Samsung Galaxy S20 rundown: Features that make the phones great for business buyers

Samsung's 5G Galaxy S20, S20 Plus, and S20 Ultra are loaded with features, like 5G and improved security, that will appeal to business buyers and enterprise IT.

Unveiled at Samsung Galaxy Unpacked 2020 , the Samsung Galaxy S20 , S20 Plus and S20 Ultra offer multiple improvements over last year's Galaxy S10e, S10, S10+ and S10 5G . All the new Galaxy S20 phones support 5G, have enhanced cameras, support up to 1TB external storage with a microSD card, and run Qualcomm's Snapdragon 865 5G mobile platform. Samsung's new line of flagship phones will also have greater support for ZDNet's Larry Dignan and TechRepublic's Bill Detwiler talked with ZDNet's Beth Mauder about what features would most appeal to business buyers and enterprise IT. The following is an edited transcript of the interview.

Beth Mauder: Larry, why don't we go ahead and start with you. What did we see? What happened? Give us a rundown.

Larry Dignan: All right. So the rundown here is basically that Samsung did make all of its S20 devices 5G capable and that's a pretty big move because now it makes 5G basically mainstream.

The other thing Samsung really tried to do was take a leap forward on the camera technology and the overall message here for Samsung, which remember, Samsung is talking to a B2B audience, as well as consumer, but what they're basically saying is that the average lifespan of a device is getting longer. Their positioning the S20 as a device that's really future-proof and I think they made their point pretty well with the specs.

For instance, all the S20s have at least 12 gig of RAM, which is pretty, pretty big. The other part they did is all the S20s have SD card capability so you can add a terabyte of storage if you want.

The other thing they did was hit multiple price points and so while the S20 Ultra, loaded, will run you about $1,600 (US) and when I say loaded, it's 512 gigs of storage and 16 gig of RAM, but then the lowest one at 128 [gigs of storage] and 12 gigabyte of RAM, that one starts at $999 (US). So if you can put an SD card, that one may serve a good purpose for you to.

SEE: 5G smartphones: A cheat sheet (free PDF)

Basically I got to check out all three devices and I will say the lowest one, the S20, feels best in your hand. It's a 6.2 inch screen. It's light, it's thin, it's sleek, it's good. I looked at and go, "Okay, this can go on my pocket." The middle ground one is the S20 Plus, which takes you up to a 6.7 inch screen and then you got the Ultra, which is a 6.9-inch screen and that one I was a little on the fence with because it is big. I carry around a Note10 and the Note10 Plus. The Note10 Plus seems so much sleeker than the Ultra. The other thing is on the back of the phone, there's a big appendage to host all these cameras because the camera technology in the S20 Ultra is pretty ridiculous.

One camera has 108 megapixels and it's just loaded, like from a camera perspective, there's four cameras in the rear. It can do a lot of stuff and it also utilizes Qualcomm's latest technology in 865's chipset, which basically enables a lot more digital photography that will approach DSLR capabilities. The Ultra also has a hundred times zoom and part of that's a hybrid thing, part of it's a hardware zoom and then after that it goes digital.

The other two devices, the S20 and the S20 Plus, it's all digital zoom, but the fact that the Ultra can go up to a hundred times. I only saw it go up to 30 times zoom in the initial test I saw, they were updating firmware to get you to that hundred times zoom, but it was pretty impressive just the way it auto crops, it does a lot of neat things.

Samsung Galaxy S20, S20 Plus, S20 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S20, S20 Plus, S20 Ultra

Image: Larry Dignan/CBS Interactive

But then again, it should because it's 1600 bucks, right? So when you're talking about that price, you're sort of like, "All right, this is top of the line. It'll last me three years.", but then you're kind of looking at the foldable devices too and if that price is in the ballpark, you might go for the foldable, cool factor, even though it's basically a big beta test at this point.

There's a lot to digest here, but what I think Samsung did well, was they really kicked off the 5G upgrade cycle. They hit multiple price points and the other bonus here is that they cut the price on the S10 by 150 bucks each device, no matter whatever the price was. So for enterprises, that can help upgrades too.

Beth Mauder: Okay, so a lot of upgrades to hardware and whatnot. One thing we didn't really hear about though was the Note, and I know both you and Larry have Notes, what does its future look like?

Bill Detwiler: Yeah, so I think it gets a little cloudier for the Note. The differentiation between the S10 and the Note, because they were running a lot of the same hardware, was really the S Pen.

