In four years of writing about Android, I can’t remember a single major smartphone released without accurate rumors or leaks preceding it.
Leaks have become so prevalent they’re now the rule, rather than the exception. They’re a part of the landscape — for better or worse — so the recent deluge of Samsung Galaxy S10 leaks shouldn’t be surprising. Yet the speculation surrounding Samsung’s 2019 flagship has been somewhat peculiar.
Rumors have appeared in a volume and specificity I’m not used to this far ahead of launch. What’s up with that?
The premature release
Our first rumor regarding the Galaxy S9 arrived in September last year, pertaining to OLED panel assembly, suggesting the phone could release early (which was inaccurate). Design talk didn’t spring up until November, and we saw what it might look like in December — around three months before Samsung released the phone.
It’s July 2018, and we’ve already seen rumors about the Galaxy S10’s three (or perhaps five) potential cameras, its fingerprint scanning tech, its fullscreen display, its notch (or lack thereof), and the potential models it will arrive in.
There are probably other rumors flying around we haven’t picked up, too.
Given that we expected the Galaxy S10 lineup to appear around the same time next year (March), that’s a lot of leaks. One possible explanation for why we’re seeing them now is simply that the Galaxy S10 will arrive sooner.
Samsung tends to show off its new Galaxy S series phones at the Mobile World Congress, which generally starts at the end of February. What if Samsung plans to launch the Galaxy S10 series at CES in January?
We hear that same “Galaxy S at CES” rumor every year. If I was a betting man, I’d still say Samsung won’t launch the phone there; it’s an unnecessary rush.
If that isn’t the reason for the rumor flood, what else could be?
Many expect Samsung to have a big 2019, with the launch the tenth smartphone in the standard Galaxy S line and its first commercial smartphone to feature a folding display. There’s also been talk of three potential Galaxy S10 phones (one possibly smaller and less expensive than the others), meaning four new products overall, all been tipped for early next year.
Since the launch of the Galaxy S6 Edge in 2015, Samsung has always released the Galaxy S line in two flavors: a “regular” S device and then an Edge or Plus variant. With four potential devices coming early next year, there’s a chance the speculation has been mixed up.
Four phones is more than most dare to release at one time (though two flagship variants plus a third more experimental phone is becoming more common), and twice what Samsung normally deals in. Current speculation may have simply been wrongly attributed to the Galaxy S10, or the Galaxy S10 may be being used as shorthand for “next-gen Samsung handset.”
In other words, there’s a chance that some (or all) of the Galaxy S10 rumors have nothing to do with the Galaxy S10 at all.
The sneaky leak
Though smartphone leaks mean press coverage, which can work in the favor of the OEM, manufacturers are often keen to guard their biggest secrets — and Samsung may have a bigger secret that all of its previous Galaxy S phones coming next year.
The folding phone, which may be called the Galaxy X, has the potential to be big business for Samsung — it will receive plenty of publicity and could potentially give Samsung an early lead in a new product category (that others probably want a piece of).
If Samsung reveals it early in 2019, it likely wants to keep the design under wraps. The South Korean manufacturer could be trying to prevent anyone getting a concrete grasp on the Galaxy X — or perhaps even the Galaxy S10 lineup — with some deliberate leaks of its own.
This kind of diversion tactic isn’t unheard of in the tech industry, and with all of the rumors going on, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them were intended to pull us in a certain direction so Samsung can make as big a splash as possible on the launch day.
It may be a well-established fixture of the tech world, but leaks have certainly changed in recent years. Evan Blass (@evleaks) has amassed almost half a million Twitter followers through outing numerous products, and other leakers are on the rise. It feels like there are more people in the game than ever before, and many, presumably hungry for the same kind of fame, are making hasty Photoshop jobs for a chance at the same glory.
Foreign websites like The Bell, The Korea Herald, The Investor, and ETNews, have also risen in recent times (we even have an editor in Seoul on the lookout for regional news). They’re all adding to the number of speculation stories making their way onto Android websites.
These rumors may indicate the S10 is arriving early, or that Samsung attempting some kind of smokescreen. Or maybe this is just what the rumor landscape has become, and the Galaxy S10 is the most prominent Android phone on the horizon.