The company is keeping tight-lipped about these new phones either way, but between leaks, rumours and what we know about the S20 series, we have a pretty good idea of what to expect.
When is the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 coming out?
The new Note line is expected to launch at the next Unpacked event, which is taking place virtually on 5 August.
Samsung itself has confirmed that the next Note is due in the second half of the year, so the probability of it being absent from this newly-scheduled event is pretty low.
Alongside the expected Note(s), it's expected that the company will also showcase the Galaxy Buds Live, Galaxy Watch 3, and Galaxy Fold 2 at the same event. The Galaxy Z Flip 5G was also expected to launch at Unpacked but Samsung lifted the lid on this a few days earlier - on 22 July.
August 21st is the rumored date.— Max Weinbach (@MaxWinebach) June 16, 2020
As for when you'll actually be able to buy the Note(s), tipster and writer for XDA Developers, Max Weinbach casually responded to a Twitter query on the topic with a date drop of 21 August - two and a half weeks after the launch event.
We discuss these rumours in an episode of our weekly podcast Fast Charge:
How much will the Note 20 cost?
Although we’re certain Samsung would love to keep its pricing low, the reality is that prices tend to rise year-on-year and including 5G only makes that likelier. No credible leaks on pricing have been released yet, but we will share anything we hear.
For reference, the Note 10 went on sale at £899/$949, with the Note 10+ at £999/$1,099, while the 5G variant started at £1,099/$1,299. All three Note 10 models are now available online for significantly less.
In the US, you can now reserve your place in the queue for the opportunity to pre-order the phone and doing so will also nab you a $50 voucher to spend on other Samsung wares. Those Stateside can reserve a pre-order spot from Samsung's US website, with the option to select your preferred carrier as part of the process.
How many Note 20 models will there be?
With the S20 we saw standard, Plus and Ultra models, differentiated in size (6.4in/6.7in/6.9in), battery capacity (4,000mAh/4,500mAh/5,000mAh) and cameras (64Mp/108Mp).
We're expecting the Note 20 to come with a Plus model, as previously, but evidence based on Bluetooth SIG certification (spotted by MySmartPrice) makes reference to a 'Note 20 Ultra' by name, suggesting an even beefier iteration of the Note will also debut in August alongside these two models.
Indeed, an official Samsung blog post confirms that 'five power devices' being unveiled at Unpacked in August 2020. It's unclear how many of these will form the Note 20 series, although a later reference to hand, ears and wrist hints at the Galaxy Buds Live and Galaxy Watch 3 launching too.
There is also a possibility of a Note 20 Lite - successor to the Note 10 Lite - but if Samsung chooses to go down that path, there is no guarantee that it will arrive at the same time as the main Note 20. The Note 10 Lite didn't arrive until January 2020, months after the Note 10, so the same could happen here.
What will the Note 20 design look like?
"I feel like, with a leak such as this, several hours of exclusivity for Patreon subs should suffice. Many of you have been quite patient. 😊" he tweeted. Here is a still from the video:
Previously, our best look at the phone came courtesy of leaker Ice Universe:
Galaxy Note20 pic.twitter.com/nNb3FqLVWD— Ice universe (@UniverseIce) July 14, 2020
You'll note a flat screen with slim bezels, a central pinhole selfie camera and a rear camera module that sits almost flush against the main body of the phone.
IceUniverse previously shared a framework design that gives away the placement of ports.
This may be the framework design of the Galaxy Note20, which is logical. pic.twitter.com/bO5w937vy2— Ice universe (@UniverseIce) January 26, 2020
At the bottom, there's space for a mic, speaker, USB-C charging port and S Pen stylus but no 3.5mm headphone jack.
The volume rocker and power button are visible once again on the left side of the phone, making room for the S Pen, as it was on the Note 10.
It's worth noting that those directions are reversed on more recent renders of the Note 20+ - shared by leaker OnLeaks and case maker Pigtou - which are based on leaked CAD drawings, and on IceUniverse's own later render.
These renders show a similar design to the IceUniverse framework but move the S Pen and bottom speaker to the left, and power/volume buttons to the right-hand side, which would be a change from last year's models.
Otherwise, these renders suggest a sizeable 6.9in AMOLED display - this is the larger Plus model, remember - with a central selfie camera, a 10.7mm-thick frame at its thickest point (the camera bump) and an accented camera arrangement designed to draw attention to the three main lenses.
Note that it's a curved panel, unlike the flat screen seen on IceUniverse's render of the regular Note 20. This matches phone cases on Alibaba that suggest the Note 20+ will have a curved display, but those curved edges will be relatively modest, while the standard Note 20 will sport a completely flat screen.
One curious detail comes in a leak which claimed that the regular Note 20 will also come with a plastic back, while a glass finish is used on the other two models. This would really set the Note 20 apart from the other models, and make it harder for Samsung to justify charging flagship prices for it, so take this one with a pinch of salt.
That just leaves the possible third phone - the Note 20 Ultra. Twitter user @1garri spotted the below image on Samsung's Russian website (cached version linked) - oddly enough under the old Galaxy Note 8 URL and linking through to the Galaxy Note 10 product pages.
The page has since been taken offline but there's no denying that the device in question does look suspiciously close in design to everything we've seen leaked so far for the Ultra. You'll note it comes complete with a curved screen - believed to be 6.9in - and a larger camera module than seen on renders of either the Note 20 or Note 20+.
One aspect that hasn't really been discussed has been the colours the next Notes will come in. The Note 10 series' Aura Glow was a real head-turner, so we're hoping that Samsung is cooking up something equally eye-catching for this year's Notes.
