A brief history of the Samsung Galaxy S series, and its impact on the Android world

by: Ankit BanerjeeMarch 13, 2013

samsung galaxy s series

As we look forward to the highly-anticipated launch of the Samsung Galaxy S4, it’s difficult to imagine that the company’s meteoric rise in the Android world occurred over a span of just three years!

Three years ago saw the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S, at a time when Apple was racing ahead of the competition in the smartphone arena (in the US), Nokia was holding on to the number one position because of its popularity in emerging markets, and the Blackberry was still the only device used in enterprise.

Today, we take a look back at where it all started, how things progressed, and what the future has in store for Samsung with the launch of the Galaxy S4.

Samsung Galaxy S – A Humble Beginning


The Samsung Galaxy S, announced in March 2010, was Samsung’s first foray into the US smartphone market. While the company did have a few other Android releases before this, the Galaxy S was the first serious attempt by the company to take on the iPhone, and take a piece of the Android pie that, at the time, was dominated by HTC and Motorola.

The Samsung Galaxy S definitely stood out in a crowd, featuring a beautiful and vibrant 4-inch Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen display, and a 1Ghz ARM Hummingbird processor, a top of the line processor back then. The smartphone was well-received in tech circles, and achieved more than decent sales figures of around 24 million worldwide, while becoming one of the highest selling smartphone in markets such as India in 2010.

Unfortunately, the device fell short in the one market it hoped to make its biggest impact in, the US. Samsung was a relatively new entrant, and the terms of the device release were dictated by the network carriers. This led to the launch of several variants, such as the Samsung Vibrant (T-Mobile), Captivate (AT&T), Epic 4G with a QWERTY slide-out keyboard (Sprint), Fascinate (Verizon, and Mesmerize (US Cellular). Each version featured the same internals and software as the Galaxy S, with some changes to “define” each device.

Samsung Galaxy S2 – Climbing to the Top 

galaxy s2 hands-on

With the Galaxy S2, Samsung managed to wrestle some control back from US network carriers, with AT&T and T-Mobile keeping the name, and only Sprint calling the device the Galaxy S2 Epic 4G Touch, which was later changed to Galaxy S2 4G. All variants had their fair share of differences though, with all US versions featuring 4-capacitive buttons, as opposed to the physical home button found on the international version.

The AT&T version featured NFC capabilities, with a later release, the Galaxy S2 Skyrocket, also featuring LTE integration. The T-Mobile and Sprint variants included a larger 4.5-inch display with the former also featuring a 1.5 Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon S3 processor (instead of the 1.2Ghz Samsung Exynos processor) for better compatibility with T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network.

The Samsung Galaxy S2 received rave reviews across the board, topping an amazing 2011 by receiving the Smartphone of the Year award at last year’s Mobile World Congress’ Global Mobile Awards. With HTC and Motorola floundering, and companies like LG still finding its footing, the Galaxy S2 helped Samsung race ahead of the competition, taking over as the best Android device manufacturer in 2011.

Samsung has definitely paid attention to the success of the Galaxy S2, with the device, which first released with Android 2.3 Gingerbread on-board, now receiving official updates to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. This attention ensured that the Galaxy S2 is still one of the most popular Android devices around.

Samsung Galaxy S3 – Planting the Flag


If you thought the sales figures of the Galaxy S2 were impressive, be prepared to have your mind blown! Samsung decided to skip major tech shows for the announcement of the Galaxy S3, instead holding its own “Unpacked” event in London on May 3, 2012. Samsung received over 9 million pre-orders for the Galaxy S3 two weeks after the unveiling, and sold over 10 million devices in less than 3 months, making it one of the fastest selling gadgets in history.

Current sales figures are at 40 million, and the accompanying price drop related to the launch of the Galaxy S4 means that that the Galaxy S3 is still going to still be one of the best-selling devices this year as well.

Taking complete control from US network carriers, the device launched in the US under the Galaxy S3 branding, and featured no differences across variants available from different networks. It also enjoyed one of the most successful US launches, with every major network carrier offering the Galaxy S3. The major difference between the US and international variant was that the US version was powered by a 1.5 Ghz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor for its LTE integration, as well as 2GB RAM on-board, as opposed to the international version which boasted a quad-core Samsung Exynos processor and 1GB of RAM.

The Samsung Galaxy S3 received positive reviews as well, with most reviewers praising its perfect blend of software features (S-Voice, Smart Stay, and more), processing speed, and display, giving the device an edge over the competition which included the HTC One X and the iPhone 4S. Samsung also achieved what it set out to do back in 2010, with the Galaxy S3 being labelled an iPhone killer. The device once again helped Samsung receive the Smartphone of the Year award at this year’s MWC Global Mobile Awards, and helped the company increase its market share in almost every major mobile market around the world.

