The Samsung Galaxy S10 has the potential to be the most exciting phone of 2019, as after the incremental upgrade that was the Galaxy S9 the South Korean firm is poised for a major overhaul.
Update: The Samsung Galaxy S10's possible camera specs have been leaked, revealing the megapixel count and style of lenses that the triple-lens models might have.
The Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus are strong, but not 5 stars strong, and we’re going to need to see some big changes for the brand to stay on top, especially in the face of fiercer competition from the likes of Apple and Huawei.
We don’t know much about the Galaxy S10 yet, but we are starting to hear a few rumors, all of which you’ll find below.
And below that you’ll find a wish list of the main things we want - nay, need - from the phone, including an in-screen fingerprint scanner and a fresh design.
The good news is that if early rumors are to be believed we might get at least one of those things.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? Samsung's next main flagship
- What will it cost? It's sure to be very expensive
- When is it out? Probably early 2019
Samsung Galaxy S10 release date and price
The Samsung Galaxy S10 launch date is is likely to be in early 2019. More specifically we'll probably see it at MWC 2019, which takes place from February 25-28.
Not only does a leaker claim we'll see it then, but Samsung announced the Galaxy S9 range at MWC 2018, so the 2019 show is the most likely release date.
Samsung doesn’t always announce its Galaxy S flagships there, but recent models have all been announced in the first few months of the year, so we’d be surprised if we don’t see the Samsung Galaxy S10 by the end of March 2019.
Though it could arrive earlier, as we might see it in January at CES 2019 if one rumor is to be believed. That takes place from January 8-11, but that feels too early for such as major announcement, so we'd take this particular Galaxy S10 leak with a fair pinch of salt.
Of course, whenever it is announced you might not be able to buy it straight away.
When it does go on sale it’s sure to cost a lot. There aren’t any Samsung Galaxy S10 price rumors yet, but the Galaxy S9 launched at $719.99 / £739 / AU$1,199, while the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus went on sale for $840 / £869 / AU$1,349.
We’d expect the Galaxy S10 range will cost at least that much when it does arrive.
Samsung Galaxy S10 news and rumors
We've seen a photo, possibly showing a prototype of the Samsung Galaxy S10 (though notably the source didn't refer to it by name but did say "this may be a design beyond", and 'Beyond' is believed to be the codename of the Galaxy S10).
The image, which you can see below, shows a handset with a curved screen and almost no bezel on any edge. There seems to be less bezel in fact than we've seen on any other phone, suggesting the front-facing camera may either pop up or be built into the screen.
You can't see much else, but in addition to the power and volume buttons it looks like the Bixby button is making a return - if this photo really is showing the S10 and if nothing changes in the design before launch, which are two big ifs, especially as reputable leaker @OnLeaks has poured cold water on the image, claiming it's fake.
That's our only real possible sighting of the Galaxy S10 yet (and we use the term 'real' very loosely), but we have heard a number of things about it, and one rumor we have seen pop up more than once is the presence of an in-screen fingerprint scanner.
A report claims that it will use an ultrasonic Qualcomm scanner, and that Samsung has felt pressured to include it due to Vivo and Huawei both having phones with in-screen scanners.
Multiple separate sources who spoke to The Bell have said as much, adding that Samsung will also look to ditch the iris scanning tech in the Galaxy S10 in favor of an improved 3D face scanner - much like the one found on the iPhone X.
An earlier rumor also talks about an in-screen scanner, stating that while an in-screen scanner wouldn’t be ready in time for the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, it would be ready by sometime next year, making the Samsung Galaxy S10 a candidate for one.
And we now have an idea of why it took so long to be ready - because reportedly Samsung is using an ultrasonic scanner, rather than an optical one, as while the latter could apparently have been implemented years ago it's said to not be as good.
But Samsung might go even further and also put the speakers in the screen, as just such a display has been shown off by Samsung Display, according to OLED Info.
And the earpiece could go in the screen too, as Samsung is said to be planning a 'sound-emitting display' for use in a phone early next year, having already shown off the tech at an industry expo.
All that combined could mean a truly bezel-free look, like the one shown in the image above, though the front-facing camera will still need to be put somewhere.
And speaking of the camera, the rear one of those could change too, as an analyst reckons Samsung is considering a triple-lens one for the Samsung Galaxy S10, along with a 3D sensor for augmented reality content.
It's also a rumor that we've now heard again, with a source claiming that Samsung will make three Galaxy S10 models. One of these, apparently codenamed 'Beyond 0', will have a single-lens camera, 5.8-inch screen which might be flat, and a side-mounted fingerprint scanner.
That would be the most basic model, but there's also said to be 'Beyond 1', which apparently has a 5.8-inch curved screen, an in-screen fingerprint scanner and a dual-lens camera, and 'Beyond 2', with a 6.2-inch curved screen, an in-screen scanner and a triple-lens camera.
