Following the reveal of some arguably disappointing sequels to hotly awaited products, I wanted to give my take on how Samsung could avoid another lame year with their flagships. I believe overpricing their products, having a muddled and confusing product line and skipping out on some of the products users actually want as well as skimping on some specs on their devices, for whatever reason, probably did not help their case. Also, COVID-19 probably didn’t help either, but it’s no excuse for them not to reflect and improve. So, I have devised a refined product lineup that makes more sense, is easier to understand, accommodates more users and helps add obvious definition to their products and the type of user they are aimed at.
For those saying it’s impossible, just stop. It isn’t. A multi-billion dollar corporation can pull this off, assuming they’re more interested in brand image, reputation and keeping their users happy rather than just money. At this point, the entire industry is suffering because Samsung is not kept on edge, so I think that should change. Also, to those saying Samsung won’t read it, save your breath: I don’t care. I enjoy writing.
For the sake of keeping the naming scheme inline and exciting sounding, I’d replace the possible S21 name with S30, upgrade the Fold 3 and Flip 3 to 30, and the Tab S8 to S30 accordingly.
"The 30 Series"
Galaxy S30 Compact
$700 USD; 4,000 mAh battery; 5.4 inch screen
$800 USD; 4,500 mAh battery; 5.8 inch screen
Galaxy S30 Ultra
$900 USD; 5,000 mAh battery; 6.2 inch screen
Galaxy Note 30 Compact (same size as the S30)
$900 USD; 4,000 mAh battery; 5.8 inch screen
Galaxy Note 30 Ultra
$1,000 USD; 5,000 mAh battery; 6.4 inch screen
Galaxy Fold 30 (included S-pen)
$1,500 USD; 5,000 mAh battery
Galaxy Flip 30
$1,200 USD; 4,000 mAh battery
Galaxy Tab S30 (Tab S7 successor)
$750 USD; 7,500 mAh battery; 9 inch screen at 16:10 aspect ratio; instead of making a watered down “medium” size, make a small flagship tablet that people have actually been asking for. People who need more tablet will go with the larger model, but those who want a powerful but small tablet get this one.
Dual 12 MP primary rear cameras and dual 12MP front facing cameras, one wide and one ultra-wide (identical cameras on the front and back); this will keep the manufacturing price down and will avoid adding unnecessary features like a full rear-facing camera suite better reserved for the phone prospective buyers already have or will buy. The two rear cameras will be used for document scanning and AR applications while the two front cameras will be used for video calls, either alone or with a group such as friends, family or business associates.
Make an Apple Magic Keyboard competitor and don't charge any more than $150 USD for it. Android doesn’t have enough developer support for the tablet UI or serious applications that take advantage of the screen size and power that this device has, so just be happy that people buy this device at all. Since it’s only ever good for office work, streaming and mild gaming, don’t punish people for buying the keyboard with such lofty prices when it honestly should have been included.
3D Face Unlock instead of a Fingerprint Scanner. This is a no brainer. You don't pull tablets out of your pocket. Having it scan your face when you plop it open rather than having to angle your finger on a slanted screen makes a lot more sense.
Add 2 more USB-C ports. If you’re going to keep up the guise that the Tab S is designed for any modicum of work, it needs more than one port.
Galaxy Tab S30 Ultra (Tab S7+ successor)
$1,000 USD; 10,000 mAh battery; 12.4 inch screen at 16:10 aspect ratio
Otherwise identical to the its smaller counterpart
Specifications for all devices:
18.5:9 aspect-ratio 2960 x 1440p 120hz AMOLED (both running simultaneously, not a trade off like the S20) with HDR10+ support; basically the S9/Note 9 Series screens without the bezels; only exception is for the Tab S30 and S30 Ultra with their 16:10 screens
Improved earpiece and bottom-firing speaker system
Snapdragon 875+ with 5G for ALL REGIONS, OR a new, more powerful Exynos SoC for ALL REGIONS; pick a lane and stick to it!
If Samsung goes with the later, make this Exynos chipset more powerful and power efficient than its Snapdragon counterpart; help spur on competition and give people some hope that Exynos isn't just a cheap imitation.
