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Note 20: How do you sell a $1,000 phone during a pandemic? Samsung has a plan – CNET

Samsung is launching its highest-end smartphones, including the Note 20 Ultra, during the pandemic. Samsung Virtual sales pitches and consultations. Touchless in-store device demos. Deals galore. Those are just some of the plans in Samsung’s playbook for selling phones during a pandemic. Last week, the South Korean electronics giant unveiled the Galaxy Z Fold 2 alongside…

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Note 20: How do you sell a $1,000 phone during a pandemic? Samsung has a plan     – CNET

Samsung is launching its highest-end smartphones, including the Note 20 Ultra, during the pandemic.
Samsung
Virtual sales pitches and consultations. Touchless in-store device demos. Deals galore. Those are just some of the plans in Samsung’s playbook for selling phones during a pandemic. Last week, the South Korean electronics giant unveiled the Galaxy Z Fold 2 alongside the $999 Note 20, the $1,299 Note 20 Ultra, the $649 Galaxy Tab S7 tablet, the $399 Galaxy Watch 3 and the $170 Galaxy Buds Live earbuds. Samsung has already begun taking preorders for the new Notes. Orders should arrive around Aug. 21. Samsung hasn’t yet detailed pricing or availability for the Z Fold 2, but said it will share more information on Sept. 1. The first generation of the device cost $1,980 and came with 4G in the US. The new model packs in 5G connectivity across the three major US carriers, a glass screen and a redesigned hinge, all of which could make it even more expensive.  Samsung, which recently lost its crown as the world’s biggest phone maker to Huawei, is launching its new devices in a tough environment. Instead of facing a strong market for phones, with 5G and foldable screens getting people to upgrade their devices, most handset makers are seeing lower demand amid the raging coronavirus pandemic. Millions of people are out of work, hundreds of thousands have died and regions around the globe continue to battle a seemingly unending surge in infections. Consumers are opting for less expensive devices, saving their money altogether or spending their cash on PCs and other work-from-home and entertainment supplies.

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Samsung’s task with its new lineup is finding buyers willing to fork over a grand or two during a pandemic and recession. The new products were designed before the novel coronavirus spread around the globe, which meant Samsung couldn’t tweak the Note 20 or its other new devices to address the pandemic.  What it could do, though, is change how it goes about selling the Note 20 and the Note 20 Ultra, Drew Blackard, vice president of product management for Samsung Electronics America, said in an interview ahead of the launch event.  “It was a bit more of how you react to the current situation as opposed to kind of retool everything that you’re doing,” Blackard said. “Despite the fact that we couldn’t change the device, we very much rethought how we go to market.”

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That includes those virtual consultations that’ll make the online buying interaction more like the in-store experience. Touchless digital demos will give in-store shoppers a glimpse into the Note’s features, right from their own devices. And Samsung is exploring ways to tailor its future products and services to the needs of people who are largely stuck at home, like making it easier to track fitness and stay healthy while quarantining.  Lower phone sales Samsung’s phone sales have taken a hit during the pandemic. Its Galaxy S20 lineup became available about a week before parts of the US issued stay-at-home orders. Because consumers were worried about money — and couldn’t see the new devices in person — demand fell. Last week, Samsung said its mobile business revenue tumbled 18% from the previous year.  In the second quarter, Apple was the only smartphone vendor that saw its shipments grow, according to Canalys. Apple’s iPhone SE, its first major revamp of its popular small phone in four years, arrived in mid-April with a starting price of $399. That seemed to be the perfect phone for the times and helped buoy Apple’s results. The device costs $300 less than the iPhone 11 but contains many of the same specs, appealing to people who can’t afford a $700 phone, let alone a $1,000 iPhone 11 Pro.  Samsung, despite launching its new Galaxy S20 lineup in March and its less expensive Galaxy A phones, saw the biggest year-over-year drop of the world’s top five phone makers in the second quarter, Canalys said. Its 30% decline allowed Huawei to leapfrog Samsung to become the world’s biggest smartphone vendor for the first time, the firm noted. It was the first time in nine years that a company other than Samsung or Apple shipped the most phones. Samsung said in a statement it’ll continue to “focus on creating innovative mobile experiences that improve our users’ lives.” Part of that includes its new devices from Unpacked, and it noted during its earnings in late July that it also will strengthen its “mass-market lineup” of less expensive phones. 

