Samsung's Unpacked event on February 11 was jam-packed with information. The unveilings of the Galaxy Z Flip and Galaxy S20 family were obviously the highlights, and as you might expect, some of the smaller announcements came and went without much fanfare.
It can be difficult to keep up with all of the news coming out of an event like Unpacked, so in this article, we're going through the top ten interesting tidbits you might have missed. Some of these were talked about very briefly, whereas others didn't get any stage-time at all.
Without further ado, here's what you (maybe) missed.
- Galaxy Buds+ announced
- Google Duo integration
- The S20 5G conundrum
- Live Caption coming to the S20
- Samsung getting exclusive Netflix content
- Insane trade-in values
- New 25W battery packs
- The Fold joins the Z family
- Z Flip's split-screen mode is expanding
- Whatever Samsung did with the Galaxy Home Mini
Galaxy Buds+ are now available for $150
The Galaxy Z Flip and S20 weren't the only hardware announcements Samsung made during Unpacked. The company also unveiled its new Galaxy Buds+ true wireless earbuds, and while these were shown off and talked about on-stage, they didn't receive nearly as much limelight as the other gadgets.
At first glance, the Galaxy Buds+ might not look all that different from the normal Galaxy Buds released last year. However, as you dig a bit deeper, you'll see Samsung actually made a lot of improvements.
You now get 11 hours of continuous listening time, which is almost double the battery life compared to the previous model. The included case offers one full recharge for the Buds+, resulting in total battery life of about 22 hours. Audio quality is also substantially better, with Samsung using two drivers for improved low and mid-range sound.
There's no active noise cancellation, which is a bummer, but this still looks to be an enticing package for $150.
Google Duo is integrated in the S20 dialer app
Google Duo is one of the best video calling apps out there, and one of the few recent Google creations that's actually found success and hasn't been killed off. Google required that Duo be a pre-installed app on all Android phones starting in late 2016, but it's now working with Samsung to further integrate the app in some of the year's most popular smartphones.
Starting with the Galaxy S20 family, Google Duo is now integrated directly into Samsung's dialer app. You'll see a Duo icon to the left of the call button, and tapping it allows you to initiate an HD video call with up to eight people.
Google offers something similar with its Pixel phones, but by adding this integration on phones a lot more people will buy, Duo's potential user base stands to get considerably larger.
The regular S20 doesn't support mmWave 5G
All three of the new Galaxy S20 phones can connect to 5G networks, but the story is a little different with the baseline S20. While the S20+ and S20 Ultra support sub-6 and mmWave 5G connections, the S20 only works with sub-6.
David Ruddock from Android Police spoke with Samsung about this, reporting:
The smallest of the S20 series to date simply proved too challenging a package for mmWave 5G to be placed in. Because mmWave 5G requires two discrete antenna modules around the frame of the device, it consumes a small but significant amount of space that must be designed into the phone from the get go in order to be accommodated.
Sub-6 5G is easier to deploy and will cover a lot more people as the year goes on, whereas mmWave is capable of much faster speeds at the expense of needing substantially more nodes and towers just to provide a decent signal.
This shouldn't be that big of an issue for most people, but it is worth keeping in mind if you live in an area with mmWave support and want to take advantage of the increased speeds. Furthermore, Verizon has said that it'll release a version of the regular S20 with mmWave connectivity later this year.
There's a Live Caption feature similar to the Pixels
Google's Pixel phones often stand out for their unique software features, and last year saw the introduction of one of the coolest yet — Live Caption.
Introduced on the Pixel 4 and later expanded to older Pixel handsets, Live Caption allows all spoken audio from your phone to be played with real-time subtitles/captions. This includes YouTube videos, Netflix shows, phone calls, home videos you've recorded, etc.
Only Pixel phones have offered Live Caption, but at Unpacked, it was announced that the Galaxy S20 lineup is getting a similar feature. It'll work system-wide just as it does on the Pixels, and it's a huge win for people that are deaf or hard-of-hearing.
Exclusive Netflix content is available
Netflix is one of the largest video streaming services on the planet, and if you want access to all of the content it has to offer, you'll want a Galaxy S20.
During Unpacked, it was announced that Netflix is now Samsung's "exclusive mobile entertainment partner." In English, this means that people creating original programming for Netflix have S20 phones of their own to capture behind-the-scenes footage. If you have a Galaxy smartphone, you'll get exclusive access to that content for free.
