Samsung has managed to become one of the world’s most recognizable smartphone brands thanks to the number of smartphones the company has released to date. In spite of the wide variety of Samsung-branded smartphones on the market, the flagship “Galaxy S” lineup remains the most popular and the most well known.
Samsung’s Galaxy S phones have proven to be one of the main reasons the company has enjoyed such success over the years in the mobile sphere. For example, the Galaxy S series has always been Android’s main iPhone competitor, and it has been that way ever since the very first Galaxy S device launched back in 2010.
Since then we have seen many iterations of the Galaxy S line and here we’ll be going on a trip down the memory lane to briefly revisit every single Galaxy S smartphone. Staring with the first one.
Samsung Galaxy S
The original Galaxy S handset was announced back in March 2010, and turned out to be quite the success for the company. Within three years the company managed to sell 25 million Galaxy S units. A fairly substantial number back then which proved more than enough reason for the manufacture to release a successor. It is worth noting that the Galaxy S Plus and Galaxy S Advance sub-variants of the Galaxy S were also announced prior to the arrival of the Galaxy SII.
The Galaxy S featured a physical home key below its display and a capacitive key on each side.
Its 4-inch display was considered to be quite large at the time and the phone arrived fueled by the Samsung Exynos 3110 processor – a single-core CPU. The Galaxy S shipped with Android 2.1 Eclair out of the box and was later upgraded to Android 2.3 Gingerbread. The phone included 512MB of RAM, and buyers had the option to choose between either 8GB or 16GB storage. Also on offer was a VGA camera on the back. The same goes for a removable 1,500mAh capacity battery. The phone was made out of plastic.
Samsung Galaxy S2
The Samsung Galaxy S2, officially known as the Galaxy SII, was announced in February 2011, almost a year after the original handset. The Galaxy S2 provided an improvement in build quality over the Galaxy S, even though the phone was still made out of polycarbonate (plastic).
The phone came with an anti-slip pattern on the back. It also utilized a removable backplate, as well as a removable 1,650mAh capacity battery. This was the same battery capacity like the first-gen model offered. The physical home key made a comeback along with two capacitive buttons. The Galaxy S2 offered a rather capable camera for the time, with an 8-megapixel main sensor.
The device arrived with a larger display compared to the Galaxy S, as it included a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED panel. The Exynos 4210 Dual / TI OMAP 4430 / Snapdragon S3 fueled the Galaxy S2 (depending on the model & market), and this was coupled with Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread. The device did receive a number of updates with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean the latest update made available to it.
The Galaxy S2 was quite a success for Samsung with over 40 million units having been sold in the end. The company even managed to sell 3 million phones in less than two months after the Galaxy S2 was launched. Also of note was the S2 Plus variant that was released at CES 2013, ahead of the launch of the Galaxy S3.
Samsung Galaxy S3
The Samsung Galaxy S3, aka the SIII, was announced in May 2012 and proved to be a considerable bump in display size over the Galaxy S2. The Galaxy S3 featured a 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED display, 1GB of RAM, and arrived with three storage variants available. The Exynos 4412 Quad / Snapdragon S4 (depending on the variant / market) fueled the device, and an 8-megapixel camera was included on the back.
The Galaxy S3 included a physical home key with one capacitive key on each side. The home key was far thinner than the one that came with the first two iterations of the Galaxy S series.
Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) came pre-installed on the phone and Android 4.3 Jelly Bean was the last official update made available to the Galaxy S3. The phone was made out of plastic, like its predecessors. Its backplate was more slippery, though, and looked a lot more different. Also on offer was a 2,100mAh capacity removable battery.
Samsung managed to sell an impressive 70 million Galaxy S3 units overall. 9 million pre-orders having been placed before the phone even became available. By this time, it was already clear the Galaxy S series was Android’s flagship series.
Samsung Galaxy S4
The Galaxy S4 was announced in March 2013 and resembled the Galaxy S3 quite a lot although its bezels were thinner. The device was made out of plastic, while the physical home key was located below the display. Two capacitive keys were also included, similar to the ones on the Galaxy S3.
The Galaxy S4 did sport a larger display than the Galaxy S3, as it came with a 5-inch fullHD Super AMOLED panel, and the device was fueled by the Exynos 5410 Octa / Snapdragon 600 – a special LTE-A variant that arrived later shipped with the Snapdragon 800 CPU.
The phone shipped with Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean out of the box, and the last official update received was Android 5.0.1 Lollipop. A 13-megapixel camera was included on the back, and the device came powered by a 2,600mAh capacity removable battery.
Samsung managed to sell 4 million Galaxy S4 units in the first four days of its availability, with 10 million having been sold in the 27 days after its release. It took the company six months to sell over 40 million Galaxy S4 units.
Samsung Galaxy S5
The Galaxy S5 was the third device in a row that offered slight design changes. The phone was still made out of polycarbonate (plastic) and sported a very similar physical home key/capacitive keys to the Galaxy S3 & S4. The overall design had changed so little that it was actually quite easy to confuse the Galaxy S5 with the previous version.
