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The Galaxy Note 20 is already doomed because of the Galaxy S20

Note 20 Winfuture
Note 20 Winfuture (Image credit: Winfuture)

Samsung is getting ready to unveil the Galaxy Note 20 series on August 5, and with just over a week to go until the launch, the leaks are coming in thick and fast. A price leak suggests the regular Note 20 will start at €999 in Europe, translating to $999 in the U.S.

That's the same launch price as the standard variant of the Galaxy S20, but there's one problem. Detailed specs of the Note 20 leaked last week, and the phone is set to feature a 6.7-inch AMOLED panel with a 60Hz refresh rate — not 120Hz like the Galaxy S20 series.

It's not immediately evident why Samsung chose to omit the high refresh rate panel on the regular Note 20 when all three variants in the Galaxy S20 series have it as standard. Samsung is also readying a Galaxy Note 20 Ultra variant that has a 120Hz display, but the fact that this key feature isn't coming to the regular Note 20 is inexcusable.

If these specs are any indication, you're better off with the Galaxy S20.

Elsewhere, the Note 20 is touted to feature 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, a 12MP primary lens with 12MP wide-angle module and 64MP zoom camera with 30x zoom, and the phone will be powered by the Snapdragon 865 in North America and the Exynos 990 in most global markets. If those specs look familiar, that's because the Galaxy S20 has the exact same hardware. Barring the S Pen and a new design for the rear camera housing that seems to protrude a bit more from the body, you're not really getting anything new with the Note 20.

And that ultimately begs the question: why is Samsung charging $999 for the Note 20? It's understandable for the Galaxy S20 to command such a premium — the 120Hz panel makes a huge difference in day-to-day use — but it does not make any sense to pay that much for a phone with a 60Hz screen.

OnePlus Nord

Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

You only have to look to the OnePlus Nord to see that it is possible to deliver a 90Hz AMOLED display for under $500. While OnePlus' mid-range phone isn't coming to the U.S., it starts off at €399 in Europe, less than half of the Note 20's estimated asking price.

The Note 20 will be upstaged by every other flagship — and a few mid-rangers like the OnePlus Nord.

The Note line was traditionally aimed at power users, with earlier devices in the series often the first to receive the latest features from Samsung. But with the last two release cycles, it was the Galaxy S series that got all the exciting new tech, with the Note line getting the same hardware six months down the line. The Note series is increasingly looking like a boxier version of the Galaxy S lineup, with the S Pen being the sole differentiator.

To make matters worse, the leak suggests that the base variant of the Note 20 may not have 5G connectivity. The 5G-enabled version is touted to debut at €1,099, and once again, let me remind you that the Nord has 5G connectivity and starts at €399. And before you point out that the Note 20 will have beefier hardware, the model that's sold in most global markets is set to be powered by the Exynos 990, and that particular chipset has its own set of issues.

The regular variant of the Galaxy Note 10 debuted for €949 ($949 in the U.S.) last year, so Samsung must have felt the need to add a €50 price hike for the new cameras. But by leaving out its best feature — the 120Hz display — Samsung has effectively doomed the Note 20 even before the phone is official. I would love to be proven wrong here, but leaks of this nature are usually on the money — particularly a week away from launch. So if you've been holding out for the Note 20, do yourself a favor and get the Galaxy S20 instead.

Harish Jonnalagadda
Harish Jonnalagadda

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.

