What We Learned At Samsung’s Unpacked Event: Innovation Is Not Dead

Samsung delivered a refreshing message at it’s Unpacked Event last week. While major phone manufacturers like Apple haven’t made any real changes to its phones in several years, Samsung is making a strong case for themselves as the company of innovation.

Overall, smartphone sales have stalled the last few years as upgrade cycles have slowed. People aren’t buying the latest models anymore, in part because the new models don’t have much to offer over previous generations.

Enter Samsung, who spent most of its Unpacked Event introducing new products that actually brought something new to the market. Samsung’s Galaxy Fold stole the show, being the first consumer-ready foldable smartphone that morphs into a 7.3” tablet. Many analysts believe Samsung’s continued innovation has made rivals like Apple look bad, being slow to innovate.

Samsung Galaxy Fold

Even if the Galaxy Fold only ends up being a niche product, Samsung’s flexible OLED display technology is two to three years ahead of other display competitors.

In addition to the Fold, Samsung introduced the Galaxy S10, S10+, S10E, and S10 5G – the first mainstream 5G phone. To compare, its rumored that Apple has delayed releasing their first 5G phone until 2020. The S10 and S10+ are positioned as Samsung’s 2019 flagship smartphones, and instead of simply repackaging last year’s tech, Samsung has brought some new tricks to the hardware and software.

From left to right: Galaxy S10e, S10 and S10+

The S10 features an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner that’s embedded into the screen. The rear of the device features two-way wireless charging, meaning the S10 can charge itself, and charge other devices wirelessly. The front of the S10 features an Infinity O Display, which completely covers the front of the device, save for a small punch out for the selfie-camera, one of the first displays to feature the punch out.  

In addition, Samsung announced a change from its Touch Wiz Android skin to a brand new take on Android that Samsung is calling One UI. In limited tests, One UI seems to be cleaner and more sophisticated than the sometimes cartoony Touch Wiz.

From a business perspective, perhaps one of the most interesting products announced was the S10E. Positioned as a “budget-friendly” smartphone, it will retail for $750 and features a 5.8” display and a 3,100 mAh battery. Those looking for a smaller device may be drawn to the S10E, as it packs the powerful Snapdragon 855 processor, up to 8GB of RAM, dual rear-facing cameras, a 10 megapixel front camera, and ships with Android Pie with Samsung One UI.

Samsung Galaxy S10e (left) vs iPhone Xr (right)

While this isn’t a review of the S10E, those who are smartphone aficionados will notice that those are premium specs for a less-than premium price tag. Like the Apple’s XR, Samsung is betting that there’s a large part of the market who simply don’t believe bigger is always better.

In the early 2000s, smartphones represented the latest and greatest products in consumer technology. That enthusiasm has since become tepid the last couple of years. However, 2019 could be another breakout year for smartphone tech, and right now, Samsung is leading the way in innovation.

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