At least in the US, Samsung “found that, actually, demand for premium devices is still quite high,” Blackard said. Still, Samsung sold about 44% fewer Galaxy S20 models in the US in the first four months of sales than the Galaxy S10 last year, according to M Science, a data analytics provider that tracks stats like mobile adoption.  Google, meanwhile, unveiled its new smartphone, the Pixel 4A, last Monday. Instead of introducing a high-end, flagship phone, Google opted to slightly pare back the Pixel’s specs to price it at $349. The phone doesn’t have 5G or a premium processor, but “for its price, the Pixel 4A has one of the best cameras you can get on a phone,” CNET’s Lynn La said in her review of the device.  The new Note 20 lineup is nowhere near that price level, with phones starting at $1,000. For some people at this time, that pricing could be hard to stomach. Working in Samsung’s favor is the rabid Note fanbase.  “What we’ve shown here in the past five months is we probably have the broadest portfolio of any company in the industry,” Blackard said. “We are down to $99 on the A01, up to Galaxy Fold, which is [about] $2,000. … Our portfolio is very well suited to the current situation.” Still, the new Note lineup has a lot in common with the Galaxy S20 devices from earlier this year.  In the past, the Note got the latest and greatest technology first, and it also had the biggest screen. Now the Galaxy S lineup gets a lot of features first, and the foldables are Samsung’s new ultra-premium lineup. There’ve been questions for years about where the Note fits into Samsung’s overall lineup. “It will be interesting to see whether this will be the last evolution of the Note in its current format,” said CCS Insight analyst Ben Wood. “These days consumers tend to hold onto their smartphones for at least three years, so having two flagship launches a year may no longer be necessary.” Encouraging online shopping A big focus for Samsung during the pandemic is boosting online phone sales, something that hasn’t been a huge market in the US. Here, most people buy their phones from carriers like Verizon and AT&T, and they usually at least look at them in person before making the purchase. But the pandemic has forced many stores around the country to close, preventing people from holding new phones in their hands before buying them.  “People shop on their phones, but they don’t shop for phones with their phones,” Blackard said.  To make people more comfortable with buying smartphones online, Samsung started offering contactless delivery and increased the return window for its devices to 30 days from 14. It also created a first responders discount for all of its products, which is on par with Samsung’s employee discount. 

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Since the pandemic began, the amount of US purchases made online across the phone industry has almost doubled compared with in-store, Blackard said.  Samsung also will be offering virtual consultations starting this month, providing information that would-be buyers typically get when they go into physical stores — like detailing features of a device, explaining their phone plan and potential deals for the phone and answering questions.  “From your computer, you’ll be able to just log in, and you’ll get a Samsung representative who can walk you through that purchase process as if you were there in a retail store,” Blackard said. He added that while the consultants initially will be Samsung employees, the company hopes to partner with others, like carriers, to provide the same sort of experience.  Changing the in-store experience For stores that are open, Samsung is rolling out a new “touchless digital retail mode” with the Note 20, Blackard said. Typically, people visiting stores pick up new devices and play with them before deciding to buy. Samsung’s technology will let people scan a QR code using their own devices and launch “a virtual experience of what it’s like to use the Note 20 on the device you have in your hand,” he said.  “People might not want to touch a phone right now as they go into a store,” Blackard said. 
Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra come in a striking bronze shade
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Samsung also knows it has to make its devices more attractively priced for consumers. After introducing the Galaxy S20 in March, Samsung offered “work from home bundles” that gave deals on equipment. And last month, it partnered with Postmates to give anyone who bought certain Galaxy devices a free year of Postmates Unlimited, the service that gives free delivery on orders.  Though the new Note lineup doesn’t come cheap, Samsung plans to offer generous promotional deals for the phones. Note 20 buyers will get $100 Samsung.com gift cards, while Note 20 Ultra purchasers will get $150. Samsung also has trade-in offers to give up to $650 for older devices, and it’s expanded its upgrade program, which lets device owners get a new Galaxy phone every year.  And Samsung on Wednesday detailed a new partnership with Microsoft for a gaming bundle that includes three free months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and a Bluetooth controller. The two companies also have worked to bring Android apps to Windows and include other productivity features in Samsung mobile devices, something that’s attracted more buyers and could appeal to people who are working from home.  “The Note occupies an evolving space in Samsung’s lineup,” Reticle Research principal analyst Ross Rubin said. “Samsung has shifted it toward productivity enthusiasts.” Future products Huawei, which sells most of its devices in its home country of China, has already made some design tweaks to its phones, like adding a temperature sensor to its Honor Play 4 Pro so the smartphone can work as a thermometer.  Samsung isn’t ready to talk about changes to its devices, Blackard said, but it’s looking at three broad areas for innovation: fitness and health; shopping; and entertainment.  The areas “are very exploratory,” Blackard said. Samsung won’t be deploying new services or features immediately but considers them “areas of investigation and product collaboration to bring these solutions to market.” When it comes to fitness, Samsung is exploring tools to help people “figure out ways to exercise from home,” Blackard said. For health, Samsung is looking into features to support telehealth, those digital doctor appointments more people are having during the pandemic.  “How do we dive deeper with consumers on some of the things that they’re going through and then ultimately craft solutions around that?” Blackard said. When it comes to retail, Samsung is exploring ways to improve the online shopping experience. “Considering all the technology we have in these [new Note] devices — 5G connectivity, great augmented reality solutions, three cameras — the mobile shopping experience is still pretty basic,” Blackard said.  And with entertainment, Samsung is considering how it can help people enjoy concerts, sports, movies and other content from home instead of in person. Rather than create its own services — something Samsung has struggled with — it’s opted to partner with other companies over the past several years, like working with Microsoft to offer Xbox Cloud gaming on the Note 20. It’s looking at even more ways to work with partners in entertainment, Blackard said. 

