This render from Let's Go Digital paints a picture of how Samsung's foldable phone could look.Let's Go Digital
With the Galaxy S10 waiting in the wings for just one more day, the focus has now shifted almost entirely to a handful of other devices that Samsung is expected to show us at its Feb. 20 Unpacked event. These include the company's foldable phone, likely named the Galaxy Fold; its 5G phone, possibly called the Galaxy X; and a pair of wireless earbuds that might be known as the Galaxy Buds.
This multitude of products has generated so much interest online that Samsung has risked overshadowing the Galaxy S10, which is ostensibly the focus of this edition of Unpacked.
Still, introducing a revamped portfolio, instead of just a few new phones, could inject some much-needed excitement into the event -- and give Samsung a leg up on competitors. Xiaomi and Huawei are both expected to reveal their own foldable models at Mobile World Congress later this month. A host of companies will be introducing 5G phones over the coming months. And Apple may introduce the next generation of its own wireless earbuds in March.
The decision to feature multiple products highlights Samsung's current predicament. A persistent stream of leaked images and renders has undermined the company's opportunity to shock and awe us with the Galaxy S10's new design and features that include a Snapdragon 855 chipset, ultrasonic fingerprint sensor and Infinity-O display. But shining the spotlight on other -- arguably more innovative -- phones will almost certainly divert attention away from the flagship models that are actually launching on Feb. 20.
And the stakes are high. The Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus, introduced in February of last year, haven't sold particularly well. Slowing phone sales are now a threat to every brand. And China's Huawei, which ousted Apple to take the No. 2 phone seller slot, has lately trolled Samsung, predicting its supremacy by 2020. And it may get there. Despite its own problems -- which include growing hostility from governments in the US and around the world -- Huawei continues to drive sales on the strength of innovative products such as the Mate 20 Pro. In the final days of December, in fact, Huawei announced that it sold 200 million phones in 2018.
With just hours to go, new rumors continue to bubble up. We'll put them all here, so check back often.
Confirmed: Galaxy S10 to launch Feb. 20 in San Francisco
Samsung interrupted CES 2019 with the announcement of the launch date and location for its next Unpacked event and we now know that the forthcoming flagship will be called the Galaxy S10. The event will take place Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 11 a.m. PT at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. CNET will be on the ground to cover the announcements live.
We had thought that Samsung would save the launch of its foldable phone for MWC the following week -- but, no. The company has unveiled a new teaser video confirming that we'll see what's expected to be called the Galaxy Fold on Feb. 20, too.
Confirmed: Galaxy S10 will ship on March 8
Samsung has now opened up reservations for the Galaxy S10 -- and if you make yours now, you'll get early access to preordering, discounts up to $550 through its trade-in system, $50 off accessories and your new phone delivered on March 8. This corroborates the ship date reported earlier by Gizmodo UK and the Wall Street Journal.
Rumor: Three Galaxy S10 phones, including Plus and Essential models
The Galaxy S10 is rumored to come in three configurations:
Galaxy S10: The name is official but nearly everything else remains a rumor. This model is said to be the same size as today's Galaxy S9, but with even slimmer bezels. It's expected to have a 6.1-inch screen and, perhaps, according to Twitter leaker Ice Universe, a total of three cameras.
Galaxy S10 Plus: Possibly code-named Beyond X or Beyond 2, this will be the successor to the Galaxy S9 Plus. It will have the largest screen -- perhaps a 6.4-inch display -- and up to four rear cameras, two front-facing cameras and a big battery. Ice Universe claims that the Galaxy S10 Plus will be 7.8 mm thick and have a 4,000-mAh battery.
Galaxy S10E: Currently known as the Galaxy S10 Essential, formerly known as the Galaxy S10 Lite and possibly code-named Beyond 0. Designed to compete with the iPhone XR, this could be a smaller, less-expensive device with a 5.8-inch display and fewer hardware embellishments. Other rumors include straight edges instead of two curved sides, no fancy in-screen fingerprint reader and no headphone jack.
Confirmed: We'll also see the foldable Galaxy phone on Feb. 20
After months of speculation, it sounds like Samsung is planning to show off its foldable phone, likely called the Galaxy Fold, alongside the Galaxy S10 on Feb. 20.
