Samsung's phones always have a little something for everyone. If you need extra storage for niche workflows or huge offline music collections, you could always pick up a Galaxy S or Note phone with microSD support, and even enjoy the anachronism of a headphone jack. That's Samsung's M.O.: build phones with everything. But over the years, that approach slowly began to change, and with the Note10, I think it's fair to say the Samsung "kitchen sink" smartphone is now firmly a thing of the past.
Outsiders looking in on Samsung's Galaxy phones have always had little things to envy. Even if the company's software isn't to your tastes, its phones pack in basically every feature they can, and not just in the sense of legacy persistence. Of course, when most phone manufacturers gave up on the headphone jack and expandable storage, Samsung continued to include them, but that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Every decent phone comes with support for NFC-based contactless payments, but how many of them support MST for near-universal use with older card readers? And while you can pair a fitness tracker via Bluetooth with most phones, can they read your heart rate without one? Give a recent Samsung flagship a dock and it can even mimic a desktop computer via DeX — with Linux available if you need it — and you can charge another device wirelessly with nothing but a Galaxy S10 via Wireless PowerShare.
Odds are most folks didn't use all the features present in the Galaxy S10 or Note9, and while these are all relatively tame concepts, they're nothing compared to Samsung's history and the early experiments with wild and gimmicky phone designs. Remember the Galaxy Beam and Galaxy Camera? We might be done with purpose-built hardware thrown like spaghetti on a wall, but Samsung's fundamental philosophy of including everything it can in a phone has been mostly unchanged. And while Samsung has slowly eliminated some of its most niche features, it seems that trend is now accelerating
Once upon a time, Samsung's phones used to include an infrared blaster for use as a remote control, though they lost that feature with the Galaxy S7. The notification light was also a trademark Samsung feature, but it was cut from the Galaxy S10 (though there were workarounds). Individually minor features like these have been introduced and subsequently cut as a slow but continuous trend — remember the gimmick that was Smart Stay? — but the pace of feature abandonment is picking up.
Samsung's Galaxy Note10 cuts several features present on earlier phones. Neither model will have a headphone jack — an unfortunate development in isolation — but the smaller phone also skips out on a microSD slot, and neither gets a heart rate sensor. The new Notes also forego one of Samsung's most recent developments from the Galaxy S10+, dual front-facing cameras. Both Notes have just one. The littler Note10 even scales back the display resolution to 1080p. While we've never had a smaller Note phone in the series to compare against, the previous S9/S9+ and S10/S10+ phones have shared Quad HD+ 1440p resolutions between sizes.
This feature loss has been a slow trend for years, but looking back, I think the Galaxy s10e was an indirect herald that the pace was about to pick up. The cut-down, more affordable version of the flagship skipped quite a few features like the heart rate monitor, a rear telephoto camera, and the new in-display fingerprint reader, but its "e" suffix clearly delineated it in most minds from the S10 and S10+. It was a Galaxy S phone, but it was separate from the "real" Galaxy S10 and S10+ as a response to the iPhone XR — closer to a mid-range device than a flagship. At the time, there were justifiable reasons it left out some details, like price.
But in the wake of the Note10, a clear path can be drawn: Samsung's dropping features faster than ever. This could be a response to slowed smartphone sales and a concern that the "enthusiast" audience which appreciates the added complexity of extra features isn't the right demographic anymore. The company's flagships used follow a clear philosophy: target the widest possible audience by including every feature (and gimmick) you realistically can — including all the minor benefits loved by tiny but vocal corners of the internet. That kitchen-sink approach was the defining characteristic of Samsung's flagship hardware for years, Or, at least, it used to be until today.