Samsung will launch three Galaxy S10 models and a long-awaited foldable phone early next year, according to a Bloomberg report that corroborates and adds new details to information separately revealed by analyst Ming-chi Kuo and Korean media earlier in the year.
The S10 and S10 Plus are said to include curved OLED screens with in-display fingerprint sensors, a technology seen in many high-end Chinese phones this year but yet to be deployed by Samsung. The phones also reportedly have three cameras on the back with a selfie camera that is “visible and tucked under the screen;” it’s unclear what this actually means, though scattered rumors have suggested that Samsung is working on displays with tiny holes to accommodate cameras beneath the panel itself.
Bloomberg also says Samsung is testing S10 prototypes without headphone jacks, although this doesn’t necessarily mean the company has made a final decision to omit the connector.
The third S10 model is said to be a cheaper variant without a curved screen and possibly without an in-display fingerprint sensor. (Kuo’s July report said that this model would have a fingerprint sensor on the side of the device.) Samsung has released “lite” variants of its Galaxy S phones in the past, but they typically shared little in common with the flagship devices and weren’t launched til several months later. The company’s stated strategy is to bring more high-end features to its mid-range devices, so extending the prestigious Galaxy S brand in this way makes sense.
Samsung is also said to be in talks with Verizon Wireless to bring a 5G version of the Galaxy S10 to the US. It’s unclear what stage Verizon’s 5G network will be at by the time of the Galaxy S10’s release; the company’s position has been that it’ll launch 5G-capable mobile devices in early 2019, though there are several caveats with its already-available “5G” home internet service. Leaked code already suggested that Samsung was working on a 5G Galaxy S10 and revealed the device’s codename “Beyond,” corroborated by Bloomberg.
The Bloomberg report also contains details on Samsung’s forever-in-gestation folding phone, codenamed “Winner” as previously reported by The Wall Street Journal. Samsung is supposedly still deciding whether the device will fold out vertically or horizontally, which seems implausible given the company recently suggested it could be shown off at its developer conference next month. The report says Samsung may instead present conceptual details of the design and user interface if it can’t bring the actual device.
The folding phone apparently won’t include an in-display fingerprint sensor because of technical difficulties with the screen technology. It’s said to include a four-inch display that can be used when the phone is closed, with a much larger screen on the inside that unfolds like a wallet — similar to a concept shown off in 2014 (above). The WSJ’s earlier report said the inner screen would be about seven inches diagonal when unfolded, though it’s hard to know quite what that’d look like without knowing the aspect ratio. Bloomberg says the folding display is “coated with a film” instead of glass, but doesn’t say if it’s responsive to touch or not.
In any case, 2019 is shaping up to be a big year for Samsung’s mobile division, which is in need of a hit after disappointing sales for the Galaxy S9. Samsung’s 2018 releases have been solid, but distinctly iterative and overshadowed by flashy Chinese rivals — the question is whether the company can regain its reputation for technical innovation.