55 Comments
  • What?! The average consumer knows very little about refresh rate. Heck even most carrier employees don't know much about it (T-Mobile). Now if you're referring to the population of this site not buying it, I agree but I wouldn't . This is almost as bad as people saying Pixel phones won't be around too much longer although they sold over 7 million phones.
  • The flagship Pixel series does not sell well at all. The mid-range Pixel 3a is the one that brings in the sales because it has the best camera in that segment. There's no differentiator here, and you get a better product in the S20.
  • You're right, but the user experience of using a 120Hz phone is much better and the user who doesn't know anything about refresh rates will always say the S20 was so smooth when using...
    But Note 20 will be just another powerful smartphone with a pen.
  • Love my S20ULTRA w 16gb Ram. Is simply awesome.
  • Oh "look at me I have 16GB RAM" which is completely useless. These spec "wars" are useless to the average consumer like me that doesn't care about all these things. Android really is for nerds and I'm glad I'm getting off the unoptimised, fragmented and insecure need train next week Friday.
  • Wasn't really my point. Was just commenting because it was relevant. Sure, I went all in on that upgrade, it had been a few years and I wanted to give Samsung a shot and do so by getting their absolute best offering. It's impressive and coincides with the articles point of me not even thinking about what the next Note device.
    I'd argue the RAM is certainly not useless. This phone NEVER losses it's place with open apps and that's without even using it's ability to pin 10 of them from closing if need be.
    Anyhow, sounds like you're off to Apple. And that's your choice. I own no other apple products so it doesn't really make sense (for me) to get into that echo system.
  • Might have been unintentional but I loved that you said "echo system" haha that's exactly what the Apple people are in.
  • I agree that Note 20 would flop with the current leaked specs. It is better to buy Note 10/10+ if rumors about Note 20 are true or just save some more and go with the Note 20Ultra if you must.
  • I feel Samsung has lost its way with the note line. I personally feel it needs to be merged into the fold line as this is where this type of device will sit well.
  • Seems like Samsung is playing on (most) people's ignorance of things like screen refresh rate and chipset. Most (not including tech savvy buyers) simply see SAMSUNG and therefore it must be the best. This is particularly jarring for the people who do understand the differences but Samsung don't care as they can pass off inferior models which cost less to manufacture but still sell at premium prices (note 20 a prime example) and that offsets the few sales lost to tech geeks. The majority of people will simply see the words Samsung and Note and drop hard earned money on these phones unaware they are getting inferior specs, especially in Europe with the exynos processor.
  • That's the thing the average consumer doesn't care about screen refresh rates and it shows just how bad Android is that they OEMs have to increase the refresh rate to 90hz o double the screen refresh rate just to compete with iOS for smoothness and it's the same thing with RAM as Android eats RAM so Android phones need more RAM and clearing the cache for apps is a pain on Android too, I wish Google would get rid of the garbage collection because that's how Android phones lag if the cache of Android apps isn't cleared.
  • Samsung has lost their way and is completely out of touch with both the consumer and more importantly the current state of the market. Being #1 went straight to their pocketbooks.
  • Who cares, the Note 20 Ultra is the star of the show anyway. Noone cares about the S20.
  • You nailed it!
  • You're exaggerating about a 120 hz screen making a HUGE difference in day to day use. It's not like it loses any functionality. Probably won't matter much to those who are proposing lower cost or smaller size but still want/need a stylus. If I were to speculate, the lack of 120 hz could be based on an analysis of projected sales. When sales numbers are lower, it becomes harder to justify higher cost technology. But who knows what their reasons are...
  • You sound exactly like someone who has never owned a high refresh screen on a phone. I could NEVER go back to a 60hz screen. I've gone from Oneplus 7 Pro to Pixel 4XL to GS20 Ultra and using my Iphone 11 Pro for work just makes me dizzy with the low refresh screen. I'm at a point where I'd pick the"budget "Oneplus Nord over a "flagship" with 60 hz.
  • I own a OnePlus 7T and have turned off the 99hz refresh rate as it's just a gimmick and shows just how bad Android is that they even have to increase the screen refresh rate which is aimed at nerds who cares about this kind of stuff. I don't.
  • So it's absolutely fine for Samsung to not have 120hz in it's flagship device? But have it in an earlier flagship?
  • The S series is Samsung's flagship, the Note series has always been a niche device, it's the Galaxy S series that sells more than the Note series.
  • I think that Samsung are charging the same price for the Note as they don't want it to appear a "lesser" device to the S20. I must admit I would take a SPen over a higher refresh rate screen every day of the week because I'm old and can't spot a 120Hz screen.
  • Which high refresh phone have you owned? When forced, it's literally the first thing that is noticed. Has nothing to do with age. 90hz to 120hz I understand, but 60 to 90/120 is night and day.
