With COVID-19 disrupting supply chains and forcing software developers, hardware engineers and product designers to collaborate remotely, getting a major new product out the door can be challenging.
But for now, a lot of anticipated tech products are still scheduled to launch at or near their original ETAs.
Here’s a look at what’s been announced and reported regarding the rollout of several noteworthy tech products expected between now and the end of 2020.
Apple’s 2020 iPhone Lineup
Apple (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report is still expected to launch a new, low-cost iPhone in the coming weeks. The phone is expected to be called the iPhone SE -- the original SE, which had a 4-inch display and launched in 2016, was discontinued in Sep. 2018 -- and is rumored to feature a 4.7-inch LCD display, a Touch ID fingerprint sensor and an A13 Bionic system-on-chip (currently found within Apple’s 2019 iPhones).
For the moment, Apple’s fall 2020 iPhone lineup -- it’s expected to include four 5G-capable models, with display sizes ranging between 5.4 and 6.7 inches -- appears to be on track as well. Bloomberg reported on March 30 that the phones are still due to launch in the fall, and a week later, top Apple contract manufacturer Foxconn indicated it can still ship the devices this fall, albeit while adding it’s working to make up for lost time and that further delays could lead a launch to be pushed back.
The Information reported on March 30 about some of the challenges faced by Apple’s hardware teams as they deal with COVID-19 lockdowns, such as having to “make decisions based on grainy photos of parts sent from Chinese factories, rather than doing so in person.” Bloomberg has reported that Apple (a company with quite the reputation for product secrecy) has begun letting engineers “take home early versions of future devices” so that they can keep working on them.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy Fold 2
Earlier this week, the Korea Herald reported that Samsung is still planning to launch its Galaxy Note 20 phone in August, along with a second-gen version of its Galaxy Fold foldable phone. It added that the devices could be announced as soon as July, and that Samsung employees are still working from their offices in South Korea.
The Note 20 is rumored to have a massive 7-inch display, as well as a front camera that resides underneath the display. The Galaxy Fold 2, whose launch would follow the early-2020 release of the Galaxy Z Flip, is rumored to have a larger main display than the first-gen Fold’s 7.3-inch screen, and to (thankfully) also cost less than the $1,980 Fold.
Next-Gen Game Consoles
Microsoft’s (MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation Report Xbox Series X and Sony’s (SNE) - Get Sony Corp. Report PlayStation 5 have both been slated to launch by the holiday season. For now, there isn’t any indication that this has changed.
Earlier this week, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO indicated the PS5 is still on track to launch by the holidays. And when asked during a CNBC talk whether Microsoft will still be able to ship devices planned for later this year, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella noted supply chain activity is returning to normal, and that his company’s main concern is what demand will be like in places such as the U.S. and Europe.
The Xbox Series X and PS5 will both be powered by custom AMD (AMD) - Get Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. Report processors whose GPUs will support real-time ray tracing, and will each rely on solid-state drives for storage.
Next-Gen Nvidia GPUs
Nvidia (NVDA) - Get NVIDIA Corporation Report has been widely expected this year to roll out new gaming and server GPUs based on a next-gen architecture known as Ampere. The first Ampere product (possibly a flagship server GPU) was expected to be shown off at Nvidia’s GTC 2020 conference in March, but GTC has (understandably) been cancelled and Nvidia announced on March 16 it’s postponing the release of the product news it was planning to share at GTC.
Nonetheless, there are still a number of signs suggesting that Ampere GPUs will launch at some point this year. Nvidia’s flagship Ampere gaming GPU, expected to be called the RTX 3080 Ti, is expected by many to arrive by this fall and be markedly faster than Nvidia’s current flagship gaming GPU (the $999 RTX 2080 Ti, which launched in Sep. 2018).
Microsoft’s Surface Neo and Surface Duo
Microsoft made waves last October when it unveiled (among other things) Windows 10X, a version of Windows meant to support dual-screen laptops. The company also outlined plans to launch a 10X-powered device known as the Surface Neo.
However, ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley recently reported that Microsoft chief product officer Panos Panay has told co-workers that the Surface Neo won’t be shipping in 2020, nor will third-party devices running Windows 10X.
Foley added that Microsoft isn’t currently saying that it plans to delay the launch of the Surface Duo, a dual-screen Android phone that’s expected by the holiday season. On Wednesday, Microsoft exec Brad Anderson shared a photo of him using a Surface Duo at his home.