A few days ago, Samsung unveiled a teaser video stating, "The future of mobile will unfold on Feb. 20, 2019," alongside imagery of Korean and English words that spell out "the future unfolds" sliding along an invisible curved surface. This follows a report from the Wall Street Journal predicting that Samsung was preparing to show off a more developed version of the prototype it teased at its annual developer conference in November 2018.
The rumor mill has floated lots of possible names for the foldable model, including the Galaxy Winner, Galaxy X, Galaxy F and Galaxy Fold. On the eve of the reveal, it looks increasingly like Samsung has settled on "Galaxy Fold."
Many companies are talking about foldable phones -- including Huawei, LG and others -- but, so far, there's just one on the market today, the Royole FlexPai. Though we know more now than we did back in November when Samsung's foldable phone became real, what we've seen of the device so far has raised more questions than answers.
Rumor: We'll see Samsung's 5G phone, the Galaxy S10X, on Feb. 20, too
We've also heard rumors that Samsung will show off a variant of the Galaxy S10 that supports 5G on Feb. 20. Possibly called the Galaxy S10X, the phone is expected to launch in Korea in March for 800,000-900,000 won, which converts to approximately $715-$800 (AU$990-AU$1,115 or £555-£625). In addition to 5G connectivity, the phone is rumored to have some heavy duty specs: four rear cams and two in front, 6.7-inch Super AMOLED display, 5,000-mAh battery, 10GB of RAM and up to 1TB of storage.
The potential overlap between the Galaxy S10 expected for Feb. 20 and Samsung's 5G phone remains unclear. Though phones were not a focus of his remarks at CES, HS Kim, who leads Samsung's Consumer Electronics Division, mentioned that his company was the first to get FCC approval for its commercial 5G equipment. He also promised that the technology will come to consumers in the US during the first half of 2019.
Samsung has committed to bringing out four 5G phones in 2019 -- two for AT&T and one each for Verizon and Sprint. Still, despite persistent rumors to the contrary, we don't expect the flagship Galaxy S10 phones coming on Feb. 20 to support 5G. Samsung mobile chief DJ Koh told Korean reporters in November that a separate device launching in March on Korean carriers will be its first 5G phone instead. That could be the Galaxy S10 X.
Rumor: Galaxy S10 has an in-screen fingerprint sensor, S10 Essential does not
Since the run up to the Galaxy S8, rumor-mongers have been discussing the prospect of a fingerprint scanner embedded in a Galaxy display. But once we got confirmation that Samsung's next phone would run Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 chipset, which supports an ultrasonic variation of the technology, it seemed like a lock for the S10.
Now, we're seeing purported photos of the embedded scanner (from Twitter user SaudiAndroid via SamMobile) on what looks like the S10 Plus -- and the images certainly look authentic. New photos of what's said to be the S10 Essential, however, show a different arrangement, with the scanner positioned on the phone's side rather than in the display.
Long-rumored to be the least expensive model in the forthcoming Galaxy lineup, the S10E is looking increasingly to be positioned as a competitor for the iPhone XR. Given this, it's not surprising that Samsung may have withheld from it one of the Galaxy S10's most expensive components.
In-screen fingerprint sensors -- which can accurately and securely identify your print through water and grime -- are already in phones you can buy. The Huawei Mate 20 Pro and OnePlus 6T both have them, and we expect to see the feature come to mainstream phones in 2019.
Previously, phone case manufacturer ArmadilloTek suggested that the Galaxy S10's embedded scanner wouldn't be able to read prints through tempered glass or PET screen protectors. Samsung is rumored to have developed its own screen protectors that don't have holes cut out for the scanner, however.
Rumor: Samsung's Galaxy Buds will take on Apple's AirPods
Samsung may have developed new wireless earbuds to compete with Apple's AirPods, and they could debut alongside the Galaxy S10 on Feb. 20. German tech site WinFuture has published a photo of what it's calling the Galaxy Buds, and which it says can be charged wirelessly on the back of the forthcoming phone. We have also now seen photos of the buds in a shade matching the Canary Yellow Galaxy S10E.
It's rumored that Samsung may throw in a free pair of the buds with preorders "in some regions." In January, as reported by 91Mobiles, Samsung registered a pair of wireless earbuds with the FCC. According to that article, the device will support Bluetooth 5.0 and, notably, has 8GB of integrated storage.