The device was announced in February 2014 with a 5.1-inch fullHD Super AMOLED display, and was the very first Galaxy S-branded phone to offer water and dust-resistance (IP67 rating). The Galaxy S5 was fueled by the Snapdragon 801 / Exynos 5 Octa 5422 SoC (market-dependent), and a special LTE-A variant arrived later with the Snapdragon 805 SoC.
The Galaxy S5 included 2GB of RAM and 16GB / 32GB of expandable storage. It also offered a 2,800mAh capacity removable battery. This proved to be the last Galaxy S handset to feature a removable battery. Android 4.4.2 KitKat came pre-installed and the last update was based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow. That’s at least in terms of official updates.
The Galaxy S5 was also the very first Galaxy S-branded phone to offer a fingerprint scanner which in spite of the visual similarities to the galaxy S4 made the home key on the Galaxy S5 entirely different.
Samsung sold 12 million Galaxy S5 units in the first three months of sales. Overall sales were disappointing considering the company sold 40-percent less units than it had anticipated.
Samsung Galaxy S6
The Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge had displays of the same size, but the Galaxy S6 Edge’s panel was curved. They both included a 5.1-inch QHD display, and both were fueled by the Exynos 7420 Octa. Samsung had also changed build materials for these two phones. They were made out of metal and glass instead of plastic. The physical home key once again doubled as a fingerprint scanner. Capacitive navigation keys were again part of the package. Both phones included 3GB of RAM with three different storage options.
The Galaxy S6 Edge+ was essentially a larger variant of the Galaxy S6 Edge. It included a 5.7-inch QHD+ Super AMOLED curved display, and shipped with more (4GB) RAM. It also offered a greater capacity (3,000mAh) battery compared to the 2,600mAh provided with the Galaxy S6 Edge. Android 5.0.2 Lollipop came pre-installed on the Galaxy S6. All the Galaxy S6 models were eventually updated to Android 8.0 Oreo. That was the last officially-available update for the Galaxy S6 series.
Samsung managed to sell 10 million Galaxy S6 series phones within one month of release, and reports claimed Samsung “only” managed to sell 45 million units in total. Samsung never officially declared overall sales figures.
Samsung Galaxy S7
Much like with the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge differed in terms of the display. One of them sported a flat display, and the other a curved display. Unlike the Galaxy S6 series, these two displays were not identical in size. The Galaxy S7 featured a 5.1-inch QHD Super AMOLED display. The Galaxy S7 Edge came equipped with a 5.5-inch QHD Super AMOLED display. The European model of the Galaxy S7 series was fueled by the Exynos 8890. The US variant shipped with the Snapdragon 820.
The Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge included 4GB of RAM, and were available in several storage variants. A single 12-megapixel camera was included on the back of each device. The front-facing fingerprint scanner was in effect again along with the capacitive navigation keys. This would prove to be the last iteration of the Galaxy S series to feature this setup.
Android 6.0 Marshmallow came pre-installed on Galaxy S7 phones and Android 8.0 Oreo was the last official version of Android shipped to each device. These two phones were the first Galaxy S-branded units to offer wireless charging.
Samsung managed to ship between 7 and 9 million Galaxy S7 units in the first month of sales. It sold a total of 48 million units in 2016.
Samsung Galaxy S8
The Galaxy S8 and S8+ were introduced as part of the Galaxy S8 series. The two were identical in terms of the display, but different in terms of size. Both phones shipped with a curved QHD+ Super AMOLED display. The Galaxy S8+ measured in at 6.2-inches compared to the Galaxy S8 and its 5.8-inch display. In addition, both models arrived with much thinner bezels compared to the Galaxy S7 series.
With the Galaxy S8, Samsung switched from a physical home button and capacitive keys to on-screen buttons, and moved the fingerprint scanner from the front to the back. Unfortunately, to an awkward and hard to reach location.
The Exynos 8895 fueled the EU variant of the Galaxy S8, while the Snapdragon 835 was included in the US model. A 12-megapixel camera was included on the back of the Galaxy S8. The battery capacity was another area of difference. The standard model featuring a 3,000mAh capacity battery compared to the S8+’s 3,500mAh. Both devices supported wireless charging. Android 7.0 Nougat came pre-installed and both phones were upgraded to Android 8.0 Oreo.
The Galaxy S8 series sold 30-percent better than the Galaxy S7 series during the initial months following the release. Samsung never declared any official sales figures, though. In either case, the Galaxy S8 and S8+ were branded a huge success for the company.
Samsung Galaxy S9
The Samsung Galaxy S9 series arrived in February, 2018 in the form of the Galaxy S9 and S9+. Both of these devices were made out of metal and glass. The only difference between the two, aside from the battery size and general footprint, came down to cameras. The Galaxy S9+ offers two rear cameras, while the Galaxy S9 shipped with just the one.
