CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Roundup Phones

Samsung Galaxy S10 rumors and facts: Feb. 20 launch, Snapdragon 855, 5G possibilities and everything we know about specs, features and price

Will screen protectors block the rumored in-display fingerprint scanner?

Reddit / @hissick27

Samsung has announced that it will host its next Unpacked event in San Francisco on Feb. 20. And with that, the countdown to the Galaxy S10 begins in earnest.

From now until then, we expect the rumor mill to continue to fire on all cylinders. Last week at CES, the next generation of cellular technology, called 5G, dominated the smartphone conversation. Samsung was quite visible at the show, unveiling a prototype of its forthcoming 5G phone. And yet we still don't know for sure whether the Galaxy S10, expected to launch on Feb. 20, will or won't support it -- or if perhaps one variant will.


Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855.

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Whether it does or not, Samsung has a lot riding on the 10th edition of its flagship Galaxy S series. And based on both known facts and a growing list of rumors, it may well live up to the hype. The Snapdragon 855 chipset that will power Samsung's next flagship phone looks like an absolute beast; our preliminary benchmarking results suggest it will be speedy performer that leaves the Galaxy S9 and LG V40 in the dust.

Read: Galaxy S10 chip kills last year's in our early Snapdragon 855 benchmarking tests

Performance aside, the analysts, pundits and leakers are painting a picture of a Galaxy S10 jam-packed with potentially extraordinary features, including an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, the company's own take on Face ID and an Infinity-O display. If the Snapdragon 855 lives up to its potential and the rumors are accurate, Samsung could have a hit -- and secure its place at the top of the smartphone heap. 

If not, the road ahead could be difficult. The Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus, introduced in February last year, haven't sold particularly wellSlowing phone sales are now a threat to every brand. And China's Huawei, which ousted Apple to take the No. 2 slot, is putting increasing pressure on Samsung. Despite its own problems -- which include growing hostility from governments in the US and around the world -- Huawei continues to drive sales on the strength of innovative products such as the Mate 20 Pro. In the final days of December, in fact, Huawei announced that it sold 200 million phones in 2018.

And it's not just 5G that's adding to the drama. Samsung is also battling LG, Huawei and others to be the first to market with a foldable phone. We expect to see examples of both this year.

With just over a month to go until the introduction, new rumors and hints continue to bubble up. We'll continue to collect and evaluate them here, so check back often. 

Read: Smartphones in 2018: The biggest winners and losers

Now playing: Watch this: Galaxy S10, 5G and foldable phones make news at CES 2019

Confirmed: Feb. 20 launch in San Francisco

Samsung interrupted CES 2019 with the announcement of the launch date and location for its next Unpacked event. Though it did not explicitly reference the Galaxy S10, it did everything but -- with the event date, time and livestream URL printed below the image of a 10 on its side. The event will take place Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 11 a.m. PT at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. CNET will be on the ground to cover the announcements live.


And if this timing bears out, Samsung would presumably save the launch of its upcoming foldable "Galaxy X" phone for MWC the following week -- getting a second wave of publicity after it unveils the Galaxy S10. If the Galaxy S10 shows up then, Samsung is likely to start shipping it on March 8, according to an earlier report by Gizmodo UK

Rumor: Three Galaxy S10 phones, including Plus and Lite models

The Galaxy S10 is rumored to come in three configurations:

Galaxy S10: Possibly code-named Beyond 1, this model is said to be the same size as today's Galaxy S9, but with even slimmer bezels. It's expected to have a 6.1-inch screen and, perhaps, according to Twitter leaker Ice universe, a total of three cameras

Galaxy S10 Plus: Possibly code-named Beyond X or Beyond 2, this will be the successor to the Galaxy S9 Plus. It will have the largest screen -- perhaps a 6.4-inch display -- and up to four rear cameras, two front-facing cameras and a big battery. Ice universe claims that the Galaxy S10 Plus will be 7.8mm thick and have a 4,000-mAh battery.

Galaxy S10 Lite: Possibly code-named Beyond 0. Modeled on the iPhone XR, this could be a smaller, less-expensive device with a 5.8-inch display and fewer hardware embellishments. Other rumors include straight edges instead of two curved sides, no fancy in-screen fingerprint reader and no headphone jack. 


Galaxy S10, S10 Plus and S10 Lite renders based on rumors.

Concept Creator

Rumor: Samsung's first 5G phone will be called the Galaxy S10 X

Korean site Electronic News has reported that Samsung will bring out a variant of the Galaxy S10 that supports 5G. Known as the Galaxy S10 X, the phone will launch in Korea in March for 800,000 to 900,000 won, which converts to approximately $715 to $800 (AU$990 to AU$1,115 or £555 to £625). In addition to 5G connectivity, the rumored phone has some serious specs: four rear cams and two in front; 6.7-inch Super AMOLED display; 5,000-mAh battery; 10GB of RAM; and up to 1TB of storage. 

