Since debuting in 2010, the Galaxy S series has made users’ lives more convenient, and offered them unprecedented mobile experiences with one groundbreaking innovation after another. It has been 11 years since its launch and the series remains as innovative as ever. This is a trip down memory lane, revisiting every model in the Galaxy S series’ rich history.
2010-2011: Galaxy S to Galaxy S2
The first Galaxy S device was announced in 2010 under the tagline “Super Smart.” The culmination of 20 years of hard work in the mobile industry, the Galaxy S introduced three S’s: ‘super’ applicability to users’ daily lives and needs, the then-latest version of a Super AMOLED display panel, and a 9.9mm-thin ‘super’ design.
The success of the Galaxy S paved the way for the release of the Galaxy S2 in 2011, which introduced improvements in build quality. The device, which is still regarded as a masterpiece, launched with an upgraded Super AMOLED Plus display as well as the then-most powerful smartphone processor on the market, the Exynos 4 Dual (4210). While the Galaxy S2’s 4.27-inch display was larger than the Galaxy S’s 4-inch panel, the device itself was thinner than its predecessor, measuring just 8.49mm thick. The smartphone’s camera also introduced a convenient flashlight function.
2012-2014: Galaxy S3 to Galaxy S5
The gentle curves of the Galaxy S3’s pebble-inspired design broke the stereotype that smartphones were all sharp-edged. The device featured a 4.8-inch display and a 2,100mAh-capacity removable battery, and introduced a variety of convenient functions. These include Smart Stay, which uses the front camera to sense when you are looking at your device and prevents the screen from turning off; Direct Call, which allows you to call a contact immediately when you bring your phone to your ear; and Live Video List, which offers a thumbnail view of video clips in the video player.
Announced a year later, the Galaxy S4 featured a design that resembled a Galaxy S3 with thinner bezels. It took Samsung just six months to sell more than 40 million units. Weighing 130 grams and measuring 7.9mm thick, the device featured a larger display, which measured 4.99 inches and was the first to be made of scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass 3. In addition to enhancing the smartphones’ hardware, Samsung introduced key software improvements in the form of convenient features such as Smart Scroll, which allows you to scroll through content by slightly tilting your device forward or backward, and Smart Pause, which allows the video player to pause playback when you look away from the screen.
The Galaxy S5 was an optimal device that did everything that a smartphone should do while maintaining the Galaxy series’ unique design identity. It was the first device in the industry to feature an ISOCELL camera, which made it more useful for recording moments from everyday life. It was also the first smartphone to feature a heart rate sensor that could be linked with other devices to monitor users’ fitness levels. On top of that, it was the very first Galaxy S model to offer IP67 water and dust resistance, which allowed users to stay connected without worrying about rain or splashes damaging their device.
2015-2016: Galaxy S6 to Galaxy S7
Released in 2015, the Galaxy S6 marked a new chapter for the series. Its first-of-its-kind display, which was curved on both sides, fostered a unique three-dimensional effect and a more immersive viewing experience. The Galaxy S6 models were also the first in the series to support wireless charging and the Samsung Pay service.
The Galaxy S7 was introduced as a series that included two distinct models: the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. Both featured IP68 water and dust resistance, and for users’ convenience, both included a hybrid Nano SIM and microSD card slot that supported microSD cards of up to 200GB. The devices were the first to introduce a dual pixel image sensor, which delivered crisp and clear photos even in low-light conditions. The camera also featured a Motion panorama mode, which allowed users to take pictures of wide scenes that could be viewed as moving photos.
2017-2018: Galaxy S8 to Galaxy S9
2017 saw the Galaxy S series undergo significant changes in both design and performance.
The Galaxy S8 was the first to feature Samsung’s edge-to-edge, bezel-less Infinity Display, which introduced a new 18.5:9 aspect ratio. The S8 models were also the first in the series to swap physical keys for on-screen buttons, which accentuate their sleek designs. In addition, the virtual assistant, Bixby, made its debut. Moreover, the incorporation of facial recognition technology made the Galaxy S8 the only smartphone series to offer fingerprint, iris and facial recognition-based biometric authentication.
The Galaxy S9 offered a unique user experience. The camera’s AR Emoji feature allowed users to create their own augmented reality avatars that could be used to snap selfies, while its Super Slow-mo function enabled it to track objects’ movement to record epic super slow-motion videos. Other new additions included support for SmartThings, which turns your smartphone into a handy remote control for managing connected devices, and Samsung DeX, which allows you to use your smartphone or tablet to power a PC-like experience.
2019-2020: Galaxy S10 to Galaxy S20
The launch of the Galaxy S10 underlined Samsung’s commitment to offering consumers the freedom to pick the perfect smartphone for their needs. The series featured a total of four unique models: the Galaxy S10, S10e, S10+, and S10 5G. Each boasted an Infinity-O Display, which featured an all-screen design that included a tiny circular cut-out for the front camera, as well as Dynamic AMOLED technology that had been certified to deliver 100 percent mobile color volume in the DCI-P3 color range. The Galaxy S10 also introduced the Wireless PowerShare, which essentially lets users use their phone as a wireless charging pad.
By incorporating 5G support into each model, the Galaxy S20 series marked the beginning of a new era for mobile devices. The combination of the series’ largest image sensor yet and powerful AI tools guaranteed clear photos and videos, while a 120Hz AMOLED display opened the door for more immersive viewing and gaming experiences. The Galaxy S20 Ultra’s pro-grade, 108-megapixel camera represented a massive leap forward for resolution, allowing users to zoom in up to 100x to capture moments and details that they may have missed. Samsung also enhanced the devices with a secure processor that worked in conjunction with its mobile security platform, Knox, to ensure that users’ data would remain protected even from advanced hardware attacks.
2021: Galaxy S21
The Galaxy S21 Ultra is the first device in the series to include support for Samsung’s signature S Pen. The combination of the S Pen and the available S View Flip Cover allows users to take full advantage of the S Pen experience. The Galaxy S21 Ultra is also the first Samsung smartphone to feature two telephoto lenses offering 10x optical zoom and up to 100x Space zoom.
Other convenient enhancements include the ability to record 8K videos that are longer than one hour, an upgraded blue light filter, a fingerprint sensor that’s not only larger than the previous model but also twice as fast, and a feature that allows users to mirror websites on virtually any device after logging into their Samsung account.