Keep your eyes glued to Samsung's new Galaxy A8S phone for China. Not because its screen looks unlike any other Samsung phone on the market, but because the hole in the top left corner of the display is one you could see on a phone available all over the world: the Galaxy S10.
Samsung's anticipated flagship phone isn't expected to arrive until late February or early March, but rumors already point to it sporting a screen with a similar "notch", which Samsung calls the "Infinity-O" display. While Samsung showed off two other notch styles as its developer conference in November — a V-notch and a U-notch, this is the design that cuts out less of the screen, and in more subtle ways that the notch found on phones like the iPhone XS and the Pixel 3.
Where other handsets use bezels or notches to house the front-facing camera, the Infinity-O display fits the lens into a small punch hole within the screen itself.
The furor over screen notches on Android phones reveals buyers' strong feelings about phone design. Samsung's unique approach would allow it to stretch the display across most of the phone face, while also carving out a space for the phone's front camera. A successful design could earn Samsung kudos and keep its reputation for innovation strong alongside aggressive Android competitors like Huawei and Google, while also quieting naysayers who bristle at having a notch taken out of the all-screen display.
The Galaxy S10 is under tremendous pressure, even before it launches. With phone sales slowing down across the board, Samsung needs a big hit to keep ahead of hungry rivals like Huawei, which elbowed Apple out of the way as second-largest phone maker. Huawei's embrace of three rear cameras and an in-screen fingerprint reader before the Galaxy S10's debut is lending credence to the idea that Huawei is out-innovating Samsung. The Korean tech giant needs to hit back if it wants to stay on top.
Rumors abound supporting the Galaxy S10's inclusion of the Infinity-O display, which would make the S10 look a lot like the Galaxy A8S — all screen and whisper-thin bezels, with a small camera cutout in the corner. It's quite possible that Samsung is using the A8S as a testbed for troubleshooting any issues with the punch-hole look before trotting it out on the anchor in its lineup. If the Galaxy S10 doesn't keep Samsung's bread buttered, more specialized phones like the Note 10 and niche foldable phone won't sell in the volumes needed to pick up the slack.
So far the Galaxy A8S has only been announced in China, where it'll go on sale Dec. 21. There's no word yet if other countries will get the phone and when.
Galaxy A8S specs
(According to XDA Developers)
- 6.4-inch LCD display, with Full HD+ (1,080×2,340-pixel) resolution
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 chip
- 6GB/8GB of RAM
- 128GB of storage
- 24-megapixel front camera
- 24MP/8MP/5MP triple rear camera
- 3,300mAh battery
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Samsung didn't respond to a request for comment.
First published Dec. 10, 10:00 a.m. PT
Update, 10:35 a.m.: Includes reported Galaxy A8S specs.
Update, 11:52 a.m.: Adds more details.
Update, Dec. 11 at 2:00 am: Adds more details.