With smartphone sales slowing, Samsung (SSNLF) may have some tricks up its sleeve.
On Wednesday, the electronics giant plans to show off a new lineup of devices at an event commemorating the 10th anniversary of its flagship Galaxy S phones. Samsung is expected to introduce its newest S10 and S10 Plus models, which include several design and technical tweaks such as a new triple-camera system, according to leaked photos and renders posted on Samsung-focused blogs. Other phone rumors include a folding smartphone that Samsung has been teasing for several months, as well as a 5G-enabled S10 X model with as many as six cameras.
Pricing leaks have suggested that the folding model could be priced at around a whopping $2,500, whereas the new S10 models could start at $779, with the 5G S10 variant priced in the range of $1,400 to $1,600.
Aside from phones, Samsung is also expected to roll out a slate of devices and accessories that include a new Galaxy Watch Active smartwatch, a pair of fitness trackers, and a set of Airpod-esque wireless earbuds called Galaxy Buds.
Apple (AAPL) , Samsung and other premium smartphone makers have been dogged by longer customer upgrade cycles and market saturation. Apple’s fourth quarter sales warning cited an economic slowdown in China for much weaker-than-expected iPhone sales; and in a January profit forecast, Samsung also pinned lower sales on a “stagnant and fiercely competitive smartphone market.”
Samsung is aiming to fight these trends by dazzling consumers with a more ambitious lineup than in years past, according to the Wall Street Journal. More broadly, smartphone makers are looking at ways to entice customers to upgrade, whether it’s through compelling new features, price cuts or through the latest 5G technology.
Much of the smartphone innovation nowadays has to do with cameras, said Peter Jarich of GSMA Intelligence: “More than anything it’s the cameras — we went from one, to two, to now we’re seeing discussions of four to nine cameras,” he said. However, it remains to be seen whether camera upgrades will drive a meaningful uptick in sales.
Meanwhile, analysts point to 5G as a potential catalyst for renewed smartphone sales, though the technology won’t be widely available in the U.S. until 2020. Apple is reportedly planning a 5G iPhone for a 2020 release.
“When you look at 5G and how it ramps, it won’t have any impact on the smartphone market until 2020,” CFRA’s Angelo Zino told TheStreet in January. “I think it’s a good thing that Apple is holding off on rolling out a 5G device, since they wouldn’t get the bang for their buck until then.”