A number of details about the Galaxy S10, Samsung’s upcoming Android flagship, have been revealed on Tuesday as part of the most credible leak pertaining to the device to date. Known industry insider Evan Blass said the handset will feature a “punch hole” near the top of its display which will house its front-facing camera, speculating that the design in question may be advertised as the “Infinity-O” display, which is a term Samsung filed to protect earlier this fall. The cutout in question won’t be identical to a display notch and is likely to be much smaller but also won’t be hideable with a black notification bar, as per the same source.
An in-display fingerprint reader will be part of the package and rely on an ultrasonic sensor, a significant improvement over existing implementations of under-screen authentication systems, Mr. Blass said. The Galaxy s10 lineup will launch with a custom version of Android 9 Pie, the same one Samsung already announced last week as the One UI, the insider said. Finally, at least one member of the 2019 product family will sport a triple-camera setup on the back which will consist of a standard lens, a wide-angle module, and telephoto glass, the source claims.
Background: Before implementing a punch hole into its nest series of Android flagships, Samsung is expected to experiment with the new design in the mid-range segment of the market, as the company itself recently teased such an element being part of the upcoming Galaxy A8s. DJ Koh, the Chief Executive Officer of Samsung’s mobile division, also promised “significant” changes with the Galaxy S10 family this September. The South Korean technology juggernaut spent the better portion of this year airing advertising campaigns making fun of display notches, particularly those found on Apple’s iPhones. The firm repeatedly signaled it’s not interested in adopting such cutouts but it’s also short of alternatives that would still allow it to continue improving the screen-to-body ratio of its devices.
One known industry insider from China previously claimed the Galaxy S10 family will “end” display notches, with Mr. Blass’s new claims adding more credence to that possibility. The Seoul-based company has a long history of setting design trends in the mobile industry, with its latest such achievement being the widespread adoption of aspect ratios taller than 16:9, even though it wasn’t the first to commercialize such elongated image formats in the smartphone sector. With the Galaxy S10 line being one of the most anticipated handset series of 2019, many manufacturers are likely to copy at least some of the new design elements it ends up introducing.
The series itself is expected to consist of three models, with the most affordable one reportedly marking Samsung’s return to flat screens in the high-end segment of the market. The last premium Android smartphone from the company to feature a flat screen was the Galaxy S7 launched in early 2016. All three devices are believed to be planned for a global release, with variants intended for the United States, Canada, Mexico, and China likely being powered by the Snapdragon 8150, Qualcomm’s successor to the Snapdragon 845. The Galaxy S10 models meant for Europe, Asia, and other markets around the world should utilize the Exynos 9820, Samsung’s in-house silicon that’s rumored to feature a dual-core neural processing unit dedicated to on-device AI computing. Both the Snapdragon- and Exynos-branded chip are expected to be built on the 7nm process node, though only Samsung’s module is set to use extreme ultraviolet lithography, a new process of making printed circuits that can achieve ambitious transistor density targets more consistently. As a result, the Exynos Galaxy S10 variants may offer significantly better CPU performance, though Qualcomm’s chips were traditionally ahead of them in graphics processing department.
Besides the three international models, Samsung is said to be preparing a fourth lineup member that’s essentially a special edition of the Galaxy S10 Plus. That particular device is rumored to support 5G New Radio connectivity but may only end up being sold in the company’s home country. The flat-screen model isn’t expected to have more than two rear cameras, though all three should benefit from new imaging algorithms powered by artificial intelligence solutions, according to previous rumors.
Samsung’s quarter-three financial report contained an admission that the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus experienced “soft” initial sales which were below expectations. Industry analysts remain divided on why the world’s largest phone maker was unable to repeat some of its past successes with its main flagship lineup, though most agree that the lack of meaningful year-on-year innovations played a part in the lukewarm response the two handsets received. That’s precisely why insiders now appear to be convinced Samsung will be going all out with the Galaxy S10 line, seeking to convince its existing customers it’s time for an upgrade, in addition to attracting new consumers to its mobile ecosystem.
Upgrade fatigue is believed to be one of the main reason why global smartphone shipments have been stagnating over the course of the last year, according to numerous industry trackers. As Samsung has the largest share of the handset market on the planet, it’s also prone to being the first company to be affected by any kind of negative trends in the industry. Besides being adamant to deliver more meaningful upgrades with the Galaxy S10 family, the company is also looking to pursue additional mobile innovations with its new foldable smartphone lineup scheduled to be released in early 2019.
Impact: Samsung appears to have found a way to continue reducing the bezels on its Android handsets without embracing a traditional display notch, an element that’s been polarizing both critics and consumers for over a year now, ever since Essential first debuted it with the PH-1 in the late summer of 2017. A significant number of other smartphone manufacturers will likely be following suit and deliver their own handsets with selfie-camera holes, though it remains to be seen whether they manage to do that as early as 2019 given how Samsung Display likely won’t be selling those panels immediately following their first-party commercialization, as was the case with the company’s curved Super AMOLED panels.