Samsung Galaxy S10: All the spurious and curious rumors

Samsung will announce its new phones on February 20. As is often the case, we already know an awful lot about these mobiles. A masala of leaks, rumors and reports from "insider sources" make it seem there's nothing more to know about the Galaxy S10 and its siblings.

But what are those rumors? And how trustworthy are they? Do not take to look the hidden nuggets of truth.

Three main models for February

Likelihood: very high

Samsung's S-series flagships usually come in two flavors, the standard phone and the larger "Plus" model, which has a larger battery and an extra camera. However, this year we'll see three models.

The main two are familiar. There's a 6.1-inch Galaxy S10 and a 6.4-inch Galaxy S10 Plus. A larger screen and an additional camera marks the Plus model as the enthusiast's choice, at least until the next.

A Samsung Galaxy S10E fills in the line-up. The main reason for this is that of the iPhone XR. This will probably be marketed as the "accessible" alternative. It has the same processor, but a smaller screen with much less pronounced curvature and "only" three cameras, two on the back and one up front. This should significantly reduce its production cost. However, the Galaxy S10E will probably only look affordable in comparison with its siblings, not in isolation.

Samsung Galaxy S10 X

Likelihood: moderate

Some also believe we'll see a S10 on February 20, the S10 X. If you're looking for a Galaxy S10 Plus, with a 6.7-inch screen. It also supposedly has 1TB storage and 5G, making it a showcase of tech, rather than an entirely practical proposition for the average buyer with a contract up for renewal.

There's another reason to query this rumor. The upcoming Samsung folding phone has been dubbed the "Galaxy X", too. It seems unlikely Samsung would like to recycle a name for such a show-off device.

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Pricing

Likelihood: moderate

The Samsung Galaxy S10 prices matter, and not just in terms of whether you can afford them or not. They will affect the pricing of subsequent high-end phones. Gizmodo claims to have received information from a "reliable" source. And there are no great surprises here.

The Samsung Galaxy S10E will reportedly cost £ 669, with 128GB storage. You'll pay £ 799 for the Samsung Galaxy S10 and £ 899 for the Galaxy S10 Plus. These two can be upgraded from 128GB storage to 512GB for £ 200.

Samsung's more contentious Galaxy S10 X will cost £ 1,399 according to the leak, and has 1TB storage.

Infinity O displays

Likelihood: extremely high

If you're hoping for a Samsung Galaxy S10 phone in February, forget it. Samsung is working with a screen, but it will not be part of the main S10 line.

The "Infinity O" display is likely to be the main design feature of the S10 family. We've already seen this style of screen in other phones, including the Honor View 20 and Samsung's own Galaxy A8S. It's where you're going to be cut out of the screen.

Panel type is the big difference, though. To date all punch-holes. The Galaxy S10 will debut Samsung Display's own OLED solution. These may earn a drum roll, as well as other high-end punch-hole phones, including iPhones if Apple takes such a design route.

However, in theory these should be easier to produce than a punch-hole LCD. OLEDs have light-up pixels, so no reflection of the light

Display innovation has already happened. Get it out to the public is the Galaxy S10's job.

Snapdragon 855 / Exynos 9820 CPUs

Likelihood: extremely high

Samsung flagships tend to use both Samsung and Qualcomm chipsets, depending on the model and territory in question. If this continues, the Galaxy S10 twins will either use a Snapdragon 855 or Exynos 9820.

The Exynos chipset is somewhat similar to the Kirin 980 already used in top Honor and Huawei phones. It bundles its cores into three clusters rather than two, and uses it to Mali-G76 GPU. The Exynos has two more graphics cores, though.

Limits of high-end mobile phone hardware are a legitimate concern for only a tiny fraction of real people. But the Snapdragon 855 has a very powerful graphics chipset, based on Qualcomm's own claims. This CPU is the Adreno 640. Qualcomm says it's 20 per cent more powerful than the Adreno 630 en replaces.

