Samsung Galaxy S10 rumors: Everything we know about a Feb. 20 launch, March 8 release, specs, features and price
The Galaxy S10 is coming in 2019. And Samsung desperately needs it to be an unmitigated blockbuster.
As the world’s largest phone manufacturer, Samsung has a great deal riding on the 10th edition of its flagship Galaxy S series. Given this, the rumors are frothy — and the leaks and renders are plentiful.
A chorus of analysts, pundits and leakers are painting a picture of a Galaxy S10 jam-packed with potentially extraordinary features, including an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, the company’s own take on Face ID and an Infinity-O display. If the stories are accurate, Samsung could have a hit — and secure its place at the top of the smartphone heap.
If not, the road ahead could be difficult. The Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus, introduced in February 2018, 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 slot, is putting increasing pressure on Samsung. 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.
Adding to the drama is a pair of emerging technologies that promise to alter the smartphone landscape in the near term. Samsung is battling LG, Huawei and others to be the first to market with a foldable phone. And every phonemaker is racing to produce phones that can support the next generation of cellular technology, called 5G. We expect to see examples of both this year.
For now, we’re tracking the new rumors and hints that bubble up each day. We continue to collect and evaluate new evidence that points to screen size, camera design and components as well as anything that might help answer the big question: Will the Galaxy S10 have a headphone jack?
We’ll continue to add to the list of rumors below, so check back often.
Announcement and release date
All signs point to a Feb. 20 launch for the Galaxy S10, followed by an on-sale date of March 8, according to a report by Gizmodo UK. As such, the Galaxy S10 would launch on the Wednesday before Mobile World Congress kicks off in Barcelona. We haven’t yet heard about the location for Samsung’s next Unpacked event — but New York or Barcelona are two likely candidates.
If this timing bears out, Samsung would presumably save the launch of its upcoming foldable ‘Galaxy X’ phone for MWC — saving the big splash for after it unveils the Galaxy S10.
Rumor: Three Galaxy S10 phones, including Plus and Lite models
The Galaxy S10 is rumored to come in three configurations:
Galaxy S10: Possibly code-named Beyond 1, 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 one front-facing camera.
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. Despite some rumors about support for 5G, we think it’s unlikely.
Galaxy S10 Lite: Possibly code-named Beyond 0. Modeled on 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.
Rumor: ‘Bright Night’ mode for low-light photos
Google captured the title of best Android phone of 2018 with its Pixel 3 — 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 Samsung’s recent One UI release, 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, serial leaker 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 S10 Lite’s display is expected to be more or less the same size as the one on today’s Galaxy S9.
Rumor: The Galaxy X foldable phone
Samsung teased a foldable phone at its annual developer conference in Nov. 2018, and there are rumors about a March debut for the Galaxy X.
That noted, we think it’s unlikely given the huge risks inherent in debuting a radically new form factor. Despite its uneven track record, the Galaxy S is a reliable brand, and Samsung won’t gamble away the opportunity to crow about a special 10th anniversary edition.
Though many companies are talking about it (including Huawei, LG and others), there’s just one foldable phone on the market today — the Royole FlexPai. We imagine that Samsung will enter this market cautiously, carefully gauging customer interest, before bringing a foldable design into the mainstream Galaxy S lineup.
Rumor: 5G coming to the Galaxy S10 lineup?
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 –including the recent one above that specifies its screen size — we don’t expect one of the Galaxy S10 phones to be Samsung’s first 5G model.
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.
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 S10 Lite, 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 will not be direct conversions, even if these are accurate:
- Galaxy S10 Lite, 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.
Fingerprint sensor should be in-screen and ‘ultrasonic’
Qualcomm announced that its Snapdragon 855 chipset will support an ultrasonic, in-screen fingerprint reader that verifies your identity using sound waves. Samsung was at the show as a partner talking up 5G phones. While the world’s largest phone-maker didn’t breathe a word about in-screen readers, there’s little doubt at this point that this is the solution Samsung’s been waiting for.
In-screen fingerprint sensors are ramping up as a must-have feature in high-end phones. The OnePlus 6T beat Samsung to become the first US carrier phone to have one. But rumors reaching as far back as the Galaxy S9 have pegged the feature for a Galaxy.
Ultrasonic fingerprint sensors promise to accurately and securely read your print through water and grime. We’ve seen this technology under development for years — the video below shows it in action.
Six cameras total for the Galaxy S10 Plus?
Fours cameras will adorn the back of the Galaxy S10, according to one report, and two will sit up front, at least for the larger Plus model. The ‘regular’ Galaxy S10 is suggested to have the single front-facing lens.
Multiple rear cameras have the ability to offer more zoom options, more fine detail (especially if one camera is monochrome), and depth mapping for portrait mode (the ‘bokeh effect’) and AR.
The rumor is further bolstered by the existence of the Galaxy A9, a phone with four rear cameras that Samsung announced in October for Asian markets.
Samsung could be using the A9 as a test bed for the design and software, before implementing refinements in the all-important Galaxy S10. Frequent Twitter leaker Evan Blass has suggested, however, there will be three rear cameras on the Galaxy S10, not four.
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.
Huawei announced something similar with its Honor View 20 phone, but instead of a hole cut from the screen, the Honor View 20 fits the camera below a transparent portion of the display. The jury’s still out on whether this setup affects photos.
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 to 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 both 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.
The Galaxy S10 will run Samsung’s One UI interface on top of Android 9
Samsung confirmed to CNET that all future phones, including the foldable phone, will use the new One UI interface that Samsung unveiled 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.