Get ready for the biggest changes yet to the Galaxy phone line. Rumors are swirling about the Galaxy S11 — if that’s what Samsung winds up calling its flagship phone for 2020. Most of the speculation right now centers around the cameras and design, and there have been several major leaks already.
We're talking about a possible 108MP camera in the Galaxy S11, as well as three larger screen sizes and possibly a camera that's hidden underneath the display for a true full-screen look.
With the iPhone 11 lineup wowing critics with their cameras, the OnePlus 7T impressing reviewers with its value and Google's Pixel 4 offering even better computational photography, Samsung will have its work cut out for it. But there are plenty of reasons to be excited about the company's next smartphone.
Here's all the top Galaxy S11 leaks and rumors so far.
Latest News and Rumors (November 11 2019)
- A new series of Galaxy S11 leaks has revealed the possible screen sizes and colors of the Galaxy S11 and seemingly confirmed a 108MP camera.
- Ice Universe has hinted at an enormous 5,00mAh battery on the Galaxy S11 Plus, based on a leak showing that the S11e could have a battery capacity of up to 4,000mAh.
- The site Galaxy Club is reporting that one of the Galaxy S11's cameras is codenamed Hubble because of its periscope camera "with striking zoom qualities."
- Separate reports suggest that the Galaxy S11 could adapt two features Google added to its Pixel 4 lineup: motion-detection features and more sophisticated face unlocking capabilities.
Galaxy S11 release date
- What we expect: February launch, release date in early March
For the Galaxy S10, Samsung held the product launch a few days before this year’s Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona. It was unveiled February 20. The phone then went on sale March 8.
The takeaway? Mobile World Congress is a good indicator of when Samsung is ready to unveil a new phone, even if that event doesn’t happen at the show itself. Mobile World Congress 2020 will start February 24, so it's possible that the phone could launch either on that date or a few days before.
A rumored launch date has been given as February 18, 2020, once again taking place in San Francisco. The source of the information is not considered by the original report (SamMobile) as fully reliable, but this date does at least match with previous launches.
Galaxy S11 price
There aren't any credible rumors yet for the price on the Galaxy S11. But if the Galaxy S10 lineup is a guide, you can expect a range of models and an affordable model to go head-to-head with the iPhone 11.
The Galaxy S10e was released at $749. The regular Galaxy S10 with its larger display cost $899 and the Galaxy S10 Plus cost $999. We expect similar prices this time around, but one wild card could be 5G. At this point we're not sure which models will offer this connectivity and how much it might add to the cost.
One rumor has Samsung launching a cheaper Galaxy S11 Lite model alongside the Galaxy S11, but it may only launch in Europe and Asia.
Galaxy S11 design and sizes: A 'perfect' full-screen display?
It's been the holy grail of smartphone design for some time now: an edge-to-edge, pretty much bezel-free screen that can slot the front-facing camera behind the display panel without the need for a notch or motorized slide-out camera. And Samsung might be the closest to achieving it, according to rumors out of South Korea.
While other companies have achieved a bezel-free look with the aid of pop-up cameras, Samsung and others are also working on embedding the camera sensor underneath the screen. But, unlike the Galaxy Note 10, which has a small circular cutout at the top of the screen, the Galaxy S10's front camera could be completely invisible when not in use.
Although we don't know the size of the Galaxy S11's display, one leaked benchmark points to a possible taller screen with a 20:9 aspect ratio.
How about the screen sizes? A leak from Evan Blass points to 6.4 inches for the Galaxy S11e, 6.7 inches for the Galaxy S11, and 6.9 inches for the Galaxy S11 Plus. All of those sizes would be significantly larger than the Galaxy S10 lineup at 5.8, 6.1 and 6.4 inches, respectively.
Galaxy S11 colors
According to a reliable leakster — Ishan Agarwal — the Samsung Galaxy S11e will come in blue, grey and pink and the S11 will come in at least blue, grey and black.
Galaxy S11 108MP camera — this could be big
It was hard not to be underwhelmed by the cameras on the Galaxy Note 10, which features the same triple lens setup that Samsung introduced with the S10 lineup earlier this year. Better photos might should be on the way with the Galaxy S11, though.
