Are you ready for a punch-hole cutout in the display?
After last year’s bold reinvention of the Samsung Galaxy S8, this year’s Galaxy S9 didn’t have quite the same impact. It’s still one of the best phones you can buy today, but it’s tougher to get excited about a super-expensive smartphone that feels… samesy.
But surely the Galaxy S10 will go big again. Not only does it mark the “tick” part of the Apple-esque tick-tock release cycle that Samsung’s followed the last few years, but it’s also the big #10 for the brand. And we saw what Apple did with the iPhone X to mark its own legacy last year.
It’s early still, but the rumours are already flying about what to expect from the Samsung Galaxy S10. If you’re an eager Samsung fan, here’s what you need to know so far.
When will the S10 be out?
— ICE UNIVERSE (@UniverseIce) July 4, 2018
Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ in February this year at Mobile World Congress, and then released them the following month in March.
That was a month earlier than the Galaxy S8 models on both sides of the equation, but it sounds like Samsung may stick with that new approach in 2019. In July 2018, noted leaker Ice Universe tweeted that Samsung will debut the Galaxy S10 at MWC 2019 in February, following a launch of the foldable Galaxy X phone at CES 2019 in January.
However, in September, Korean site The Bell suggested that Samsung will launch the Galaxy S10 earlier than usual, however, with a CES debut likely. That might make sense too, now that Samsung has confirmed a debut of its foldable phone at the Samsung Developer Conference this November.
It’s still too early to tell whether the Galaxy S10 will launch at CES or MWC early next year, but sometime in that January-February window seems certain.
How much will the S10 cost?
We haven’t heard any solid rumours about the Galaxy S10’s price tag so far, but we can’t imagine that it’ll be cheap.
Samsung has continually pushed upwards with its smartphone line, and with Apple raising the price bar with the iPhone XS-range, we don’t see Samsung stopping anytime soon. The Galaxy S9 sells for around R13,500, the S9+ at a wallet-pummeling R16,000, which is also what the Galaxy Note 9 starts at these days (but it was nearer R20,000 at launch). Don’t be surprised if both Galaxy S10 models push past those marks a bit.
What will it look like?
Samsung’s recent pattern suggests a design reinvention for the Galaxy S10. It happened with the Galaxy S6 and S8, and the Android market has shifted quite a bit over the last year.
Will the Galaxy S10 start fresh? Will it pack an iPhone X-esque notch, like many of its Android competitors? In September 2018, mobile boss DJ Koh told Chinese media that the Galaxy S10’s design shifts will be “very significant,” according to SamMobile. He went on to suggest that the handset will be offered in “amazing” colours, hopefully bringing in a wider array of options than the company’s recent flagships.
Reliable leaker Evan Blass tweeted in November 2018 that the Galaxy S10 will use a “punch-hole” style cutout, which means a little black hole in the display rather than a larger notch that’s connected to the top bezel. Samsung showed a “Galaxy O” display concept at its Developers Conference earlier in the month, which has just a small hole in the upper left corner.
Fellow leaker Ben Geskin has been whipping up concept renders using that idea, which you’ll see above and below.
SamMobile also suggests that there will be a third Galaxy S10 model this year: one with a 5.8in display and another with a 6.2in display, like we have today, but then also a Galaxy S10 (Plus? Max? Mega?) with a 6.44in display.
Bloomberg also claims that there will be three models of the Galaxy S10, with the cheapest model likely to have a flat screen rather than a curved one. The site also suggests that the Galaxy S10 will be about the same size as the Galaxy S9, with very little bezel at the top and bottom as well as a front-facing camera that is “visible and tucked under the display.”
What about the screen?
The Galaxy S9 arguably still has the best screen on the market today, and we have a hunch that Samsung will aim to keep that crown for as long as it can.
One rumour, from leaker Ice Universe, suggests that Samsung will up the resolution this time around, potentially pushing past the QHD+ of the Galaxy S9 models. The leaker suggests a pixels-per-inch count of 600+ for the handsets, while the S9 currently sits at 570ppi and the S9+ comes in at 530ppi.
