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A History of the Samsung Galaxy S Series

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Samsung has come a long way since it first started producing phones. It’s easily become one of the most renowned companies for selling Android-based devices, with its Galaxy S line being the most popular series. The series is garnering a lot more excitement and attention with the Galaxy S7 soon to be announced; however, it’s always nice to take a look back where the company started its success, the obstacles they’ve overcome, and where they are now.

If you were ever curious about Samsung’s first Galaxy S smartphone and the following successors, then you might want to read on!

Galaxy S

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The birth of the Galaxy S brand started with, well, the Galaxy S. It was announced in March 2010, and is considered to be Samsung’s first entry into the United States smartphone market. Worldwide, it was a huge success netting over 24 million smartphone sales by January 2013. It wasn’t particularly successful in the U.S., but there were two factors for this.

The market at the time was largely dominated by the insane success of the iPhone. Not only that, but on the Android side of things, HTC and Motorola were dominant players. Yes, despite HTC’s current path, the Taiwanese-based company used to dominate the market. This was particularly because HTC was an early adopter of Android. In late 2011, a research firm called Canalys reported that HTC was the top smartphone vendor in the US. With that in mind, you can see why Samsung had so much trouble with making the Galaxy S a success in the US.

It featured a 4-inch (800×480) Super AMOLED display, a 1GHz ARM Hummingbird (Exynos) processor, 8GB/16GB of internal storage, a very humble 5MP rear camera and a 0.3MP front camera.

Despite its less-than-stellar success in the U.S., it was a hit worldwide and deserved a successor.

Galaxy S II

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Samsung announced the Galaxy S II in February 2011 at Mobile World Congress. It was a very impressive smartphone worldwide, and was actually one of the slimmest smartphones at the time, coming in at 8.49mm thick. In comparison, today’s Galaxy S6 measures in at  6.8 mm thick. It’s quite crazy how far we’ve come.

The Galaxy S II sported a humble 4.3-inch WVGA Super AMOLED display, a 1.2GHz dual-core Exynos processor, 1GB of RAM and an 8MP rear camera capable of recording 1080p video.

With that said, the Galaxy S II was a roaring success. By January 2013, over 40.2 million units were sold worldwide. It originally launched with Android 2.3 Gingerbread, but Samsung was pretty good at making sure it got all of the latest updates. The last Android version it got, officially was Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. However, there’s still a thriving community around the smartphone, with many modders and programmers managing to get Android Marshmallow on the smartphone.

The Galaxy S II was definitely a milestone for Samsung, but the company’s success only grew with the Galaxy S II’s successor, the Galaxy S III.

Galaxy S III

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As I said, the Galaxy S II had some insane sales figures, coming in at 40.2 million units worldwide. The world’s love for the Galaxy S brand has only grown, though. Instead of announcing the successor to the Galaxy S II at Mobile World Congress, Samsung’s mobile division grew enough to where they needed to hold their own event. At Samsung Unpacked in May 2012, the company announced the Galaxy S III, which received a whopping 9 million pre-orders ahead of the device’s launch.

It went on to sell a record 50 million units for the company (as of January 2013, at least; numbers have likely grown). The Galaxy S III launched with Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) and is upgradeable to Android 4.4 KitKat today (at least on models with 2GB of RAM). Much like the Galaxy S II, there’s still a thriving community around this device, creating various kits and ROMs to get all of the latest Android versions on the handset.

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While the Galaxy S III was a roaring success, it was always in the public eye, as it was the subject of much litigation. Apple filed for preliminary injunctions in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, claiming that Samsung with its Galaxy S III violated some of the patents Apple held. The lawsuit didn’t affect the Galaxy S III’s success at all. In fact, it may have only bolstered it. Apple and Samsung’s feud is actually still going on today.

The device has a 4.8-inch 720p Super AMOLED display, Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, 1GB/2GB of RAM, 16GB/32GB of storage, an 8MP rear camera and a 2100mAh battery.

While it was met with quite a lot of success, Samsung eventually retired the smartphone earlier than planned due to low sales numbers. They did this so that they could focus their efforts elsewhere, specifically on the Galaxy S III’s successor.

Galaxy S4

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The Galaxy S4 was a turning point for Samsung, featuring a much more premium build and bigger screen size. Launched in April 2013, Samsung was able to sell over 40 million units over six months.

The device in the US featured a 5-inch Super AMOLED 1080p panel, Qualcomm’s quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB/32GB/64GB of internal storage, and a 2600mAh battery. As far as camera optics go, it’s sporting a 13-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel front camera. Things are mostly the same internationally, except for the processor. International variants were the first to get Samsung’s new Exynos 5 octa-core processor.

The Galaxy S4 was praised primarily for its wide array of software features, including expanded eye tracking functionality, the ability to detect when a finger is hovering over the screen, and other technologies. It also had a lot of built-in apps, such as WatchOn, S Translator, Samsung’s own workout tracker S Health, S Voice, S Memo and TripAdvisor. All of these apps were quite niche, appealing to only a small crowd. However, the amount of preloaded apps in the Galaxy S4 was loathed by those in tech space. But, despite this, it still received rave reviews.

