Samsung launches top-end Note20, Z Fold2 phones to stay ahead of innovation curve

SINGAPORE – Samsung on Wednesday (Aug 5) launched its latest flagship smartphones, the Galaxy Note20 and Galaxy Z Fold2, amid uncertain times created by the Covid-19 pandemic when consumers are expected to guard their wallets more carefully.

The Korean consumer electronics giant also updated its tablet, smartwatch and in-ear headphone product lines with new models.

During its first virtual Unpacked event streamed live from South Korea, the firm said it is in the business of making life easier for consumers.

Samsung Electronics’ president and head of mobile communications business Dr TM Roh said: “Technology must make life easier, not more complex. That’s why we have introduced five new…powerful tools to help you maximise work and play.”

The firm also told The Straits Times that its winning formula has always been its strong product mix that caters to the needs of every consumer, and this formula does not change even during uncertain times.

“We offer an expansive portfolio of products to cover different price points (and) different consumers,” said a Samsung spokesman.

Also key to its growth strategy is to stay ahead of the innovation curve by continuing to roll out the latest technologies such as 5G capabilities, which the Galaxy Note20 and Z Fold2 will feature.

“The Galaxy Note20 series is designed…as an all-in-one productivity device for users looking to get the most out of their phone,” the spokesman said.

Mr Shengtao Jin, an analyst at United States-based research firm Canalys, said its data shows there is still demand for luxury smartphone models.

“Failing to release new flagship models will cast a major blow to its brand image and risk losing (its dominance in) the premium segment to other competitors,” said Mr Jin.

The Galaxy Note20 series will come in two versions – the 6.7-inch Note20 and the 6.9-inch Note20 Ultra. In Singapore, the Note20 will come with 4G ($1,398) and 5G ($1,548) capabilities, while the Note20 Ultra will only have the 5G model ($1,898). They will go on sale here from Aug 21. Pre-orders will start from Thursday (Aug 6).

The green Samsung Galaxy Note20 (left) and the bronze Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra (right). ST PHOTO: TREVOR TAN

Both models will have better camera features – such as zoom and telephoto systems – than their Note10 predecessors.

Details such as the pricing and availability of the new Galaxy Z Fold2 are scant. When folded, its outer screen features a larger 6.2-inch display than the 4.6-inch display of its predecessor. When unfolded, the Fold2 opens up into a 7.6-inch tablet.

Samsung does not comment on its competitors, but analysts said that Huawei is a force to be reckoned with.

In the three months that ended in June this year, Chinese handset maker Huawei unseated Samsung as the top smartphone maker by shipping the most number of phones globally for the first time.

Huawei shipped 55.8 million devices while Samsung shipped 53.7 million smartphones, according to Canalys.

Canalys’ senior analyst Ben Stanton said Huawei had taken advantage of China’s post-lockdown economic recovery to reignite its smartphone business. Meanwhile, Samsung’s core markets – including Brazil, India, the United States and Europe – were still suffering from Covid-19 lockdowns, he said.

In a report released last month, Hong Kong-based market research firm Counterpoint Research said: “For developed markets, the performance of Samsung’s flagship handsets will be the key driver for its growth.”

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