into the price there. While Samsung may adjust prices per market, it would be surprising to see a more advanced Galaxy Z Fold 2 come in at less than the original Galaxy Fold’s $1,980 asking price. For reference, the ultraportable Galaxy Z Flip costs $1,380, and the 5G version will cost $1,450.

Trade-in deals, bundles and freebies are more likely than a cheaper Galaxy Z Fold 2. Although Samsung has been known to cut prices a few months after a launch, at least on its own website, the brand usually prefers to bump up the value of its premium products with bundled deals instead, like a buy-one-get-one or a free set of earbuds.

Will the Galaxy Z Fold 2 be waterproof?

Water resistance is standard fare among premium smartphones, but the nature of the hinge and the price made it impossible for the first wave of foldables to take advantage of waterproofing technologies, Samsung told us at the time the original Galaxy Fold launched.

That could change with the Galaxy Z Fold 2. Earlier this month, a patent for a water-resistant foldable phone design that looks awfully similar to the Galaxy Fold appeared, Let’s Go Digital reported. The patent (PDF) for “Electronic device including waterproof structure” details exactly how and where the waterproofing material would go inside the phone housing. 

samsung-waterproof-fold-patent-wipo.png

samsung-waterproof-fold-patent-wipo.png

Samsung’s waterproofing patent for a foldable phone like the Galaxy Fold published in May.

Samsung/WIPO

Square ‘periscope’ camera, ticker notification on cover screen

The same Samsung patent application mentioned above also reveals two interesting design changes, Let’s Go Digital pointed out. First is the camera array, which shows three rear lenses, one of them square. That’s the same design Samsung’s Galaxy S20 Ultra (and other phones) use for a periscope camera designed to enhance optical and digital zoom. 

The second detail is a long, narrow ticker seen in the image above all the way to the right on the device cover screen. It’s clear that Samsung is at least experimenting with the idea of removing the original Fold’s 4.6-inch cover display — where you could open and use any Android app — with a ticker-style window for basic information like the date, time and notifications. 

Such a move would mean you need to use the phone in its open position and could potentially improve battery life from the original model. It’s also possible that — if there are multiple Galaxy Fold models for 2020 — one of the cheaper devices could see a smaller outer screen.

Is there a cheaper Galaxy Fold E or Fold Lite in the works?

What if there isn’t just one new Galaxy Fold headed our way, but two or even three? Weinbach tweeted a rumor that Samsung could be making a Galaxy Fold E or Galaxy Fold Lite in addition to the more premium Galaxy Z Fold 2.

Weinbach’s tweet even named a potential price: $1,100 for the cheaper model — or models — which could use a plastic screen compared to the Galaxy Z Fold 2’s ultrathin glass, or UTG. Weinbach’s uncertainty (“and keep in mind this is a rumor,” he wrote) leaves room for doubt, but it does suggest that Samsung’s experiment with cheaper models won’t stop with the $1,380 Galaxy Z Flip.

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galaxy-fold-2-stylus-ben-geskin-render-3

Renders for the Galaxy Fold 2, based on leaks and rumors.

Ben Geskin via Twitter

Read: Galaxy Z Flip: 3 months later, I love it but still don’t recommend it

The Galaxy Z Fold 2 could have a stylus. The original couldn’t

Nearly a year ago I proposed that the Galaxy Fold’s killer accessory would be a stylus, just like on the Galaxy Note family. The S Pen would make the Fold much more like a tablet and multitasking tool, and help distinguish Samsung’s foldable phone from the rest.

There was just one problem with that. The original Fold’s plastic screen was too soft and infamously damage-prone to sustain the pressure from a fingernail, much less a stylus. But with enough structural support and a flexible glass screen (ultrathin glass, or UTG) — which was first used with the Z Flip — the rumors of a Z Fold 2 with a stylus are possible.

Other rumors have at times suggested that Samsung would abandon its plans to include the S Pen. We’ll see how it all comes together.

2 screens, 1 with a 120Hz refresh rate

There’s little doubt that the Galaxy Z Fold 2 would follow in the footsteps of the original with two screens — one on the outside to start short tasks, like launching a phone call or responding to a quick text, and the larger screen inside that does all the heavy lifting of video watching, multitasking and longer email composition. 

The larger screen is said to follow the Galaxy S20 with a 120Hz screen refresh rate, while the smaller screen will top out at the default 60Hz screen (see below). The faster refresh rate makes scrolling, navigation and some games run extremely smooth, but it can also drink up battery life at a faster rate. It’s likely that the Z Fold 2’s 120Hz screen setting would be an option, with the typical 60Hz rate the default, as it is on the S20 phones.

