Fairfax Tech Talk Column

Fairfax Tech Talk Column

14.2.2020 Fairfax Tech Talk Column 185


What do you do when you manufacture a television with specifications so high that there isn’t content at the same level? The obvious answer is to manufacture a phone that can create content at the same level!

Samsung has a range of 8K QLED televisions from 55” up to the $1K per inch 98” version. One of the problems I have discussed previously with 8K televisions is the lack of content. Most of the loungeroom viewing across the world at the moment is in HD with a smattering of 4K.

Noting this 8K dilemma for Samsung, at the latest Samsung product launch, all three new Samsung phones will be able to shoot video in 8K and even be able to stream 8K phone footage direct to an 8K TV. Clever cross-marketing between their phone and entertainment divisions!

I am always excited at the launch of a new phone. Each new product pushes the technology envelope just that little further and exciting new features quickly become commonplace across many mobiles.

What did Samsung offer to entice us to upgrade? Apart from many minor improvements, the battleground was clearly defined as camera and connectivity. There were three new models announced by Samsung in the Galaxy S20 range. The S20; S20+ and S20 Ultra with screen sizes of 6.2”; 6.7” and 6.9” respectively. By way of comparison, the three iPhone 11 models are 6.1” for the 11 and the Pro comes in 5.8” and 6.5”. Sizes seem to be on a never-ending upward trend which is great for useability but makes pocketing the device awkward. If only we could just fold up the device and put it in our pocket!

Samsung introduced 5G connectivity last year which was a little like their 8K television problem. A 5G phone when very few networks across the world have moved to 5G is a lot like a 4G phone.

Samsung are of the belief that 5G will start to progress at a much quicker rate this year so two models come in a 4G and 5G version while the Ultra is only available in 5G. Apple’s latest products offer approximately zero 5G options but I can’t see how they won’t change this when they release their next flagships in September this year.

Then there is the camera – or more accurately cameras. I have mentioned the 8K video footage but the raw image size of the still photos is impressive. I don’t want to get carried away by raw image size alone but…WOW! In amongst the four cameras on the S20 Ultra sits a 108MP camera. Even the front-facing ‘selfie’ camera is 40MP. Despite many AI improvements, digital zoom is never as good as optical zoom but Samsung are talking up their 100x zoom on this phone. A demonstration at the launch of a picture of Alcatraz prison from a cliff two kilometres away certainly looked impressive and surely they wouldn’t use any trickery at a launch, right? On raw specs Apple seems to be dragging the chain. The best they offer is 12MP on their cameras and 10x digital zoom. There is more to a camera than just the number of pixels and the iPhone cameras are still impressive but…108MP? WOW!

Samsung have firmly placed the ball in Apple’s court and it is now up to Apple to return the ball - and I haven’t even mentioned Samsung’s two folding phones. While I am excited about this competition from a technology perspective, the ultimate winners are consumers. Bring it on! Tell me the next killer feature you would like to see in a phone at ask@techtalk.digital.

Mathew Dickerson