Galaxy S5

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Unfortunately, the Galaxy S5 didn’t receive anywhere close to the same amount of praise the Galaxy S4 saw. In fact, released in April 2014, the device only garnered 12 million sales over three months. This was a drastic reduction in comparison to the Galaxy S4’s whopping 40 million sales over six months. The Galaxy S5 just wasn’t a big hit, and one of those reasons is no doubt because there wasn’t much difference between it and its predecessor.

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The only difference as far as hardware went was that it had an upgraded Snapdragon 801 processor (an octa-core Exynos 5422 internationally). It had a very minor improvement as far as visuals went. On the design side of thing, the big change was the removable back plate. It featured a higher quality plastic that was dimpled in order to improve the grip of the device.

There were a couple improved software features as well, but nothing at all to write home about. Suffice to say, it wasn’t a very popular device. And that’s OK. Samsung’s Galaxy S brand was and still is loved by many, but sales still didn’t improve much with its successor, the Galaxy S6.

Galaxy S6

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Samsung announced and launched the Galaxy S6 in early 2015. The Galaxy S6 is different from the S5 in a lot of ways, as Samsung took on a more premium design with the new device. There were some slight hardware upgrades, but the company largely focused on offering something more premium than it had been. Sales are disappointing, though many attest this to be because of a non-removable battery and a lack of a microSD card.

The Samsung Galaxy S6 featured a 5.1-inch 1440p Super AMOLED display, a 64-bit Exynos 7 Octa 7420 processor, 3GB of RAM, and 16GB/32GB/64GB/128GB storage options. As far as camera optics go, it featured a 16-megapixel rear camera with f/1.9 aperture. The front-camera hasn’t improved a whole lot, featuring only a 5MP shooter.

While Samsung didn’t selling many Galaxy S6 units, the Galaxy S6 series has been quite popular, and the most recent handset in the series is gorgeous. The Galaxy S6 Edge launched alongside the flagship smartphone, featuring a edge display on the side of the device. This brought a bunch of new software features to the table, allowing consumers to more quickly access important details, such as the time, contacts, text messages, and so on. The Galaxy S6 Edge+ was the most recent handset in the Galaxy S6 series, and it’s the most beautiful. Samsung didn’t change the software features much, but it came with a highly improved, premium design. It also had a much bigger 5.7-inch 2560 x 1440 Super AMOLED display and 4GB of RAM.

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Seen is the premium and careful design of the Galaxy S6 Edge+

Samsung certainly set a precedence of excellence for its Galaxy S6 line. Even though it wasn’t a huge success, the company certainly hasn’t skimped on quality for these devices. This, of course, makes for some high hopes for Samsung’s next flagship, the Galaxy S7, set to be unveiled in just a couple of days.

Galaxy S7

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The Galaxy S7 is something we’ve heard a lot about. Samsung only recently confirmed that it would be announcing the device at its yearly Unpacked event, only this time, the company is revealing it much earlier than normal on February 21, just a couple of days from now. Historically, Samsung has announced its flagship devices in March, rather than February, which in turn was followed by an April release.

Samsung will need the Galaxy S7 to be a much bigger success than the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy S6 have been. They’ve been losing quite a bit of money lately, and that’s going to need to change soon. There are high hopes for the Galaxy S7, with many looking for it to have Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 820 processor with its insane Quick Charge 3.0 capabilities. Others were hoping for a larger, 21-megapixel camera, though recent rumors suggest their will actually be a downgrade in the megapixel count because, well, “megapixels aren’t everything.”

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Of course, these are all just rumors, and we’ll hear what’s really inside this bad boy on February 21. One thing’s for sure: it will follow the “premium” precedent Samsung set for the Galaxy S6 line, though the company may focus on Edge variants more so than the flagship, as they received much more attention than the original Galaxy S6 last year. Whatever the case, we’re hoping Samsung offers something truly astronomical. We can’t wait to see what they have in store in just a few days here.

Closing

For a company that started out selling dried Korean fish to Manchuria and Beijing in 1938, they’ve seen a lot of exciting success over the years. Whether you like Samsung or not, they’ve truly learned how to corner a market with smartphones and tablets. The company has even found out how to incorporate a level of beauty in a smartphone, with the Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Galaxy Note 5 truly being pillars of excellence within Samsung’s line of offerings.

Have you owned a Galaxy S device or just a Galaxy device in the past? What were your favorite or not-so-favorite things about it? Sound off in the comments below!


About the Author: Brad Ward

Brad is a tech enthusiast, writing and tinkering with all things technology since 2011. He currently bounces between the LG G3 and his beloved Moto X! His interests include reading, entrepreneurship, the gym, and of course, queso.


  • Courtenay

    Love my Samsung S6 Edge! I’ve always owned a Samsung phone before smart phones were out. I started with the S3 then 5 and now the 6 edge.

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  • Juan MONTOUTE

    I like the s4.but instead of upgrading to the s5 I choose to go with the note 3. And then instead of the S 6 I bought the note4. But I still have my galaxy s2,3,4,and i loved all of them.