Rumor: New renders show Galaxy S10 in black, white, blue and Canary Yellow
In the weeks before a new phone is introduced, case and accessory makers often get access to the device's final dimensions. With these, they're able to create dummy phones that look like the finished product, and which may even have some limited electronic capabilities. We are now squarely in that period for the Galaxy S10, with new images and videos -- including one showing the Galaxy S10E in a shade of yellow that calls to mind the iPhone XR -- appearing daily. Here are a few recent ones:
Rumor: The Galaxy S10 will support Wi-Fi 6
Leave it to the hotshots at the FCC to leak yet another detail about the Galaxy S10. According to the organization's certification database, the next batch of Galaxy phones will support the latest lower-power-faster-more-secure Wi-Fi standard, 802.11ax (aka Wi-Fi 6). Spotted by Droid Life and confirmed by CNET, the phones are listed as A3LSMG975U, A3LSMG973U and A3LSMG970U in the database.
Rumor: Massive storage capacity coming to the Galaxy S10
Samsung is upping the smartphone storage stakes. The company has announced that it's started mass-producing 1TB drives that will populate future smartphones -- which could very well include the Galaxy S10. The new Universal Flash Storage (eUFS) modules double the capacity of the previous generation while maintaining the same footprint -- an innovation Samsung has claimed is an industry first.
With 1TB of storage built in, the company says users could store up to 260 10-minute videos at 4K resolution. That's compared with 13 videos of the same size that can be stored on the 64GB flash storage "widely used in many current high-end smartphones," Samsung says.
Rumor: Computational photography upgrades from Samsung acquisition
Israel's Globes reports that Samsung may be in talks to acquire Corephotonics, the company that has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple related to its computational photography technology. Samsung is already an investor in the company.
Samsung has been working on ways to enhance the quality of photos shot in dark conditions using computational photography. Still, given that the company is still in the "advanced negotiations" phase, it's unlikely that the Galaxy S10 would have any direct benefits stemming from the potential purchase of Corephotonics. That noted, there are plenty of rumors that the forthcoming flagship has a variety of new camera hardware and software features. More on that below.
Rumor: The Galaxy S10 will have an integrated crypto wallet
Photos tweeted by leaker Ice Universe on Wednesday purport to show the Samsung Galaxy S10 with support for cryptocurrencies and sporting a Blockchain KeyStore. Text on the handset's screen calls the KeyStore a "secure and convenient place for your cryptocurrency."
Rumor: Six cameras, including double hole-punch on the S10 Plus
For months, we've heard about the numerous cameras coming to the Galaxy S10 -- including up to four on the back, and two more on the front, at least on the Plus model. (The "regular" Galaxy S10 is expected to have just one front-facing lens and three rear cameras.) Now we've seen multiple images that show what the elongated hole punch array could look like on the larger model.
German site AllAboutSamsung.de has posted a series of photos that it says are Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10 Plus prototypes. This follows last week's post by Reddit user @hissick27, which ostensibly showed a Galaxy S10 Plus with two circular cameras in the upper-right-hand corner of the display.
Rumor: 'Bright Night' mode for low-light photos
Google's Pixel 3 captured the title of best Android phone of 2018 based largely on the strength of its exceptional camera technology, which produces remarkable photos even in low-light conditions. Now, XDA Developers has unearthed evidence that Samsung may be cooking up its own version of Google's Night Sight feature -- called, flatteringly, "Bright Night" -- which could debut on the Galaxy S10.
Based on clues found in the code of the recent One UI release -- more on that below -- Samsung has ostensibly developed a way to produce bright photos in very dark conditions using computational photography. If true, this could help the Galaxy S10 redress one of the Galaxy S9's biggest shortcomings, and put it on better footing with the best phones for taking photos in 2019.
Rumor: New models with bigger screens
Two days before Christmas, Ice Universe tweeted out screen dimensions for five forthcoming Samsung phones -- including a 5G version of the Galaxy S10 (more on that below) and the Note 10. The tweet corroborates earlier information, and, if accurate, suggests that price will not be the only thing to increase in 2019.
At 6.11 inches diagonal, the Galaxy S10's display would be roughly 5 percent larger than the Galaxy S9's, and a 6.44-inch S10 Plus display would be about 4 percent larger than its predecessor. The Note 10 also appears set for a 5 percent larger screen. The rumored Galaxy S10E's display is expected to be more or less the same size as the one on today's Galaxy S9.
