The many rumors swirling around thepaint a picture of a flagship Android phone that improves 2018’s with multiple rear cameras, an “ultrasonic” in-screen fingerprint reader and a new screen with an O-shaped “notch” punched out so the selfie camera can peek through. But when I think about what I really want from the Galaxy S10, I can’t help but pull inspiration from the , our favorite Android phone of the year, the family and Samsung’s own .
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m excited to see the S10’s rumored, but notches don’t really bother me the way they incense some. And while an in-screen fingerprint reader is something I’d have chewed my nails off to get on the Galaxy S9, a terrific 3D depth-mapping camera is more important now. Above all, I want a smooth, polished experience that makes the phone a joy to use.
The Galaxy S10 matters tremendously for Samsung’s fortunes in 2019. The specs that go into the rumored phone will shape Samsung’s response to intensifying pressures from other phone companies. As its 10th-anniversary Galaxy phone, the Galaxy S10 will earn applause if it can reinvent the Galaxy S line, and sharp criticism if the device bears too many similarities to last year’s model.
And although Samsung still reigns as the world’s largest smartphone maker, Huawei has replaced Apple as the second-largest brand. Weak Galaxy S10 sales could crack open the door for Huawei, a Chinese challenger whose rising friction with global governments and carriers only escalated when its CFO was arrested in Canada on Washington’s accusation that Huawei violated US sanctions against Iran. As imperiled as Huawei is, its phone sales are on the rise while Samsung’s sales are starting to slow.
It’s against this backdrop that the Galaxy S10 must wow and inspire, even as handsets grow more expensive each year, and buyers wait longer before replacing old phones.
Some features topping my Galaxy S10 wish list are a long time coming. Others are more personal stretch goals for Samsung’s flagship device. Feel free to add your own most-wanted Galaxy S10 specs in the comments below.
1. A really good depth-sensing 3D camera
There’s no doubt in my mind that the Galaxy S10 will have an in-screen fingerprint reader. And while I want that, it’s also critical that the S10 have a quality 3D depth-sensing camera to go along with it. The Galaxy line is already two generations behind Apple’s Face ID for the, , and so on, and Samsung needs to get in on this face-mapping game if it wants to stay competitive.
The Galaxy S9 andphones already have a built-in iris scanner that can verify your identity and securely pay for mobile goods and services. But Samsung also panicked last year and introduced a hybrid version of iris scanning and face unlock on the Galaxy S9, called Intelligent Scan, that’s not secure enough to verify a monetary transaction. If it’s not secure enough for payments, it’s not very secure at all.
A 3D selfie camera is useful for things other than securely unlocking your phone with your face and approving mobile payments though. This kind of depth-sensing sensor would also open up different kinds of portrait photos, which could improve selfie quality while also enabling new effects, like say swapping out the background or applying a cool color filter on it.
A good depth-mapping camera could also upgrade the Galaxy S9’s terrible AR Emoji feature to challenge Apple’s whimsical Memoji. Finally, a 3D selfie camera could lead to some pretty interesting AR capabilities down the line.
The good news is that the processor we suspect will drive the Galaxy S10, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 chipset, is outfitted to support a 3D front-facing camera. Samsung would have to program around that backend component to get its version of Face ID up and running, but the chip supports the feature.
I still want the Galaxy S10 to use Qualcomm’s ultrasonic fingerprint reader in-screen, in addition to a 3D face unlock. One of my biggest complaints about using the iPhone X was that if Face ID fails, there’s no biometric backup to unlock your phone (you have to use the passcode). Samsung could have it both ways.
2. Pixel 3-level photos
The Galaxy S9 brought us an innovative rear camera with a lens that automatically changes aperture (the amount of light it lets in) when it senses low light conditions. But the camera that takes our breath away belongs to the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.
Externally, there’s nothing special about the single lens on the back of Google’s phones. But the software inside gives us the clearest, most detailed, best contrast on any phone you can buy right now. An additional mode calledtakes it one step further, consistently producing the best low light pictures we’ve ever seen. It truly is, as Techhnews reviewer Lynn La said, “awesome.”
