A decade after first taking on the iPhone with its Galaxy smartphone, Samsung has unveiled the latest addition to its line of flagship phones, the Galaxy S10.
At an event today (Feb. 20) at San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, a venue long chosen by Apple to announce its latest products, Samsung unveiled a set of new phones, including the S10, a larger S10+, the relatively more affordable S10e, and the S10 5G, its first phone designed to work on the nascent 5G cellular networks around the world. Samsung also unveiled another entirely new device that “defies categories”—the Galaxy Fold. It’s a phone that that opens up into a 7.3-inch tablet (more on that phone in a separate article).
Much of the information leaked about Samsung’s new S10 phones ahead of the event proved the be true. All three phones feature what Samsung calls an HD “Infinity Display.” The S10 has a 6.1-inch display, the S10e boasts one that’s 5.8-inches, and the S10+ features a 6.4-inch screen that takes up 93% of the front of the device. The S10 5G has a massive 6.7-inch display, nearly as large as some tablets.
The S10, S10+, and S10 5G have a fingerprint scanner built into the display, and the S10e has one on the side of the device, so there’s no more fumbling around on the back of a Samsung phone to unlock it). The displays are also meant to cut the amount of blue light—which can strain users’ eyes in low light settings—that the devices emit.
The new devices won’t be cheap. The Galaxy S10 will start at $900; the Galaxy S10+ at $1,000, and the S10e at $750. No pricing has been released yet for the 5G model.
Samsung focused on the new devices’ camera technology and battery lives in its presentation—two of the key factors most consumers weigh up when buying new phones. The S10 and S10+ both have three cameras on the back of the device (ranging from 12 to 16 megapixels), which give it the ability to capture pictures with a 123-degree field of view for massive panoramic shots, and the S10 5G features a fourth that can sense depth. The S10+ and 5G also have two cameras on the front that allow it to produce portrait-mode style shots for your selfies. Both the regular S10 and S10e only have one front-facing camera, and the S10 has just two rear-facing cameras.
The phones also feature large batteries (4,500 mAh, 4,100 mAh, 3,400mAh, and 3,100mAh, respectively), which on the larger phones should easily last most heavy users through an entire day. All four devices offer wireless charging, and a new ability that Samsung’s calling “PowerShare,” which allows the devices to charge other devices that support Qi wireless inductive charging. Samsung also unveiled its new Galaxy Buds, a miniature set of wireless earbuds to rival Apple’s viral sensation, the AirPods. The case for the Buds can charge on the back of a new S10, which can pass through power when it’s charging itself, meaning you’re able to charge two devices with only one cable.
Along with the venue, it seems that Samsung has decided to copy Apple’s release playbook for the year. The company also released three new smartphones in September, all at similar prices to Apple’s. While some might welcome the increase in available options and sizes, in both cases, the lowest-priced model costs about what Samsung’s (and Apple’s) most expensive phones cost just a few years ago. And the sales strategy didn’t exactly do wonders for Apple this past sales quarter: The company offered rare discounts and trade-ins on its phones soon after they went on sale, and saw a sharp drop in sales over the same period a year earlier. Analysts have suggested that a lack of differentiation between the three new iPhones hurt Apple in the holiday quarter, with consumers unsure which phone to choose. Hopefully for Samsung, its three new Galaxy devices will not suffer the same fate.
Samsung’s new Galaxy S10, S10+ and S10e devices will be available for pre-order from Feb. 21, and on sale March 21. Those who place a preorder will also get a pair of Galaxy Buds (which will cost $130 on their own) bundled in for free. (In the past, Samsung has included free Gear VR headsets in early orders.) The Galaxy S10 5G will be available in the US exclusively on Verizon later in the year, and then available on a wider set of networks after that.