The Galaxy S10 range will miss out on major battery innovations as Samsung is still afraid of repeating the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco and remains extremely conservative in terms of pushing the boundaries of contemporary cell technologies, one known industry insider from China said earlier today. The same source claims the upcoming range of Android flagships will at the very least support 20W charging (5V/4A), which would put it on par with most high-end devices from 2018 which can be fully recharged in about an hour. Charging is still expected to be one of the weakest points of the Galaxy S10 lineup seeing how Samsung's rivals are rumored to be commercializing significantly better battery tech over the course of this year.
The fiasco that changed everything
The Galaxy Note 7 debacle from the late summer of 2016 changed Samsung's mobile strategy in an unprecedented manner, delayed the company's other high-end products, and forced it to revamp its research, development, and quality assurance practices in a way that ultimately cost it billions of dollars, especially given the fact that the global recall of the phablet made some customers drop the brand entirely. Samsung spent over a year issuing public apologies and dealing with the legal ramifications of the ordeal and it wasn't until early 2018 that the company held a smartphone launch without a single reference to the Galaxy Note 7, which is what happened with the Galaxy S9 announcement at Mobile World Congress 2018.
Despite still being the latest and greatest handset Samsung ever produced, the Galaxy Note 9 released last summer remains limited to Quick Charge 2.0 at a time when many of its rivals are embracing Qualcomm's Quick Charge 4 or are using proprietary solutions with significantly greater capabilities. Last October, Huawei unveiled the Mate 20 Pro which supports Super Charge 2.0, an in-house 40W charging solution that allows the device to refill 75-percent of its battery capacity in only 30 minutes. By most accounts, the Galaxy S10 family won't be able to come anywhere near those numbers and Samsung is unlikely to commercialize 40W charging until at least 2021 as its management believes another large-scale incident with its mobile batteries would cause catastrophic damage to the brand.
Innovating on other fronts
Regardless, the Galaxy S10 line is expected to embrace a wide variety of innovations which will allow it to differentiate itself in this increasingly saturated market. Among other things, the upcoming Android flagships are expected to feature the world's first consumer-grade ultrasonic fingerprint sensors, a technology that offers much greater accuracy, speed, and consistency compared to first-generation in-display readers used by devices such as the OnePlus 6T. Samsung also developed a new design language for its next high-end product range, with one of its defining characteristics being a tiny display hole meant to house a front-facing camera which is used in place of a more unbecoming notch.
A special variant of the Galaxy S10+ is also expected to debut with support for 5G New Radio networks, though that particular model likely won't be available outside of the United States and South Korea. The range itself will include three models – direct successors to the Galaxy S9 and S9+, as well as a more affordable device with a non-curved screen meant to mark Samsung's partial return to flat flagship displays since early 2016 when the company debuted the Galaxy S7. The U.S. variants of the Galaxy S10 series will be powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 chip, whereas the international ones sold in most other parts of the world should utilize Samsung's own Exynos 9820. Both silicon modules are heavily focused on artificial intelligence and energy efficiency, with the latter benefitting from new process nodes allowing for even more transistors per an arbitrary unit of space, though Qualcomm's solution is expected to come out on top this year as it seems to be leveraging more advanced technologies than what Samsung's foundry business came up with.
The new Android flagship line is scheduled to be officially announced late next month, presumably a day before the next edition of MWC kicks off on February 25. The devices should become available for purchase in March, starting at around $750, depending on the market. Samsung will be hoping to use the Galaxy S10 range to regain some of the momentum it lost in 2018 as its sales dwindled due to a variety of factors, including an overall lack of innovation in the mobile segment.