Processor stats may constitute some of the most believable Galaxy S10 rumors. But they are also some of the least interesting. The Snapdragon 855 and Exynos 9820 were announced in 2018.

48MP camera versus 12MP camera

Likelihood: 48MP: low; 12MP: high

Over the last few years, most high-end phones used 12-megapixel main cameras. Such relatively low-resolution chips allow for high-sensitivity sensor pixels, which provide good performance at night. And great pixel-level sharpness during the day

We've reached a fork, though. Samsung and Sony have built 48-megapixel sensors for phones that use a process called pixel binning. In this case it means four sensor pixels can be grouped and treated as a single one. As in the Huawei P20 Pro and Honor View 20, this can lead to a very low-light day.

In October 2018, many thought the Galaxy S10 family would use these sensors. However, just weeks before release, they will use an arguably more conventional array.

The Galaxy S10 phones are likely to have a 12-megapixel standard view camera and a 12-megapixel zoom camera. A question mark over the third, spotted in scores of renders of the S10 and S10 Plus, but not the S10E. This could be a standard depth sensor, which seems to be unlikely, an ultra-wide camera or a ToF 3D Pro and Honor View 20.

A ToF, or time-of-flight, camera uses a laser or near-IR transmitter to "invisibly" illuminated objects, and the sensor judges are based on an analysis of the reflected signal. Similar techniques are used in IR camera aufocus aids, but a ToF camera can be used to analyze scene depths per-pixel.

Of course, stereoscopic depth systems. They are not just as good as they are. A ToF camera should make it easier for you, track people's limbs in AR games and apps.

There's a problem. Google's augmented reality platformer does not support hardware ToF. Any applications for it until this changes will boil down to manufacturer-specific gimmicks. Let's hope Oppo and Honor know something we do not have as ToF cameras. Otherwise it suggests their design policy is to shove any new piece of tech into a phone with no justification beyond novelty.

It's certainly does not nowadays.

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5G

Likelihood: low

5g has been around as a tech buzzword for so long, it makes "blockchain" seem a sapling. However, rumors suggest the S10 and S10 Plus will not be the models to actually have the requisite hardware for it.

Either the Galaxy S10 X or Galaxy X, Samsung's folding phone, is expected to be soon. This will not be true mainstream phones, so why not 5G in the popular models?

OnePlus CEO Carl Pei suggested in 2018 that 5G will add several hundred dollars to the price of its first mobile phone with next-gen mobile internet. Phone prices are already contentious. There's also no great benefit to 5G phone in 2019.

5G standards were only nailed down in 2018, and actual 5G trials are in their infancy in the US. Adding 5G to a phone like the S10 brings more cost then benefit right now.

Qualcomm Ultrasonic fingerprint scanner

Likelihood: medium to high

The Galaxy S10 phones are expected to use an in-screen fingerprint scanner. These are used in many higher end phones, including the Huawei Mate 20 Pro and OnePlus 6T.

However, the Galaxy S10 is a little different. Qualcomm's ultrasonic scanners. It sends an inaudible high-frequency pulse through your finger, and then analyzes the returned signal. Map of print, this is affected by the bumps and ridges of your finger. The technology is apparently not off by wet fingers. Optical and capacitive solutions often are.

Qualcomm has made ultrasonic finger scanners since 2016, but this will be the first time we've seen one embedded in a display.

Wi-Fi 6

Likelihood: medium to high

The next generation of Wi-Fi is the Samsung Galaxy S10 feature most likely to be ignored. It is important, but it is no more than a generational shift to become invisible before it is even noticed by most.

Some call it Wi-Fi 6, others call it Wi-Fi ax, which shows more is the successor to Wi-Fi ac most phones and routers have. The differences? Other recent generations of Wi-Fi.

The theoretical speed ceiling is raised hugely, with at least 4x throughput increase. It can be connected to the same time, more quickly. And the most important feature for the Galaxy S10 family itself, it uses less power. However, to get Wi-Fi 6 benefits you'll need to Wi-Fi ax router. Everybody will not be one of them.

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