Samsung is all set to launch its flagship Galaxy S21 series during its Galaxy Unpacked event later today. Samsung's Galaxy S line of flagship smartphones, that was first introduced in 2010, has, over the years, come to symbolise the latest technology and design innovations from the South Korean manufacturer. From the Galaxy SII in 2011, that cemented Samsung's spot in the flagship space, to the Galaxy S6 that first brought a curved screen (Edge display) and wireless charging, to the latest Galaxy S21, which is expected to bring a host of new technologies to Samsung's flagship series, including support for the S Pen stylus.
Samsung announced the Galaxy Unpacked event for the launch of its Galaxy S21 earlier this month. In its invite, Samsung confirmed long-speculated reports of a January 14 launch date for the Galaxy S21 series. The first major smartphone launch from the South Korean giant this year will take place virtually at 10AM ET (8:30PM IST) today and will be streamed live on Samsung's official website. “The accelerated transition to a mobile-first world brings with it the need for devices that can transform everyday life into an extraordinary experience," Samsung said in its invite, further emphasising on the "Everyday Epic" tagline. As Samsung sets the stage for its 2021 flagship smartphone, let us take a look at how Samsung's Galaxy S series has, over the years, been the face of Samsung's latest and most advanced technological efforts.
Samsung Galaxy S (2010)
The first Galaxy S smartphone was launched by Samsung in June 2010. It was the first smartphone with a 4-inch 480x800 pixel Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen display (a 4-inch display was considered massive back then), a PowerVR graphics processor, Wi-Fi connectivity, a 5-megapixel primary camera and a 0.3-megapixel secondary front-facing camera. The Samsung Galaxy S came soon after Samsung's very first Android phone, the Samsung Galaxy that was launched in 2009. Back then, the Galaxy S came with the highest RAM on a smartphone at the time, at 512MB. The smartphone was initially launched with a Super AMOLED display, but was replaced with an LCD panel due to the short supply of AMOLED displays at the time. The smartphone was launched with Android 2.1 Eclairs out of the box and was updated till Android 2.3 Gingerbread.
Samsung Galaxy S2
The Samsung Galaxy S2 was launched in April 2011 and came as one of the slimmest smartphone of the time, measuring just 8.49mm in thickness. The Samsung Galaxy S2 was also the one of the first smartphones in the world to support up to 1080p of uncompressed video output to an MHL enabled TV or to an MHL to HDMI adapter. The Samsung Galaxy S2 came with an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel front camera and was paired with a dual-core processor. The smartphone came with 16GB of inbuilt storage, which was expandable till up to 32GB via a microSD card. The Samsung Galaxy S2 sold over 40 million units, cementing Samsung's position as a leading player in the flagship smartphone space. The Samsung Galaxy S2 was launched with Android 2.3 and a 1650mAh removable battery. It was because of the success of the Galaxy S2, that in the third quarter of 2011, Samsung overtook Apple in smartphone sales for the first time, claiming 23.8 percent of the market (Apple had 14.6 percent during the same period).
Samsung Galaxy S3
Samsung's Galaxy S3 was launched in May 2012 and was an instant hit, banking on the success of its predecessor, the Galaxy S2. The Samsung Galaxy S3 was the first smartphone in the world to have an HD screen. With the Galaxy S3, Samsung also first introduced Multi Window, Ambient Light, Smart Stay, S Voice, and S Beam (NFC) features. The smartphone was also the first to come with Samsung's intelligent personal assistant, which was later renamed Bixby in 2017. Given the technologies on offer, the Samsung Galaxy S3 became the world's best selling smartphone that year, selling about 70 million units worldwide. The Samsung Galaxy S3 is still the second-best selling Android smartphone of all time. The Samsung Galaxy S3 came with an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel front shooter. The smartphone also boasted of the highest amount of RAM (1GB) seen on any smartphone and had a 16GB internal storage capacity. The Samsung Galaxy S3 had a 2100mAh removable battery.
Samsung Galaxy S4
With the Galaxy S4, Samsung started focusing on the software-hardware harmony that makes or breaks the user experience. The smartphone came with futuristic features for the time like an IR Blaster, Smart Program, Smart Rotation (which is nothing but auto-rotate, big deal in 2013), Smart Scroll, and Story Album. Samsung improved the touch response on its panel and expanded the eye-tracking functionality with the Samsung Galaxy S4. The Samsung Galaxy S4 was a hit for Samsung from the get-go, selling about 20 million units in its first two months. Samsung adopted a simple approach of taking the hardware and design bits from the Galaxy S3, and refined them, apart from using better, more intuitive software. The Galaxy S4 was launched in April 2013 and came with features like a 13-megapixel rear camera, 2GB of RAM (most seen on any smartphone at the time), and 16GB of internal storage. The Samsung Galaxy S4 was launched with Android 4.2 and a 2,600mAh removable battery.
Samsung Galaxy S5
Samsung Galaxy S5 was launched in April 2014. The smartphone was the one that brought the fingerprint sensor on the home button and a heart rate sensor on next to the rear camera. The Samsung Galaxy S5 was launched with IP67 dust and water resistance, again for the first time on a Samsung flagship. At the time, an IP67 rating was one of the most sought-after feature on a smartphone, and Samsung's Galaxy S5 provided water resistance till up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes. The 5.10-inch screen on the Samsung Galaxy S5 came with a 1080x1920p resolution with a 1.9GHz octa-core Exynos 5240 processor, paired with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. Samsung Galaxy S5 was launched with TouchWiz OS based on Android 4.4.2. In terms of sales, however, the Galaxy S5 did not perform as well as previous couple of Samsung Galaxy S series smartphones.
