Samsung Galaxy S series evolution

Samsung Galaxy S series evolution
Just like Rome, which was not built in a day, it took Samsung some time to become the major smartphone manufacturer that it is today. Undoubtedly, the main driving force that kickstarted Sammy's rise to the top of the market was its flagship smartphone lineup. Indeed, ever since its inception, the pioneering Galaxy S and its successors have been the workhorses that made the company a household name.

We can't help but look back at the past and draw parallel lines between the previous Galaxy flagships and the new ones. Samsung has truly gone a long way, indeed, and we can only be excited about what's available now and what the future will offer. So, without further ado, let's explore the evolution of the most successful Android-powered smartphone lineup so far!

History of Samsung Galaxy S series:

  • Galaxy S (2010)
  • Galaxy S II (2011)
  • Galaxy S III (2012)
  • Galaxy S4 (2013)
  • Galaxy S5 (2014)
  • Galaxy S6 / S6 Edge (2015)
  • Galaxy S7 / S7 Edge (2016)
  • Galaxy S8 / S8 Plus (2017)
  • Galaxy S9 / S9 Plus (2018)
  • Galaxy S10 / S10 Plus (2019)
  • Galaxy S20 / S20 Plus / S20 Ultra (2020)

Samsung Galaxy S (2010)

Released: June 2, 2010

The very first Samsung Galaxy S was announced in 2010 and it quickly became clear that Samsung has a best-seller in the cards. Actually, Samsung sold way more than 20 million units of the phone, which undoubtedly warranted that it will be the forefather of a new device lineup.

Specs-wise, the phone was a monster for its time. It arrived with a huge 4-inch Super AMOLED display, which was among the biggest ones around. Samsung relied on its own 1GHz Hummingbird chipset, which made a debut alongside the Galaxy S. While its plastic design was not as good as the one of the metal Samsung Wave, it still laid the foundations that almost all upcoming Galaxy smartphones sat upon.

The Galaxy S was not a perfect phone by any means, as it had certain issues and quirks, but regardless, it is one of the more notable phones in Samsung's history and undoubtedly among the best phones of 2010. Many, including us, consider as the best Android had to offer in 2010.

Samsung Galaxy S II  (2011)

Released: April 28, 2011

The second flagship in the Galaxy S series, the Galaxy S II, had the tough job of repeating the success of the Galaxy S. Spoiler alert, it did. Actually, it took Samsung merely 55 days to sell more than 3 million units worldwide, and in 5 months, over 10 million Galaxy S II units were shipped worldwide. Additionally, the phone was proclaimed as "Smartphone Of The Year" at MWC 2012. 

And indeed, what was not to like about this one? It was the thinnest phone in the world at the time of its arrival, measuring just 0.33” (8.49mm), and also came with an immensely speedier hardware and vastly improved Super AMOLED display in comparison with its predecessor. One of the more serious issues with the Galaxy S II was its design - uninspiring and stale, if you will, though this got addressed with the Galaxy S II's successor.

Samsung Galaxy S III (2012)

Released: May 22, 2012

If the Galaxy S II had a tough job of making a name on the market, it's safe to say that the Galaxy S III had to accomplish a true feat. The public's expectations for the third Galaxy S flagship were quite high in 2012. Shortly put, the it was expected that the handset will pack enough hardware punch to sit atop the Android food chain and sport head-turning new design. Well, it met one of these for sure. Spoiler alert: it was mostly the hardware expectation.

True, the Galaxy S III didn't look half-bad at the time, but its plastic, "nature-inspired" design was a far cry from the anticipated ceramic body that many wanted to see. Well, it was not the highest-quality device around in 2012, but it certainly was one of the most capable. With the gorgeous display and super-fluid performance, the Galaxy S III shone with its refined TouchWiz UI and overall user experience. 

Samsung Galaxy S4 (2013)

Released: April 27, 2013

Samsung Galaxy S III. Hold that image in your mind, now imagine a similar device with a slimmer profile, more powerful hardware, and... better in every other way, actually. That's the Galaxy S4 for you. Apart from switching from roman to Arabic numerals, the S4 came with a larger display, speedier SoC, improved camera, and even more feature-rich TouchWiz UI, while being even more compact than its immediate predecessor.

On its own, the Galaxy S4 was a great phone, but was it a worthy upgrade for the S III owners out there? Probably the upgrade was not that compelling, even more so when you remember the differences between the SII and the SIII. Still, for those who were just then jumping on the Galaxy bandwagon, the Galaxy S4 was one of the best phones for its time.