Rumor: Prices are going up, will range from $845 to $1,765
Samsung is poised to follow Apple's lead and jack up the prices of its next series of flagship phones. Gizmodo UK reports that a new entry-level Galaxy S10, possibly the S10E, equipped with 128GB of storage, will start at £669 -- which converts to about $845. Prices only go up from there for the standard S10 and S10 Plus, which may include superior camera technology and other higher-end features.
Here's an overview of the rumored pricing for each model and storage tier. Bear in mind UK prices include 20 percent tax, so the dollar equivalents would not be direct conversions, even if these are accurate:
- Galaxy S10E, 128GB: £669
- Galaxy S10, 128GB: £799
- Galaxy S10, 512GB: £999
- Galaxy S10 Plus, 128GB: £899
- Galaxy S10 Plus, 512GB: £1,099
- Galaxy S10 Plus, 1TB: £1,399
Rumor: The S10's headphone jack stays put for now
Before you cast off the headphone jack as a given, take note. Samsung's Galaxy A8S doesn't have one. But it does have a screen that's expected to come to the Galaxy S10 (see below). In October, Korean outlet ET News reported that Samsung could ditch the headphone jack in the Galaxy Note 10 or Galaxy S11.
For now, though, the headphone jack appears to be safe. A case that's been linked to the Galaxy S10 has a hole for a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. That's reason enough for prolific leaker Ice Universe to tweet a short video of the clear plastic case. Of course, without knowing anything about the case maker or how this company got its information, there's no way to independently verify the accuracy of the design. Notice also the wide horizontal window on the back where multiple cameras could go.
Will the Galaxy S10 bring portrait mode to video?
Qualcomm put support for portrait mode videos into its Snapdragon 855 chip for 2019 phones and beyond, but that's no guarantee that Samsung will take advantage of the technology.
If it does, you might be applying a depth-sensing bokeh effect to subjects in video as well as photos. Qualcomm said that you'd be able to swap out the blurred backgrounds in these 4K films for other scenes from a library of choices.
More about the selfie camera's Infinity-O punch-hole 'notch'
Although Samsung told the world it was working on three new notch designs for future phones, the company never committed to the Infinity-V, Infinity-U or Infinity-O designs for its Galaxy S10.
At this point, we'd be shocked if we saw anything other than the Infinity-O display, which has a hole punched out of one corner for at least one camera lens. Samsung has made the design official in the newly announced Galaxy A8S, a phone for China, but it's likely that Samsung would release the design on a less important phone in case issues come up that the designers could address, rather than take a risk on its most important phone of the year.
Renders show the selfie camera's "hole punch" on either side, but more recent rumors insist it'll be on the right as you look at the phone face. Blass suggests that the Infinity-O will come to the Galaxy S10.
Will the Galaxy S10 toss out the iris scanner and finally get 3D 'Face ID'?
When the Galaxy S9 first arrived, we were disappointed it didn't use secure 3D depth-mapping technology to unlock the phone like the iPhone's Face ID. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chip, released in 2017, supports mapping with 50,000 infrared dots, compared with Apple's 30,000 infrared dots. Instead, the Galaxy S9 retained Samsung's secure iris unlocking and insecure face unlock, the latter a staple on Android phones.
Now might be the time for Samsung to step up its face-unlocking game. Rumors point to the Galaxy S10 losing the iris scanner and gaining a rival to Face ID. Qualcomm's newest chip supports another kind of face-mapping technology that's also secure enough for mobile payments, called Sense ID 3D Face Authentication. Perhaps it's this sensor that could power Samsung's take on Face ID.
In addition to unlocking the phone securely with a face scan, a depth-mapping selfie cam could enable better AR apps and effects, like the disastrously creepy AR Emoji, a rival that predated Apple's much more skillfully executed Memoji.
Fact: The Galaxy S10 will run Samsung One UI interface atop Android 9
Samsung confirmed to CNET that all future phones, including the foldable phone, will use the new One UI interface that Samsung has now released in the US, after unveiling it at its November Developer Conference. The One UI interface design declutters the current Samsung Experience and tries to group icons for easier one-handed use. It'll work with Android Pie, the ninth version of Google's mobile software, but not with earlier versions of Android.
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Galaxy S10 rumor roundup, features and price: Samsung's foldable and 5G phones may share the spotlight on Feb. 20.
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