From Apple to Android
I’ve been an iPhone user since day 1, and Apple has sunk their ecosystem claws way too deep for me to change course at this point. (Once you have a Mac, iPad, Apple TV, AirPods, a HomePod, and Apple Music, what are the odds you’ll ever switch to Android?) And for a long time, KerfCase was an iPhone-only shop; we offered exactly one style of case, one that fit the iPhone 5/5s, and life was simpler.
A few years ago, we were excited by the Google Pixel’s promise as a high-end, vertically-integrated Android phone, an “iPhone for Android” if you will, and we took a big risk on supporting the original Pixel and Pixel XL. It was a scary thought at the time, since none of the full-time staff at Kerf are Android users. We weren’t familiar with the ins and outs of that ecosystem and just weren’t sure if there was demand for our product.
We were pleasantly surprised that our all-wood and wood and metal phone cases were a welcome part of the Pixel market, and we discovered that Pixel users do a lot of research, talk in online communities like Reddit, and overall are very discerning when planning their purchases. What we discovered as we went (thanks to a lot of direct feedback from our customers) was that many case companies were neglecting the Pixel market, and lots of owners wanted a premium, handmade or exotic phone case and just couldn’t find anything with real quality. Once word got out that we were an option, the floodgates opened. Our Pixel cases were and continue to be a huge success, and we began thinking about where to go next.
Samsung was the logical next step. Samsung sells millions upon millions of phones a year, and their Galaxy S series has always been designed to compete with Apple for features and premium feel. We had tried out a few Samsung cases in the past, but had balked at a full release because, like with the Pixels, we just weren’t sure what to expect. In 2018 we gave it our all and designed an awesome all-wood case for the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+, and once again we immediately were welcomed into the Samsung community.
Samsung’s long-rumored Galaxy S10 series is ready to be announced on February 20, with a likely release in early March, so this is a great time to get a feel for what kind of phones will be available and what you can expect from us in terms of accessories!
The Big Deal: An Even Edge-to-Edgier Display
Samsung is a giant company, but one of their huge areas of business is the design and manufacture of display panels, so it makes sense that their phones usually lead the pack in display technology, and that Samsung displays can be found even in their competitor’s phones! The Galaxy S8 in 2017 wowed the tech world with what was at the time a revolutionary display: with minimal bezels on the top and bottom and virtually zero on the sides, it kicked off an “edge-to-edge” race that continues today. Apple’s iPhone X, Google’s Pixel 3XL, and many many Android models eventually caught up and surpassed the S8 in the “the front of your phone is nothing but screen” race but for a long time, there was only one game in town. Last year’s Galaxy S9 series kept the same form factor as the S8, and in the intervening months an edge-to-edge display has gone from an expensive novelty to the default option for phones. Apple’s 3 new phones last year all featured a giant, all-encompassing display, complete with their signature “notch” at the top to house sensors, cameras and the phone speaker.
Samsung is overdue to step up their game, and rumor is they have something truly crazy in mind to do just that. Apple’s “notch” is an elegant way to solve an inelegant problem; much as the dream is to have nothing but screen on that front surface, there’s not an easy way to do that without removing things like a selfie camera, phone speaker, and other critical components. Typically this array of components hides in the bezel, but bezels are so 2016. A few phones tried a pop-up from the top for when these gadgets are needed, but moving parts are an even more risky and outdated concept for our space-age devices. If there was a way to put some of these components UNDER the screen, but that’s impossible! ...Or is it?
Described by Samsung as “Infinity-O”, and by the tech press at large as the “Hole Punch” display, there’s a lot of evidence that the Galaxy S10 series will feature a display with a selfie camera cutout IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DISPLAY. No notch needed, just a tiny hole for the camera peeps out, and the display completely surrounds it. Imagining how something like this is put together boggles my mind, but I’m not a materials scientist! This accompanies rumors that Samsung’s fingerprint scanner will be embedded under the display, with perhaps a speaker hiding in plain sight as well. Jony Ive described his ideal future iPhone as “a single sheet of glass”, and with their new phones, Samsung is taking yet another step in that direction.
The Wild Card
Samsung is known for offering a wide variety of phones in a given year, and this “spaghetti on the wall” approach has paid off. Their Edge series, with a weird bezel display offering contextual menu items, didn’t take off, but their gigantic Note series, deemed comically large at launch, were so successful that they prompted competitors like Apple to offer their own huge phone options. In February, we’re expecting at least 3 discrete handsets: the standard S10, the bigger S10 Plus, and something called the S10E, which appears to be a lower cost phone without the edge-to-edge display (likely to compete with the iPhone XR). We are planning to support all three models!
There’s chatter about a “foldable” phone option, designed to flex Samsung’s bendable display chops. Given the amount of leaks, if this phone is announced next month, we’re not expecting a release imminently; what’s more likely is a tech demo and a full release later in the year. Given the shape and functionality of this device, it’s a long shot that we’ll be able to design a functional case for it, but you never know!
See You At The Launch!
Whatever announcements in February bring, we’re excited to bring our line of handmade, all-wood cases to Samsung’s next crop of smartphones. Tune in shortly after the announcement to see our lineup and learn when they’ll be available. Keep in mind that we don’t get advance copies of the phone, so we need a few weeks to fine-tune our measurements and road test the batch before they go out to customers. But we can’t wait to see you on the other side of the announcement!
Phil Giammattei likes to wear lots of different hats. Formerly employed at Apple, Google and Oracle, he loves applying his technical knowledge to making the best possible custom wooden phone cases. In addition to writing the Kerf Blog, Phil manages customer service for KerfCase. Reach Out to say hi and find out what choice wood pieces we have in stock!