In the battle of smartphone technology, to be first isn’t necessary to be best. Samsung, the world’s foremost smartphone manufacturer, is slated to launch its S-series devices during its Unpacked event in San Francisco on 21 February 2019 3am SGT (20 February 2019 11am PT, 2PM ET, 7pm GMT). That’s a significant milestone, as this year’s devices will mark a decade of the series’ annual launches.
While steady in first place in terms of total revenue, the brand has seen steady competition from the likes of Chinese manufacturers like Huawei, Xiaomi and the Vivo-Oppo-OnePlus trio. What’s more, the weird world of tech leaks might have helped ruin that surprise, however – with a slate of Samsung S10 leaks springing in the months leading to its release.
New biometric security features
Samsung might have led the pack in offering biometric security – with fingerprint sensors eventually becoming de rigueur amongst handsets. After a weak attempt at front-facing facial recognition with a hit-and-miss implementation of iris-cum-facial scanning on its last few smartphones, the industry has moved on.
First implemented commercially with optical scanners on the Huawei Mate 20 series and OnePlus 6T, in-screen fingerprint unlock might be taken up a notch with an ultrasonic sensor that enables a larger scanning area. Some analysts also expect a 3D depth-sensing face-unlock to debut on the device, not unlike the system implemented on the iPhone X devices.
Samsung Galaxy S10E, S10, and S10+ (L to R), encased pic.twitter.com/Pk2gpXkXxn
— Evan Blass (@evleaks) January 19, 2019
The renders, which hint at only a horizontal rectangle camera array, mean that the fingerprint sensor has been moved to the front, under the screen with the new ultrasonic scanner.
Some other rumours point toward the device sporting a side-mounted fingerprint scanner, not unlike Sony Xperia devices of yore.
Hole Punch Display
2018 might have been a dark year in smartphone design, with notch contagion spreading like wildfire. Leaked 3D CAD renders show a hole-punch design, which might be a relief for those who can notch take it any longer. This ties in with technology exhibited at Samsung’s recent developer conference, which included a hole-punch display that the company christened “Infinity-O”.
Akin to that seen on the elusive Huawei Nova 4 and on recently-rebranded subsidiary Honor’s View 20, the hole-punch design is considerably wider, allowing for dual front-facing camera lenses. It seems that the hole-punch in the display will be made in the top right corner of the screen, as alluded to by an official post on the Samsung Newsroom that included a render of the device.
Influential leaker Evan Blass tweeted a possible S10 variant, although with a single, round hole. This corroborates earlier leaks of the device.
Samsung Galaxy S10 "Beyond 1," in the wild. pic.twitter.com/EMquh59Kln
— Evan Blass (@evleaks) January 3, 2019
Connectivity and Charging
FCC filings by Samsung have also shown that the S10 might sport a back-to-back wireless charger like that on the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. This will likely be called Wireless Power Transfer.
It might also feature Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), which succeed the current convention 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5). This means transfer rates of up to 1.1Gbps on the 2.4GHz band and up to 4.8Gbps on the 5GHz band.
US versions of the Samsung S10 might be the first to feature Qualcomm’s upcoming Snapdragon 855 chipset. Other models will likely contain Samsung’s Exynos 9820, an octa-core chipset built with a 8nm process. Smaller and more efficient than its predecessor, the Exynos 9820 boasts a 10% decrease in power consumption with greater single core and multicore performance. GPU performance is also boosted in power and efficiency to meet the demands of the latest content and gaming titles.
The Exynos chip will also feature an on-board NPU for faster AI processing. It supports recording to up to 8K at 30fps, along with support for high-resolution displays and camera. The S10 might not feature the full power of the chip, though. The Snapdragon 855 is, however, built on a 7nm process, which means greater performance over 2018 flagships, and up to twice the performance of either Apple’s A12 Bionic or Huawei’s Kirin 980 7nm process chips.
The Galaxy S10 would most likely come in a variety of models. A standard one, a larger Galaxy S10 Plus, and a smaller Galaxy S10E / S10 Lite. There are even reports that a 5G variant, which might be christened the Galaxy S10 X, will be available for purchase on March 29.
Samsung Galaxy S10
Expected to retail around USD800, the S10 is set to retail at a price slightly higher than its predecessors the S8 and S9. With a 19:9 aspect ratio and 1440×3040 resolution, the S10 is slated to be one of the most drastic updates to the series. We can expect the phone to retain its 3.5mm charging port, which is a sigh of relief for most long-time Galaxy fans.
It is expected to retail in the following configurations: 6/128GB, 8/512GB.
Taking a cue from Huawei’s super-successful P20 and Mate 20 smartphones, a triple camera array is also expected to be featured on the S10 phones. It is unclear how they will be configured, although some analysts reckon that Samsung will feature a 3D sensor to enhance Augmented Reality experiences and for better computational photography performance. We could expect a return of Samsung’s variable aperture lens like that on the S9 and Note 9 from last year.
The S10 is expected to feature a battery capacity of between 3,300-3,500mAh, with cryptocurrency support andh native secure management of blockchain keys.
Samsung Galaxy S10E – a cheaper option
While by no means priced as a budget variant of the S10, the S10E is expected to be priced between USD700-800. It is expected to have a battery capacity of around 3,000mAh.
It will be likely offered in a 6/128GB variant.
Samsung Galaxy S10 X / Plus / 5G – plus-sized version
The third model is the hardest to lay a finger on, though most expect it to feature a larger display and 5G connectivity. Of course, it comes at the highest price point,
Some even expect the plus model to feature a whopping six lenses, which tie in together with some renders.
The Plus model is rumoured to have a battery capacity of about 4,000mAh and the 5G model 5,000mAh.
This variant is expected to be available in 6/128GB, 8/512GB and 12GB/1TB variants. A 5G model will likely be offered in a 12GB/1TB configuration.