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Realme 7i India Launch Teased by CEO Madhav Sheth, Appears on Support Page

Realme 7i is expected to be revealed soon as the company’s India and Europe CEO Madhav Sheth teases the arrival of a Realme 7 series phone on Twitter. The Realme 7 and Realme 7 Pro were launched in India at the beginning of this month and the Realme 7i debuted in the Indonesian market a…

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Realme 7i India Launch Teased by CEO Madhav Sheth, Appears on Support Page

Realme 7i is expected to be revealed soon as the company’s India and Europe CEO Madhav Sheth teases the arrival of a Realme 7 series phone on Twitter. The Realme 7 and Realme 7 Pro were launched in India at the beginning of this month and the Realme 7i debuted in the Indonesian market a couple weeks ago. Now, Sheth has teased a new entrant in the Realme 7 series and it could be the Realme 7i. While the tweet shows a phone with a quad rear camera setup, no other details have been announced around the upcoming smartphone. The Realme 7i has also started appearing on the support page of the company’s India website, hinting at an imminent launch.Realme India and Europe CEO Madhav Sheth tweeted that “something new and exciting” is coming up and more will be revealed soon on the next episode of the ongoing Realme community Q&A series Ask Madhav. The image shared in the tweet shows the back of a phone that appears to be the Realme 7i in its Aurora Green variant, as suggested by its quad rear camera setup.  The tweet does not include any information about the phone but from the Indonesian launch, we know pretty much all there is about the Realme 7i, except the Indian pricing.Additionally, the Realme 7i has also started appearing on the company’s India support page. Gadgets 360 independently verified that the Realme 7i has been listed under the Model sub-category on the search page. However, the page hasn’t been populated with any search results or further details as of yet.All of this seems to hint at an imminent launch of the Realme 7i in India.Realme 7i specificationsThe dual-SIM (Nano) Realme 7i runs Android 10 with Realme UI on top. It features a 6.5-inch HD+ (720×1,600 pixels) display with 90Hz refresh rate. The phone is powered by the octa-core Snapdragon 662 SoC with 8GB of LPDDR4x RAM.Speaking of optics, the Realme 7i packs a quad rear camera setup and the sensors are arranged in an L-shape placed within the rectangular camera module. It includes a 64-megapixel primary sensor with an f/1.8 lens, an 8-megapixel sensor with an ultra-wide-angle f/2.2 lens, a 2-megapixel black and white sensor with an f/2.4 lens, and a 2-megapixel macro shooter with an f/2.4 aperture. For selfies, you get a 16-megapixel Sony IMX471 Sensor with an f/2.1 lens, housed in the hole-punch cutout located at the top left corner of the screen.The Realme 7i comes with 128GB of UFS 2.1 onboard storage that is expandable via microSD card. The phone is backed by a 5,000mAh battery with support for 18W fast charging. The phone is offered in Aurora Green and Polar Blue colour options.Is this the end of the Samsung Galaxy Note series as we know it? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below. Affiliate links may be automatically generated – see our ethics statement for details.

