The stage is nearly set for this year’s flagship smartphone showdown and for once, it doesn’t look like Samsung’s going to come out on top with its Galaxy S10-line.
At launch, they were beat by the Huawei P30 Pro, which clearly smoked the S10 when it came to camera tech. OnePlus then quickly took the S10 to task on screen quality with the OnePlus 7 Pro, which features a completely notch free 90Hz display.
Most recently, Apple took a pot shot at the S10 with its new iPhone 11 family of phones which, for once, actually take on Samsung when it comes to value for money.
Later this year Samsung will face yet more competition from key rivals including the Google Pixel 4, which is expected to appear on the 15th of October.
We’re thinking Samsung’s going to have to pull something out of the bag next year with its 2020 Galaxy S11 flagship if it wants to maintain its position as Android’s top dog and the Apple iPhone’s arch-rival.
Here’s specifically what we want to see from the Samsung Galaxy S11 in 2020.
Related: Best Samsung phone 2019
1. The Galaxy S11 needs to compete as a camera phone
The Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10 Plus don’t have bad cameras. A couple of years ago the Galaxy phones’ camera tech would have been industry leading, with a nifty triple camera setups that combine 12-megapixel main, 12-megapixel ultrawide and 12 megapixel telephoto lenses. But in 2019, this set up puts the Galaxy S10 family firmly in the middle of the flagship pack when it comes to camera tech.
The Huawei P30 Pro has more refined-Leica co-engineered triple camera featuring an additional time of flight (ToF) sensor. The significantly cheaper Pixel 3a also manages to outperform it in low light, thanks to Google’s clever processing. With the multi-sensor Pixel 4 and iPhone 11 fast approaching, the Galaxy S10 could find itself bumped even further down our Best Camera Phone list in the very near future.
We’d like to see Samsung completely rethink its smartphone camera offering for the Galaxy S11 and come out swinging with a truly competitive flagship camera phone next year.
Related: Best camera phones 2019
2. The Galaxy S11 needs a variable refresh rate screen
We’ve been banging on about the benefits of variable refresh rates since the original Razer Phone came out, but this year original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) actually started listening, and have begun using the tech.
The biggest highlight has been the OnePlus 7 Pro, which features a super cool 90Hz refresh rate panel. In the world of wearables Apple stole the show with the Apple Watch 5, which has a variable refresh rate display that can auto switch to between 1-60Hz depending on what it’s doing.
For those out of the know, this is awesome – by switching how many frames per second a display shows you can do things like save battery life, or make navigating the phone’s menus feel smoother. The tech’s worked a treat on every mobile we’ve tested so far and we’d love to see it appear on Samsung’s 2020 flagship.
3. The Galaxy S11 needs to copy Motorola’s software strategy
Samsung’s Touchwiz software and UX design has come a long way over the years, but it’s still nowhere near as nice as the experience you’ll get on unskinned Android. Issues include bizarre UI changes, poorly designed, childish app icons and a sea of unwanted services – like Samsung’s Bixby digital assistant.
Which is why we’d love to see Samsung take a page out of Motorola’s playbook and start shipping its phones with a near vanilla Android install. Motorola’s been doing this to great effect for years with its Moto line of phones, which feature zero duplicate applications and only a smidgeon of custom services, like Moto Actions.
The move would also help speed up how quickly the S11 could be upgraded to new versions of Android, making the move a no brainer in our mind.
Related: Best Android phone 2019
4. The Galaxy S11 needs to be cheaper
Flagship phones are never been cheap, but over the last couple of years prices have gotten a little ridiculous. These days it’s not uncommon for the middle-child in a phone family to cost £500 and the top of the line model well over £1000. This is the case for the Galaxy S10.
The problem is, according to most companies’ sales stats and analysts forecasts, people don’t want to spend that much on a smartphone. Most recently analyst house Gartner reported a giant 13.8% drop in smartphone sales in Q2. The report highlighted flagship phones, like the Galaxy S10 and iPhone XS, as being the biggest victims in the lull. It’s only thanks to strong sales of its mid-range A-series that Samsung managed to maintain a 1.1% growth.
Apple’s clearly picked up on the trend with its latest iPhone 11, choosing to keep prices flat year-on-year for its new handsets. If Samsung wants to compete we think it’ll have to go one step further and make the Galaxy S11 cheaper than the S10 when it launches next year.
5. The Galaxy S11 needs to ditch the hole-punch
Samsung phones traditionally have been among the prettiest Androids around. But this year the S10 family had one big, gaping flaw that made them feel a step behind a number of competing phones. We are of course talking about the phones’ ugly hole-punch front cameras.
There have been some creative Galaxy S10 wallpapers taking advantage of the hole-punch front camera but, for the most part, it’s a pain. When watching movies or gaming the hole punch in the corner of the screen breaks any sense of immersion and is a horrid blotch in an otherwise faultless phone display.
We’d really like Samsung to come up with an all-screen phone design, like the OnePlus 7 Pro or Asus Zenfone 6, for the Galaxy S11.
Related: Best smartphone 2019
6. The Galaxy S11 needs faster charging and and a better battery life
The Exynos processor versions of Samsung’s Galaxy phones have always offered lower battery life than their Qualcomm rivals. This remained true with the Exynos Galaxy S10, which offers lower than average battery life for a flagship.
The Galaxy S10 also fell behind rivals when it came to charge speeds, featuring a maximum support for 15W chargers. With the Galaxy Note 10 featuring 45W support and most competing flagships at least 25W, we’d like the S11 to up its battery and charge speeds when it launches next year.
7. The Galaxy S11 needs to support Google Stadia
For those that missed the announcement earlier this year, Stadia is a cloud streaming service from Google. It aims to let you stream demanding, console-level, triple-A games over the cloud at resolutions up to 4K.
The tech hasn’t had a full consumer launch and will debut on a very small number of Pixel phones before expanding its reach in 2020. For Samsung to maintain its technological edge we think it’ll need to make sure the Galaxy S11 is one of the first non-Google flagship Stadia phones.