Samsung working on cheaper option for 'Galaxy S10,' just like Apple's iPhone XR

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Samsung is reportedly working on three different versions of its upcoming "Galaxy S10" flagship phone, including a low-cost one that more people can afford very similar to the approach that Apple has taken with the iPhone XR.

The main S10 will have an edge-to-edge OLED display curved over the edges, roughly the same size as the 5.8-inch S9, according to sources for Bloomberg. The model is also said to have triple cameras on the back, and a front camera hidden under the display. Likewise the company is claimed to be embedding a fingerprint sensor in the screen, a goal phone makers have had for years.

While Samsung is also said to be preparing a bigger "Plus" edition, the draw for many people may actually be the low-cost device, which is expected to sacrifice a curved display and possibly the embedded fingerprint sensor as well, depending on manufacturing costs.

That strategy would mimic Apple's approach with the 2018 iPhone lineup, particularly the the iPhone XR. The device has many of the same features as the iPhone XS, but is $250 cheaper because it uses LCD instead of OLED, has less RAM, drops 3D Touch, and comes with one rear camera instead of two.

Both Apple and Samsung appear to be reacting to greater industry trends. Chinese firms like Huawei and Oppo have scored big by selling high-end phones at relatively low prices, whereas Apple and Samsung have been skewing towards the $1,000 mark. An iPhone XS Max starts at $1,099 and reaches up to $1,449, more than some Macs cost.

Apple's approach has been successful from a financial standpoint. Samsung's tack to this point has been less so, with the company's earnings from smartphones plummeting.

The Bloomberg sources noted that Samsung is also talking with Verizon about launching the "S10" in the U.S. as a 5G device. Longer-term, the company's anticipated foldable phone is reportedly in its "final stretch," the debate being whether its display will unfold horizontally or vertically. Designers are said to favor the vertical option, which would be easier to hold with one hand.

A Samsung foldable phone concept from 2014.
A Samsung foldable phone concept from 2014.

The device lacks an embedded fingerprint sensor, but does include a secondary 4-inch screen, intended to let people check emails and texts without flipping the phone open. Samsung and Google are said to be cooperating on a special edition of Android for the device.

The product probably won't ship until the second quarter, one source said. Samsung is still working on ensuring durability and finalizing the software interface.