They featured curved QHD+ Super AMOLED displays, 5.8-inch and 6.2-inch, respectively. Both also included a rear-positioned fingerprint scanner, and were IP68 certified for water and dust-resistance.
Samsung opted to include 3,000mAh and 3,500mAh capacity batteries in these two phones, respectively, and the two came powered by different SoCs in different markets – the Exynos 9810 and Snapdragon 845.
Android 8.1 Oreo came pre-installed on the two phones and both have been upgraded to Android 9 Pie.
Samsung did not release official sales numbers for the Galaxy S9 series. The company did, however, describe the sales as “slow” during its Q2 2018 earnings report. A sentiment agreed with by analysts who have suggested the Galaxy S9 did not sell as well as the Galaxy S8 previously did.
Samsung Galaxy S10
In February 2019, Samsung had introduced its Galaxy S10 series of devices. The company’s Unpacked 2019 event marked the tenth anniversary of its Galaxy S series of smartphones. For the first time ever, Samsung introduced four devices out of the bat.
The Galaxy S10 series consists out of the Galaxy S10e, S10, S10+, and S10 5G. All of these devices look similar, and are fueled by the same SoC (Exynos 9820 / Snapdragon 855, depending on the market), but they’re also quite different in comparison.
The Galaxy S10e is the smallest Galaxy S10 handset with its 5.8-inch display. It’s also the only Galaxy S10 device to sport a flat display, side-facing fingerprint scanner, fullHD+ Dynamic AMOLED display, and two cameras on the back. The Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10+ include QHD+ curved Dynamic AMOLED displays (6.1 and 6.4-inch ones, respectively). The also come with three cameras on the back, and in-display fingerprint scanners. The Galaxy S10 5G is quite similar to the Galaxy S10+. Unlike it, however, it sports four cameras on the back, a larger 6.7-inch display, and 5G connectivity.
Samsung has also, for the first time ever, introduced a smartphone with a ceramic backplate. The top-of-the-line Galaxy S10+ comes with a ceramic backplate and 12GB of RAM. Pricing for the Galaxy S10 series starts at $749 in the US, and it goes well over $1,000.
Samsung Galaxy S20
The Samsung Galaxy S20 series was announced in February 2020. Samsung has announced three smartphones as part of this series, the Galaxy S20, S20+, and S20 Ultra. The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE joined the S20 series ranks later in 2020, as the company’s budget flagship smartphone.
All four Samsung Galaxy S20 series smartphones do offer 5G connectivity, and all of them come equipped with flagship-grade processors. The Galaxy S20 FE is the only phone in the series that doesn’t combine metal and glass. It utilizes metal and plastic combination instead.
All phones in the series come with really thin bezels, and a centered display camera hole. The Galaxy S20, S20+, and S20 Ultra utilize either the Snapdragon 865 SoC from Qualcomm, or the Exynos 990 SoC from Samsung, depending on the market. The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is exclusively fueled by the Snapdragon 865 SoC. It’s also interesting that all phones in the series come with high refresh rate displays. All of them offer 120Hz panels
Those displays are different from one phone to the next, though, and the same goes for their camera setups. The Galaxy S20 FE is the only one that offers an optical in-display fingerprint scanner. The rest of them come with an ultrasonic one. Display sizes in the series range from 6.2 inches in the Galaxy S20, all the way to 6.9 inches in the S20 Ultra.
Samsung Galaxy S21
The Samsung Galaxy S21 series got announced in January 2021. That is the earlier launch for the S series smartphone in history. Samsung has decided to announce them around 5-6 weeks earlier than it usually would. Three smartphones got announced as part of the series, the Galaxy S21, S21+, and S21 Ultra. Samsung used the same naming scheme as it did for the Galaxy S20 series.
The Galaxy S21 Ultra is the most powerful handset Samsung has announced. It stands apart with its cameras, display, and some of its internals. The design scheme for all three phones is similar, though there’s some difference in build materials. The Galaxy S21 is the only phone in the series that comes with a plastic backplate. It is also the smallest S21 handset that the company announced.
All three phones are fueled by the Snapdragon 888 SoC in some markets, while the Exynos 2100 fuels them elsewhere. Display bezels are thinner than ever, while the centered display camera hole made a comeback here. The Galaxy S21 Ultra is the only phone in the series to include a curved display, and also the only one to feature a WQHD+ display. All three phones do have 120Hz display refresh rates, though, and we’re looking at adaptive refresh rates here.
The Galaxy S21, S21+, and S21 Ultra feature 6.2-inch, 6.7-inch, and 6.8-inch displays, respectively. The first two phones have the exact same camera setups, four cameras overall. The Galaxy S21 Ultra, on the other hand, has five cameras overall, and a significantly different setup. Samsung has decided to include its second-gen 108-megapixel ISOCELL sensor as the main camera sensor in the Galaxy S21 Ultra.