12GB of RAM; no more 6GB or 8GB nonsense on flagship devices
256GB of UFS 3.1 base storage with micro-sd card expansion
45 Watt Wired Charging (INCLUDED IN THE BOX, don’t get cheap)
USB-PD 4.0 and Qualcomm Quick Charge 5.0 compliant
15 Watt or higher Qi Wireless Charging
IP65 and IP68 Water and Dust Resistance (they aren't the same)
Mil Spec 810G Drop Resistance (like LG devices)
Upgraded 3D Sonic Max fingerprint sensor: it needs to be quicker and more reliable
50MP Primary ISOCELL GN1 Sensor Wide Angle Lens
50MP Secondary ISOCELL GN1 Sensor Ultrawide Lens (just modify the lens)
Make sure the minimum focusing distance is very low to allow for macro-photography
34MP or higher Tertiary 5x Optical Telephoto Periscope Lens
34MP is the lowest resolution a camera can have for 8k video, which can be used as a marketing ploy
VGA Time of Flight Depth sensor
Two 12MP Under-screen Front-facing cameras with optical image stabilization, F1.8 and 1.4 micron pixels like the Galaxy S10’s primary wide angle camera and the S20’s ultra-wide angle camera; this idea works well on the OnePlus Nord and would be a great selling feature for large group selfies and selfie video
Not a fan of the holepunch (don’t know ANYONE who is), but if it comes down to one camera under the screen or two in a whole punch, go with the latter. More is better. If the under the screen route is somehow impossible, use a small bezel on the top. Users don't mind.
DUAL-TONE LED FLASH. Stop being cheap and only including a single LED. Dual-tone LEDs have better color reproduction. Heck, Apple uses a QUAD LED.
An LG-style headphone jack with Quad-DAC tuned by AKG, and powerful AMP at least capable of powering headphones with 300 Ohms of resistance
People who use wireless earbuds and headphones aren’t going to skip out on buying new ones because the headphone jack returns. It’s a flagship feature for audiophiles, content creators on the go and people who just have a really nice pair of wired headphones kicking around that they’d like to use with Tidal. Instead of ousting them as potential buyers, add something they would like.
3 OS Updates (Android 12, 13 and 14)
4 Years of Monthly Security Updates
A Final 5th year of Quarterly Security Patches
Samsung can market this as a reason to switch from iPhone: an Android device with “5 years of updates”
Retroactively apply this schedule for ALL FLAGSHIP devices starting with 2017’s S8 and Note 8 Series. If the Tab S4 can have Android 10 One UI 2.1, there is no reason they cannot. It's as simple a port job as they come.
NO MORE ADVERTISEMENTS, PERIOD! This means banner ads in Samsung Pay, static ads in the Music App, the Weather App or suggested items to buy showing up in the notification shade. Users should not have to opt-out of Samsung marketing. It should never have been there to begin with, especially since doing that doesn’t stop the banner ads anyway!
Add more grid-sizing options to the One UI launcher/homescreen. I personally use Nova, but for those who don’t, they shouldn’t have to switch launchers to get more icons on screen.
Integrate Good Lock features into the Android 11, One UI 3.0 OS rather than as region-locked downloads. I don’t know whose brilliant idea it was to region lock some software customization but it’s time that nonsense stopped.
Allow all 3 camera sensors to be used in Pro Photo and Pro Video Mode, 60 FPS capture and Slow-motion Capture. Also allow the highest resolution possible in Pro-mode. As a professional videographer, I still haven’t found the Pro-modes on my S20+ all that professional or liberating when you tell me what lens I can use and at what resolution.
Disable the obnoxious selfie-crop that pretends that using the whole sensor is somehow an ultra-wide mode. It isn’t, and rather it’s annoying and causes issues in other applications like Snapchat. Instead of causing unnecessary cropping and complications, just have one "angle" for the SINGLE front facing camera.
For pairing a phone to a tablet via “Call and text on other devices”, allow other text applications, like Google Messages or Textra, to sync up rather than just Samsung Messages. Link to Windows doesn’t care which app you use, so nor should this function either. It’s such an unnecessary requirement either way.