On paper, the Galaxy S9’s dual aperture sounds cooler. Some Techhnews editors will also defend its ability to correctly adjust to fit the scene. I, however, have struggled to be a fan. Photos often look pale and soft when I expect them to be punchy, and scenes I expect to capture cleanly tend to blur when you (or the subject) aren’t holding perfectly still. Most of the time, though, the Galaxy S9 shots are still very good, especially when you take photos outside in broad daylight.
Samsung improved on the Galaxy S9’s camera with the Note 9 Its AI software optimizes settings depending on the scene at hand. This would be a worthy addition to the Galaxy S10 as well. But until Samsung can tighten up its photo processing, the Galaxy S10 isn’t likely to overtake the Pixel 3’s photo skill, but I’d like to at least see the Galaxy S10 come close.
3. 128GB starting storage
Samsung often reserves its best specs for the upmarket Galaxy Note line, but its 10th-anniversary phone deserves some of the limelight. My hope is that the base model Galaxy S10 comes out of the gate with 128GB storage, to match the Galaxy Note 9.
Realistically, getting this will be a stretch, since Samsung will want to keep the Galaxy S10 cheaper than the Note 9. But a phone with such an large initial repository would make a strong statement against the $1,000 iPhone, which starts at 64GB, especially if Samsung could keep costs lower.
In an age when people are taking and saving more large photo and video files, the amount of baked-in storage you get with a phone adds significant value.
4. Embrace AR with Google’s help
Samsung’s Gear VR headset makes it a notable player in the virtual reality space, but AR on the phone hasn’t been the brand’s strong suit (see AR Emoji above). Augmented reality hasn’t caught on much on any phone, but Google laid the groundwork this year for friends to play the same AR game on an iPhone or Android device.
The Galaxy S10 could seize the opportunity to move AR forward. It has the global and monetary clout to work closely with Google’s AR and Android teams. Will it? Probably not. AR doesn’t excite everyday phone buyers the way a good camera does, so investing in AR won’t translate into much-needed sales. On the other hand, nobody is going to get excited about AR until they see a must-have app or game leading the charge.
When and if that happens, Samsung would be wise to position itself at the tip of that spear, rather than to follow Apple or Google.
5. Fix the little things
Every phone has its quirks, and myreview unit has more than a few little things here and there that don’t always function the way I want them to.
For example, copy and paste doesn’t always work across apps the way I expect. Sometimes I can’t copy, or I have to attempt multiple times to paste. Other times, I have to tap the same spot on the screen over and over to get the cursor at the front of a field, because the screen curve, as beautiful as it is, is messing up the phone’s ability to identify my fingertip.
Then there’s a weird bug I’ve experienced on the Galaxy S9 Plus that I’ve been using since last March, and not on any other phone I’ve tested or owned. Gmail will close down when I press the Send arrow — not every time, but frequently enough that I get annoyed when I have to reopen the app and double-check that my message sent. Samsung says this isn’t a bug they’ve heard of before, and suggested I clear my app’s cache. I did, but the problem persists.
Some of this Gmail idiosyncrasy and others could be a side effect of the Galaxy Experience skin riding on top of Android. Or it could stem entirely from Google’s app, the Android OS, or some oddity with the way it works on this particular phone. Without one company controlling both the hardware and software, it’s hard to pinpoint the source of the bugginess.
These minor bumps in the road don’t ruin my experience any more than a knob of undissolved brown sugar would ruin a well-made delicious chocolate chip cookie, but they do keep this particular Galaxy S9 Plus, at least, from being the best it can be.
Luckily, Samsung has a new interface to float on top of Android 9 Pie in the Galaxy S10: Samsung’s One UI. The electronics giant showed One UI off in November at Samsung’s annual developer conference, where I got a quick look. Hopefully, One UI will be able to deliver an even cleaner, more polished interface that really does fix all the Galaxy S9’s quirks.
What do you hope the Galaxy S10 will bring? In the meantime, catch up on the most important Galaxy S10 rumors here.
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