Rumored that the screen resolution of the Galaxy S10 will exceed 600PPI
— ICE UNIVERSE (@UniverseIce) May 14, 2018
Bumping up to 4K resolution would provide a vastly higher ppi count, but would also suck up loads more power from the battery. Perhaps Samsung will shoot for something in the middle for its next Super AMOLED wonder?
We think it’s entirely possible that the Galaxy S10 will have beefed up res, kind of like the iPhone X went just past 1080p. As for screen dimensions, we’re still waiting for more leaks.
How much power will it pack?
Samsung’s in-house Exynos chips, used in South Africa and elsewhere, have consistently led the Android pack in recent years, with the top-end Qualcomm Snapdragon chips (used in the US) pretty close behind.
We’re expecting a new Exynos chip for 2019, of course, packing even more power than before. Earlier this year, Ice Universe suggested a new chipset that’ll put more emphasis on artificial intelligence, with a dedicated neural processing unit – much like Huawei does with its Kirin processors.
We should see an upgraded version of Bixby first in the Galaxy Note 9 very soon, so that would undoubtedly end up in the Galaxy S10 as well, plus the S10 will surely run on a skinned version of Android 9 Pie.
The only question is, can Samsung’s next chips match up to Apple’s industry-leading A12 Bionic mobile processors?
And what about cameras?
Remember when putting three cameras on the back of the Huawei P20 Pro seemed downright silly? Well, the P20 Pro (and Mate 20 Pro) ended up stunning us with its camera setup, and now competitors seem ready to follow in their footsteps.
KB Securities analyst Kim Dong-won believes that Samsung will follow suit with the Galaxy S10 and put their own triple-camera setup on the back. ET News suggests that the top-end 6.44in Galaxy S10+ will feature three cameras on the back and two on the front (five total), while the mid-tier model will have three back cameras and one on the front (four total), and the smallest will have two on the back and one up front (that’s three).
Leaker Evan Blass suggests a triple-camera setup with standard, wide-angle, and telephoto cameras in tow. That sounds like what the Mate 20 Pro has on offer.
The report claims that Samsung is trying to recruit more and more camera suppliers to deal with the overwhelming production needs as a result of that approach. That’s a lot of cameras for one phone line, but it’s the emerging trend right now. After all, Samsung’s new Galaxy A9 has four back cameras, making five total, while the LG V40 ThinQ splits its five cameras between three on the back and two up front.
Is there anything else?
The Galaxy S9 thankfully moved the back fingerprint sensor to a more comfortable location, but the Galaxy S10 may do something else entirely: put it in the display.
How? According to ET News, Samsung has confirmed that it plans to put a Qualcomm-produced ultrasonic fingerprint sensor in the Galaxy S10, and it’ll sit under the display and read your fingerprint for security.
A SamMobile report in late August suggested that the two higher-end Galaxy S10 models will include the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor in the display (which Evan Blass has since echoed), while the lower-end version will instead use an optical fingerprint sensor (like the Huawei Mate 20 Pro) in the screen. The optical approach is considered to be less consistent, but it’s also much cheaper technology. However, according to Bloomberg, the cheapest version of the Galaxy S10 may skip the in-display fingerprint sensor.
Samsung may also help lead the 5G charge with the Galaxy S10. The Bell reports that Samsung will release a 5G-compatible variant of the Galaxy S10+ early next year, as Korean carriers launch 5G service in March 2019 and other countries may follow suit. The report suggests that the 5G version will be sold in limited quantities, which make sense given the likely early demand, and that it will also be pricier than the standard Galaxy S10+ model.
Also, you can be sure that the Galaxy S10 will use Android 9 Pie with Samsung’s new One UI interface, which streamlines and simplifies things. We look forward to some grand redesigns with the upcoming Samsung flagship.