Samsung's 'standard' Galaxy Note 20 5G may end up cutting one too many display corners


Following the Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra, which are widely expected to see daylight in early August at an online-only Unpacked event lacking the typical fanfare, Samsung is rumored to be preparing a Galaxy S20 Lite 5G variant of sorts for a CES 2021 debut in January.

Curiously enough, we have yet to hear anything about a reasonably priced Note 20 Lite model with a flat screen in tow, although one prolific (and generally reliable) leaker may have a sensible explanation for that. Sensible but pretty unexpected, mind you, especially if you've been keeping your ear to the ground in the last couple of months for all the biggest Galaxy Note 20 series leaks.

A bunch of surprising compromises

According to Ice Universe, aka @UniverseIce, the fast-approaching "regular" Note 20 5G could make the existence of a separate Note 20 Lite edition pretty much pointless with a "desperate specification" including an unprecedented number of compromises. We're talking not just a flat screen, as rumored last week, and a relatively "wide frame", as suggested by that first batch of leaked renders almost a whole month ago, but also a 60Hz refresh rate limit.

This cost-cutting measure compared to the undoubtedly impressive 120Hz Note 20 Ultra 5G was actually speculated at least once before, but then supply chain analyst Ross Young revised his prediction, calling for a 6.42-inch display with LTPO technology, 120Hz capabilities, and variable refresh support on the smaller Note 20 version taking the place of the regular Note 10's 6.3-inch Dynamic AMOLED panel with a conventional 60Hz refresh rate and essentially no other bells and whistles.

Ironically, Ice Universe initially hailed Young's forecast of cutting-edge display technology on both the Note 20 and Note 20+ as "highly accurate", but clearly, something happened behind the scenes between then and now. 

One very plausible theory is that Samsung realized its next flagship duo needed more differentiation, turning the Note 20+ into a more impressive-sounding Note 20 Ultra and downgrading the Note 20 dangerously close to Note 20 Lite-style specifications to try to broaden its appeal with a presumably lower price point.

It remains to be seen if this strategy will work better than the three-model Galaxy S20 lineup with 120Hz screen capabilities across the board, which appears to have failed spectacularly in keeping Samsung at the top of an industry badly hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.

How low can the Galaxy Note 20 5G go?

This is basically the make-or-break question for an already divisive handset that might look to occupy the middle ground between the early 2020-released Note 10 Lite and last fall's 6.3-inch Note 10. Since the former costs $550 and the latter typically goes for $950, it feels reasonable to expect a price tag of around $750 for the 6.4-inch Note 20 with a flat screen purportedly sporting a resolution of 2345 x 1084 pixels.

But then you have to add 5G connectivity into the equation, which is likely to be a standard feature in the US. Meanwhile, the camera specifications are still largely kept under wraps, unlike the imaging capabilities of the Galaxy Note 20+ 5G (aka Note 20 Ultra 5G). 

It's also unclear if that wild rumor from a little over a month ago about a "standard" 16GB RAM count will prove accurate, but even if the Note 20 5G "only" bumps up the Note 10's 8 gigs of memory to 12, that makes a sub-$900 starting price highly unlikely.

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Last but certainly not least, we expect Samsung to be able to squeeze a 4,300mAh or so battery inside the Note 20 5G, up from a comparatively modest 3,500mAh cell capacity on the 4G LTE-only Note 10. All in all, there are plenty of signs pointing in the direction of a $900 or even $1000 MSRP, which is definitely not what we'd call Note 20 Lite territory and could prove very hard to swallow for S Pen fans unwilling to spend hundreds of bucks more on the Note 20 Ultra 5G.

Of course, these are still little more than educated guesses, which may or may not pan out on August 5. Stay tuned!

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