This partnership also expands to Samsung Daily (the left-most home screen on your Galaxy phone formally known as Bixby Home), where you'll see channels like Netflix is a Joke and Narcos: Mexico for even more Netflix goodies.
You can get up to $700 off with Samsung's trade-in values
With a starting price of $1000 for the Galaxy S20, going all the way up to $1650 for the highest-end S20 Ultra, you're going to spend a lot of money if you want to own one of Samsung's latest. Thankfully, it's easy to save quite a bit of cash with Samsung's own trade-in program.
If you head to Samsung's website, you're given an option to trade-in your old phone when buying any of the new S20 models. This isn't anything new, but what is surprising are the trade-in values Samsung is offering. Here are some of the best deals:
- $700 credit for the Galaxy Note 10
- $600 credit for the Galaxy S10
- $600 credit for the Pixel 4
- $300 credit for the Galaxy S9
- $200 credit for the Pixel 3a
Considering that Google was selling the Pixel 4 for $599 during Black Friday, that's a fantastic turnaround for anyone that picked up the phone and now wants to jump over to the S20 without going broke.
Samsung has two 25W battery packs with USB-C
Portable battery packs are essential for any smartphone owner, and to go along with the S20 family, Samsung quietly launched two new models that pair perfectly with the phones.
Both battery packs have a 10,000 mAh capacity and USB-C, with the big selling point being that they kick out 25W charging speeds. That's the same fast charging supported on the S20, S20+, and S20 Ultra, making your on-the-go refuel times faster than ever.
One of the battery packs only supports the 25W wired charging, while the other has a Qi pad on the top for 7.5W wireless charging.
The Galaxy Fold is now part of the Galaxy Z family
With the introduction of the Galaxy Z Flip, it's apparent that Samsung wants this new "Galaxy Z" branding to be the umbrella for all of its future folding phones. To some degree, it appears that it also extends to last year's Galaxy Fold.
If you click on the Galaxy Fold link on Samsung's website, you're taken to the Galaxy Z portion of it where you can browse through the different Z Flip and Fold models that are available. Furthermore, if you click on the Galaxy Fold, the URL for the page reads samsung.com/us/mobile/phones/galaxy-z/galaxy-fold.
Does this mean that we'll see the Galaxy Fold rebranded as the Galaxy Z Fold? Perhaps. It makes sense for Samsung to have its two foldables under one branding roof, so this is something that could be worth keeping an eye on. On the other hand, Samsung could just keep selling it as the Galaxy Fold until the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is eventually released.
Split-screen mode on the Z Flip is coming to other phones
One of the coolest things about the Galaxy Z Flip is that you can do a half-fold where the bottom half of the phone rests flat on a table while the top half sticks up. When you do this, certain apps can adjust their UI accordingly to take advantage of the unique layout.
When speaking to Google, The Verge learned that this feature will be coming to foldable phones from other companies in the near future.
Samsung calls this "Flex mode," and it worked closely with Google to make it happen. So far, we've seen it used in the camera app and Google Duo, moving UI elements and controls to adapt the applications to the laptop-like shape. It seems like a good use of space for the Z Flip's design, and knowing it's not limited to just that one phone is great news.
The Galaxy Home Mini (kind of) launched in Korea
To end this list, we'll leave you with an oddball.
For the past few months, we've seen hints and teases of a Galaxy Home Mini — supposedly Samsung's first smart speaker that'll actually hit store shelves. There's been no official word from the company as to when it'll be available for purchase, but it appears to be a freebie when pre-ordering the Galaxy S20 in South Korea.
Samsung still hasn't properly announced the Home Mini, but for whatever reason, shoppers in South Korea now have a chance to get it for free. In fact, this is the only way we've seen so far to get your hands on the smart speaker.
We aren't sure there's a place in the market for a Galaxy Home Mini at this point in time, but in any case, there ya have it.
The star of the show
A lot of smaller announcements came out of this latest Unpacked event, but the main star was the Galaxy S20. This is Samsung's new go-to flagship for the year, and it packs quite the punch. There's a 120Hz AMOLED display, improved camera system, and Qualcomm's Snapdragon 865 chipset. In other words, it's a beast.
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