  • I own a OnePlus 7T and I can't tell the difference between 60hz and 90hz, which show"s that the highier screen refresh rates are just a gimmick and a con aimed at the geeks and nerds.
  • This explains why you are going back to Apple. I just switch my 7T to 60 and there is a difference. Even switched back and forth several times to make sure. Now I know for sure you are just a lot of hot air LOL.
  • High screen refresh rates are s gimmick and a battery drain on 7T so I don't use it and the world hasn't ended. You geeks and nerds are a joke, getting upset about a feature that most users will not care about or miss but with way the Note 20 will will not sell well and has always been a niche device used by a minority.
  • It's been this way for the past few years. Different segment of the market. The Note was originally intended for a niche market. It's gone back to that.
  • Comparing a Note to the Nord is silly. Totally different buyers.
  • He's just pointing out that Samsung is cheaping out by not including a high refresh rate panel. They are taking advantage of consumer ignorance to make more $. If OnePlus can put a high refresh rate panel in the Nord then Samsung could put it in the Note20 but they aren't because they want a higher profit margin and that is a disservice to their customers.
  • Disservice how? Higher refresh rate means squat to most consumers.
  • The author incorrectly assumes that the refresh rate is the single biggest issue facing phone buyers. While I want all the specs I can get, I just don't feel the refresh rate is a big deal in everyday use. It seems it would be more important to gamers and I don't feel most people buy a Note to game. We buy them for the pen. The author poo poos the idea of spending more money for the pen, when in fact that is why All buyers buy the Note over the S10 or S20. In fact, if the only difference between the standard and the Ultra were the refresh rate, I'd buy the standard for the smaller footprint and not give it a second thought. That being said, I would love to see Samsung release a full spec"d variant of the Note with a slightly smaller footprint than the Ultra. To me that would be the sweet spot even if there were only $100 seperating it from the Ultra.
  • BINGO!! I went back and forth between the S20+ and Note 10+. I didn't find any USEFUL improvement in a high refresh 1080p display over a 60Hz 1440p display. (Because you don't get 1440p AND 120Hz on the S20 ... either/or) I won't see a 5G signal near me in the next 5 years, so the 5G doesn't matter. More ram, more storage, the S-Pen, and a lower price (by a hundred bucks or so) made the Note 10+ a pretty easy choice. Honestly, the ONLY THING I ever see anyone do to show off high refresh screens is quickly swipe around between home screens or scroll up and down feeds, then put the footage in slow motion so you can see the difference. When I'm reading stuff, typing stuff, DOING stuff on my phone, it's pretty static. Whether the pixels on the display don't move 60 or 120 times per second really makes no difference. Specs are nice for specs sake and future-proofing. But at some point they're just bullet points for marketing. And the tech reviewers who never touch anything but the newest/fastest/best of every single device may notice the difference. A handful of real tech enthusiasts who upgrade their phones every 3 months might notice the difference. But those of us who only change phones every 2-3 years? Nah, they're bullet points on a piece of paper. "Looks prettier scrolling" isn't something that will make me spend extra money on a phone.
  • Sorry Harish, but you aren't in the real world. I don't give a rat's for 120hz, and I doubt very much that many do.
    I'd get a Note because of the s-pen. Can you point out an S20 that has an S-pen?
    I'm frustrated with Samsung because they are pushing stuff normal people don't want like 120Hz and stuff that normal people won't notice like 5G.
  • It is doomed but that's not because of the refresh rate that no one cares about apart from a niche group of nerds. It's doomed because the S20 is a piece of sh*t and the Note 20 doesn't fix anything in it, on the contrary, just makes it worse. "It's understandable for the Galaxy S20 to command such a premium" No, it's not. The S20 was never worth 1000€ to begin with.
  • For once I agree with you.
  • I see many here saying that 120hz is a thing for nerds or normal people don't care about. Its funny cause 120 hz isn't a nerdy thing, it is felt. Normal people may not care about it because they never used it. They will not mind not having it because they are not used to it. As more of them use phones with 120hz as their daily, for months, 60hz will just feel jarring. I'd also argue that it made me more efficient as i can actually read while scrolling.
    I recommended a person an A71 because his previous phone was an iphone. He wanted a budget phone and i intentionally didn't tell him to try 120hz demo phones as it would make him feel bad sticking with 60hz having experienced 120hz.
  • I think the point is that whatever people think of higher refresh screens is that if companies like one plus, Motorola, realme and others can put it on a phone that costs 4-500 £/dollars but Samsung won't put it on a phone costing 1000+ it's a bit arrogant and a kick in the b@££s and they have no excuse except pure greed ripping off brand loyal customers. I've not owned a phone with a high refresh rate but I won't buy a new phone with less than 90hz next and won't buy a Samsung because I can't stand their particular skin, I like stock android but that's just personal choice. Skimping on features for phones over £1000+ is rip off no matter which way you look at it!
    Oh and putting an inferior SOC in the international/European version sucks too!
