The Galaxy Note 20 is the culmination of Samsung's strategic errors

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
The Galaxy Note 20 is the culmination of Samsung's strategic errors
You know how everyone expected Huawei's smartphone sales numbers to nosedive due to all the bans and restrictions placed on its business ties with US companies? While that was certainly the case during the year's first three months, the company somehow managed to edge out Samsung in April with (almost) no help from Google.

As crucial a role as China's swift recovery undoubtedly played in this strong global showing from the new market leader, Samsung can't blame all its shortcomings on the Western effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The truth is the Galaxy S20 family was simply not exciting enough to stave off a major decline in overall flagship demand that impacted other vendors to a much lesser extent.

Perhaps more importantly, the S20 trio also didn't feel refined enough to justify its extravagant pricing structure, with the fugly camera module on the back of the Ultra model proving largely underwhelming and an unusual number of bugs and glitches crippling the user experience in several different ways. Bottom line, the ultra-high-end handset roster released at the beginning of 2020 was a dud, but because the mobile industry is always evolving at a crazy fast pace, Samsung will get a chance to fix things in less than two months.

Less is sometimes more


Instead of taking its chance and working on something special to erase the mediocre memory of the Galaxy S20 lineup, the company seems focused on too many products and market segments. In theory, that creates more chances for the tech giant to stand out and get its mojo back, but in reality, it might be the wrong strategy to adopt at the wrong time.

There's a time and a place for flooding the industry with everything you have and throwing ideas against the wall to see what sticks, but during a pandemic that threatens to paralyze the supply chain every step of the way in the production process of devices like the Galaxy Note 20 and Fold 2, it's probably not wise to experiment too much. Especially when said experiments don't bring anything new to the table.


Case in point, the "regular" Note 20. This is starting to sound more and more like a watered-down Note 20 Lite or Note 20e variant, which would be totally fine if Samsung could find a way to slap a reasonable price tag on the rumored 6.4-inch handset with a flat 60Hz screen. But because that seems unlikely, it's hard to explain why the company is clinging on to the two-model release strategy.

There's also no point labeling the Galaxy Note 20+ as a Note 20 Ultra now that we know the 108MP imaging sensor and 100x "Space Zoom" feature are largely gimmicks. In fact, the 100x capabilities aren't even coming back, so what exactly will make this an "ultra" device?

Trim the fat!


Of course, that's not everything Samsung plans to unveil in the next couple of months, and while I'm certainly as excited as the next futuristic tech-loving guy for the Galaxy Fold 2, I'm also disappointed to hear inventory might be limited until 2021. Once again, COVID-19 is the suspected culprit of this situation, but at some point, it feels like we need to hold companies at least partly responsible for all these delayed rollouts and production constraints.

It's not like anyone expected the vaccine to be ready or the virus to disappear by now, so Samsung really should have thought ahead and try to not end up in this place. Obviously, I have no idea exactly what's holding up the mass-manufacturing of both the Galaxy Fold 2 and Galaxy Z Flip 5G, but something tells me the issues could have at least been reduced by skipping the latter model and the aforementioned Galaxy Note 20 (Lite).


Picture this. An online-only Unpacked event in early August previewing a single Galaxy Note 20 model with the rumored design and specs of the Note 20 Ultra and a sequel to the original Galaxy Fold ahead of the two's joint (and wide) commercial debut a few weeks after that. 

Could Samsung have pulled off something like that? I absolutely think so. Would we have missed the watered-down Note 20 variant and the 5G-enabled Z Flip with a faster processor? Almost certainly not. Honestly, have you ever heard anyone complaining about the "modest" power or 4G LTE speeds of the existing Galaxy Z Flip? I don't think so.

But wait, there's more


More superfluous products expected to be released in the near future, that is, including two Galaxy Tab S7 variants (for some reason) and a pair of oddly shaped true wireless earbuds. It's not that I don't understand why Samsung needs to roll out a direct rival for the AirPods Pro with active noise cancellation on deck, but I really don't get why the Galaxy Buds Live have to look like that. Besides, the Galaxy Buds+ are damn near perfect even without ANC, so the company could have definitely taken its time with the next generation.

Yes, Samsung, you can take a breather from time to time and work on a device longer to improve and refine its design. That includes the Tab S7 and S7+, which look pretty much identical to the Galaxy Tab S6, and yes, even the Galaxy Watch 3.


Just because there are two iPad Pro sizes, that doesn't mean the best way to threaten Apple's market dominance is to put quantity over quality. Meanwhile, the Galaxy Watch 3 name is not fooling anybody. This thing looks an awful lot like the Galaxy Watch 1, and if ECG monitoring and fall detection capabilities are not enabled out the box, an August release feels entirely futile.

All in all, it's incredibly annoying to see Samsung on autopilot, ready to flood stores with products it needs to crank out to stick to its usual schedules and strategies rather than listening to the rapidly shifting demands of consumers hit hard by both a health and economic crisis.

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