Like Larry was saying, I have a Note10 Plus that I carry around, it has the S Pen inside it there. It does some really interesting things. For me, I actually like using the S Pen. I like the handwriting and the handwriting detects a functionality of it. It makes things a little easier. So that's still going to be differentiator, but when you look at things like screen size, it's not. You've got the Note10 Plus that I have, it's got a 6.8-inch screen. The S20 Ultra is 6.9-inch screen, so you actually get a bigger screen on the S20 Ultra than you do on the Note [10 Plus].

I think that's something for Samsung to work out, is just how the Note works its way into their Galaxy lineup, right? Is like what's the up sell, because one thing Larry mentioned is the pricing on the S10s comes down, but the pricing on the Notes didn't. They kept those the same. So if you're in the enterprise, you have to make the decision am I going with 5G Ultra, am I going with a 5G device here, or am I going... Now, you know the Note had a top end sort of 5G, but where am I going with a device that has a stylist with it? It's kind of that trade off. So I think Samsung does have a little bit of work to do on the differentiation between the Notes and their S line of phones.

Now, maybe in the future we'll see a merging of the two lines together. We haven't seen it yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if down the road you just start to see maybe the Note and the S line of phones come together into one device. It has a stylist, has 5G, has a variety of screen sizes.

Like Larry said, that's something that Samsung has always done. As long as I've been covering Samsung, they like to swarm that market with a ton of devices in all different sort of flavors and all different sizes and all different price points. It's just like how many barcodes can I get out there to hit such a wide audience? Maybe this is a chance though, as the devices become so similar, for the Note and the Galaxy lines, the S lines, to come together into one device.

SEE: Mobile device security policy (TechRepublic Premium)

Beth Mauder: It could be interesting to see what happens, but you briefly talked Larry, 5G enhancements, camera enhancements, a lot of storage upgrades, what will this do for the enterprise?

Larry Dignan: Samsung, they kind of walk through a few interesting arguments for B2B and the enterprise about how these devices will get used and the most interesting case they made about 5G was that it's more secure.

They talked up collaboration, video calls, document sharing, those types of things and how much easier it is with 5G, but they also know that there's a security argument where, basically, right today, if you're doing file sharing or something, you're not doing that over your LT 4G connection. You would probably go into a coffee house, try out the wifi and you would share documents that way, but as we all know, that can be a bit insecure unless you turn on your VPN and do all that kind of stuff.

Basically Samsung's argument is that these devices will usher in an era where they're basically saying that 5G will... There'll be corporate policies where basically says you can use wifi at home, you can use wifi at the office, but outside of that, stick to the 5G network just because it's as fast and as secure, which I think is an interesting argument.

They also showed there's a secure element in the Ultra and I think the other S20s too, but the thing that's interesting there, is you can put your ID card on it so you don't have to carry around your card for work and the smart card thing's interesting because the cards are cheap, but the ecosystem around it, can be expensive. So that's an interesting point.

Samsung Galaxy S20, S20 Plus, S20 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S20, S20 Plus, S20 Ultra - Front

Image: Larry Dignan/CBS Interactive

They also had some features where they're working on partnerships for BlueJeans and Webex on integration. The phone has Google Duo integrated in natively. You can do a video call just as easy as you would make a phone call. 

I questioned that a little bit because I don't know many folks that are using Duo to be honest. I do kind of wonder about that a bit, but it's interesting. What they're doing, they're setting this up so collaboration, and document sharing, and all that stuff combines with security to have some real enterprise perks.

The other thing that's interesting here was, well there's two more things that are interesting. One was when you share a doc, you now share it today, you have to share it through a third party cloud provider, whether it's OneDrive, Google Drive, whatever. There's an option in the S20 so you can map it to a network drive now. That's interesting because some companies don't want their information on devices and third party clouds anyway, so you can share documents that way.

Samsung's put a lot of thought into these little enterprise things that make sense. The other feature that really stuck out from a B2B standpoint, was that you can allocate RAM to certain apps. The S20 Ultra can allocate RAM to five different apps, and say these are corporate apps that you have to use all the time, you know they eat up space, you can basically just carve out space for them.

The S20 and the S20 Plus, they can allocate RAM to three apps, but it's just those little touches that would matter to an enterprise company and administrator, those types of things. Then you combine it with Knox and DeX and the other perks there, it's pretty clear from this that Samsung wants to go after the corporate market way more, which isn't surprising because Apple's doing that too and this goes for even wireless carriers, right?

A lot of the growth is on the business lines and I think that's what Samsung's gunning for. They made reference to foldables and a bunch of other stuff, they had a feature that you can music share. The music playlist goes through the S20, which is interesting, but in a lot of ways, a lot of these features are more B2B focused.

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