  • I think Samsung don't care about the rest of the world as much as North America because at least in the UK in particular, Samsung is a distant second to Apple in sales and popularity so they're not bothered about putting their inferior Exynos processors in the European version of the S20 and Note 20. Samsung suddenly think they're Apple but they don't have the clout that Apple has and Samsung has given up trying to optimise their garbage software so they along with the likes of OnePlus (who's software is smoothest) have admitted they can't compete with Apple's iOS at 60hz so they decide to go with 90hz and 120hz lol.
  • Again, most people don't care about a stupid refresh rate. Otherwise they wouldn't be buying iPhones for 1000 dollars. There went your point.
  • ThrottleJohnny my point was not about if people know or even care about refresh rates or which SOC runs their phone but that Samsung know this aswell so sell an inferior product at an inflated price. And before you say how is it inferior, the Snapdragon chip has been proved to be much better than the exynos and whether people know or care about their screen spec a 90 or 120hz refresh rate is objectively better than a 60hz. Playing on people's ignorance for gain is called rip off in my book. Nobody cared about touch screens when they first became mainstream like nobody cared about 4g as 3g was plenty fast enough. All I'm saying is Samsung are charging premium prices but not giving premium specs. That's a pretty easy concept to grasp surely? The note 20 is probably the best example of that, plastic back, 60hz screen and exynos (outside USA) chipset for 1000 pounds/dollars = inferior specs at inflated price!
  • I'm more upset because of that one rumor saying it will have plastic back.. unacceptable for a phone of that pedigree.
  • So now suddenly people want glass backs? lmao
  • Me personally, I would never get a Note 20, but that's just because I want the best. I'm considering a Note 20 ultra, I currently have a Note 10+. However, my wife currently has a Note 8 that's on its last leg. She uses the stylus so it has to be a Note. I think the Note 20 would be a good device for her. It's much better than the Note 10 size wise. The battery is bigger also. The Note 10 wouldn't have satisfied her, but the 20 will. She can keep it for years and will be able to access 5G, when it comes to our area. She cares nothing about and knows nothing about refresh rates so this phone is likely geared towards people like her. We'll be able to save some money versus having gotten her an ultra last year.
  • Besides the Note 20 coming with an S Pen it also has a bigger screen than the S20 which is never mentioned. So I think both of those play a bigger role for a Note buyer. Also the official spec have not come out yet so this could all be mute. Personally I don't have a dog in this fight because I'm not looking to buy anything right now or Samsung in general.
  • Because unless you are playing games refresh rate is not going to be noticeable... Maybe if your eyes see everything in super slow motion... But refresh rate is just a feature few will know or realize makes any difference... Uness ypu work for AC, and get $$$ to push non important features to consumers to boost interest /and make psychological niches. Its a constant shoveling of meaningless specs down our throats... 1080p, 2k, 4k screens not good enough anymore, must get 16K 5.5inch screens or ypu have last months old phone.. 60hz, 90hz, 120hz! Hey I've got 125hz! Mine is better than yours! And those updates! Throw your phone away because in a year it will be working fine but no updates!
  • 'the 120Hz panel makes a huge difference in day-to-day use' No. No it doesn't. Not even a little difference, actually...
  • It amuses me that nerds and geeks think they know what the average consumer wants. Lol.
  • Beno, as a fellow Brit I ask you please stop making a laughing stock of yourself with your ridiculous childish apple fanboying! The whole internet knows you are getting an iPhone 11 in August in the same way it knew how great the ANDROID pixel was when you finally got it. Your comments make you sound like a complete bell end and come across like a spoilt 5 year old ****. I'm still not sure after all this time if you being serious or just a very amusing troll? If it's the second then I applaud you for being very funny and I think I speak for many others when I say your comments border on the hilarious! I actually agree with you on many things as I really don't like Samsungs skin and I prefer stock android but I can also appreciate that some people prefer iOS to android and vice versa and that both have at least some features the other would benefit from. One thing that many people really want on a phone is an AOD and I'm sure apple will add this to the iPhone at some point but that alone would be a deal-breaker for me and I tried an iPhone and didn't like it in the same way I tried a Samsung galaxy and didn't like it. However other people like them and that's great fair play there's no need to act like a knob just because other folks like something different to you. Anyway peace brother and enjoy your iPhone ✌