Now playing: Watch this: Galaxy S10, 5G and foldable phones make news at CES 2019

The potential overlap between the Galaxy S10 coming on Feb. 20 and Samsung's 5G phone remains unclear. Though phones were not a focus of his remarks at CES, HS Kim, who leads Samsung's Consumer Electronics Division, mentioned that his company was the first to get FCC approval for its commercial 5G equipment. He also promised that the technology will come to consumers in the US during the first half of 2019. 

Samsung has committed to bringing out four 5G phones in 2019 -- two for AT&T and one each for Verizon and Sprint. Still, despite persistent rumors to the contrary, we don't expect the Galaxy S10 phones due on Feb. 20 to support 5G. Samsung mobile chief DJ Koh told Korean reporters in November that a separate device launching in March on Korean carriers will be its first 5G phone instead. That could be the Galaxy S10 X.

Rumor: Screen protector blocks ultrasonic fingerprint scanner

In-screen fingerprint sensors -- which can accurately and securely identify your print through water and grime -- are now a thing. The Huawei Mate 20 Pro and OnePlus 6T both have them and we expect to see the feature come to mainstream phones in 2019. 

Now playing: Watch this: See the first in-screen fingerprint scanner in action

Given that Qualcomm has announced that the Snapdragon 855 chipset will support an ultrasonic variation of the technology, there's a strong chance that the Galaxy S10 will have one. Phone case manufacturer Armadillotek has corroborated that rumor but added a twist, suggesting that the the scanner won't be able to read prints through tempered glass or PET screen protectors. As a result, the company says its Galaxy S10 case won't have a screen protector. 

Read alsoFeatures the Samsung Galaxy S10 could get using Snapdragon 855 

Rumor: Six cameras including double hole-punch on the S10 Plus

Purported photo of the Galaxy S10 Plus with a dual camera hole punch.

Reddit / @hissick27

For months, we've heard about the numerous cameras coming to the Galaxy S10 -- including up to four on the back, and two more on the front, at least on the Plus model. (The "regular" Galaxy S10 is expected to have just one front-facing lens and three rear cameras.) Now we have an image that shows what the elongated hole punch array could look like on the larger model. 

Posted by Reddit user @hissick27, the photo ostensibly shows a Galaxy S10 Plus with two circular cameras in the upper-right-hand corner of the display. If true, the new system could offer more zoom options, greater detail, depth mapping for portrait mode (the "bokeh effect") and AR. 

Rumor: 'Bright Night' mode for low-light photos

Google captured the title of best Android phone of 2018 with its Pixel 3 -- based largely on the strength of its exceptional camera technology, which produces remarkable photos even in low light conditions. Now, XDA Developers has unearthed evidence that Samsung may be cooking up its own version of Google's Night Sight feature -- called, flatteringly, "Bright Night" -- which could debut on the Galaxy S10. 

Based on clues found in the code of Samsung's recent One UI release, Samsung has ostensibly developed a way to produce bright photos in very dark conditions using computational photography. If true, this could help the Galaxy S10 redress one of the Galaxy S9's biggest shortcomings -- and put it on better footing with the best phones for taking photos in 2019.  

Now playing: Watch this: Pixel 3's stellar camera ups the ante again

Rumor: New models with bigger screens 

Two days before Christmas, Ice universe tweeted out screen dimensions for five forthcoming Samsung phones -- including a 5G version of the Galaxy S10 (more on that below) and the Note 10. The tweet corroborates earlier information, and, if accurate, suggests that price will not be the only thing to increase in 2019. 

At 6.11 inches diagonal, the Galaxy S10's display would be roughly 5 percent larger than the Galaxy S9's, and a 6.44-inch S10 Plus display would be about 4 percent larger than its predecessor. The Note 10 also appears set for a 5 percent larger screen. The rumored Galaxy S10 Lite's display is expected to be more or less the same size as the one on today's Galaxy S9. 

Rumor: The 'Galaxy X' foldable phone 

Samsung teased a foldable phone at its annual developer conference in Nov. 2018, and there are rumors about a March debut for the Galaxy X

That noted, we think it's unlikely given the huge risks inherent in debuting a radically new form factor. Despite its uneven track record, the Galaxy S is a reliable brand, and Samsung won't gamble away the opportunity to crow about a special 10th anniversary edition.

Though many companies are talking about it (including HuaweiLG and others), there's just one foldable phone on the market today -- the Royole FlexPai. We imagine that Samsung will enter this market cautiously, carefully gauging customer interest, before bringing a foldable design into the mainstream Galaxy S lineup.


Samsung SVP of mobile Justin Denison holds aloft the foldable Galaxy phone in November.