Samsung Galaxy S5 (2014)

Released: March 27, 2014

With the Galaxy S5, Samsung decided to spice things up. Although the design remained mostly the same, the handset was the first Samsung flagship to be water- and dust-resistant, borrowing these features from the S4 Active. The "glam" design of the rear cover was not the most appealing thing out there, but still, it did its job fine - it attracted attention.

All in all, the S5 was yet another re-iteration of the winning formula that was presented with the SIII, with the focus being on actually useful hardware and software features. True, gimmicky functionalities were still part of TouchWiz, but Samsung had toned them a bit this time around. Still, the Galaxy S5 remained universally critiqued for its uninspiring design.

Samsung Galaxy S6 & S6 edge (2015)

Released: April 10, 2015
Specs | Review 

Keeping an ear close to the ground, Samsung really stepped its design game with the Galaxy S6. Glass and metal, intertwined in a slim body that is as eye-catchy as it gets. For the first time here, a super sharp Quad HD panel arrives for an even crispier experience: that's a full 2560 x 1440 pixels, more than on most laptops at the time. Interestingly, Samsung abolished three features that many people loved in the S5: the water protection, the removable battery and the microSD card, and that led to a wave of criticism from some in the community. 

In every other way, the Galaxy S6 was a substantial evolution step. A specs monster no matter where you look, the handset was no slouch in the hardware department. Software-wise, it showed us that when Samsung wills something, it's more than capable of achieving it - toned-down TouchWiz, almost no unnecessary and gimmicky features, and a top-notch user experience is all you got. 

The S6 edge, on the other hand, introduced the dual curved display feature, which was a first for Samsung and the industry as a whole. It was arguably the more interesting smartphone, with the screen being among the chief differences between the two phones.

Samsung Galaxy S7 & S7 edge (2016)

Released: March 11, 2016

In 2016, Samsung had a regular Galaxy S7 and a radical, curved-screen Galaxy S7 Edge that was bigger and bolder. The two were an evolution of the successful S6 design and indeed, why change what people loved.

The biggest change in these phones was probably in the camera department: these were the first to adopt the Dual Pixel auto focus technology that allowed the camera to focus incredibly quickly. The S7 series also delivered a big improvement in low-light photos and were widely considered as a big step forward for smartphone photography.

Samsung, however, felt the discontent with the decision to remove some features from the S6 and two of the removed features were back in the S7 series: it featured a water protection rating and a microSD card for expandable storage, but the removable battery that was removed from the S6 series was gone forever, never to return on a Galaxy S phone.

Both phones packed a punch with the top specs for the time and the S7 Edge in particular was a best seller. 

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus (2017)

Released: April 21, 2017

The Galaxy S8 series arrived after a hugely successful year for Samsung and the S7 lineup. The S8 and the S8 Plus were not a revolutionary improvement, but they did introduce much slimmer bezels on the front as Samsung moved the front-facing fingerprint sensor from the S7 series to the back on the S8 family.

These were also the first phones to come with Bixby, the unfortunate Samsung assistant that never really got popular and was more of an annoyance than an improvement. 

Apart from that, the Galaxy S8 family was powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, while in markets outside the US, it used Samsung’s own Exynos 8895. 

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus (2018)

Released: March 16, 2018

The Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus arrived in 2018 and brought an improved camera with dual aperture that promised better low-light photography, as well as overall enhancements in performance.

The S9 were powered by the top of the line chip for the time, the Snapdragon 845, in the United States (globally, phones shipped with the Samsung-made Exynos 9810 chip) and had 4GB of RAM on the S9 and 6GB of RAM on the S9 Plus. On board storage stood at 64GB with the option to expand via microSD cards.

One thing Samsung fixed this year was the fingerprint sensor. The S8 series had the fingerprint weirdly positioned to the side of the rear camera and users would often hit the camera lens instead of the fingerprint scanner, plus it was a bit high and hard to reach. On the S9, the fingerprint is still on the back of the phone, but it is below the camera where it makes a lot more sense and is easier to reach. 

Samsung Galaxy S10e, S10 and S10 Plus (2019)

Released: March 8, 2019

In 2019, for the first time, Samsung introduced three flagship phones in the Galaxy S series: the small Galaxy S10, the large Galaxy S10 Plus, and a new model that targets those looking for a super compact phone that you can easily use with one hand, the Galaxy S10e. These phones introduced a punch hole design that significantly slimmed down bezels.

All phones share the same Snapdragon 855 processor and an impressive for the time 128GB of on board storage, plus they stand out with offering features like a 3.5mm headphone jack and a microSD card slot that have been removed by many manufacturers in 2019.

The S10 and the S10 Plus introduce a new, triple-camera system that includes an ultra-wide, a wide and a telephoto lens, while the super compact Galaxy S10e did not have the telephoto lens.