  • Thanks, it's not that I hate Android, I've just realised after 2 and a half years that I don't care for customisation or extra features as I don't use them as I find anything beyond the basics more complicated on Android and then there's a lot of apps that I use like Facebook, Instagram Twitter that are better on iOS which I find that I'm more comfortable with even beyond the basics of using a smartphone and then there's the poor software support and security issues as well (I had my YouTube premium account hacked). I'm sorry that I may have come across as a arrogant but Android fanboys, especially Samsung fanboys get on my nervesz. Especially when they brag about OneUI which like you I don't care for as I've always preferred stock Android. And this article is a bit of a joke as the average user doesn't care or even know what screen refresh rate means. For me I don't even use the 90hz refresh rate on my 7T anymore because I cannot tell the difference and it's a drain on the already mediocre battery life on my 7T. I'm definitely looking forward to returning to iPhone which is home to me. Anyway as a fellow Brit you're one of the few Android fans I can actually have a decent debate with.
  • I completely agree most people are pretty clueless when it comes to the technical and specs side of things, a friend has just got a new phone and I asked what it was and they said oh it's an Android phone I think, they didn't even know what make it was! My point was simply that this doesn't let Samsung or any other manufacturer, apple included free to exploit people's ignorance by selling products with below par specs. The only reason they get away with it is sadly blind commitment to a particular brand by people who trust they getting more than they actually are. I understand some people's reluctance to buy Chinese phones at this time but their specs to value for money can't be argued with and they do bring many new features to the table even if they do need some refinement. Really hope under screen cameras start rolling out this year to finally get rid of horrible notches, holes and any kind of screen cut outs once and for all.
    And im the same as you when it comes to customising my phone, my homescreens been the same for years and I'm still using google now launcher on a 2nd gen Moto X so I definately don't need the latest and greatest features, just something reliable that works and does what I want without fuss.
  • I agree and disagree because Apple has understood that the average user doesn't care the specs on their phones and only make a big deal on how each iteration of their A series chip is faster than the competition which they are but for everything else, Apple knows that the average user doesn't care about how many cores or how much RAM their phone has. That's perfectly fine if you're happy with your Moto X (2014) as you know the risks involved in continuing to use it from a security point of view as neither Google or Motorola support your phone officially anymore but just as long as you download apps only from the Play Store or trusted websites then you'll be fine. Just as long ae your Moto X (2014) does what it needs and you're happy then that's all that matters. But for me software support is very important end 3 years isn't acceptable to me considering how expensive Android phones are and in that regard, it's one of the major reasons why I'm going back to iPhone.
  • The regular Note 20 aka Lite is a bit of a disgrace to the Note name really.
    I'm guessing it will be a device sold in bulk to companies as corporate phones
  • Every person is different in what they like and don't like about a specific product. It is the same way with phones. There is no need to argue one sucks more than the other. That's just ridiculous and no point of babbling about. If you don't like a product, go find yourself another brand. If you do like what you see in a product, stick to it until a better option comes along. And this day and age with plethora of options at least in an Android world, you have many options. If you don't like Android OS then well...go to iOS to see if you like that one. Personally, I've tried iOS for years and got bored of it. But that's my personal taste and God knows what would happen down the road. Apple may change my mind. =P
  • Refresh rate has become.perhaps the most overrated smartphone feature in history. If you haven't already owned a high refresh rate phone, then you don't notice the difference. A note 20 buyer is not looking for ultimate specs.... That would be the note 20-plus buyer. if the regular note 20 does not do well it's not going to be because of the refresh rate. It might be because people are bored of incremental updates.... etc. But there is very few people who are going to turn their nose up when they see their refresh rate and walk away
  • I'm one of those few people who would walk away from a higher refresh rate because it isn't worth the extra battery drain and isn't all that useful to me unless you're a hsdcore gamer.
  • Why would anyone pay for Exynos, Bixby and Microsoft bloatware on a phone? High refresh rate is a 'nice to have, but not a dealbreaker if there isn't' feature to me, just like wireless charging. Of course, others might have different expectations. A high refresh rate burns up battery life. The Android world might need to wait till the 5nm Snapdragon 875 next year before the hit on battery life is mitigated. This year, the Pro versions of Apple iPhone 12 will have the 5nm A14 chip and a 120Hz display. We can use that as a point of reference: high refresh rate vs battery life.
  • It's sad what Ssmsung has done to th eff Note line and its legacy. Once the epitome of what that manufacturer had to offer it has become little more than an S series with an S-pen, even less so in this case. Between issues like green screens on the Note 9 with security updates and focusing issues on the cameras of the S20 series, it looks like quality control and customer service have taken a back seat. Samsung refused to acknowledge these problems and honor their warranties yet they continue to raise prices while downgrading features. Hopefully they will get TV he message when consumers start looking elsewhere.