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Thursday, 21 February 2019 21:47

Samsung S10 features – we saw some of them in Huawei's Mate 20 Pro

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Several of Samsung's heralded features have been seen in last year's Mate 20 Pro from Huawei, but it is important for Samsung to catch up – and Apple, too.

An article over at News Corp shows an iPhone XS Max being wirelessly charged on the back of one of the new Samsung Galaxy S10 models, and apparently this is "bad news" for Apple.

This is supposedly because Apple doesn't have this feature, which Huawei was first to introduce to a mass market premium flagship smartphone with last year's Mate 20 Pro.

Of course, rumours appeared last week that Apple would be introducing such a feature, too, in its 2019 iPhone range, and if true, it would be most welcome.

That said, iPhones rip through battery life like there's no tomorrow, primarily because phones in 2019 are running so many apps, with so many background processes, with power-hungry screens, with Siri listening for wake-words and more.

It really makes me wonder whether I want to be charging other people's phones or my devices direct from my smartphone when it doesn't have enough battery life as it is, necessitating that I carry around a portable battery.

Naturally, it will be handy, and I would find uses for such a feature on a future iPhone, as would anyone whose phone is capable of such a feat.

The Mate 20 Pro's capability in this regard certainly is useful when needed, and with the Mate 20 Pro stopping the use of this feature once its battery hits the 40% mark, you can be sure you won't lose all of your power to other people who might want to wirelessly receive it from you.

Then there's the under-screen fingerprint reader. Huawei had this in the Mate 20 Pro, too, and whether we'll ever see it in an iPhone is yet to be seen, but with 3D infra-red face recognition even faster than a fingerprint reader, it's use is less relevant in 2019.

Well, except when your phone is flat on the table, and it can't read your face from that angle. In those cases, a fingerprint reader can certainly be handy to have, too.

As for 5G, the models that arrive this year will be the first generation models. Ever faster flavours of 5G will arrive each year, and while you will future-proof yourself to some degree, the new 5G models certainly won't be budget-friendly, but will be super premium priced to start with.

If you want the fastest 5G speeds and either live and work (or both) in capital city CBDs and absolutely must have the very fastest download and upload speeds, you will convince yourself that you need this feature and will pay for it.

For the rest of us, super fast 4G will do the job, and our next smartphone purchase will likely come with a more advanced version of 5G than this year's models will offer.

Next up are the three cameras on the back of some of the new S10 models, although not all.

This allows widescreen photos, something LG actually pioneered, and which is extremely handy when taking photos.

No more do you need to step backward when trying to capture a very wide canvas in front of you — just activate the widescreen mode and presto — great, wide photos!

Huawei owned this feature throughout 2018, and as noted it was pioneered by LG on smartphones, with Samsung launching one of its lesser galaxies with such a feature in late 2018, too.

Now some S10 models can do it too, and we can hope that Apple has finally seen the light in this regard and will offer this in 2019, too – something that it should certainly have done earlier, like in 2018, or even earlier still given LG's introduction of the feature three or four years ago.

The biggest question for smartphone buyers in 2019 is whether or not they need to buy a new model this year.

We can plainly see that each year brings ever more advanced models at flagship premium prices, while ever cheaper mid-range models keep on getting those advanced features trickling down and becoming standard on a regular basis.

If you purchased a new phone last year, will you really buy a new one this year?

If you're made of money and don't mind spending it, then sure! You probably will!

But for the rest of us, buying a smartphone is done when a contract expires at the earliest, or if one is lost, broken or stolen.

iOS 12 has made iPhone 5s models and above viable for longer than ever with actual security updates, while there are still people using old and out-of-date Androids and iPhones out there, even though those numbers would be low.

With flagship phones now costing well over $1000 and even well over $2000 in Australia, it really can pay to buy strategically, saving up and buying when you feel the time is right.

That's because each month that passes after a launch is one month closer to the next major model launching, and because smartphones cost more than laptops, notebooks and cheap second-hand cars.

Samsung's newest S10 and Fold models definitely look impressive, and will be clearly desirable by Samsung owners of older models, other Android owners who want to trade up to the newest models and even Apple device owners that are tempted to switch.

But the eventual sales figures will tell the tale of just how successful Samsung has been in selling its latest and greatest, with records released by Samsung showing the S8 and S9 weren't anywhere near as successful as Samsung wanted – even though they did sell in the millions upon millions.

Will you be buying one of these new models from Samsung? Or the new Huawei arriving in March? Or the new Samsung Note arriving in six months? Or one of the inexpensive Nokias in the market, including the new 8.1 model which launched earlier this week? Or the new iPhones later this year?

Whatever you choose to do, good luck – and may your smartphone be even smarter than you expected!

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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