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Samsung’s Galaxy S20 tried to copy the iPhone 11, but it screwed up the most important part

Published Feb 11th, 2020 4:58PM EST

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Samsung on Tuesday held a press conference in San Francisco to unveil the flagships it developed for the first half of 2020, and you’ve probably caught the news that something was afoot. If you were surprised to hear that a Galaxy S20 series of phones was just unveiled, then it probably means you haven’t really been keeping tabs on the tech pulse in recent weeks. How on earth did we get to the Galaxy S20, and whatever happened to the Galaxy S11? Is a Galaxy S11 even coming? We’ve got all the answers for you.

In short, Samsung decided to jump from Galaxy S10 all the way to Galaxy S20, and skip the expected Galaxy S11 altogether. Galaxy S11 was, for a long time, the moniker we used when talking about the upcoming Galaxy S10 successor until word got out that Samsung was going to do things differently this year. The decision is both sad and brilliant, as it’s unclear what Samsung’s motives are.

The sad

Some rumors said that Samsung wanted to ditch the notion that the Galaxy S is trailing the latest iPhone, even though that is and always will be true. Samsung will always follow Apple’s lead no matter what the latest Galaxy S is called. Some buyers may think that the Galaxy S11 is inferior to the iPhone 12 because of the numbering scheme, reports said, and that’s why Samsung is changing the name. That is both true and false at the same time. No, the 2020 Galaxy S won’t be more powerful than the upcoming iPhone 12 when it comes to performance, for various reasons, all of which are out of Samsung’s control. That doesn’t make the Galaxy S11 (S20) a lousy phone, because it’ll undoubtedly be one of the year’s best. For many, the Galaxy S20 will even be better than the iPhone 12, as it’s always a matter of personal preference.

Huawei, by the way, pulled a similar move with the P and Mate lines a few years ago, going from P10 and Mate 10 to P20 and Mate 20, respectively. But Huawei will launch the P40 and Mate 40 Pro flagships this year. Does this mean the P40/Mate 40 is better than the S20 because 40 is a bigger number?

The brilliant

Others said that Samsung is aligning the numbering scheme to the year. Therefore, the Galaxy S20 series syncs up with 2020. If that’s the real reason, then it’s actually brilliant. Sure, Galaxy S21 might not roll off the tongue next year, but, in time, Samsung will be able to ditch the numbers altogether, because customers will be trained to associate the handsets with the year, just like we do with our laptops. It’s also reasonable to assume that the Galaxy Note 10 successor that launches in August will be called the Galaxy Note 20.

Regardless of the reason why Samsung felt it had to shake up the numbering system, the fact remains that the Galaxy S is Samsung’s best brand — one that carries a lot of weight, no matter how insecure Samsung is about it. And a Galaxy S11 likely would have sold just as well, or as poorly, as the Galaxy S20.

The stupid

While we’re at it, Samsung changed one more thing when it came to marketing the newest Galaxy S line. It copied Apple’s latest move almost perfectly — but fumbled the ball right as it reached the goal line.

Apple last fall launched three iPhone 11 models: The iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max, direct successors to the iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max, respectively. That’s brilliant marketing for the cheapest model, which incidentally became the best-selling phone of 2019’s holiday quarter. One of the reasons the iPhone 11 is selling so well is the price. The phone, which is essentially a smaller Pro with a missing camera, starts at $699.

Samsung followed the Galaxy S10e, S10, and S10+ with the Galaxy S20, S20+, and S20 Ultra, respectively. However, Samsung priced the successor of its best-selling Galaxy S10 version far too high, making it a lot more expensive than the iPhone 11, which is its biggest rival. If Galaxy S20 sales end up not meeting Samsung’s high expectations, it’s the series’ pricing structure that will be to blame, not the phone’s name.

So, that’s how it all went down. The Galaxy S11 is no more; long live the Galaxy S20. That’s the phone you’ll want to ask about in stores if and when you decide to upgrade to a new Galaxy S model this year.

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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