A few months ago, Samsung revealed the next evolution of its Android skin, called One UI. The main thrust is it’s meant to make bigger phones easier to use, grouping buttons and menus into specific interactivity zones, so you’re not reaching all over the place to make things happen. One UI is scheduled for release right about now, so it will undoubtedly debut on the S10 family before rolling out to older devices. Samsung delivered a brief overview of One UI at its developer conference last year, but we reckon it’ll get some airtime at Unpacked nonetheless.
In terms of specific features, the S10 range will apparently be graced by a new app called the Samsung Blockchain KeyStore, which will basically be an on-device cryptocurrency wallet. And digging deep on prior Samsung software has suggested a new camera mode called Bright Night will debut at Unpacked. Similar to Google’s Night Sight and other low-light camera features, it’s thought the mode will stitch multiple shots together to get the best out of gloomy situations.
If Samsung has any time left at its press conference, we might see mention of more updates to Bixby, too. The company said at CES that its putting its digital assistant in more places and that Google, among other partners, are beginning to play nice with the platform. Considering case leaks point to the S10 devices keeping the dedicated Bixby button used to summon the assistant, we’d be surprised if it didn’t get at least an honorable mention on stage.
Joining the S10 range, Samsung is expected to announce a new pair of wireless earbuds at Unpacked, inventively called the Galaxy Buds (as confirmed by an update to Samsung’s Galaxy Wearable app). What’s interesting about these is that a credible image leak suggests they can be wirelessly charged by your phone. Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro is the only phone that supports reverse wireless charging at the moment — but not for long, it seems. Samsung’s official cases mention a Wireless PowerShare feature, too, which is no doubt what it’ll be named.
FCC filings appear to confirm that all S10 models will support the speediest, next-generation WiFi standard, 802.11ax, which would be a spec to look out for when upgrading your router at a later date. This marries up well with the thinking that Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 chip, which works with 802.11ax, will be Samsung’s CPU of choice for international S10 handsets.
Not so much a new feature, more preserving one, but all relevant leaks show that Samsung isn’t doing away with the 3.5mm headphone jack just yet. This isn’t much of a surprise considering the S9 pair and more recent Note 9 have kept the port, but a relief for anyone that suspected Samsung might jump on the industry bandwagon of dropping it for a lone USB-C port and a Houdini dongle.
In terms of color options, there have been a number of images supposedly showing white, black and turquoise-green S10 models, as well as a canary-yellow option that might be exclusive to the S10E. There’s also rumored to be a ceramic black variant that could be reserved for that special edition S10+, but we suspect colorful options might be more plentiful than what we’ve seen so far, given the many hues Samsung’s mid-rangers have been sporting lately.
We expect Samsung to cover all this on February 20th and rumors point to the S10 family launching in earnest just a few weeks later on March 8th (though that special edition S10+ may come a few days later on March 12th).
A new smartwatch, plus Galaxy Home news?
Earlier this month, it was claimed that Samsung was crafting a new smartwatch dubbed the Galaxy Sport. An update to Samsung’s Galaxy Wearable app later and we now know it’ll be called the Galaxy Watch Active and appears to lack the rotating bezel that’s been the hallmark of the company’s smartwatches in the past. A pair of new fitness-centric bands called the Galaxy Fit and Fit e (there’s that “e” again) are also imminent, meaning Samsung could literally have a few new wearables up its sleeve for Unpacked. Or these could be launches the company’s saving for Mobile World Congress at the end of February.
We haven’t heard much about Samsung’s Galaxy Home smart speaker since it was first announced last August, and it seems strange we’re still in the dark about a release date. The Bixby prison did do the rounds again at CES last month, though, suggesting the company is edging closer to a formal launch. Will Galaxy Home get another 15 seconds of fame on stage at Unpacked or will Samsung make the event all about mobile? Join us on February 20th to find out.