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Galaxy S11’s biggest rumored change is totally unnecessary

Published Dec 31st, 2019 6:50AM EST
Galaxy S20 Ultra Release Date
Image: Jacob Siegal/BGR

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A leaker told us a few days ago that the Galaxy S11 might get a totally unexpected change, and then we saw a secondary report supporting the same idea. It has nothing to do with the phone’s design, which will look a lot like the Galaxy Note 10 (image above), or with its camera system, which will remind you of the iPhone 11 or Pixel 4’s square camera modules. Instead, Samsung is doing something absolutely unnecessary with the Galaxy S11, if these reports are to be believed.

The Galaxy S11 might be sold as the Galaxy S20 next year, which is a dumb idea. Galaxy S20, S20+, and S20 Ultra will be the expected Galaxy S10e, S10, and S10+ successors, rather than Galaxy S11, S11+, and S11 Ultra. Well-known leaker Ice Universe, who first mentioned the new naming scheme, indicated in a new tweet that S20 and S20+ might be final product names, while the “Ultra” moniker is yet to be the case.

Samsung’s thinking might be that the S11 sounds old compared to the iPhone 12, which is supposed to launch next September. Similarly, Huawei adopted a similar naming scheme for its flagship phones a few years ago, starting with the Huawei P20 that followed the P10 — 2020 will bring us the P40 and Mate 40 series, respectively.

Previous years have proved that Samsung can’t replicate Apple’s iPhone selling strategy. Apple may be able to recycle the same iPhone design for years, but Samsung can’t do it. The Galaxy S9, which was better in every way than the S8 but looked almost the same, didn’t meet sales expectations.

The Galaxy S11 will also be better in every way than the S10, but it will look very much like it. A name change to S20 might not be enough to convince hardcore Samsung users who are on the S10 or Note 10 to upgrade to the new handset. It might help Samsung sell more phones to smartphone users who’re not necessarily loyal to the Samsung brand, but there are no guarantees it will happen.

Image source: LetsGoDigital

Even with a new name, the S11 (render above) will look familiar to smartphone buyers who know what the most recent phones look like. Again, the S11 will have a Note 10-like screen and a rear side that will be similar to the iPhone 11, Pixel 4, and the rumored S10 Lite and Note 10 Lite that Samsung is rumored to launch in a few days. If the design is all that matters to some buyers, then the S11 might feel old the minute it hits stores in March, no matter what Samsung calls it.

The Galaxy S brand is one of the most recognized smartphone brands out there, probably only second to the iPhone. Yet by moving from S10 to S20, Samsung is doing a disservice to what’s easily its most valuable possession. Sure, Galaxy S11 isn’t that great of a smartphone name, but it does have plenty of strength that Samsung shouldn’t ignore or be insecure about. Not to mention that a jump to S20 may turn out to become a problem down the road.

Apple has a naming scheme problem of its own, which started with the iPhone X series. Apple skipped the iPhone 9 altogether to go for iPhone X — pronounced iPhone Ten — then moved to iPhone XS, and then iPhone 11. Add to that the “Pro” and “Max” monikers, and it gets even crazier. The handset that will follow iPhone 11 series is either going to be iPhone 11S, or iPhone 12. The latter is more likely given that we’re looking at a major design change for the new iPhone as well as a significant feature addition, 5G support. Even so, we might be in for an abominable iPhone 12 Pro Max 5G next year.

On the other hand, Samsung did skip the Note 6 to align the Galaxy Note numbering scheme to the Galaxy S. Then it launched the Galaxy Note 8 and 10, even though it used the same names years ago for its Galaxy Note tablets.

Samsung will unveil the Galaxy S11/S20 at some point in February, and we’ll soon see more leaks that will confirm the final product name for the new flagship series.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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