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Samsung Unpacked 2019: a must-watch event

Samsung Unpacked 2019: a must-watch event

New year, a new Unpacked event! Yes, 2019 will start with one of the most important announcements in the smartphone industry: the arrival of Samsung's new Galaxy S line. But this is not just any year - in 2019, the South Korean giant is celebrating the tenth anniversary of its beloved series. The main protagonist on the stage will be the Galaxy S10 and its multiple variants, but there can be surprises around the corner!

Mobile World Congress? No, thank you!

The Barcelona fair is famous for hosting the presentation of many important smartphones. This is why multiple brands are waiting until February to delight fans with the unveiling of their new devices. This is the case with Asus and its Zenfone range, LG and the G line and Huawei and its P series. Of course, Samsung often makes an appearance at the Catalan event too.

The South Korean company has almost always announced its top-of-the-range device at the Mobile World Congress, except for a few occasions, such as in 2017, when the company preferred to wait another month before unveiling the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ pair at a dedicated presentation event. That year wasn't an easy one for Samsung. The two smartphones, in fact, had the ungrateful task of restoring the manufacturer's reputation after the disaster of Note 7. Fortunately, they succeeded (in my opinion).

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Galaxy S8 and S8+ had to rebuild the trust of Samsung customers. / © AndroidPIT

Let's go to last year, another tough one for Samsung: the competition was increasingly fierce and new threats arose, ready to challenge the king of smartphone sales. Among them, Xiaomi and Huawei - two companies that deserve all my respect for their winning strategies. Despite this, Samsung returned to the scene during the Mobile World Congress and pulled the Galaxy S9 and S9+ out of the hat - an improvement on the previous generation and that still holds up today.

What about this year? No, ladies and gentlemen, this year Samsung once again wants all eyes on itself and has no intention of finding a niche in the midst of all the pre-exhibition events of other manufacturers. The first Samsung Unpacked will take place a week before the Mobile World Congress, namely on February 20 in San Francisco. Moreover, taking inspiration from the past, it is highly likely that the company will hold an event at the same time in London as well.

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The first Unpacked event of the year will take place one week before the start of the MWC. / © Samsung

The strategy of hosting a dedicated event one week after the fair is not wrong. Samsung has every reason to do so and I fully support the choice of the company. The novelties presented this year will be so amazing that they certainly deserve special attention from everyone: customers or not, partners and, above all, the media. This in no way means that Samsung will arrive at the Barcelona trade fair empty-handed. Those who have the pleasure of visiting this year's fair will undoubtedly find the South Korean manufacturer's stand where they can admire the new devices announced during the first Unpacked event of 2019.

Welcome Galaxy S10!

The number in the invitation sent to the press by Samsung is quite clear - a ten. Not only does it refer to the fact that, as we said before, the company intends to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Galaxy S line, but above all it is an obvious hint at the arrival of the next wave of Galaxy S10 smartphones. You didn't think there was going to be single smartphone, right?

Since 2015, we are used to seeing a pair of flagships announced together (Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge in that year), but it seems that this year a nice trio will be unveiled instead. Not only that, there are rumors that Samsung wants to a return of the Edge! But let's go in order...

As I said, this year we expect the arrival of three variants: the Galaxy S10 Lite (SM-G970F), also called Galaxy S10 E, the Galaxy S10 (SM-G973F) and the Galaxy S10+ (SM-G975F), respectively with display sizes of 5.8, 6.1 and 6.4 inches. All three, or at least two of them, will likely feature the new Infinity-O Display (better known as the "hole-punch" display). This will allow Samsung to further slim the top and bottom bezels, in an effort to get as close as possible to that 100% screen/body ratio. According to the latest rumors, the Plus variant of the S10 may even have two holes to make room for a second front camera.

This display is no longer a novelty: we have seen a clear example of how it will be applied on the Galaxy A8s, but the one dedicated to the S10 will be much better and certainly deserves more attention.