Galaxy Z Fold 2 cameras

The original Galaxy Fold took its camera cues from last year’s Galaxy S10 Plus, so it stands to reason that the Z Fold 2 would do the same, drawing from the Galaxy S20 Plus’ camera array and design. That’s the content of a rumor from Weinbach.

If true, you could expect to see:

  • Front cover: 10-megapixel camera
  • Rear cover: 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 64-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (ultrawide), time-of-flight 
  • The periscope lens shape mentioned above

Now playing: Watch this: Galaxy Z Flip is the best foldable phone so far

13:48

And what about the inner screen? Good question. The original Fold included a big thumb-shaped cutout that included two camera lenses and other sensors, and detracted from the overall look as well as took up screen space. 

I originally wagered that Samsung would minimize the camera look on the inner screen, shrinking the space down to a single sensor for selfies and video chats, and using a more minimalist hole punch design. That said, the patent above (which may not reflect the final design), shows a similar internal notch as the original Fold. This is looking increasingly unlikely, however, now that we’ve seen the sneak peek of the phone’s boot screen and leaked photos of its design.

Weinbach, in his February tweet, suggested that the “main” camera could include a V-shaped notch or an underscreen sensor. 

Battery size and battery life

Battery life is a sticking point for any phone, but on a foldable device like the original Galaxy Fold, with power-thirsty screens and a promise to be the everything-device in your life, it has to deliver. 

If rumor prevails, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 could top the Fold’s 4,380-mAh battery with a 4,500- or 5,000-mAh battery, according to a source cited by XDA Developers. You can also expect Samsung to stick with reverse wireless charging, which Samsung calls PowerShare, and fast charging to align with the Galaxy S20 phones — likely at a rate of 25 watts. 

The Galaxy S20 Ultra, for example, supports even faster 45-watt charging, but keep in mind that there’s often a trade off between how fast a phone can charge and how much heat it generates and holds onto as a result. If the Z Fold 2 comes to life without support for 45-watt fast charging, that’s likely why.

Screen size, storage and other specs

Display consultant Ross Young tweeted a long list of specs in late April, unsurprisingly related to the screen size, resolution and technology. That, combined with other rumors circulating about the Galaxy Z Fold 2’s storage capacity, 5G variants and colors (from XDA Developers, SamMobile, ET News and others), paints a picture that concept artists can use to sketch out renders of how the Galaxy Z Fold 2 could look.

Now playing: Watch this: What you should know about the Google Pixel 5

6:22

  • Main display: 7.59 inches; 2,213×1,689-pixel resolution
  • Cover display: 6.23 inches; 2,267×819-pixel resolution (original Fold outer screen was 4.6 inches)
  • 256GB and 512GB storage capacities
  • 5G and 4G variants
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 or 865 Plus processor
  • Android 10 software
  • Materials: Ceramic, stainless steel
  • Colors: Blue, silver, gold, pink, black, bronze

We’ll keep an eye and an ear out for new and credible Galaxy Z Fold 2 rumors. In the meantime, here’s every phone that we know of for 2020, eight apps to vastly improve your phone photography and a good look at the OnePlus 8 Pro phone that wants to take down the Galaxy S20.

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Stop being jealous of iMessage. How to use Google’s fancy texting on Android phones – CNET

google-messages-android

Google’s Messages app has a lot to offer, and it keeps getting better. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Talk to almost any iPhone owner about their favorite features, and it’s almost a guarantee that they’ll mention iMessage, which trounces the standard texting app with a suite of useful, enhanced features, including smart group threads, send and read receipts, Wi-Fi messaging, and full-resolution photo sharing. So where does that leave Android?

Thankfully, Google’s messaging skills are catching up. Just last week, Google added reactions to chat conversations, letting you like or heart a message, just like you can in an iMessage or Facebook Messenger conversation. 

The boring technical name for the service is RCS Messaging, but more commonly, and easier to remember, Google is referring to the features as Chat. If you’re not using it now, you’re missing out. Most of the most popular iMessage features are integrated into Google Chat, which itself is baked into Google’s Messages app, including the ability to send and receive messages from your computer

In order to use the features, you have to use Google’s Messages app, not your phone brand’s proprietary texting app. We’ll show you how to make Messages your default text app if it isn’t already, which text features you get and how to start using Google Chat messages on your Android phone.

Even Samsung is getting in on the act. It recently announced that its Messages app will soon begin using the same RCS technology that’s available in Google’s Messages app. If you own a Samsung Galaxy phone, your best bet is to use the Google Messages app for now, at least until Samsung completes its rollout. We’ll update this post as we learn more. 