More recently we've heard more details on the possible specs of the triple-lens camera, with it apparently consisting of a 12MP wide-angle lens, a 16MP super wide-angle lens and a 13MP telephoto lens.
Some or all of the models might also have a dual-lens front-facing camera according to one report, which would give the top model five lenses overall. It's not known what the extra front lens would be used for, but it's likely to improve the face unlock feature if nothing else.
We’ve also heard talk that Samsung might rename the range, launching the next model as the Samsung Galaxy X rather than the Galaxy S10. That might sound unlikely, but Koh Dong-jin, the head of Samsung’s mobile division, has been quoted as saying that “we have been thinking about whether we need to maintain the S moniker or the numbering system” so it’s possible.
And we also have an idea of what might be powering the Samsung Galaxy S10, as it’s reportedly going to use the unannounced Snapdragon 855 (at least in some regions). This is said to be a 7nm chipset, which is smaller and likely both more powerful and more efficient than the Snapdragon 845 found in many of 2018’s flagships.
The 855 is also said to be capable of supporting theoretical download speeds of up to 2Gbps, up from 1.2Gbps on the Galaxy S9 – though don’t expect to get speeds anywhere near this in the real world. Still, it could be a big upgrade.
As could the RAM, as Samsung has announced that it's developed an 8GB RAM chip built on a 10nm process. This, while not confirmed for the Galaxy S10, apparently has a data rate that's 1.5 times as fast as current flagship RAM chips and can also reduce power consumption by up to 30%.
What we want to see
As good as the Samsung Galaxy S9 is, it’s also rather too similar to the Samsung Galaxy S8, so we hope Samsung changes things up for the S10. Here’s what we want to see.
1. A new design
The Samsung Galaxy S9 looks almost identical to the Galaxy S8, so it’s high time we got a new design from the South Korean company.
Whether that means a notch, a new material or even a foldable phone we’ll leave to Samsung, but we want to see something new.
2. Dual or triple-lens cameras on both models
While the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus has a dual-lens camera, the standard Galaxy S9 only has a single-lens one. For the Galaxy S10 we want both models to have two lenses, or better yet, three. After all, the Huawei P20 Pro has landed with exactly that to stunning effect.
Samsung’s been delivering top smartphone cameras for a while now, but this year it has some real competition from Huawei, so for the Galaxy S10 we want to see it take steps to get ahead.
The good news is that a triple-lens camera has already been rumored, though it sounds like only the priciest model will get it.
3. An in-screen fingerprint scanner
In-screen fingerprint scanners have been rumored for various Samsung phones and the Galaxy S10 is no exception, but now that other companies have launched commercially available handsets with them we might finally see Samsung roll one out.
Having a scanner in the screen means it doesn’t need to take up space on the front or be awkwardly placed on the back, plus it looks high-tech enough to make owners of other phones jealous.
This too has been rumored for the Galaxy S10, so there's a very real chance it will happen.
4. More vibrant photos
While the overall quality of photos taken by the Samsung Galaxy S9 is very high, some lack vibrancy and a few are also more washed out than we’d have expected or liked. This is especially true when there’s background light, so we’d like the Samsung Galaxy S10 to be able to cope with this better.
5. Improved AR Emoji
AR Emoji were one of the more hyped features of the Galaxy S9 range, but they were also one of the least impressive aspects of these phones.
There are a few reasons for this. Beyond their inherently gimmicky nature it can also be hard to create one that looks like you, and when recording a video of yourself using the emoji, the camera’s facial recognition isn’t powerful enough to do it justice.
While AR Emoji will probably never be an essential feature, if Samsung’s going to keep using them we’d like to see them at least rival Apple’s Animoji next time around.
6. Better battery life
Battery life is one thing that doesn’t improve with each new phone generation. In fact, sometimes it gets worse. In the case of the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus you’re only really looking at a day of life.
And while that might generally be okay for anyone who doesn’t mind plugging their phone in every night, it’s worth remembering that the battery will start to wear out over time, so a day of life when you buy the phone means less than a day a year or two on.
As such we really want to see improvements to the battery in the Galaxy S10, whether that’s through a larger unit than the frankly small 3,000mAh one in the Galaxy S9, or just through more efficient hardware and software.
7. A totally bezel-free look
We’ve said already that we want a new design from the Galaxy S10, but what we’d really like is a complete absence of bezels. As in no notch either, just an all-screen front.
We’re not expecting this, not least because it would presumably mean building the camera and sensors into the screen, but it’s possible and would surely be less ambitious than a foldable phone, which we might also get from Samsung in 2019.
- The foldable Samsung Galaxy X could land in 2019