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Nokia 9.3 PureView, Nokia 7.3 5G, Nokia 6.3 Tipped to Launch in November

Nokia 9.3 PureView, Nokia 7.3 5G, and Nokia 6.3 smartphones are expected to launch in November, a report claims. Nokia licensee HMD Global is reportedly planning a major launch event in November where it is expected to unveil the aforementioned phones. The Nokia 9.3 PureView is expected to be a flagship offering from the company…

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Nokia 9.3 PureView, Nokia 7.3 5G, Nokia 6.3 Tipped to Launch in November

Nokia 9.3 PureView, Nokia 7.3 5G, and Nokia 6.3 smartphones are expected to launch in November, a report claims. Nokia licensee HMD Global is reportedly planning a major launch event in November where it is expected to unveil the aforementioned phones. The Nokia 9.3 PureView is expected to be a flagship offering from the company and has been subject to leaks for quite some time now. The other two phones, Nokia 7.3 5G and Nokia 6.3, have also seen their fair share of leaks.In its report, NokiaPowerUser cited sources who said that HMD Global is planning to hold a major launch event in November where it may unveil the Nokia 9.3 and the Nokia 7.3 5G. While the sources only mention these two models, the Nokia 6.3 is also expected to be announced at the same event. The report also mentioned that the launch event is still in the planning phase and can be postponed as well if there are any roadblocks. The report further claims that sources in retail also expect Nokia smartphone launches in November or December.Last month, it was reported that HMD Global is planning on holding a major launch event in Q4 2020 where it will unveil the Nokia 9.3 PureView, Nokia 7.3 5G, and Nokia 6.3. If the latest report is to be believed, November could officially be the launch month for these phones.Nokia 9.3, Nokia 7.3 5G, Nokia 6.3: Specifications (expected)The Nokia 9.3 is expected to offer a 120Hz display, a 108-megapixel main camera, and 8K video recording. The Nokia 7.3 5G may feature a 6.5-inch full HD+ display with a hole-punch cutout. It is expected to be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 690 SoC. It may feature a 48-megapixel primary sensor and a 24-megapixel selfie shooter. The smartphone may pack a 4,000mAh battery with support for 18W fast charging.On the other hand, the Nokia 6.3 may feature a larger than 6.2-inch full-HD+ display with PureDisplay branding. The smartphone could be offered with 3GB/ 4GB/ 6GB RAM and 32GB/ 64GB/ 128GB storage options. The Nokia 6.3 may pack a quad rear camera setup, a 16-megapixel selfie camera, and 4,000mAh battery. It may be powered by a Snapdragon 670/ 675 SoC.Is Android One holding back Nokia smartphones in India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below. 

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9 best kitchen gadgets under $20 that you’ll use every day – CNET

As much as I love my kitchen workhorses — the giant wooden cutting board, measuring cups, microplane and razor-sharp knives — there’s also a special place in my heart for the smaller extras that I don’t strictly need, but that make cooking (and eating!) smooth as butter.After singing their praises to (aka pushing them on) my family and…

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9 best kitchen gadgets under $20 that you’ll use every day     – CNET

As much as I love my kitchen workhorses — the giant wooden cutting board, measuring cups, microplane and razor-sharp knives — there’s also a special place in my heart for the smaller extras that I don’t strictly need, but that make cooking (and eating!) smooth as butter.After singing their praises to (aka pushing them on) my family and friends, I thought I’d share info on these cheap, easy-to-clean favorites with you. They’re all products I actually own and use in real life and that are simple to incorporate into your cooking routine. Most of all, they’re versatile tools you can use daily (I do!), which means they’re not just inexpensive, but also high-value. Here are the tools I never want to be without, and how I use them.

Xujia via Amazon

The wide, saucer-shaped bowl, long handle and pleasant weight make these beautiful spoons perfect for almost everything — eating soup, curries, rice dishes, spooning yogurt out of the tub, spooning anything out of any tub, really. My Korean friend calls them “jjigae spoons” (a type of stew) or rice spoons, but in my family, they’re known as “life-changing spoons,” which is how I first convinced my family to adopt them. I hardly ever use “regular” spoons anymore. You can buy long-handled spoons online or in many Asian markets. My personal preference is to get a set with round handles, not the thin kind with the flat ends. Prices vary, but they’re not expensive either way — say $16 for a pack of 5 good quality spoons, or even $15 for a pack of 8.

Amazon

I’m sure I could live without a pair of kitchen shears like this one from Henckels (also known for making reliable knives), but I don’t particularly want to. A dedicated pair of shears makes opening food bags, cutting meat and fish and trimming green beans dead-easy. Storing them with your knives or utensils keeps them accessible where you need them and eliminates cross-contamination with your other scissors. Sturdy shears can butterfly poultry and this model unhinges for dishwashing — it’s dishwasher safe if in need of thorough sanitizing, but it usually cleans easily with soapy hot water and a sponge. This particular model costs under $20 on sale.