According to XDA Developers, the Samsung Camera app code has a 108MP photo mode. Max Weinbach found out that the latest version of the camera software in the One UI 2.0 beta — Samsung’s flavor of Android 10 — contains support for 12,000 x 9,000 pixel images. In other words: 108 megapixels.
XDA Developers claim that the camera software will most likely not output at that resolution by default. Instead, it will choose to group the pixels in the Isocell Bright HMX sensor in clusters of 4 o 9 pixels, saving 27MP or 12MP photos. That will dramatically increase the light sensitivity of the device.
In August, Samsung revealed its 108MP camera, which it had designed in partnership with Xiaomi. The Isocell Bright HMX sensor is based on similar tech to the 64MP Isocell Bright GW1, and began production in September 2019. While it's hinted that the S11 will have a big step up in its camera technology by Twitter leaker Ice Universe, we can't be certain right now if this means the S11 will use either of these super sensors.
In late September another leak pointed to the Galaxy S11 getting a 108MP camera sensor along with a 5X optical zoom, so it could be legit.
In May, Samsung introduced a new 64-megapixel image sensor, the Isocell Bright GW1, which is meant to take on the likes of the 48-megapixel sensor found in Huawei's P30 Pro. That same month, reports out of Korea claimed that Samsung had developed an ultra-slim optical 5x zoom camera module, which would improve upon the 2x zoom found in Samsung's current camera phones. According to rumors that point to a camera codenamed 'Hubble' being included on the S11, which sounds very much like a name you'd give to a telephoto camera.
Even if Samsung opted for a 64-MP sensor rather than a 108-MP one, the initial images reportedly shot by the former image sensor look promising. Though compressed to post on Twitter by leaker Ice Universe, the image still shows plenty of detail on the building's windows. Under normal light conditions, the sensor would produce a 9,216 x 6,912-pixel photo.
While not designed for photography, an extra sensor that Samsung may include on the S11 is a spectrometer, or material sensor. These sensors can be used to analyze the chemical makeup of a given object, allowing you to analyze your own health via body fat or skin moisture, or check fruit for sugar levels, pills to verify they’re genuine, or drinks to find out their alcohol content. While it’s just confirmed as a patent for the time being, the applications for this technology are enormous, and would be an amazing feature for Samsung to put on the S11.
Samsung could be considering other sensors for the Galaxy S11, too, and they sound a lot like what Google added to the Pixel 4 this fall. Samsung has filed a request to trademark the name ISOCELL-Motion for “dynamic vision sensor for object and motion detection; motion detection sensors: object detection sensors; camera image sensors for smartphones and tablets.” That description sounds a lot like the Pixel 4's Motion Sense feature which lets you control some aspects of the phone with gestures. Similarly, XDA Developers' Max Weinbach noticed lines of code that hint at the Galaxy S11 adding more advanced facial recognition features, similar to the ones found in the iPhone's Face ID as well as the new face unlocking capabilities of the Pixel 4.
Galaxy S11 5G: A new Qualcomm chip
Speaking of Mobile World Congress, during the 2019 edition, Qualcomm discussed the future of its 5G chips. Going forward, the company plans to integrate the actual 5G modem with its mobile processor.
Qualcomm President Cristiano Amon said that the technology will make its way to devices next year. And already, Samsung has committed to using the chip in its flagship phones.
It is indeed a big step for Qualcomm. The company’s first 5G modems — the X50 right now, and the X55 shortly — are standalone chips that sit alongside the handset’s processor. That tends to create chunkier devices that might not be as power-efficient as some would like. For example, the Galaxy S10 5G features a massive 6.7-inch screen and huge 4,500 mAh battery. It’s also 0.31 inches thick and weighs 6.98 ounces, compared to the 6.17-ounce Galaxy S10 Plus, which is slightly thinner at 0.3 inches.
According to Qualcomm, the new combined chip would be more power-efficient, which would let phones like the Galaxy S11’s battery last longer. And since there will only be one chip inside the smartphone, it would give Samsung more of an opportunity to streamline the smartphone’s design.
Galaxy S11: Snapdragon 865 power
While we're talking about Qualcomm, let's not forget that the Galaxy S lineup is usually the first to feature the latest Snapdragon mobile processor. That's likely to be the Snapdragon 865 if Qualcomm sticks to its standard numbering conventions. (The Snapdragon 855 powers both the Galaxy S10 and Note 10.) Qualcomm usually announces details about its new processor in December so stay tuned to find out what that might mean for the S11's performance and power usage.