Samsung Galaxy S4 – The Sky is the Limit

samsung galaxy s4 teaser header

The last few weeks have been dominated by Galaxy S4 rumors, leaks, and discussions, ranging from the expected specifications of the device, whether the Samsung Galaxy S4 will dominate the US market, and even though no one expects it, why the Galaxy S4 might fail, and whether that might be a good thing. We even asked you what your dream Samsung flagship smartphone would be like, and the answers have definitely been interesting and varied.

If there’s one thing Samsung knows how to do, it’s marketing! Samsung outspend every other device manufacturer in 2012, and has already gone out of its way to advertise the upcoming launch of the Galaxy S4. But things are seemingly different this time around. The competition has stepped up its game, with some truly great releases on offer from Sony, with the Xperia Z and Xperia ZL, and HTC, with the HTC One. The OEM scene, which initially included just HTC, Motorola, and Samsung, has also evolved over the last year or so, with companies like LG, Huawei, ZTE, Lenovo, and others all making waves in the Android smartphone world.

But Samsung is making changes as well. Samsung has now begun aggressively pushing its devices as SAFE (Samsung for Enterprise), which opens up a whole new market for the company. And by no stretch of the imagination is the Galaxy S4 going to be a bad device. We’ll have to wait and see whether the device will gain the same popularity as the Galaxy S3, or surpass it. Luckily, there are just hours to go!

  • It should be titled- A brief history of the plastic copycat!

    • Ali

      wow…. may i ask what the hell they copied?

    • Mikesphoneandtab

      Samsung has made several devices with different shapes, User Interfaces and even hardware features including hardware keyboards and built in styluses. I think any company that makes the same device, that looks and works exactly the same every year has no right to say that another manufacturer who makes different devices for different people has copied them with every phone they have made. Especially when your device is a perfect rectangle with an Apple on it and one circle button at the bottom.

    • lalala

      dont bother this guy he’s just a troll and an anti samsung guy with no life or something better to do.

    • Actually, you’re referring to Google’s Android OS, not Samsung. And if you actually knew anything truly about android, you would know that Apple has actually taken MANY features from it (pull-down notification center, multitasking apps in the background, and more). Plus, there are so many features with android now that are NOT found in iOS, that you can tell Android is heading in a different, more sophisticated and capable direction than iOS. Now Apple is playing catch up.

      Now, I stood in line for 12 hours to get the original iPhone in 2007, and I did so because it was a truly innovative device… As were the next 4 iterations of the iPhone (I owned each version). It was the simultaneous release of the unexciting and bland iPhone 5 with the buggy, faulty, inept iOS 6 that drove me to test out android with a serious mindset. Jelly Bean was truly amazing to use, and I have been in love ever since.

      The story of iOS and Android is very similar to that of Ford and Chevrolet. Ford created/started the American muscle genre with the Mustang, a truly amazing and innovative game-changer in automotive history, just like the original iPhone in our modern tech world. But then Chevrolet came out with a response to the Mustang: the Camaro. Was the Camaro a copy cat of the mustang? No. It shared a few similar traits, but had a very different DNA at its core that ultimately lead to the Camaro being the better american muscle car with better capabilities and specs.

    • Abhishek Jain

      you are an idiot go check out the features it has. apple cant even think of such features at such a low cost. looks matter but not much. plastic provides a cheap look but it also reduces the weight.

    • MasterMuffin


  • memuser

    You CAN NOT look at that first one and not see an iPhone. Samsung like a lot of Korean companies love for other to do the hard work and then copy them. They are horrible. S-Voice, the packaging and even some of the marketing reek of Apple. If you can not see it then you are being a closed minded fanboy of the worse kind. Open you freakin mind for just a minute and look at the history of the recent smartphone. And your beloved Google is not innocent either. The other companies were able to make phones different. Not Samsuck. I use both iOS and Android. I have a Nexus 4 and an iPad. Android on tablets absolutely sucks worse than iOS on the phone. Stop being just fanboys that you will overlook anything your camp does.

    • 1) I don’t see how the Galaxy S is similar to the iPhone, that’s just your personal perspective, respect people who think differently.

      2) Android tablets ARE better than the iPad, with external storage and mouse support and better Office editing capabilities, but their biggest advantage over the iPad is the ease of getting contact into the tablets and playing it. Apple products don’t even supprt FLAC file, and trying to put an MP4 movie in my old iPhone 4S was a pain in the ass compared to how easy it is on my Nexus 7, Galaxy S2, and Galaxy W,

      3) If you like apple products that much, what are you even looking at in an android-centered website?? GTFO.

      4) You’re ignorant.

  • Michael Muyunda

    i like the s2 design best #fried rice

    • Me too, even 2 years after it’s launch it still is one of the most badass looking and performing smartphones out there, I won’t change it to another Android any time soon :)

  • experia

    this is what i need

  • Ugly , Ugly , less Ugly …. Hopefully ,the S4 won’t come as it is rumored

    • Of course .. the software and performance are pretty good ,but it doesn’t look good

  • Seth Forbus

    Still loving my Galaxy Note ll. I don’t think I can go back to a phone without S-Pen.

  • IGotTheBurner

    S2 getting jelly bean? I’ll believe it when I see it.