The latest Samsung Galaxy S10 camera rumors show just how important its folding phone will be

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In case you haven’t been following the leaks and rumors, the Galaxy S10 release is just around the corner. And we pretty much know everything there is to know about it. According to spy shots and renders, the new flagship has slimmer bezels, a hole-punch in the corner of the screen for the camera, and a generally refined aesthetic.

Now Samsung has pretty much confirmed the biggest change to the S10: the camera. According to a press release announcing the new 1/3.4-inch Isocell Slim 3T2 sensor, which will be entering mass production in the first quarter of this year, the part “fits into a tiny module making more space for … the latest display features, such as the ‘hole-in display’ or ‘notch design.” Additionally, Samsung says, “the small size of the image sensor also reduces the height of the tele-camera module by around seven percent when compared to Samsung’s 1/3-inch 20Mp image sensor, allowing more elegant smartphone designs.”

Translation: Those S10 pics showing a hole-punch selfie cam and slim top and bottom bezels, tweeted by leakster extraordinaire Evan Blass and leaked by case makers, are likely accurate. And while they’re definitely intriguing and attractive, when you break it down, the S10 is really just another safe Galaxy S release. Not since the Galaxy S6 Edge has Samsung taken a real risk with its flagship phone. Even with a new “Lite” model, the S10 is shaping up to be more of the same. It even still has a headphone jack.

Based on what we can glean from the pics and the spec leaks, there’s no 3D face-scanning tech like on the iPhone XS, no funky camera-hiding tricks like on the Oppo Find X. Even the camera specs outlined here (20MP sensor, higher-resolution 10X digital zoom, and pixel-merging Tetracell tech) are fairly pedestrian for a 2019 phone.

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The Galaxy S10, S10 Lite, and S10 Plus shown in leaked renders here will surely be excellent phones, but they’re not going to light the world on fire.

Consider last year’s Isocell announcement, which similarly came a few weeks before the S9’s unveiling. That sensor brought super-slow motion and an added DRAM layer for clearer low-light shots and real-time HDR images. As a result, Samsung “reimagined” the camera on the S9 with dual aperture, adjustable portrait mode, and 4K video recording—typical “tock” phone enhancements that improved upon the S8’s hardware without reinventing the wheel. Like Apple, Samsung tried to sell us on modest enhancements as it smacked up against the smartphone innovation wall. 

That’s not changing with the S10. Even with the new camera sensor, all Samsung is really promising is a thinner bezel and a slightly tweaked design. Sure, the S10+ will reportedly pick up a second selfie cam, and both models will likely have a triple-camera array, but we’ve already seen those from the likes of LG and Huawei.

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