Samsung unpacked event Galaxy S10

Samsung unveiled several new devices at its Unpacked event in San Francisco, including the Galaxy S10, Galaxy Fold, Galaxy Buds, Galaxy Watch Active and Galaxy Fit.

The Galaxy S10—or at least all three versions of the smartphone—were the centrepiece of the presentation, but it was the Galaxy Fold that stole the show. The rumoured, and recently teased, foldable mobile device now has a name and what appears to be a final design. Then there were the trio of new wearables.

There was a lot to cover at the event, and with the exception of the Fold and Fit, I got hands-on time with the others. Both the Fold and Fit were not available to media for demos.

Samsung Galaxy S10 cellphone

‘Next-generation smartphone’

Samsung didn’t mince words when referring to the Galaxy S10 as heralding a “next-generation” of technology in a handset. There were three unique versions of the device: the S10e, S10 and S10+. The first of the trio is meant to be more of an affordable option, and as such, doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles the others do.

As always, it starts with what the company called its Infinity-O Display on AMOLED. It’s a 6.1-inch edge-to-edge on the S10 and 6.4-inch on the S10+ (5.8-inch on the S10e, though not the same exact screen technology). There was also a Galaxy S10 5G designed to run on next-generation wireless networks, but that device isn’t coming to Canada yet.

Rather than a notch in the top of the centre of the display, Samsung instead cut out an enclave in the top right of the display. The screen wraps around it, and with two front-facing cameras (one only on S10 and S10e), Live Focus depth of field photos are now possible on both sides of the phones.

The ultrasonic fingerprint sensor uses different technology than other onscreen fingerprint scanners have up till now. Samsung says it’s more secure, too, but only testing will prove that. In my hands-on time with the S10+, the sensor has worked quite well so far.

It supports HDR10+ out of the box, which could have positive consequences in more ways than one. Video on apps supporting it, like Netflix and Prime Video, should look cleaner and richer, while shooting photos and video will also benefit from it. Only testing will truly determine how impactful it is, though.

Samsung S10 smart phone camera array

Camera upgrades

The Snapdragon 855 processor already makes this a fast phone, but Samsung didn’t talk as much about those specs. The company spent far more time extolling the potential of the phone’s camera. Having a 123-degree 12-megapixel wide-angle lens to serve alongside the standard and telephoto lenses makes the S10 and S10+ triple-threats in the rear.

The modes are the same as before, except Live Focus will now offer a few different effects when shooting for a blurred background. Video looks to take a longer stride with smoother footage and better colour accuracy. Samsung is staking a claim to being the best camera phone, though it never said anything about its new Bright Light mode for low-light and night photography, so I’ll be testing that soon.

Samsung also integrated a new Instagram Mode to the camera as well. Basically, it will let you post straight to the social media platform right from the camera. The only catch is that you must have the Instagram app installed on the phone, too.

Galaxy Watch Active 40mm Smartwatch
Galaxy Watch Active 40mm Smartwatch

Other features

The reverse wireless charging feature isn’t new, as Huawei was first to market with that, but it is pretty cool, nonetheless. The back of the S10 or S10+ can wirelessly charge any small device you place onto it, including another phone. Since it’s sapping the phone’s own battery, it’s not enough to fully charge a device, but it’s great to have in a pinch when you or a friend needs power.

Unlike the last two years, Bixby took a back seat this year. Samsung’s voice assistant will have new features, including Routines, which can automatically put together multiple actions together. You can also do it manually. For example, you may get in the car, and the phone will turn off Wi-Fi and launch Waze or Spotify for you once the phone connects to the car via Bluetooth.

There’s plenty more that Samsung squeezed in here, and look out for my review here on the blog in the next two weeks to get all the details of how well they work.

Samsung Galaxy Buds In-Ear Sound Isolating Truly Wireless Headphones
Samsung Galaxy Buds In-Ear Sound Isolating Truly Wireless Headphones

New wearables

The new group of wearables sees Samsung trying to make some key changes to make them attractive accessories. Starting with the Galaxy Buds, these are essentially successors to the previous Gear IconX true wireless earbuds. Small, lightweight and with more convenient features, they may finally be what the company has hoped the previous versions would’ve been.

I’ve been using them since the event, and I can say they do generally sound better than their successors, but I’ll need more time before I’m fully convinced. Pairing is really seamless with Samsung phones. The case supports wireless charging, so any pad, or the S10/S10+ itself, will do.

The Galaxy Watch Active looks like a Galaxy Watch that’s gone on a diet. Far slimmer, thinner and lighter, it has a very nice form factor. I can see this watch appealing to women more than previous models have.

There’s no rotating bezel, so you’ll be tapping and swiping a lot more on this thing. The two physical buttons are also a little different in that they don’t stand out as much. There will be different straps and colours, plus wireless charging support.

Lastly, there’s the Galaxy Fit, which is a fitness tracker band that weighs “as much as a strawberry.” As I noted, I got no chance to try this out, or even see it, so there’s not much I can share. You get a 0.95-inch Super AMOLED screen, exercise tracking, sleep tracking, 5ATM water-resistance and a lightweight body.

Coming soon

Look for reviews on all these devices coming to the blog as they come to market in the coming weeks and months. Pre-orders for the Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10+ are available now, with the phones launching on March 8. It will come in prism black, prism white, prism blue and ceramic black.

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