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These are mockup renderings of the next Galaxy S10 family. / © Evan Blass

In terms of specs, under the hood we will likely find Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 for the American version and an Exynos 9820 CPU for the European one. Both will be accompanied by at least 6GB of RAM, although we can imagine versions with 8 or even 10GB of RAM. On the camera side, it is likely that three sensors will be integrated, a main one, a wide-angle one, and a telephoto lens.

In addition, to response to the competition, I expect Samsung to have developed a dedicated night mode for their camera app. At XDA developers, some clues about it have been found in the Samsung camera app on board the new One UI, based on Android 9 Pie. The functionality is referred to as Bright Night, a clear hint.

One of the novelties we've recently talked about, is the fact that Samsung could permanently remove the never used iris scanner, but instead focus on improving face unlock by using a 3D scanner, born from the collaboration between Samsung, Mantis Vision and Woodgate.

It is then likely that for the first time (and finally, I would add) Samsung will be able to integrate a fingerprint sensor into the display of its smartphones. The desperate attempts of the South Korean giant to be first in this area have failed, but maybe they have picked the right time to adopt the tech.

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The in-display fingerprint sensor is no longer new. / © Oppo

After all, almost everyone has succeeded: Vivo, Oppo, Huawei and OnePlus are already using it on their latest devices. Yet, it seems that Samsung did not want to use those currently in production, in order to play a trump card - namely the ultrasound fingerprint sensor, which is much more effective than the optical one. It will be able to support gestures, detect heart rate and blood flow and, in addition, can also be unlocked underwater.

The surprise everyone knows is coming

Yes, the era of folding smartphones has finally arrived, albeit rather slowly. Despite the first questionable attempts by various companies and the first released foldable device - Royole's FlexPai, the arrival of a Samsung foldable could change the market. Although the Galaxy S10 is certainly very intriguing, the Galaxy Fold (if we can call it that for now) certainly has the potential to cause quite a stir because of its novelty.

We're looking forward to hearing more about it and we really hope that Samsung will demo it on stage and actually discuss it this time. There are still many things we have no idea about concerning this foldable phone, especially in regard to specifications.

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Samsung showed the first prototype during the SDC 2018. / © Samsung

We've been waiting for this for quite a while and Samsung has put it off too long. If reports from the WSJ are to be believed, Samsung will announce it in San Francisco. According to the U.S. newspaper's source, Samsung reportedly told its partners that it wanted the foldable smartphone on store shelves by April. The price is still unknown, but it seems to be around 1500 euros or $1700. We'll just have to wait and see.

Galaxy Home: will it be the right time?

Samsung could also spend a few minutes of its presentation at Galaxy Home, its first smart speaker. Powered by the voice assistant Bixby, this speaker, could be launched on February 20 in direct competition against Google Home, Amazon Echo and Apple's HomePod. Samsung announced the Galaxy Home during the Unpacked event for Galaxy Note 9 in August last year, but the company never confirmed a price or release date.

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Do we want to market this Galaxy Home? / © Samsung

This is why it's likely that Samsung can take advantage of this Unpacked event to say its also in the smart speaker market by releasing the Galaxy Home. The rumored price for the device is 350 euro or around $400.

One UI may be hiding something

Are we really sure Samsung told us all about the One UI? Announced during the SDC 2018, the new version of the user interface based on Android 9 Pie has just come out of its beta phase and is officially available for the Galaxy S9 and S9+. The roll-out phase has also recently begun on the Note 9.

However, although it is already available in a stable version, I always have the impression that Samsung may surprise us during the presentation of the S10, perhaps revealing some features exclusive to the new flagship.

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Samsung designed One UI together with Google to fit foldable smartphones. / © Samsung

Don't forget about the folding smartphone! One of the things that Samsung has clearly stated is that One UI has been studied ad-hoc for these kind of devices thanks to a partnership with Google. So get ready to see the One UI do its best on the Galaxy Fold.

Samsung invites you too!

Even if you are not physically present at the event, Samsung still invites you to be part of it. As always, events of this magnitude can be streamed and Samsung is no different. It will be possible to watch the event live via the official Samsung Global website.

The event begins Wednesday, February 20 at 11 AM PST. Don't miss it!

What about you? What are your expectations for the Samsung Unpacked event? Let us know in the comments below.

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