The Galaxy S line of Samsung smartphone products will turn 10 during the first quarter of next year. It is certainly up to your imagination to guess what Samsung, the South Korean electronics giant, has in stock to celebrate the milestone. When iPhone became 10 years old last year, the main release was given the name iPhone X.
With pounding competition, not only from Apple, but particularly from Huawei, the outlook is somewhat murky for Samsung smartphones. When coupled with demand saturation caused primarily by the availability of high quality phones from many vendors, getting the attention of consumers isn’t going to be easy. It’s important to note that it isn’t just Samsung that is being challenged in the manner just described, as Apple is in the same boat. After all, Huawei just overthrew Apple to assume the Number Two spot as the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer. It’s not difficult to visualize the problems. With the features packed into iPhone X, Galaxy S9/S9 Plus, Galaxy Note 9, iPhone XS Max, and Huawei Mate 20 Pro, what else do you want in a phone? And remember that these phones don’t come cheap – they go for over $1000.
Relatively recent smartphone launches or releases are “two for a penny:” For instance, Galaxy Note 7, the combusting smartphone, was launched on 19 August 2016. The Galaxy Note 8/8 Plus devices were unveiled on 23 August 2017 and released on 15 September 2017, while Galaxy Note 9 was released on 24 August 2018. For the “Galaxy S” line, S8 was launched 29 March 2017 and released on 21 April 2017, while S9 and S9 Plus were launched on 25 February 2018 and released on 16 March 2018.
Apple launched iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus on 12 September 2017 on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of iPhone. The iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR were unveiled on 12 September 2018. The XS and XS Max shipped on 21 September 2018, while XR shipped on 24 October 2018. (Remember that the XS is like a regular annual upgrade to iPhone X. The XS Max is the larger version of this, or the upgrade of a hypothetical iPhone X Plus, while XR is a budget-friendly version of the new phone, which could also be seen as reincarnation of iPhone SE, which was a relatively cheap, reduced-capability, and unsuccessful iPhone.)
Huawei launched the P20 in April 2018, followed by the unveiling of a series of the “Mate 20” smartphone models on 16 October 2018. The unveiled phones include (Huawei) Mate 20, Mate 20 Pro, Mate 20 X, and Mate 20 Lite.
With these (many) releases by the different vendors come more capabilities and fewer opportunities to impress. Besides the ultra-fast chips and generous random-access memory (RAM) and hard disk memory, today’s smartphones have a wide range of capabilities: foldable phones (Royole’s Flex Pai), huge display (Galaxy Note 9’s 6.4 inch), two-day battery life (5000 mAh) (Mate 20 Pro), smart S-Pen (the Galaxies), 3D Face ID (the iPhones), Face Time (the iPhones), Duo video (Android’s answer to iOS Face Time), multiple cameras (the iPhones, the Galaxies, and Mate 20 Pro’s three back-facing camera lens), fingerprint scanner (the Galaxies), Health apps (iPhones, Galaxies), great cameras (with Bokeh and HDR) (the iPhones), iris scanners, (the Galaxies), and virtual and augmented reality (Galaxies, iPhones).
With the foregoing, the question becomes what Samsung can bring on to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Galaxy S that will be noticeable. The puzzle will probably start with the name given to the phone. When iPhone turned 10, the model became iPhone X, with the “X” standing for “ten.” Are we going to see Galaxy X, Galaxy SX, Galaxy X Plus, Galaxy S10, Galaxy S10 Plus, or what? Obviously, this is a guessing game. Rumored features include 5G capabilities and six cameras (4 back-facing, two front-facing for selfie). The phone may also be running Samsung’s own operating system with the name “One UI” on top of Android. It is also rumored that the phone will not have an iris scanner, but instead an iPhone-Face ID-type 3D Face sensing camera. Four models of the new device are rumored, with the sizes 5.8in, 6.2in and 6.44in, and 6.7in for the premium 5G version.
Concerning the six cameras, note that the Galaxy A9 smartphone – released in October 2018 specifically for the Asian market – has four rear-facing cameras, providing some leverage for the rumored 4/2 camera in the anniversary Galaxy S. Regarding 5G, Samsung plans to launch 5G nonetheless in March 2019. However, as per last week’s article in this column in Daily Trust, 5G baseband may bring instability and heat. Therefore it is expected that Samsung will exercise some caution in supporting 5G in the new phones, since this could represent an uncharted territory. The tenth anniversary Galaxy S phones are expected to launch in February 2019 and ship in March 2019.