Mobile accessory retailer MobileFun has received what it believes to be a complete list of official Galaxy Note 20 accessories from its suppliers, which not only highlights the various cases designed for two distinct models of Note 20 but also suggests the colours they'll be available in.
A run of replacement S Pen styli implies that the Note 20 series will be up for grabs in black, white, grey, copper (seen in the Note 20 Ultra image above) and Mint. Based on the fact that the Ocean Blue Galaxy Note 9 came with a yellow S Pen, however, the colours listed here don't necessarily reflect the colours of the phones themselves.
It's true: Black, Grey & Copper colour options for the #Samsung #GalaxyZFlip 5G.— Ishan Agarwal (@ishanagarwal24) June 13, 2020
Note20 5G: Grey, Green & Copper
Note20+ / Ultra 5G: Copper, White & Black
Note: There may be more colour options but these, I can confirm. #GalaxyNote20 #GalaxyNote20Series #GalaxyNote20Plus https://t.co/R1BvAhlkRo
There's also overlap with word from tipster Ishan Agarwal, who claims that the base Note 20 will be offered up in grey, green (presumably the aforementioned 'Mint') and copper, while the more capable Note 20+ is cited to arrive in copper, white and black.
These colours also line up with the Galaxy Z Flip 5G, which launched with two new finishes: Mystic Grey and Mystic Bronze. These are no doubt the same grey and 'copper' referenced in the above leaks.
What are the Galaxy Note 20 specs?
Potential specs for these devices have already leaked on Geekbench and unsurprisingly point to top-of-the-line internals for Samsung's next flagship run.
There's expected to be a 120Hz display and a quad-lens camera that includes a 108Mp sensor - thought to be exclusive to the Plus and Ultra models. Samsung has also killed off the headphone jack and dedicated Bixby button, so don't expect either to make the cut this year.
Then there's 8K video recording, enhanced camera features, larger battery capacity and a refined design with slimmer bezels than ever. The Snapdragon 865+ or Exynos 990 processors (varying by region) will ensure 5G is possible on all versions of the phone, though there may still be a 4G version of the entry-level Note 20 in some regions, as we saw with the S20.
A recent FCC certification would suggest this is the case, as well as revealing the phone's dimensions. 161mm tall and 75.2mm wide is roughly in line with what we were expecting.
While a previous rumour reported by SamMobile suggested that baseline storage will drop from 256GB to 128GB, that may not be a concern as it could mark the return of the microSD card slot. This could also lead to a lower entry price.
One surprise comes in the camera. Usually, the Note line builds on the previous S phones, but the S20 Ultra's 100x Space Zoom won't make an appearance according to Ice Universe (this being the second time the leaker has stated that the Note 20 Ultra won't sport the S20 Ultra's zoom capabilities).
Note20 Ultra will cancel 100X, the maximum is 50X, Samsung will strive to optimize the zoom experience of the maximum 50X, more focus on the experience.— Ice universe (@UniverseIce) June 22, 2020
This shouldn't come as a huge surprise as 100x maximum zoom was always more of a headline-grabbing gimmick than a useful feature - something we touch on in our own Galaxy S20 Ultra review. Instead, the Note range will top out at a more modest (but still impressive) 50x zoom with better optimisation that hopefully makes shots taken at this magnification level actually usable.
Another leak from Ice Universe suggests the Note 20 will have a 120Hz refresh rate display. This was true for the S20, but the Note's will be 'more fine-tuned'. What this means exactly is unclear, but it could suggest that it will be able to offer 120Hz at resolutions higher than Full-HD and will also be variable, with the phone adjusting the rate dynamically.
This might not be included in every Note 20 model, however - one of IceUniverse's later knowledge-drops suggests that the base Note 20's flat display will sport rather conservative specs, topping out at extended Full HD resolution with a conventional 60Hz refresh rate.
Wide frame + flat screen + FHD resolution + 60Hz refresh rate.— Ice universe (@UniverseIce) June 17, 2020
It's a desperate specification.😑
Based on a separate report from SamMobile into the Chinese 3C certification database, battery life is expected to increase, with a cited capacity of 4300mAh for the smaller Note 20 and 4500mAh unit inside the Note 20+.
A bump in capacity like this is needed to meet the increased power drain of a 120Hz display, but bigger batteries do also mean more weight and bulk. Still, we saw exactly that on the Galaxy S20 Ultra.
The one key difference between S-series and the Note-series is, of course, the S Pen, and Samsung is unlikely to unveil a new Note without upgrading the stylus in some form, but we're not sure what to expect here yet.
One curious detail comes from the same leak that reported a plastic back for the Note 20. Supposedly the S-Pen will also vary between models, at least in response time: the version that ships with the standard Note 20 will have a 26ms response time, while the Ultra's S-Pen will be a much nippier 9ms version. The average user likely wouldn't notice the difference, but it might be part of a move to set the Note 20 Ultra up as a more responsive tool for artists and creators.
As reported by WinFuture.de, the Note 20 Ultra may also be the first phone optimised to stream Xbox games. Samsung and Microsoft already have a strong partnership, with the company's flagships usually coming pre-loaded with Microsoft's Android apps and the fact that they're the only smartphones sold in Microsoft's brick-and-mortar stores.
It now seems optimisation for Project xCloud - the working title for Microsoft's Xbox game-streaming service - will also be part of the Note 20 Ultra's makeup, along with its own fully wireless DeX (desktop experience) support.