The countdown to a new Samsung smartphone has begun. The electronics giant is holding a Feb. 20 press event in San Francisco, where the manufacturer will unveil the Galaxy S10 in what will likely be the first big smartphone launch of 2019.
A render of the Galaxy S10 based on all the information we have to date. (Credit: OnLeaks and 91Mobiles)
Our first look at the Galaxy S10 next month will provide some answers to a question that's been looming since the first S10 rumors stirred last year: Just how big will the changes be for Samsung's next flagship device? Here's a closer look at some of the rumored features coming to the S10 and how they'll differ from what the current Galaxy S9 and S9+ offer.
Get ready to have more smartphone models to choose from. After years of offering just two sizes — the 5.8-inch Galaxy S9 and the 6.2-inch Galaxy S9+ were 2018's entries — Samsung is reportedly planning on four varieties of the Galaxy S10. The new phone looks like it's going to come in 5.8-, 6.1-, 6.4- and 6.7-inch sizes so that Samsung can offer phones with a range of prices and features.
Credit: Phone Arena
Another noteworthy change in the works for the Galaxy S10 is the placement of the fingerprint sensor. Recent models have placed the sensor on the back of the phone to make more space for the phone's Infinity Display. But with the S10, the fingerprint reader will move back to the front of the phone — only this time, the reader will live under the display, in the form of an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor. Other phones have offered a similar feature — notably the OnePlus 6T, though it uses an optical sensor not an ultrasonic one.
The OnePlus 6T has an in-screen fingerprint sensor — something the Galaxy S10 is expected to get. (Credit: Tom's Guide)
Samsung tends to play it pretty safe on colors, with the S9 debuting in Midnight Black, Coral Blue and Lilac Purple before a Gold variant arrived later. Colors got a little more daring with the Note 9, and the S10 seems like it's going to continue that trend. Samsung mobile chief DJ Koh has promised "amazing" colors for the S10, and while that may not mean the nine new gradients one blogger is predicting, you'll likely have more choices than you did with the S9.
There's no denying that Samsung's Infinity Display has been a hit since it first graced the Galaxy S8 two years ago. Samsung is all but certain to retain that extended AMOLED screen with the S10, but the company may do so with a different kind of display.
A render of the Galaxy S10+ (Credit: Ice Universe)
Last fall, at its developers conference, Samsung showed off several variants of its Infinity Display. Each had a different way of further shrinking the bezels surrounding the screen while also accommodating things like the front-facing camera.
Based on the rumor mill, the Infinity-O display seems likes it's slated for the S10. With this approach, Samsung will house the phone's front camera in a punch hole located in the device's upper right corner. That will allow the phone maker to shrink the bezel at the top of the phone without having to use an iPhone X-style notch. The S10+ is expected to sport a wider hole to accommodate two front cameras.
Assuming Samsung does come out with different varieties of the S10, the entry-level model is expected to feature a flat display. That would be a departure from the curved display we've gotten used to with Samsung's Galaxy S phones.
One change from the Galaxy S9 to the S10 is already a near-certainty. Samsung's new phone will upgrade from the Snapdragon 845 inside the Galaxy S9 to a new Snapdragon 855, at least for Galaxy S10 models sold in the U.S. (In other markets, Samsung uses its own Exynos chipset for the Galaxy S phones, with the Exynos 9820 rumored to power this year's model.)
Because we had a chance to benchmark the Snapdragon 855, we'd expect to see a performance boost in the Galaxy S10 over last year's Samsung phone. When we tested the new mobile processor in a reference device provided by Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 855 recorded a blistering multicore score of 11,196 on Geekbench 4, which measures overall performance. The S9+ posted a score of 8,295 on that same test when we reviewed the phone a year ago.
Likewise, the Snapdragon 855's score of 5,603 on the graphics-measuring 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme test was better than what we saw from the Snapdragon 845-powered S9 and S9+.
