Samsung's D-Day is almost here. Within a few hours, the South Korean smartphone maker will announce its flagship device, the Samsung Galaxy S10, along with a foldable smartphone and smart accessories including Galaxy Watch Active and Galaxy Buds. The launch event will take place at San Francisco at 12:30 am IST on 21 February.
This is the tenth anniversary of Samsung's Galaxy S-series and the launch is crucial for the chaebol as the global smartphone sales are plummeting.
The Galaxy S10 will have three variants—the regular S10, S10 Plus and S10e. The Galaxy S10e will be the more pocket-friendly version of the three and will skip on a few features, that might be a blessing in disguise.
Crucial details about the Samsung Galaxy S10 have already been brought to the surface. Samsung accidentally aired its flagship's commercial on a Norwegian TV channel TV 2. The commercial shows the smartphone in its full glory and confirms almost every speculation surrounding S10.
The 30-second commercial highlights the smartphone's new display with a punch hole to accommodate the front-facing cameras. It also shows the new ultrasonic in-display fingerprint scanner and the reverse wireless charging feature that appears to be borrowed straight off from the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. It also confirms the presence of a 3.5mm headphone jack, which was rumoured to be skipped.
The commercial, luckily for Samsung, doesn't mention two important aspects of this launch—the price and the S10e variant.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 is expected to sport a 6.1-inch QHD+ (3040x1440) Infinity-O Super AMOLED curved display. It's bigger sibling, the S10 Plus will be lit by a 6.4-inch display of a similar resolution.
The Infinity-O cutout will be different in the S10 and S10 Plus devices—the S10 will get a perfect circle cutout as it will have a single 10MP front-facing camera with an aperture of f/1.9. The S10 Plus, however, will have an elongated cutout to accommodate the horizontally place dual camera setup comprising a 10MP primary camera and an 8MP depth sensor.
The S10 and S10 Plus will come with ultrasonic in-display sensors. These would be able to produce 3D scans of a user's fingerprints accurate to the pores.
But there'san inevitable flaw. Since the scanner is ultrasonic in nature, it requires the glass to conduct sound waves. Any trace of air would result in inaccurate scans. Which means conventional screen protectors wouldn't work well with the smartphone. An awkward workaround that omits the area around the ultrasonic sensor is possible, but it leaves behind a hole in the centre of the display. Many manufacturers are going for this solution. The only compatible screen protector is from Whitestone that will cost an eye-watering $60.
Further, Samsung will most likely ditch facial recognition and iris scanning in favour of Infinity-O cutouts. We hope the ultrasonic sensor works with cracks on the screen, or else users would be left with the caveman method of alphanumeric or pattern unlocking.
The Galaxy S10e will skip the ultrasonic sensor altogether and will go for a traditional optical sensor embedded inside the side-mounted power button. We have seen in the past that this is a cumbersome implementation, but as we mentioned earlier, it might be a blessing in disguise.
Coming to the hardware, all S10 variants are expected to be powered either by Samsung's Exynos 9820 SoC based on a 7nm manufacturing process or the Snapdragon 855 processor in select countries. It's still not clear if Samsung would launch 5G ready devices at the launch or would it schedule another launch later in the year.
The Galaxy S10 will come with two memory options of 6GB and 8GB of RAM paired with 128GB and 512GB of internal storage respectively.
The Galaxy S10 Plus will have up to 12GB of RAM and a terabyte of internal storage.
The more affordable S10e will likely get 6GB/128GB and 8GB/256GB options.
The S10, S10 Plus and S10e will come with 3,400mAh, 4,100mAh and 3,100mAh batteries respectively.
In terms of optics, the S10 and S10 Plus will get triple cameras at the back—a 12MP f/2.4 telephoto lens with OIS and AF stacked on top of a 12MP wide-angle lens with dual aperture (f/1.5-f/2.4), and a 16MP ultra wide-angle f/2.2 sensor.
The S10e will lack the 12MP telephoto camera and will come with a dual camera system instead.
The Galaxy Buds and Galaxy Watch Active will accompany the flagship smartphones.
The Galaxy Buds are reminiscent of Apple's AirPods—wireless earphones offered with a charging case. Going by the teasers and promos from Samsung, the case can be wirelessly charged through the smartphones' Qi-charging compliant backs. The Buds will be backed by 58mAh batteries while the case will have a capacity of 252mAh.
The Galaxy Watch Active is Samsung's answer to the Apple Watch. Samsung will likely ditch the Galaxy Gear branding as well as its trademark rotating dial. Reports suggest the Watch Active will sport a 1.3-inch circular AMOLED panel with a resolution of 360x360. It will be powered by Samsung's Exynos 9110 chipset that will be paired with 768MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage.
Coming to the talk of the town, Samsung will also announce the Galaxy Fold foldable smartphone at the event. Samsung announced its intent to launch foldable devices at its developers' conference held last year in November.
The Galaxy Fold will aim to offer a versatile smartphone that can be doubled up as a tablet seamlessly. It will offer a large foldable OLED display that will offer a tablet-like experience which can be folded in the middle like a book to reveal a smaller 4-inch display. It will have hardware specifications similar to the Galaxy S10 but will house two 2,190mAh batteries on the two sides.