Tovolo

Bench scrapers, also known as pastry or dough scrapers or cutters, are typically used to pry dough off a work surface, though I use mine multiple times a day for either scraping or lifting items from my cutting board to a pan or bowl. I used to use the side of whichever knife I had in my hand, but this useful kitchen tool shovels more diced onions at a time and is safer anyway. I’ve also used straight-sided bench scrapers, but the offset design is much easier for sliding under a pile of chopped food. It’s equally adept at its intended purpose of working with bread and pastry dough. This Tovolo bench scraper is the one I use and costs around $10.

Lifver Home via Amazon

Small bowls are hardly interesting or new and I have plenty of them, especially fluted and ribbed ramekins. But these wonderful dip bowls have made cooking and serving food more of a delight. I just love them. They’re useful enough for daily prep and pretty enough to serve on. You can mound a surprising amount of food in the hollow, like lemon zest, olive oil, wasabi or even grated cheese like fresh parmesan. They cost $18 for a set of eight 3-ounce bowls.Here’s how I use them:Spoon restUsed tea bag holderSalt piggyEgg holderPrep bowl for ingredients like garlic, shallots, gingerPrep bowl for blending spices (the mix flows into the pan really easily, without getting stuck in creases)Garnish serverServer for individual desserts, like squares of chocolate, a brownie or a tiny scoop of ice creamSugar caddy for after-dinner coffee or teaRing valet (especially when taking off to work with slimy or sticky food)

Prep Solutions via Amazon

My dad endearingly referred to these as “rubber fingers.” This set of two — one with a pointy end (pictured) and one that looks more like a paddle, cost $8 and are awesome for scraping, scooping and pushing down all types of food. Think the last little bit of something gooey like peanut butter from the jar, or getting every little bit of beaten egg out of a small bowl. I still use full-size spatulas for large work bowls, pots and pans, but these nonstick minis work better than spoons or my finger and fit really well into drawer dividers. They’re machine washable, too.

Lodge via Amazon

I had never heard of a pan or pot scraper until my colleague Rich Brown sang its praises. I have an elaborate and finely-tuned method for steaming and scraping off stuck-on crud from pots, pans and bakeware, but I started getting a lot of time back once I began using this $5 tool — or $8 for two.This kitchen gadget fits into your palm and easily scrapes away gunk with its flat and curved edges, which can also better reach into corners. Still expect a little sponge work, but mostly to wipe away loosened and leftover stuff. I was amazed with how my Lodge pot scraper obliterates the scum that builds up in a ring around the pan, say the leftovers of reduced marinara. It cuts through residue faster and more efficiently than a hard plastic spatula and it won’t gunk up the scrubby side of a sponge with cheese, egg or starchy buildup. I recommend keeping it visible on your sink, near your sponges and dish soap. I initially put it into a drawer and forgot about it, but now it’s top of mind. 

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

My friend bought a fancy new dishwasher with built-in wine holders and gave me three purple silicone tubes that help keep your wine glasses safe in the machine. “Here, you like wine,” she said. “You should use these.”She was right. They may look derpy, but this perfect gift probably saved my wine glasses more than once. You fit one grippy end around your overturned stemware (as pictured) and slide the other end, a hollow tube, over a peg on the bottom rack of your dishwasher. A wire that runs two-thirds the length of the attachment supplies structure. If a glass feels extra wobbly in the center of the bottom rack, I’ve been known to clip on two of these silicone holders for extra stability, one on either side. I used to hand-wash my wine glasses and still managed to break one here or there. Not anymore. It costs about $12 for a set of eight. I’ve run them in the dishwasher on a weekly basis for almost two years.

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Great for elegantly draining pasta, reaching for items on the top shelf, juicing lemons and even cleaning window blinds. A pair of 9-inch or 12-inch silicone-tipped tongs costs about $15 and has become a trusty kitchen companion that does far more for a chef than just flip browning veggies and meat. Here are seven clever uses for kitchen tongs.

Endurance via Amazon

I love a small saucepan for so many reasons, including frying perfectly round eggs one at a time and reducing broth and sauces. Melting butter and making modest quantities of caramel or hot milk and cream are also great in an itty-bitty pan, especially if you’re trying to keep a small amount of liquid from evaporating too quickly.I bought a “cup measuring pan” that’s a lot like this one, with a long handle, and I like it, though it’s not as thick as some of my other kitchen pots. I’d also happily consider a butter melting pot for butter, sauces, warming milk and boiling single eggs, but I currently use a tiny milk frothing jug for that, intended for espresso. Whichever pan you get should cost between $15 and $25, tops. Mine was about $15. 

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