Galaxy S20, Z Flip foldable, Galaxy Buds Plus: What we'll see at Samsung Unpacked today

We expect Samsung to announce more than just phones.

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Jessica Dolcourt is a passionate content strategist and veteran leader of CNET coverage. As Senior Director of Commerce & Content Operations, she leads a number of teams, including Commerce, How-To and Performance Optimization. Her CNET career began in 2006, testing desktop and mobile software for Download.com and CNET, including the first iPhone and Android apps and operating systems. She continued to review, report on and write a wide range of commentary and analysis on all things phones, with an emphasis on iPhone and Samsung. Jessica was one of the first people in the world to test, review and report on foldable phones and 5G wireless speeds. Jessica began leading CNET's How-To section for tips and FAQs in 2019, guiding coverage of topics ranging from personal finance to phones and home. She holds an MA with Distinction from the University of Warwick (UK).
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Samsung will announce new phones, and then some.


Samsung Unpacked is here. On Tuesday in San Francisco at 11am PT (watch live here), the world's largest phone-maker will take the wraps off its newest phones for 2020, expected to be the Galaxy S20, S20 Pro or Plus and S20 Ultra 5G phones and the Galaxy Z Flip, a foldable phone that bends vertically and rivals the Motorola Razr. Samsung even showed off the (unnamed) Z Flip in a TV commercial played on Sunday during the Academy Awards.

Phones with updated camera tech, huge batteries and new designs may be the focus, but Samsung is rumored to have more than handsets. Hardware like the Galaxy Buds Plus and Galaxy Home Mini, and software announcements that could include a feature similar to Apple's AirDrop file transfer service are high on the list.

The timing couldn't be more crucial. Samsung has intentionally decided to host its enormous production days before journalists planned flock to Mobile World Congress, the mega phone show that takes place in Barcelona each year. However, concerns over the spread of coronavirus 2019-nCoV have seen tech companies scale back or altogether cancel their appearance at the show. That could potentially delay plans for Samsung's rivals, giving the company a chance advantage over rival brands with ambitious 5G and foldable phones  plans --  Motorola , Huawei , TCL, Vivo and Xiaomi.

Read on for everything we expect to see.

Watch this: Galaxy S20 leaks continue, forget about a Twitter edit button

Galaxy S20, and what happened to the Galaxy S11?

Samsung's trio of flagship phones for 2020 is well documented, at least in leaked renders and rumor upon rumor. If those details are correct, we're looking at 5G phones with 120Hz screens and major camera improvements. We may even see the Ultra's main camera hit 108 megapixels, which is enormous. 

Even if you don't dig into the rumors, expect for the Galaxy S20 to be a leap forward over the incremental Galaxy S10. We should see Samsung going bigger and bolder with its first 5G phones, with a premium price to match. That said, the "standard" S20 is expected to be the most affordable of the bunch, following Apple's model with the iPhone 11 . Expect competitive pricing there.

And if you're wondering why Samsung might be moving away from Galaxy S11 as the successor to last year's Galaxy S10 and picking a brand new name, I have some theories. And opinions.


This render imagines how the Galaxy Z Flip phone's hinge might look with the foldable phone opened up.

Lets Go Digital

Galaxy Z Flip

That Samsung is making a second, simpler foldable phone that folds vertically is fact. What's strongly rumored is that this device is called the Galaxy Z Flip and that it will be the first foldable phone to ever use a bendable glass screen. This enormous breakthrough would undeniably put Samsung in the lead. 

Foldable glass could potentially transform this new phone design from a crazy futuristic fantasy into a viable and completely different way to use our phones. There's even talk of a foldable phone screen made out of diamonds. But even if the Galaxy Z Flip does come with a glass screen that bends in half, there's still a lot of testing to do to see just how strong or fragile it is. 

Cracking, breaking, shattering and scratching are problems for today's chemically strengthened Gorilla Glass screens. Ultrathin glass may be prone to damage, too. Expect discussions of screen strength to dominate conversations around this phone, which is anticipated to be a cheaper alternative to the luxury Galaxy Fold .


Samsung's Galaxy Buds could get an upgrade.

Juan Garzon/CNET

New Galaxy Buds Plus?

There are some rumors that Samsung will release an update to last year's Galaxy Buds, but these are hazier than the phone rumors. Look for wireless earbuds to compete against key Apple AirPods features. The next version may or may not have noise canceling, long battery life and a similar design to last year's model. 

The Galaxy Buds Plus (Samsung may style it as Buds+) are said to come free if you preorder the S20 Plus or S20 Ultra.

A new tablet, fitness tracker or watch?

A new Galaxy Tab S6 5G tablet would be the most likely surprise, though a new Galaxy Fit or Galaxy Watch would be great to see, especially at a time when an appreciation of built-in health and wellness features are on the rise. It hasn't quite been six months since Samsung announced the Watch Active 2 last August, so it's tough to say for certain what the company would or wouldn't do.


Could 5G come to the Tab S6?

Erica Argueta/CNET

Samsung's rumored Apple AirDrop rival called Quick Share

I'm extremely hopeful that Samsung will be the one to bring Android phones the ease and simple joy of sharing files to another device. Apple's feature for this, called AirDrop, is one of the top benefits I miss the most when I'm not using an iPhone, especially when moving photos from the phone to my laptop. 

Samsung's take, said to be called Quick Share, could share photos, videos and other files among "supported Samsung devices." Reading between the lines, there may be some limits within Samsung's ecosystem. We'll find out.

New Bixby voice assistant smarts

Samsung may have made it possible to reprogram the Bixby button so you're not forced to interact with its digital assistant, but that doesn't mean it's given up on Bixby entirely. We could see new commands and capabilities for the phones, or for Samsung's SmartThings hub for the home.


A sampling of Samsung's Note 10 cases. Expect a similar display for the S20 phones.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Samsung Galaxy Home Mini smart speaker

It's been two years since Samsung first talked about the Galaxy Home smart speaker based on the Bixby assistant, but so far it's been a no-show. That could soon change. Samsung's CEO of its consumer electronics division said that the brand is readying its smart speaker for "early 2020." Unpacked would certainly fit that. time frame.

Phone cases and wireless charing pads

If there are two things you can count on seeing at a Samsung event, it's a slew of new cases and a fresh wireless charging pad. I'm looking forward to seeing cases for the Galaxy Z Flip, which will probably be a two-piecer as for the Galaxy Fold. Fingers crossed for a faster wireless charging pad in addition to the high-capacity fast chargers (25- to 45-watt) that come with the Galaxy S20 trio.

Originally published earlier this week.

Phones at CES 2020: Cheap, shiny, 5G and concepts

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Originally published last month and updated with new information.