Samsung is one of the largest consumer electronics companies on the planet, with different arms that make almost any gadget you could want at home or in your pocket.
In 2020, the company has unveiled a number of new products, including new TVs, premium smartphones and a number of other devices you may have already bought this year – or you can consider.
As 2020 is about to take a look, we look at what we’ve seen from the company over the past year and drive you through the biggest announcements Samsung has made.
Expect big things from Samsung also in the coming months, as we expect the Samsung Galaxy S21
Mobile phones: Samsung Galaxy S20 and more foldable
The best way to sum up Samsung’s years of smartphones is by telling you that the Samsung Galaxy S20 is still our best smartphone in the world right now. Despite announcements such as the OnePlus 8 Pro and iPhone 12, Samsung has held on to the crown since unveiling its latest flagship Galaxy S series in early 2020.
That series of phones brought 5G to the mainstream Galaxy S series in a bigger way than we had seen before, the design was refined, there were some major camera improvements and the company fully embraced 120Hz display technology as well.
It was also the debut of the new Galaxy S Ultra series with the Galaxy S20 Ultra that caught a lot of attention with its defining 100x zoom camera. We did not love the smartphone at all, but the rear camera is still a phenomenal piece of technology.
Then Samsung debuted its second form factor of folding phone – Galaxy Z Flip. This clamshell device may look like a Nintendo Gameboy Advance SP, but it brought a new way of looking at folding phones.
Later in the year, Samsung released the Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra with the latter of the two devices receiving the most attention. It has a premium design, a powerful 108MP camera and various S Pen enhancements compared to the Galaxy Note 10 series.
The Galaxy Note 20 did not impress us much with the fact that it had a ‘Glasstic’ (which is glass and plastic together) at the back and some smaller than top-end specifications despite a very high price. If you want a Galaxy Note phone from 2020, we would recommend spending extra and going for the Note 20 Ultra.
Samsung’s folding journey continued with the Galaxy Z Fold 2 debuting in September with a number of improvements over its predecessor. It is more robust in general, plus the front display is far more usable as it has increased in size since the first generation product.
Samsung also brought a new series of devices to the market this year for those who do not want to use that much, but want impressive technology. The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition debuted in October with some bold and colorful designs and many state-of-the-art features from the S20 without the super high price.
Overall, Samsung has had an impressive year in the Galaxy world with some of the best handsets that keep on ranking the very best smartphones, in addition to making some bold steps in new worlds like the folding space and introducing 5G technology as well .
TV: 8K innovations, but losing ground in the budget area
In 2020, we needed home entertainment more than ever – and for most of us, our big screen TV was the place to be. According to the NPD Group, sales of 65-inch TVs increased by more than 50% from the previous year in the first half of 2020, which means that companies such as Samsung did well in what was otherwise a very rough year.
To its credit, Samsung is not resting on its laurels here – while it could have pulled back on its R & D budget, the Korean company pulled ahead by announcing a number of new TV technologies, including most recently a consumer-facing version of The Wall.
As screen sizes get bigger, Samsung is also one of the driving forces behind making them look better: it has more 8K TV models than almost any other TV maker, and it openly embraces the new HDMI 2.1 specification needed for 4K at 120Hz or 8K / 60.
And yet, as Samsung pushes innovations in the high-end space ever higher, it loses ground in the budget space when TV manufacturers such as Vizio, TCL and Hisense move into the market with exceptional own screens. These companies do some incredible things, to their credit, but part of the reason for the success is that Samsung has not put as much technical effort into its Crystal UHD TVs as it has its QLED series: the former is often edge-lit LED LCD TVs with a native 60Hz refresh rate and a basic upscaling.
Without a crystal ball, it is impossible to say with certainty what Samsung will cook in 2021, but if it turns out to be something like this year, you can expect even larger screens, greater emphasis on 8K resolution and a wider range of HDMI 2.1 compatible TVs that you can pair with the new Xbox Series X and PS5.
Audio: New genuine wireless, but no Galaxy Home
It has been a busy year for Samsung’s soundtrack, with more releases through 2020 and more coming on the horizon.
In February, the company announced the follow-up to Samsung Galaxy Bud’s genuine wireless earbuds; Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus offered better battery life and superior sound quality compared to its predecessors, but failed to take off due to lack of active noise reduction and limited audio codec support.
Then, in August, we had Samsung Galaxy Buds Live, a pair of unusual bean-shaped real wireless earbuds that had been the subject of rumors for months before being released.
These weird earbuds represented a dramatic design deviation for Samsung, and were quite different from all the knobs we had seen before. They also came with the promise of noise reduction – although their ‘semi-open’ design meant that they could not compete with such as the Apple AirPods Pro in this regard.
More recently, we have heard rumors that Samsung is on the verge of releasing another pair of genuine wireless earbuds. Although we do not think they will materialize before the end of the year, it is said that Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro launches in January 2021 together with the new Galaxy S21 series. Is the ‘Pro’ in the name a nod to the AirPods Pro and a hint that they can come with active noise reduction? We’ll have to wait and see.
An audio device we did not see this year? The long-awaited Samsung Galaxy Home smart speaker. We’ve been waiting for Google Nest and Amazon Echo rival to launch for over two years now, and while we’ve pretty much given up hope at this point, Samsung launched a mini version of the smart speaker back in February in South Korea. . So far, the Samsung Galaxy Home Mini has not yet left the company’s home ground, suggesting that it has just been a promotional release. In any case, we will not hold our breath for a Samsung smart speaker in the near future.
Wearables: Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is another triumph
Wearables has not been the focus of Samsung in 2020, but it has made some impressive advances in the market by taking our best smartwatch coat in a couple of months with its latest top-end wrist.
It was the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 that debuted in August this year, and the new smartwatch brought much of what we loved with the Galaxy Watch with some impressive adjustments and design changes.
Instead of changing everything we expect from a smartwatch, it refined the experience with an electrocardiogram, better battery life than its predecessor and more powerful internals as well.
The Galaxy Watch 3 was beaten from the top of our best smartwatch list a few months later with the introduction of the Apple Watch SE, but for many, the Galaxy Watch 3 will be the ultimate smartwatch experience.
In addition, Samsung introduced itself in the fitness market in early September. Samsung Galaxy Fit 2 has a two-week battery life, and it is the company’s latest attempt to take on Fitbit.