Galaxy S10's best feature is something the iPhone XS doesn't have

Your move, Apple.

Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
Expertise VR and AR, gaming, metaverse technologies, wearable tech, tablets Credentials
  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Scott Stein
3 min read

Samsung's newest watch on the back of the Galaxy S10, charging up.

James Martin/CNET

Samsung's newest Galaxy S10 phones allow other devices to charge off the back of the phones via the wireless Qi standard. That means, yes, even other phones. But it also allows Samsung's new, wireless Galaxy Buds and Galaxy Watch Active to charge up, too, turning the phone into a big charging pad. That's the part that I love. And it just might change the way I think about wearable battery life from now on.

Full review: Galaxy S10 Plus highs and lows

Everything Samsung showed at Unpacked

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Phone as battery pack

The S10's charging tech is called Wireless PowerShare, and it's essentially similar to what the Huawei Mate 20 Pro introduced last year. What Samsung's doing, however, feels a lot more exciting, because its entire product line is designed to charge off the back of the phones. It's a hub for your own personal constellation of Bluetooth things.

Samsung's also introducing this feature across all five of its new phones, making this the largest launch of this type of tech. And now, it's a safe bet other phone manufacturers will, too. Perhaps we'll see more examples of this at MWC Barcelona.

Watch this: Samsung Galaxy Buds charge right off the back of the S10

Wearables need common charging standards

This also brings up a really annoying thing about most smartwatches and fitness trackers: They're dongle hell. The Apple Watch has a special magnetized charger that's not the same as standard wireless charge tech. Every Fitbit has its own unique charge dongle. It's madness, and it prevents people from simply dropping any watch to charge on a regular wireless Qi charger. I wake up each morning and check to see how my watch and earbud battery life is doing. That's my connected life in 2019. Sooner or later, it's charging time... and I don't carry around a bunch of chargers because I like being a normal human being (and yes, I wear watches to bed, to track sleep... except for the Apple Watch.)

Watch this: Galaxy S10 Plus is an everything phone

The new Galaxy Watch Active and the Galaxy Buds charge in the exact same way, and work via the phone's 5W charging. The Galaxy S10 phones can't charge more than one device at a time, but that's better than anything else out there. And it would totally change the way I pack to travel, if I could charge everything else off the phone as needed.

Read: Getting a Galaxy S10, or just got one? Start here

Your move, Apple

The next iPhone is most likely coming when it always does, in September (unless something happens sooner). Apple's new proprietary and delayed AirPower charge mat is expected in 2019, too, which will allow multiple devices to wirelessly charge at once. But that's not the same thing as being able to charge everything through the phone itself. Could Apple include some form of reverse charging, at least like is what's available now on the iPad Pro via USB-C? Maybe. But I don't just want that. I want to be able to charge all the wearable things, too. That was Samsung's biggest power move this year.

Read: Who are all these Galaxy S10 phones for?

Originally published Feb. 22.
Update, March 8: Adds new links.