(ATTN: UPDATES with more details, comments in paras 5, 20, 26-27)
By Kim Eun-jung
SEOUL, Feb. 21 (Yonhap) -- Samsung Electronics Co. on Thursday unveiled its latest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S10, along with a 5G variant, expanding its product lineup to better target the premium market.
The South Korean tech giant introduced four variants of the Galaxy S10 with new features, expanded storage and more battery power during its Unpacked events held simultaneously in San Francisco and London.
Samsung showcased the standard Galaxy S10 equipped with a 6.1-inch display, the larger S10+ with a 6.4-inch screen, the more affordable S10e and the company's first 5G variant. The S10e comes with a 5.8-inch display, while the 5G version packs a sizeable 6.7-inch screen.
The latest launch represents a shift from Samsung's past strategy of releasing two flagship devices at Unpacked events in recent years.
"Galaxy S10 builds on that incredible legacy, and delivers breakthrough display, camera, and performance innovations. With four premium devices, each built for a unique consumer in mind, Samsung is leveraging a decade of industry leadership to usher in a new era of smartphone technology," DJ Koh, head of Samsung's IT & Mobile Communications Division, said during the Unpacked event held in San Francisco and live streamed globally.
The smartphones feature an Infinity-O display, which puts a front-facing camera in a punch-hole in the main display itself, doing away with the bezel and notch to provide the best viewing experience for users.
The company's 10th anniversary smartphone model features the world's first ultrasonic fingerprint reader on the screen, ditching the physical pads located in various places on past devices.
The latest smartphones come with Qualcomm's powerful Snapdragon 855 processor or Samsung's in-house Exynos 9820 chipset, depending on region.
The standard S10 has a triple-lens camera on the back, a USB-C port and a 3.5 mm headphone jack connector.
With up to 1 TB of storage and five cameras in total, the S10+ is expected to be a powerful challenger to iPhone XS Max, Apple's biggest and most expensive smartphone, released last year.
The S10 and S10+ both have Dynamic AMOLED panels with curved top and bottom bezels, while the S10e sports a flat screen, which is making a comeback after it was last seen on the Galaxy S7.
All of the Galaxy S10 models come with a standard 12-megapixel, dual-aperture camera that switches between F1.5 and F2.4. The three larger variants get an additional 12-megapixel telephoto camera, while the 5G variant gets a 3D time-of-flight lens.
Samsung said that the S10 will have the world's first built-in cryptocurrency wallet capable of storing Bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple currencies.
With Galaxy S10 5G, consumers on a 5G network can download a full season of a TV show in minutes, play graphics-rich cloud games, enjoy virtual and augmented experiences, the company said.
Galaxy S10 5G features the 6.7-inch Infinity-O Display; 3D depth camera for live video, powered by 4,500mAh with super fast charging system.
In addition, the electronics giant took the wraps off a suite of new wearables to join its newest smartphones, including wireless earphones called Galaxy Buds, a smart watch and a fitness band.
As S10 incorporates a reverse wireless charging system, users can charge their Galaxy Buds by placing them on the rear of the smartphone. This technique was demonstrated by Huawei's Mate 20 last year.
Besides the S10 series, Samsung unveiled its much-anticipated foldable phone, "Galaxy Fold," during the global event, in the hopes that the new device will become a game-changer in the lethargic smartphone market.
The new type of handset has a tablet-sized screen that can be folded up to fit into a pocket. The Fold was created using the company's cutting edge display technology.
With six lenses — three in the back, two on the inside and one on the cover, the foldable model will provide a new level of multitasking, the firm said. Users can open up to three active apps simultaneously on the main display.
Samsung said the foldable phone is just the beginning of its smartphone innovation, with larger displays expanding user experiences.
"Galaxy Fold introduces a completely new category that unlocks new capabilities never seen before with our Infinity Flex Display." Koh said. "We created Galaxy Fold for those that want to experience what a premium foldable device can do, beyond the limitations of a traditional smartphone."
The innovative features illustrate the efforts of the world's largest smartphone maker to maintain its lead amid the double whammy of reduced global demand and fierce competition in major markets.
Chinese rivals have aggressively expanded their footholds in China, India and Southeast Asian nations with cheaper handsets.
It is the first time Samsung has held an Unpacked event in San Francisco, Apple's home turf. The move is seen as Samsung's attempt to challenge its U.S. archrival and show people that it has upped the ante.
The unveiling of the foldable phone comes just days before China's Huawei presents its own folding tech on the eve of MWC Barcelona, the world's largest mobile industry gathering, which opens Monday.
The Galaxy S10 series will hit the shelves on March 8 in major markets, including South Korea and the United States, with pre-orders available from March 4.
Pricing starts at $900 for Galaxy S10, $1,000 for Galaxy S10+ and $745 for Galaxy S10e, depending on the memory storage, and S10 and S10+ come with a pair of Galaxy Buds for free.
Galaxy Fold starts at $1,980 and will hit shelves on April 26, the company said.
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