Samsung Galaxy Note 10 may introduce a controversial design change

As smartphone design becomes increasingly uniform on the front—with hair-thin bezels and large displays differentiated only by a small notch or a hole-punch—the back still offers plenty of room for creative freedom and experimentation. Unfortunately, as the number of cameras and sensors (and their size) grows, finding visually appealing ways to position them on the back of a phone, in correlation with the hardware inside, especially the ever-increasing battery sizes, becomes ever more difficult.

As current rumors have it, the iPhone 11 may have a very unusual-looking triple-camera setup with bigger lenses, housed in a square bump, offset to the upper right corner of the phone. Opinions on this rumored design change are polarized, raging from surprised to jarred. However, since the leaks point to considerably larger openings for the three main cameras of the iPhone 11, this may suggest that Apple is doing juggling act between improving the hardware of the phone, while maintaining an appealing design. Something that may not be as easy as it sounds when the increased battery capacity and larger camera lenses are factored in.

But Apple is not alone in this boat. According to recent rumors, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 is also in for some radical design changes to its back. We recently envisioned what the Galaxy Note 10 may look like, based on information from reliable sources. The biggest change we expect is in the phone's main camera setup – both in the number of cameras and in the module's placement and orientation.

Stuffing more and better cameras in phones introduces a number of design challenges

The Note 10 is said to have four cameras on its back, similar to the Galaxy S10+ 5G. However, while the S10+ 5G's camera is horizontal, the Note 10 is said to be getting a vertical camera bump. This means that the camera is likely not going to be centered, as it would take up too much precious space inside the device, needed for the the rumored 4,300 mAh battery.  Instead, the camera of the Galaxy Note 10 may be offset to either side, similar to what we've seen from the Galaxy A9.

Many of our readers weren't excited at the prospect of this change, when we shared our concept renders of the Note 10, but the real design may be even more surprising (and not necessarily in a good way).

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According to two reputable sources of tech leaks, the design of the Galaxy Note 10 will be outright "bad" and "ugly." In a recent tweet about the Note 10, Steve Hemmerstoffer (better known as @OnLeaks), said that, in his opinion, the Note 10 "looks bad compared to #GalaxyNote9 rear camera design."

In a separate tweet, XDA insider Max Weinbach went further and said, "I think the Note 10 Pro is going to look MUCH worse than people think with current concept designs. Like much much worse."  Yikes.

Form follows function

Although we'd postpone any judgement until we see the final design, this could mean a number of things. First off, since the various cameras used in smartphones these days have different focal lengths, the size of their lenses varies as well. If you take a look at the camera on the Galaxy S10+ 5G, you'll notice how some of the openings for the different lenses and sensors vary in size and distance from one another. These small details can oftentimes result in an uneven look, which is what the leakers may be referring to, considering that the Note 10 may borrow heavily from the S10+ 5G in the camera department.

The other possibility is that the size of the camera module will increase, which would also make the bump bigger as a whole. This, combined with the differently sized sensors, could result in a less aesthetically pleasing overall design.

What's your opinion on vertical camera setups? Some have managed to pull it off, like the Huawei P30 Pro, but cramming the needed lenses and sensors in a nice-looking package remains somewhat difficult still. Tell us what you think in the comments below!

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