Let’s take a closer look at what you’ll need to do to turn on the new feature, as well as some of the more nuanced aspects of Chat. 

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Get started with Google’s Chat feature

First, you’ll need an Android phone with Google’s Messages app installed and set as the default text messaging app. The first time you launch Messages, it will ask if you want to set it as your default app. Just follow the prompts and don’t worry, you won’t lose your conversation history by switching. 

After setting Messages as your default messaging app, take a couple of minutes and set up Messages for Web, which allows you to send and receive text messages from your computer

Chat will work in the US, UK, France or Mexico. There isn’t an official list of countries, but Android Police has received reports from users in Italy, Portugal, and Singapore have also been able to use Chat. Android Central also has a list of countries and respective carriers that offer support. 

OnePlus Nord

OnePlus Nord

You’ll need to use Google’s own Messages app in order to take advantage of Chat. 

Juan Garzon/CNET

Turn Google’s Chat features on

After installing Google’s Messages app and setting it as your default texting app, there are two different ways to enable Chat. You can either wait for a prompt in the Messages app asking if you want to see when your friends are typing, or you can go into the Settings section of Messages and look for the switch to turn Chat on

When you get the prompt, tap Upgrade Now then follow the prompts and enter your phone number if asked. Alternatively, you can also open Messages and tap on the three-dot menu button (top-right corner of the app) and select Settings > Chat Features

This same settings page is also where you can go to turn your read receipts on or off, as well as disable the typing indicator whenever you’re typing and control what happens if Chat fails to send a message. 

chat-features-settings

chat-features-settings

Make sure you customize Chat’s settings. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

If you run into issues with sending messages, you can also view the current status of your phone’s connection to the Chat service in the settings section of the app. As long as it says Connected, your phone number is registered with Chat and should use the service whenever you’re talking to a contact who also has Chat enabled.

That’s an important aspect of Chat. Whoever you’re talking to will also need to have the feature enabled on their device to use the new chat features, though of course all usual texting features still apply. 

You’ll be able to take advantage sooner by getting your friends to use Google Messages. You can guide them through the setup process (or send them a link to this post). 

chat-features-in-conversation

chat-features-in-conversation

The Messages app mostly looks the same.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Use the new Chat features in a conversation

After you turn on chat features, the Messages app will continue to work and look the same, and you should keep using it the same way you always have. The app knows when you’re talking to someone through text or another contact with chat turned on. 

The easiest way to tell if a conversation is using old-fashioned text messaging or the new chat features is to look at the text box before you start typing. If the box says “Chat message” then the conversation will have typing indicators, read receipts, and the rest of the features that RCS Messaging offers. 

To use the new reactions feature, long-press on a message until a bubble shows up, presenting you with a few different options, including like, love, laughter or anger. 

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chat-vs-text-text-field

It’s pretty easy to see when you’re going to send a text, or use the new Chat features. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

When chat features are in use, you’ll see delivered and read receipts underneath each message you’ve sent, and you can send full-resolution photos and share files with fellow chat users. You don’t have to do anything special to send a high-resolution image, just tap on the photo icon in the app and pick photo or video. You’ll see a loading circle on the image as it’s uploaded and sent, but otherwise the process looks and works the same as sending a text message. 

Because Chat works over mobile data or Wi-Fi, you can put your phone in airplane mode and you’ll still be able to send and receive messages with other Chat users. 

Switching phones? Make sure you turn Chat off

Just like Apple’s iMessage tries holding onto your phone number if you forget to disable it, so does Chat. Before you remove the SIM card from your phone, make sure to turn off Chat. If you forget to turn off chat features before moving your SIM card to a new phone, chat features could continue to work for up to eight days. Meaning, you may not get messages sent to your number by someone using chat. 

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oneplus-8-pro-0581

Keep in mind it’s not encrypted.

Angela Lang/CNET

Disable Chat by opening Settings > Chat features in the Messages app and slide the switch next to Enable chat features to the Off position. I suggest waiting a few minutes after turning it off to let Google’s servers process the request, and ensure your number doesn’t get stuck in limbo. 

Note: Your messages aren’t encrypted

Google doesn’t currently encrypt your conversations with fellow chat users. The conversations are sent securely from your phone to Google’s server and then to the recipient’s phone, after which the messages are deleted from Google’s server, but those messages aren’t end-to-end encrypted. 

You can use apps like WhatsApp and Signal, or Apple’s iMessage if you prefer end-to-end encryption.

If Google’s Chat service still isn’t enough to keep you on Android, switching to iPhone is easier than you might think. However, if you’re completely happy with Android, we have a roundup of the best apps in 2020, along with a handful of our favorite features coming to Android 11 when it’s officially released later this year