The Galaxy S10 is likely to enjoy another performance edge over the S9, though perhaps not right away. The high-end model of the S10 could feature support for the next-generation 5G networks that wireless carriers are currently building out, taking advantage of the X50 5G modem onboard the Snapdragon 855. That will mean faster data speeds when you're able to connect to a 5G network.
It's unclear, though, if Samsung will ship that top-of-the-line variant alongside the company's other S10 models. One rumor suggests that Samsung could hold off on releasing the 5G version of the Galaxy S10 until later on in the first half of 2019, when 5G networks are more likely to be available.
Look for the next Galaxy S phone to add more lenses. While the S9 featured a single, 12-megapixel lens with variable aperture and the S9+ doubled up on its 12-MP shooters, the S10 looks like it will have three rear cameras — and possibly more, depending on which model of the phone we're talking about.
Some rumors have a Galaxy S10 model featuring as many as four cameras. If true, that would likely be the high-end variant of the phone. A more common assumption, though, is that you'll get a three-lens setup with a main camera, wide-angle lens and telephoto lens. Samsung could stick with the 12-MP sensor on the S10's main shooter, though some reports speculate that the company could boost the megapixel rating to better compete with flagship phones from rivals like Huawei.
Just as the Galaxy S9 used its variable aperture to improve photos in low-light settings, the S10 will apparently turn to software to take better photos in the dark. The new phones will reportedly offer a setting called Bright Night, designed to answer the Night Sight feature introduced to Google's Pixel phones to enhance low-light photography.
Up front, the 8-MP selfie cam that adorns the S9 and S9+ could be in for some company, at least on some S10 models. Samsung may add a second front camera for wide-angle self-portraits, taking a page out of Google's book, as seen in the Pixel 3 and 3 XL.
The S9 and S9+ came with 3,000- and 3,500-mAh batteries, respectively. Those helped the two phones last nearly 11 hours on our Tom's Guide Battery test, which features continuous surfing over T-Mobile's LTE network until the devices run out of power.
Samsung will likely want to improve on that performance, and the phone maker could turn to bigger batteries to make that happen. The size of that battery will depend on which model of the S10 you buy.
Rumors suggest that the entry-level S10 will run on a 3,100-mAh battery, which would be a modest upgrade from the 3,000-mAh power pack in the S9. Battery sizes could scale up to 3,500 mAh and 4,000 mAh on the S10 and S10 Plus models. The range-topping version of the S10 could feature a battery as big as 5,000 mAh, according to some reports.
The biggest software change with the Galaxy S10 will be a new interface. Samsung unveiled its OneUI Android skin back in November, and this skin is available as a beta for the S9 and S9+ right now. Expect a more dynamic interface that changes based on what you're using the phone to do; buttons and search bars disappear if they're not germane to the task at hand, for example.
But Samsung also tweaked OneUI to put many of the buttons and commands within reach of your fingers, so that you can use your phone one handed. That's critical for phones with larger screens, which the S10 lineup is expected to introduce.
You can also expect Android 9 Pie to come installed on the S10. The S9 debuted with Android Oreo, and those phones are only now getting the Pie update.
It will be difficult to pinpoint exactly what Samsung will charge for the Galaxy S10, at least until we get closer to the Feb. 20 unveiling. Given the trend in smartphone prices, though, expect the cost for some of the S10 models to closely match the $720 to $840 range that the Galaxy S9 and S9+ debuted at in 2018.
The possibility of a stripped-down version of the S10 could mean that Samsung is looking to offer a sub-$700 flagship to users who don't mind giving up an in-display fingerprint sensor or other high-end features. And if Samsung goes with a 5G-ready model loaded up with multiple cameras, we could be looking at a much more expensive phone.
With U.S. smartphone sales slowing as more people hold on to their current phones for longer, Samsung has a challenge with the Galaxy S10: Come out with a device that not only improves upon what's come before it, but also differs substantially so that users feel compelled to upgrade. Will the changes from the Galaxy S9 be enough to get people to upgrade to Samsung's new phone? We'll have a much better idea on Feb. 20.
Credit: Tom's Guide