Angela Lang/CNET

Rumor: Prices are going up, will range from $845 to $1,765

Samsung is poised to follow Apple's lead and jack up the prices of its next series of flagship phones. Gizmodo UK reports that a new entry-level Galaxy S10, possibly the S10 Lite, equipped with 128GB of storage, will start at £669 -- which converts to about $845. Prices only go up from there for the standard S10 and S10 Plus, which may include superior camera technology and other higher-end features. 

Here's an overview of the rumored pricing for each model and storage tier. Bear in mind UK prices include 20 percent tax, so the dollar equivalents would not be direct conversions, even if these are accurate:     

  • Galaxy S10 Lite, 128GB: £669
  • Galaxy S10, 128GB: £799
  • Galaxy S10, 512GB: £999
  • Galaxy S10 Plus, 128GB: £899 
  • Galaxy S10 Plus, 512GB: £1,099 
  • Galaxy S10 Plus, 1TB: £1,399 
Now playing: Watch this: Foldable Galaxy could be really pricey

Rumor: The S10's headphone jack stays put for now

Before you cast off the headphone jack as a given, take note. Samsung's Galaxy A8S doesn't have one. But it does have a screen that's expected to come to the Galaxy S10 (see below). In October, Korean outlet ET News reported that Samsung could ditch the headphone jack in the Galaxy Note 10 or Galaxy S11.

For now, though, the headphone jack appears to be safe. A case that's been linked to the Galaxy S10 has a hole for a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. That's reason enough for prolific leaker Ice Universe to tweet a short video of the clear plastic case. Of course, without knowing anything about the case maker or how this company got its information, there's no way to independently verify the accuracy of the design. Notice also the wide horizontal window on the back where multiple cameras could go. 

Will the Galaxy S10 bring portrait mode to video?

Qualcomm put support for portrait mode videos into its Snapdragon 855 chip for 2019 phones and beyond, but that's no guarantee that Samsung will take advantage of the technology.

If it does, you might be applying a depth-sensing bokeh effect to subjects in video as well as photos. Qualcomm said that you'd be able to swap out the blurred backgrounds in these 4K films for other scenes from a library of choices.


Samsung showed off three notch designs at its developer conference in November: a V-notch, U-notch and O-notch. Also shown: no notch.

Juan Garzon/CNET

More about the selfie camera's Infinity-O punch-hole 'notch'

Although Samsung told the world it was working on three new notch designs for future phones, the company never committed to the Infinity-V, Infinity-U or Infinity-O designs for its Galaxy S10.

At this point, we'd be shocked if we saw anything other than the Infinity-O display, which has a hole punched out of one corner for at least one camera lens. Samsung has made the design official in the newly announced Galaxy A8S, a phone for China, but it's likely that Samsung would release the design on a less important phone in case issues come up that the designers could address, rather than take a risk on its most important phone of the year.

Renders show the selfie camera's "hole punch" on either side, but more recent rumors insist it'll be on the right as you look at the phone face. Blass suggests that the Infinity-O will come to the Galaxy S10.

Huawei announced something similar with its Honor View 20 phone, but instead of a hole cut from the screen, the Honor View 20 fits the camera below a transparent portion of the display. The jury's still out on whether this setup affects photos.

ReadGalaxy A8S a practice run for Galaxy S10's O-notch screen? It makes sense

Will the Galaxy S10 toss out the iris scanner and finally get 3D 'Face ID'?

When the Galaxy S9 first arrived, we were disappointed it didn't use secure 3D depth-mapping technology to unlock the phone like the iPhone's Face ID. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chip, released in 2017, supports mapping with 50,000 infrared dots, compared to Apple's 30,000 infrared dots. Instead, the Galaxy S9 retained Samsung's secure iris unlocking and insecure face unlock, the latter a staple on Android phones.

Now might be the time for Samsung to step up its face-unlocking game. Rumors point to both the Galaxy S10 losing the iris scanner and gaining a rival to Face ID. Qualcomm's newest chip supports another kind of face-mapping technology that's also secure enough for mobile payments, called Sense ID 3D Face Authentication. Perhaps it's this sensor that could power Samsung's take on Face ID.

In addition to unlocking the phone securely with a face scan, a depth-mapping selfie cam could enable better AR apps and effects, like the disastrously creepy AR Emoji, a rival that predated Apple's much more skillfully executed Memoji.

Now playing: Watch this: Galaxy S9's AR emoji: How good are they?

The Galaxy S10 will run Samsung's One UI interface on top of Android 9

Samsung confirmed to CNET that all future phones, including the foldable phone, will use the new One UI interface that Samsung unveiled at its November Developer Conference. The One UI interface design declutters the current Samsung Experience and tries to group icons for easier one-handed use. It'll work with Android Pie, the ninth version of Google's mobile software, but not with earlier versions of Android.

Now playing: Watch this: Samsung's foldable phone will use One UI

Read also: Galaxy X: Specs, price, rumored March release date for Samsung's foldable phone

Read nextWorst S9 features S10 can fix