The most barebones member of the Galaxy S10 family won’t be called the Galaxy S10 Lite but will instead be marketed as the Galaxy S10 E, protective case manufacturer Mobile Fun claims, citing China-based sources from its supply chain. The device in question has been the subject of rumors for several months now and the latest report on the matter largely reiterates previous insider claims about the gadget, with Samsung seemingly opting to deliver a relatively barebones product that will still feature the latest system-on-chip but otherwise deliver a mostly generic mobile experience. One of the innovations set to be part of the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+ that the Galaxy S10 E will miss out on is an in-display fingerprint reader, a new technology promising an unprecedented level of convenience with screen unlocking that will rely on an ultrasonic sensor and hence be faster and more accurate (i.e. secure) than optical scanners utilized by the likes of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro and OnePlus 6T.
The Galaxy S10 E will also lack an Edge Display, hence becoming the first Samsung-made Android flagship with a flat screen since the Galaxy S7 released three years ago. Whereas the Galaxy S10+ will sport a 6.4-inch panel and the Galaxy S10 should be equipped with a 6.1-inch display, the screen installed on the Galaxy S10 E will be a 5.8-inch affair, though the device is said to have a comparable physical footprint to that of the middle model. The new report suggests Samsung opted against using a flexible Super AMOLED panel and an ultrasonic fingerprint reader primarily so as to keep the price of the Galaxy S10 E relatively affordable. While the Galaxy S10 and S10+ are now said to have “much higher” price tags, it’s still unclear how affordable the Galaxy S10 E might end up being, especially given how the higher bracket of the handset market experienced numerous price surges over the course of the last several years. Even assuming Samsung will be returning to a pricing strategy employed for the Galaxy S7 line, the most affordable member of the upcoming phablet range is still likely to start at around $700 in the United States and be even more expensive abroad, depending on value-added tax rates in particular markets.
OnePlus & Honor should be worried
Regardless, a somewhat affordable flagship from Samsung’s portfolio should still be a reason for manufacturers such as OnePlus and Honor to be worried seeing how they’ve built their entire brands on a premise that contemporary high-end devices are too expensive and cutting-edge internals can be had for much less. Both of those firms actually spent the last several years slowly increasing the prices of their products so as to improve their profit margins, eventually seeking to go mainstream. Whether they’re the main reason Samsung now decided to stop ignoring the lower end of the flagship segment is currently unclear but the sole strength of its brand is certainly capable of cannibalizing the sales of aggressively priced flagships. The same goes for ZTE’s Axon line, as well as the higher end of HMD’s Nokia portfolio, though those two manufacturers command a much smaller percentage of the Western market compared to OnePlus and Huawei’s subsidiary, according to several major industry trackers.
Samsung itself had a relatively poor 2018 by its standards and has already disappointed investors with its fourth-quarter guidance, partially blaming the growing competitiveness in the smartphone space as the reason for its revenue and profit decline. In response to that turn of events, its management now intends to blur the lines between handset categories and bring its mid-rangers closer to flagships in terms of the end-user experience. While that approach started from the lower end of its portfolio with releases such as the Galaxy A8s, it will also result in more affordable premium devices like the upcoming Galaxy S10 E. For much the same reasons, Samsung is presently expected to drop its Galaxy J range in the immediate future and completely drop the concept of marketing any single one of its products as an entry-level affair. This high-end advertising strategy is somewhat reminiscent of Apple, though it remains to be seen how well it ends up working for Samsung given how its mobile portfolio is much more diverse, both in terms of price tags and features.
An unprecedented tech jump
The Galaxy S10 family itself should also mark an unprecedented annual tech jump in the context of Samsung’s ecosystem, debuting a wide variety of both hardware and software improvements. Besides the aforementioned in-display fingerprint scanner, the series should also embrace an entirely new aesthetic with the company’s recently introduced Infinity-O displays, Super AMOLED panels featuring one or two holes meant to house front-facing cameras. The unconventional screen design is intended to serve as an alternative to screen notches and allow Samsung to continue pushing screen-to-body-ratio boundaries without too many compromises in the symmetry department. The top variant of the Galaxy S10+ is also expected to debut with 5G support enabled by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 chip and Snapdragon X50 modem. The model in question should be released in the United States and South Korea, likely priced at above $1,200.
Chips based on the 7nm and 8nm process nodes should also bring the energy-efficiency of the Galaxy S10 range to another level, which will be especially important for the 5G-ready member of the upcoming family as its wireless gear is likely to severely limit its potential battery space. At the same time, Samsung‘s implementation of Android 9 Pie called One UI is meant to completely reinvent the manner in which consumers utilize contemporary handsets with tall aspect ratios, reworking the company’s interfaces with the goal of placing a particularly strong focus on single-handed use. The Galaxy S10 range is widely expected to be unveiled at the next iteration of Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest smartphone trade show scheduled to start on February 25 in Barcelona, Spain. As suggested by the company’s established product pratices, the new Android flagship family is likely to become available for purchase in the second half of March.