With most phone launches, the announcement typically focuses on new camera specs and features, maybe a redesigned look, and the size of the screen.
Gone are the days of figuring out who can cram the most pixels into a phone's display. To some degree, the features that a display can bring to a smartphone have taken a back seat. Sure, screens are getting better, but there's a lack of emphasis on the display from both the tech press and the companies building the devices.
That said, the trio of Samsung Galaxy S10 phones announced this week have some intriguing features involving the display, and they are worth calling out.
Without a notch splitting the display in half along the top, you either have to deal with a single circular cutout on the S10E and S10 or a pill-shaped cutout with just enough room for the front-facing cameras on the S10 Plus. Some have called this style of cut out a "hole punch."
The argument can, and surely will be made, that a centered cutout is better than a circular cutout on one side of the screen or the other. I'm still torn, myself, but so far I can say I do appreciate not having a large section of the screen that's unusable.
Ultrasonic fingerprint sensor
Fused to the display is Samsung's ultrasonic fingerprint sensor that, if it wasn't for the animated graphic that shows up, you'd have no idea it was even there. Previously, Samsung has placed the fingerprint sensor inside a physical button below the display, or on the back of the phone either next to or underneath the camera.
The S10 and S10 Plus both have a hidden biometric sensor, with the S10E featuring a capacitive fingerprint sensor on the side of the phone. Samsung wasn't alone in developing this technology, as the implementation relies on Qualcomm's ultrasonic in-screen fingerprint technology, but the company is the first to release smartphones that use the tech.
We will definitely see more phones over the course of 2019 with an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, but for now, Samsung's the only name in the game.
For a deeper dive into ultrasonic fingerprint tech, read CNET's outstanding explainer.
- Galaxy S10 Plus vs. iPhone XS Max, Pixel 3 XL: Specs compared (CNET)
- Photos: First look at the Samsung Galaxy S10 (TechRepublic)
Blue light reduction
One of the headlining features that Samsung is touting as much as possible is a 42-percent reduction in blue light from the display without having to alter the color of the display. The iPhone, for example, has a Night Shift mode that changes the color of the display to remove blue light at night. Samsung's previous smartphones, as well as competing Android devices, have all offered a similar feature for the last few generations of devices.
Why does blue light reduction matter? Blue light can disrupt our body's circadian rhythm, making it harder to get a good night sleep after staring at a phone all day and into the night. More recently, one study found prolonged exposure to blue light can lead to eye disease.
I'm not entirely sure just how much of an impact this is going to have on your day-to-day use, but the S10 and S10 Plus have the first HDR10+ certified Dynamic AMOLED display.
Essentially, HDR10+ makes it possible for videos to dynamically change throughout the course of the video, including down to a frame-by-frame change. The end result is a better-looking video, thanks to improved color saturation and brightness.
This explainer on CNET makes it easy to understand.
With the myriad of new technology built into just the display of the S10 line, it begs the question: Is it time we start looking at the display as a competitive advantage?
With Samsung poised to ship a foldable display in a consumer product in just a few weeks, it certainly appears so.