For all unlocked North American devices, indicated by the suffix U1 instead of U, release the updates DIRECTLY to the phone. It's absolutely insane that the current policy is to wait for every carrier to "approve" security patches before allowing a device, that by design is supposed to be free of carrier influence, to actually receive the updates. When the carrier models get the updates before the unlocked model, there is a problem. I remember some patches, say a June security patch, coming in late July on my unlocked S9+ because T-Mobile withheld it out of spite. Seeing as neither Apple nor Google do this with their devices, Samsung shouldn't either.
Work with software developers like Adobe to get feature-rich and fleshed out versions of PC software like Photoshop, Lightroom, Illustrator, Premiere, After-Effects, etc, onto Android. Android tablets are a hardsell to begin with, but if you're gonna make a powerful flagship tablet, it needs some serious software to go with it. Otherwise, if people want an HDR AMOLED screen for watching content, they can just pick up a cheap S6 and call it a day, thus leaving the Tab S30 dead on arrival. I agree, it should have been Google's job, but they aren't doing it, so it's up to Samsung to rectify this situation.
Questions and Answers
Why change the 20:9 aspect ratio back down to 18.5:9?
The taller aspect ratio is too tall. One handed use is actually impossible unless you are a b.asketball player. I had no problem reaching all 4 corners of the Galaxy S9+ but cannot do so with my Galaxy S20+, and I am willing to bet that is the case with most users, regardless of which variant they buy. There’s always the Ultra variants for users who want the most phone and enjoy the 2 handed experience, but for the rest of us, it would be nice to reach the whole UI with one hand.
Why have compact models of the S30 and Note 30?
There is a surprisingly large number of users who would prefer a smaller device, including those who like using the s-pen. Instead of ostracizing them from the Samsung community or forcing them to purchase devices they find too large and cumbersome, I think it would be a better idea to make a product that caters to them. This rings especially true for the Note 30 compact, that unlike the Note 10 and Note 20, is actually reasonably compact for the user who wants that form factor rather than a device that sits somewhere between the S10/S20 and S10+/S20+ in size, respectively.
Why include an S-Pen with the Fold 30?
Because it’s a tablet and should be treated as one. A stylus is invaluable for drawing, document signing, certain types of games and most importantly note taking. It makes perfect sense that the star feature of the productivity focused Note and Tab S lineups joins the folding phablet that acts as a step in between the two.
Why push for a headphone jack now?
Firstly, because I can, but more importantly, because it has a purpose. Ever since the Snapdragon 835, Android phone processors have been powerful to actually get some professional work done on the go, such as photo, audio and video editing, if you can find the right app. For the latter two, Bluetooth audio is not the solution. When exact timing and auditory clarity is key, a powerful headphone jack system is essential. Whether the user is doing this sort of work on their Note, Fold or Tab S, they shouldn’t be denied the tools to get the job done. Also, these are flagship devices, and if LG taught the industry anything, it’s that serious headphone jack systems are a flagship feature that can justify a large price tag. A dongle is easy to misplace, can break with little effort and doesn’t have the power to drive nicer headphones. Instead of having a moving piece outside of the device, it makes more sense to have it integrated into it. One the whole, I think people are getting sick of paying more and getting less, so why not change that moving forward, eh? I think it’s worth noting that a powerful headphone jack would not cannibalize Samsung earbud sales since they’re not made for the same user. Well before the headphone jack’s unceremonious removal, which Samsung had the gaul to make fun of just a couple years back, people still bought and used wireless earbuds and headphones simply because they’re more convenient for exercising or while on the go. The people who could afford it weren’t holding out and only using wired connections to spite Samsung. If removing it was a power-play to force users to buy Bluetooth buds, then that really shows a great deal of contempt Samsung has for its users. I encourage Samsung to prove me wrong.
