Samsung Electronics (SSNLF) is tackling smartphone fatigue head-on.
Samsung's new Galaxy lineup, announced on Wednesday includes four versions of a Galaxy S10 -- an entry-level S10E, a standard S10, and an S10 Plus, as well as a 5G-enabled version -- and the Galaxy Fold, the long-awaited folding smartphone that Samsung has been teasing for months.
As smartphone makers see slower sales and market saturation, the tone of Samsung's product unveiling was markedly upbeat.
During the keynote, Samsung's President DJ Koh told the crowd: "Who says the era of smartphone innovation is over? We are here to prove them wrong." Premium phone makers, including Apple (AAPL) - Get Report and Samsung, have been dogged by weaker sales, longer upgrade cycles, and critiques that their new models are too incremental as the market has matured.
While comparably sized to the prior Galaxy S9, the S10 boasts a number of technical upgrades, including more cameras (the Galaxy S10 Plus has five cameras total, and has a full terabyte of storage built in), improved batteries and speed, and a wireless charging dock built in to the phone. The latter feature means that you can charge Samsung accessories, such as the Galaxy Buds, Galaxy Watch Active and two new Galaxy Fits also announced on Wednesday, by placing them on your phone.
The Galaxy S10 line ranges from $799 to $1000 and up for the S10 Plus version, and pricing for the 5G-enabled Galaxy S10 hasn't been announced yet. All will be available in the second quarter of this year.
But the Galaxy Fold earned the most oohs and ahhs of the group by far -- as well as the most cringes at its price tag, which starts at $1980 and up.
For that price point, you get a compact smartphone with a 4.6 inch display that unfolds into a 7.3 inch tablet. It also has a whopping six cameras and an invisible hinge system that means the display is seamless no matter what mode you're using it in.
The striking design is bound to turn heads, but whether it'll sell is another story. New form factors like the Galaxy Fold can be a double-edged sword for companies selling the devices, according to Peter Jarich of GSMA Intelligence.
"Will it break through saturation? It's hard to say with these early adopter phones -- the price for the amount of technology that's in there, it's still pretty high," he said. "The question is, do customers really know what they want to do with this?"
As for Samsung's 5G phone, many industry analysts are expecting that a ramp-up of 5G networks could drive a modest lift in smartphone sales -- but in the U.S., 5G won't be widely available until 2020, at which time Apple is expected to offer a 5G-enabled phone. Samsung's Galaxy S10 5G price isn't yet announced, but will launch exclusively on Verizon (VZ) - Get Report in the second quarter of this year.
At face value, 5G affords faster download speeds and streaming. But device makers and other mobile industry stakeholders haven't yet made the case for 5G to the average consumer, Jarich added.
"As these networks roll out, they're going to want devices on the network, and they want them to be the best and newest devices, so it'll be the timing of all those things coming together," he said. "But the use case for the average consumer is still unclear."