Of course, you don't have to wait until the end of the year to get some hint as to what you might expect from the new Qualcomm chip. Leaked benchmarks appeared on Geekbench 4 in August that show a multicore result of 12,946 for something code-named Qualcomm Kona.
To put that number in context, Apple's A12 Bionic chip — currently the pace-setter among mobile processors — tallied an 11,515 score when we tested the iPhone XS Max. However, the new iPhone 11 models are even faster with the A13 processors, and there's a new Geekbench 5 benchmark as well. So we'll have to wait to see how fast the Snapdragon 865 chip is.
As for Galaxy S models released outside the U.S., they tend to run on Samsung's own Exynos chips. Samsung just unveiled a new, 7-nanometer version, the Exynos 990. This new mobile processor is capable of supporting up to six cameras and a 120-Hz refresh rate on displays; it's also got a built-in 5G modem. This new chip seems like it's headed for non-U.S. versions of the Galaxy S11.
Going With USB-C — and no headphone jack
Interestingly, a report from October 2018 provided some clues as to what we might be able to expect from Samsung’s Galaxy S11.
ETNews said that Samsung has decided to go with USB-C exclusively in the Galaxy S11. That means the company will ditch the headphone jack and require you to use wireless earbuds or a dongle in the box that will let you plug in 3.5mm headphones.
The fact that the Note 10 and Note 10 Plus have ditched the headphone jack makes it all but certain that we've seen the last of the 3.5mm port on Samsung's flagship phones.
Galaxy S11 Battery
It's almost a given that a phone will have a greater battery capacity than the model that preceded it, but the S11 series may be seeing a big jump in this area. According to a leak published by Ice Universe, the S11e could have a battery capacity as high as 4,000mAh, a jump of 900mAh over the S10e. This leads Ice Universe to suggest that the S11 Plus, the assumed largest version of the S11 series, could have up to a 5,000mAh battery. That's bigger than any other premium flagship on the market right now, and would seal Samsung's spot at the top of the battery life charts.
Name change on the way?
Although Samsung has stubbornly stuck to the Galaxy S branding in its flagship, there’s a chance that might change starting with the Galaxy S11.
A report from the Yonhap News Agency suggested that Samsung is considering what it wants to do with the Galaxy S11’s name. The company’s executives are apparently concerned that “eleven” and subsequent versions, like “twelve” and “thirteen,” are too difficult to pronounce.
Instead, Samsung might opt for a standardized branding in the next Galaxy phones and get away from the numbered branding going forward. One option we've heard is Galaxy One, but that could just be a placeholder.
What we want from the Galaxy S11
We’re likely to hear more details about the Galaxy S11 now that the Note 10 has made its debut and leakers turn their attention to what Samsung has planned next. We have a few things we’d like to see in Samsung’s next phone.
- No punch holes: The Galaxy S10 has single cutout for the front camera, while the S10 Plus has two punch holes; the hole moves to the center of the screen on the Note 10, but it's still there. And while you can hide these in software, that alternative doesn’t look good either. We’d like to see Samsung offer selfie cameras that are behind the display and invisible. Alternatively, Samsung could go the pop-up selfie cam route, but that design has been polarizing so far in phones like the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3.
- Even better photos in low light: Google has nailed the ability to take photos in very dark environments with the Pixel 3’s Night Sight mode and the iPhone 11 performs even better with its Night mode. But the Note 10 struggles by comparison. We’d like to see even better low-light pics from the Galaxy S11.
- Make the gestures more natural: The Galaxy S10 gives you the choice of using software buttons for getting around the phone or gestures, but the latter is clunky. You swipe up from one of three places to see recent apps, go home or go back. The Pixel 3 and iPhone XS do a better job in this area.
- Ditch the curved display (and avoid accidental touches): As sleek as the curved design is for the Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus, Samsung is on to something with the flat Galaxy S10e. A flat display means you’re much less likely to accidentally press something on screen when you’re simply trying to hold the phone.
Stay tuned for more updates on Samsung's Galaxy S11 plans as leaks and other details emerge.