Samsung Galaxy S6
Samsung Galaxy S6 was launched in two variants - the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge in March 2015. The first Samsung smartphone to come with wireless charging, and the first smartphone to feature a curved display (Galaxy S6 Edge only), the Samsung Galaxy S6 series launched to a lot of attention around it, especially the Galaxy S6 Edge, given the never-seen-before curved display. This was also the first time Samsung announced two models for the latest Galaxy S series smartphone, with a third, Galaxy S6 Edge Plus launching in August 2015. This marked the beginning of a "Plus" variant in Samsung's Galaxy S series. In the design overhaul for the Galaxy S6 series, Samsung also gave the Galaxy S6 series an all-glass back panel. In terms of sales, Samsung's transition to a more "futuristic" design did not pick up much in the markets. Samsung even cut the price of the smartphone only a few months after launch, as it was deemed too expensive. While it marked a significant transition for Samsung's flagship series, the Galaxy S6 didn't perform well in terms of sales.
Samsung Galaxy S7
Taking notes from its previous generation, Samsung Galaxy S7 series came in two variants - Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge. The Samsung Galaxy S7 series was launched in March 2016 and it was the first one in the Galaxy S series to feature a Dual Pixel autofocus camera. The Samsung Galaxy S7 series came with a 5-megapixel front camera and a 12-megapixel rear camera. The smartphone's 12-megapixel rear camera was touted to be one of the best smartphone camera at the time. With the Galaxy S7 series, Samsung also brought back the microSD card slot and an IP68 water and dust protection rating. In terms of sales, the Galaxy S7 series did bring Samsung back on the map as the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge combined shipped about 55 million units.
Samsung Galaxy S8
The Samsung Galaxy S8 series ame with Samsung's recent iteration of the Edge display, the Infinity Display that aimed at keeping the bezels around the screen as slim as possible. The Samsung Galaxy S8 came at a time Samsung was dealing with problems that came with its Galaxy Note 7 (Galaxy Note 7 was reported to explode in many cases), and the company had the deck stacked against it. Further, Samsung was criticised for completely changing the 'Samsung' look for its Galaxy S series by moving the fingerprint scanner to the back. However, in order to keep the bezels as slim as possible, moving the fingerprint scanner on the back wasn't a bad move, but Samsung's implementation of it was what got most criticism. With the Galaxy S8, Samsung ditched the 'Edge' branding and launched two devices - the Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8 Plus. Samsung Galaxy S8 was also the first Galaxy S smartphone to not have the home button (or fingerprint scanner, in some cases). Samsung did not release the sale numbers for the Galaxy S8 series, but industry sources have said that it didn't sell as well as the Galaxy S7 series.
Samsung Galaxy S9
Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ came as Samsung's flagship offering for 2018. With the Galaxy S9 series, Samsung fixed its mistakes from the S8 series, like it did in 2016 with the Galaxy S7 series. First and foremost, Samsung placed the fingerprint sensor on the middle of the back panel, below the camera module. This was also the first time Samsung put a dual rear camera setup on its smartphones. While only the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus came with a dual rear camera setup, the standard Galaxy S9 was identical in terms of other specifications. The Galaxy S9 Plus came with a 12-megapixel main camera and a 12-megapixel secondary rear camera (Galaxy S9 vanilla had a single 12-megapixel rear camera). It also came with significantly smaller bezels as compared to the Samsung Galaxy S8 series. The Galaxy S9 series, overall, came as more of an incremental update as much as a new smartphone altogether. With the Galaxy S9 series being in the markets, Samsung also launched its One UI Android skin, which was rolled out on the Galaxy S9 series as part of the Android 9 update.
Samsung Galaxy S10
With the Samsung Galaxy S10 series, Samsung launched not two, not three, but four Galaxy S series smartphones including a Samsung Galaxy S10E, which sits below the vanilla Samsung Galaxy S10 smartphone and a Galaxy S10 5G. The Samsung Galaxy S10 series came with the first-ever ultrasonic under-display fingerprint scanner. The Samsung Galaxy S10 series was also the first time a triple rear camera was seen on a Samsung Galaxy S series smartphone. The Galaxy S10 came with an ultra wide-angle lens, along with 4K video recording capabilities from both the front and rear cameras. The Galaxy S10 5G was one of the first flagship smartphone from any manufacturer that came with 5G capabilities. At the time, it was said that Samsung is moving much ahead of its time with 5G. The Samsung Galaxy S10 series was also the series till which Samsung was true to its roots as the Galaxy S10 series kept the headphone jack, microSD card slot, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and an IP rating for dust and water resistance.
Samsung Galaxy S20
Now, with the Samsung Galaxy S20, Samsung changed its naming pattern. The Galaxy S20 series, earlier believed to be the Galaxy S11 series, is the latest Galaxy S series was launched in February last year. The Samsung Galaxy S20 series also brought three smartphones. However, unlike the Galaxy S10 series, the third smartphone in the Galaxy S20 series was on the other end of the spectrum. The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra came as the ultra-premium device from the South Korean giant. The Samsung Galaxy S20 series is also the first time Samsung brought all 5G supported smartphones.