Why improve the update schedule? “Most users don’t care about that stuff…"
Most people don’t care about sewer maintenance until sludge starts showing up in waterways. Most people don’t care about dental health until that cavity they’ve been ignoring starts to really hurt. Most people generally don’t care about a lot of things that aren’t immediately apparent or are maintenance related. THAT IS NOT A REASON FOR SAMSUNG NOT TO CARE. In the world of Android, things break, exploits are found and features added now aren’t finished or perfected until later. I see no reason why Samsung shouldn’t apply those patches, especially for the money people pay for these devices and since these devices have the hardware to survive a good half a decade of normal use. Shame on Google for not setting the standard or maintaining one to follow, but Android devices, like Windows computers or Apple devices, should be receiving updates as long as they are usable. It’s incredibly wasteful to have to cast aside a device because it’s vulnerable to hacking attempts, or the broken features it has that don’t work properly never receive a fix. Time and time again, I read about users switching to different brands because of the lack of updates. It is well within Samsung’s power to prevent this from happening and it really wouldn’t take that much work. Google’s implementation of Project Treble has done a lot in terms of making updating phones easier for OEMs, separating the security patches from the main underlying operating system, and making it easy to flash newer versions of Android with fewer compatibility issues. The ball is entirely in Samsung’s court on this one, and I think it’s time they went for a basket rather than dribble the whole match. The moment we as consumers demand that of them and cheer them on for doing so is the moment we all score.
"There is no economic incentive for Samsung to update their devices…"
Nor is there one for Apple or Google, unless of course you advertise it as a feature or benefit of buying a certain brand device. I think the $1000+ price tags Samsung demands are incentive enough.
You want more in your flagship and you want it for less money?
You better believe it. With phones like the $350 Pixel 4a, the $400 iPhone SE or $500ish OnePlus Nord, as well as previous gen flagships like the S10e, giving people what they want at a completely reasonable price, making the argument for flagship devices is a lot harder. The people who do buy flagships outright, namely tech enthusiasts, fanboys and people with a lot of disposable income, are a minority. Samsung is free to continue raising prices (take a look at this article on the Note series price increase), but then they shouldn’t be surprised that they are losing market share. I don’t see losing business as a winning strategy. Considering the margins they make on each device, perhaps giving people what they want and charging a more reasonable price to make the sale may be a step in the right direction.
Aren’t you being a hypocrite Mr. S20+ and S9+ owner?
No. I got my S20+ for $7/month for 18 months with a Sprint Lease, with a $300 buyout. Since Sprint is now T-Mobile and I get both benefits, I’m the winner here. $426 for a $1200 device and now good service too. My S9+ was $200 off on Black Friday 2018. I never pay MSRP and looking at the sales numbers for each successive S Series generation, I don’t think a lot of people do either.
How do you justify the tablets being so cheap when they’re bigger?
I don’t think there’s anything cheap about $750-$1000 when there are more capable iPads and Windows machines; the tablets are a hard-sell to begin with. Samsung should be trying to impress users at the prospect of an Android tablet by wowing them with a lot of specs for a decent price. The tablets also don’t have some of the features that the phones do, such as wireless charging and newer and better cameras.
Do you really expect Samsung to do all that stuff?
Eh. There’s always a ghost of a chance, but I’d be at least happier or more content that Samsung adopted some of these concepts rather than none. I would prefer they took ALL these ideas and ran with them but I don’t control them, do I? I also wanted to get all my ideas out there and in a place that I can easily reference or allow someone else to reference as to what people want and a better way of doing things.
Last Word to Samsung:
Do not price gouge in developing parts of the world. Something that costs $1000 USD in the USA should cost roughly $1000 USD by conversion in another country, not almost double. It’s bizarre hearing about Apple products being cheaper than Android and Windows-based machines because of OEMs mispricing their devices.
If you think anything should be added to this list, leave a comment!
This was a really fantastic writeup. I found this thread searching for Samsung 2021 Tablets. I'm really hoping for a 9-inch tablet, or even an 8-inch tablet, that is a worthy S-line replacement for the Galaxy Tab S2 8.0. I remember back in the day it was "78910" - Samsung release a 7", and an 8.9", and a 10" tablet. More like that, please!
I hope Samsung reads your writeup, and I hope they'll bring that Tab S30 at 9 inches with AMOLED and worthy specs!
And speaking of MicroSD - Samsung now has the new UFS removable cards - I'd love to see a larger version of that card (1TB please if not 2TB!) and support for that card format *in addition* to MicroSD.