Samsung Galaxy S20, S20 Plus and S20 Ultra (2020)

Released: March 11, 2020
Specs | Review

The Galaxy S20 series focus on improved cameras that can zoom further, as well as the adoption of 5G connectivity across the range and the addition of large batteries. 

The series are led by the S20 Ultra, a phone that features a substantially better camera system than the S20 and S20 Plus. The Ultra for the first time on a Samsung phone introduces a massive 108-megapixel main camera sensor that combines multiple pixels into one to create better looking photos and it is also the first Samsung phone ever to come with a folded, periscope lens with a 4X native zoom and 10X Hybrid Optic lossless zoom, but then you can even push it all the way to a 100X using digital zoom.

All three Galaxy S20 series phones offer support for 5G, and they arrive with big batteries: a massive, 5,000mAh one on the S20 Ultra, a 4,500mAh battery cell on the S20 Plus and a 4,000mAh cell on the S20.  The trio comes with the Snapdragon 865 processor in the United States (Exynos 990 in most of the rest of the world) and a typical 12GB of RAM, plus you get a base storage of 128GB that you can expand via microSD cards.

The S20 series also mark the first time Samsung removes the 3.5mm headphone jack from its flagship series.



68. asadsharif

Posts: 1; Member since: Feb 13, 2020

Where is """ S6 EDGE PLUS """model .... how could you even forget that galaxy

67. Rocket

Posts: 746; Member since: Feb 24, 2014

My galaxy s1, s2 and s5 they all still work like new. The s2 was/is my favorite galaxy of the whole line up.

64. Foveon

Posts: 4; Member since: Feb 13, 2020

It'a reminder of how fast technology is developing. I remember when i thought Galaxy S1 was a huge innovation.

63. Alcyone

Posts: 650; Member since: May 10, 2018

I'm amazed that so many people here don't remember the LG KE850 Prada. Imo, true innovation started at LG (Lucky Goldstar), but was never given proper credit. Its also truely sad that Apple had to "borrow" design cues. Both, Apple and Samsung ripped off LG. Just too many young people here to know any mobile tech history.

66. mackan84

Posts: 714; Member since: Feb 13, 2014

I remember and that UI was garbage. The iPhone didn’t get to where it’s at just on design cues. First iPhone and LG Prada sold about as many units so I guess they both got as much credit. It’s what you do with that moving forward and LG completely missed the ball. The chocolate series was all over the place in terms of consistency.

59. joshuaswingle

Posts: 773; Member since: Apr 03, 2018

S7 edge is still my all-time favorite

58. adecvat

Posts: 675; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

Each of them copied something from the iPhone.

62. Alcyone

Posts: 650; Member since: May 10, 2018

Wrong. May 2007 KE850 is released (no US availability). Samsung ripped off Apple? That would mean Apple ripped off LG. Sorry, but history is set in stone. So, take a seat, and listen to the teacher schools very important to a young mind.

69. adecvat

Posts: 675; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

LG doesn't have multi-touch. iPhone was the first multi-touch smartphone in the world. Try harder. BTW, Samsung literally wrote the book on copying the iPhone, famous 132-page document, lol.

54. Darkmode

Posts: 4; Member since: Jan 21, 2020

S9 series was the perfect S lineup, It features Iris scanner, Rear Mounted Fingerprint (which is the most reliable), sleek design (Lilac Purple) and most importantly it has a headphone jack

52. cevon3239

Posts: 204; Member since: Jan 01, 2020

Out of all the models of phones on the market today, the Galaxy S and the Note, have had the best evolutionary road-map; as far as design and capabilities vs any other phone. If any phone is most certainly worth $1000, considering its hardware specs and capabilities, the Galaxy S is the ONLY one worthy of me paying that much for it. But I find the S20's a bit disappointing compared to the S10;s or even the S9 and S8. The base S8 was really sleek and nice to hold vs the S8+. Same for the 9. The S10+ is nice, but the 5G model sucks. The Note 10's only look good on the front, but the camera placement is less to be desired. I wish they had just simply kept the cameras in the middle. And maybe this very large sensor is to big for centralized placement, but now its just ugly and the bum is simply too big. I had rather the phone been as thick as the sensor at the top, and then just slowly sloped to thinner as you move down the back.

50. frankharris

Posts: 2; Member since: Jan 15, 2016

Samsung galaxy has an awesome evolution from weaker specifications up to s7 edge with monstrous specs. Technology is truly changing from time to time.

45. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

I still have my S3 and my wife's old S4. Even today they are equally as fast/slow as they were then. The S4 is on 5.01 which is the very last update and since its VZW, I can't root it anymore to install anything else. I did root my S3 to get 5.01 on it and its a bit slow, but not as bad as I seen some old phones try to run newer stuff. The SIII sold over 50M in one year which isn't bad for a 3 year model. The original S, outsold the original iPhone. The SII als had more sales vs the the second iPhone as well. I also remember how the iPhoen crowd has said, no other OEM would be able to use a single model name and have equal success as Apple. Well after the SIII sold 50M, it proved other OEM's could. Even the Note as outsold several older iPhone models. Of course to be fair, smartphones at this bout were now well established thanks to Apple an so any very good phone would do very well. Even though the S4 outsold any previous S, I don't feel it was the best model. To me the S5 was the best. Physically it just looked like a larger S4. But the display was the prettiest I'd see for the time. The colors blew my mind. If I had an S4 like my wife did, I certainly would have gotten the S5. The S is awesome! But the Note is more awesome. The only phone better than my Note 5? The Galaxy S6 Edge+. But only coming with 64 of storage is a joke.

38. fyahking

Posts: 1146; Member since: Jan 28, 2015

S captivate with removable aluminum back was nice as well.

37. Chuck007

Posts: 1420; Member since: Mar 02, 2014

Damn... I'm still in awe how Sammy can take the base design of the S6 (which was no slouch but frankly not entirely sharp looking) and make it sexy.

35. bubbadoes

Posts: 1225; Member since: May 03, 2012

7 phones of the Sos year after year. toyish gimmicky touchwiz. samsung bloat and overpriced. ok. they gave good cameras. but 800. no way

25. Jimrod

Posts: 1607; Member since: Sep 22, 2014

Well that original Galaxy S obviously didn't copy the iPhone at all because only Apple copy! How did Apple manage to go forwards in time and copy Samsung from the future? Please explain Fandroids, I'm confused...

28. TerryTerius unregistered

It copied. No one cares, that was six years ago. Literally no tech company is immune to the accusation of borrowing features from their competitors (which is decidedly a good thing) and occasionally design choices (which is highly annoying). That's the way any industry through all of human history you can name works. Smartphones are no different. I don't really think you want to get into a contest of naming who copied what features from who. The list for Apple is a mile long, just as it would be for Microsoft, Google, Samsung, or anyone else. It only benefits the consumers, and no one in the real world gives a damn anyway.

30. tedkord

Posts: 17529; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

People inside the RDF care deeply.

31. Jimrod

Posts: 1607; Member since: Sep 22, 2014

I know, I'm just making a point because on this site you'd think only Apple copy based on the comments... I'm a product designer by trade and fully understand that everyone uses existing design as inspiration, you can't avoid it. How much is "inspiration" and how much is openly copying is open to debate.

29. tedkord

Posts: 17529; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Maybe they used the same method HTC used to copy the iPhone 6 with their M7.

32. Jimrod

Posts: 1607; Member since: Sep 22, 2014

Nah, the iPhone 6 looked s**t compared to the M7, Apple wanted to make an uglier phone.

36. submar

Posts: 713; Member since: Sep 19, 2014

Great answer for the question.

72. Demeaiko

Posts: 4; Member since: Oct 22, 2019

And your wrong.... HTC had made the m7 and m8 all aluminum bodies a year before the iPhone 6. This is what the other guy was talking about in the comments earlier you guys tried to compare in say who stole what from who, but In reality they all take from each other.

73. Demeaiko

Posts: 4; Member since: Oct 22, 2019

Also if that's the case apple stole from HTC when they touted the," revolutionary camera" on the iphone 7 plus with duel camera set up.... we definitely seen HTC literally sell and do the same thing with portrait photos now to top it all off apple gets a 3rd camera for ultra wide and low and behold we've seen this feature on lg phones for years!! Dude get out of here with that

55. cmdacos

Posts: 4420; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

Apple's moved forward? Did I miss something? Don't recall that happening.

24. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

One of my friends is using my old Samsung S3 Amber with a brown leather Noreve cover running Blissrom Lollipop and it does the job well. Only changed the battery and it was good to use. She isn't a poweruser, but for calling, texting, whatsapp and facebook, it works more than quick enough.

14. Marduch

Posts: 81; Member since: Feb 04, 2015

For me the S4 design definitely rules them all due to its narowest bezels and general compactness. Especially the S4 botom bezel with the decently small and not too rounded home button is elegant when you compare to S6 and S7´s infantile thick bottom bezel and big and rounded home button.

17. TerryTerius unregistered

I honestly think bezels are something that only techies actually care about.

27. MDave

Posts: 210; Member since: Apr 09, 2015

You may be right. Otherwise iPhones wouldn't sell. A 5.5" phone in the body of a 6" one...

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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