It's the 10-year anniversary of Samsung's Galaxy phone, a line of devices that made phablets cool, survived baptism by fire, and turned Samsung into a leader in the mobile phone market. Today, at an event in San Francisco, the company showed how it plans to push its smartphones into the next decade—and into another dimension. The vision includes 5G, folding displays, and a brand new line of Galaxy phones filled with flashy features.
For Samsung, this isn't just another product showcase. It's the company's pitch for "the next era of mobile innovation," as D. J. Koh, CEO of Samsung's mobile division, put it onstage today. Samsung wants you to buy its latest hardware, but it also needs you to buy into its vision for the future, so you'll keep returning to the ecosystem of Galaxy products for years to come.
If you missed the event, you can watch the entire thing here —or read on for the TL;DR of everything Samsung announced today.
Next-Generation Galaxy Phones
It wouldn't be a Galaxy birthday party without showing off a few new flagship phones. The brand-new Galaxy S10 pushes the line forward with an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, a trio of rear cameras, and an "Infinity O" display, which replaces the wide cutout at the top of the phone with an elegant hole-punch display. It has its own neural processing unit, smarter Wi-Fi capabilities, and—weirdly—can even act like a wireless charging pad for your other devices. If you buy into Samsung's pitch, this is the phone you'll use to capture professional-grade photography, record TV-worthy video, and power your most complex AI tasks.
Of course, you'll pay for the privilege. The new lineup includes the Galaxy S10, the larger Galaxy S10 Plus, and the Galaxy S10e, a slightly more affordable version that knocks off a few of the premium features. There's also an S10 model that will ship later this year and will work on next-generation 5G wireless networks. (More on that later.) The "cheap" S10e starts at $750, while the S10 costs $900 and the larger S10 Plus starts at $1,000. Each of the new phones will be available to preorder starting today.
Does That Phone Fold Up?
If the Galaxy S10 line feel a little too rank-and-file, you're in luck. Samsung also introduced the Galaxy Fold, the manifestation of the folding-phone dream it's held onto for years. When closed, the Fold looks like your standard handset with a 4.6-inch screen. Open it up and it turns into a tablet-size device with a 7.3-inch display. Samsung imagines you'll use this to watch YouTube videos on your commute into work, or multitask with several apps at once, then fold it up to text your friends and slip it comfortably into your pocket.
Samsung's demo focused on the added functionality you get from an extra screen. Three-app multitasking lets you juggle a few different apps at once, and “app continuity” lets you switch between screens seamlessly. It's the size of a small tablet when you need the extra screen, and it's a pocketable device when you don't. The Fold also packs in six cameras, for capturing everything around you, no matter what mode you're in.
The only catch? The Galaxy Fold starts at $1,980—almost twice the cost of Samsung's (already very expensive) flagship phones. For those who want to be on the forefront of the foldable future, the Fold will be available starting April 26.
Hey Look, Galaxy Buds
Along with the new phones, Samsung announced a few new accessories. Galaxy Buds, the company's latest swipe at the AirPods, take the company's existing earbuds into the mainstream. Samsung says these are the lightest, most compact earbuds it's ever made, and they come in white, black, or yellow. The battery is designed to last for five hours of calls or six hours of music—and there's Bixby built in, should you ever want to chat with Samsung's virtual assistant. You can charge them in their case or on the back of your new Galaxy S10, using the phone's wireless charging feature. The Galaxy Buds will cost $130 and ship on March 8.
Two New Smartwatches
Samsung also added two new wearables: the Galaxy Watch Active , a beefed-up smartwatch built to withstand all your fitness needs; and the Galaxy Fit , a minimalist activity tracker that Samsung compared to the weight of a single strawberry. Both include heart-rate monitoring, sleep tracking, and stress management systems, like any good wrist-wearable; the Galaxy Watch Active also adds blood pressure monitoring. The Active will cost $199 and go on sale March 8; the Fit, available in May, will retail for $99.
A 5G Phone Is Here ... Sort Of
Don't look now, but 5G is coming soon to a phone near you. This is the faster, more robust network we've been hearing about for years—and today, Samsung took a step toward making it a reality. The company showed off the Galaxy S10 5G, it's first "5G-enabled phone," which comes with a gigantic screen and the biggest battery of the Galaxy S10 line. (You're going to need that extra battery life if your phone is constantly searching for a 5G network.)
It's easy to get amped about the promises of 5G—faster downloads! Instant AR and VR! Never wait for anything to load again!—but you can still ignore 5G for now. Yes, this phone will likely be super fast. And Samsung will be well-positioned to take advantage of 5G networks when they exist. For now, though, a 5G phone is mostly just a vision for the future.
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