Samsung Galaxy S logo.

Samsung Galaxy phones have become as ubiquitous as iPhones, and that “S” is pretty ubiquitous, too. Many of Samsung’s Galaxy devices have an “S” tacked on to their names. Why is that, and what does it mean?

A Brief History of “Galaxy S”

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Galaxy S21 Ultra Samsung

Samsung entered the Android world with the simply named “Samsung Galaxy S” in 2010. However, if you live in the U.S., you probably know this phone by a different name.

U.S. carriers each got slightly different versions of the Galaxy S with unique designs and names. AT&T had the “Captivate,” Sprint had the “Epic 4G,” T-Mobile had the “Vibrant,” and Verizon had the “Fascinate.”

This was a strange time for Android smartphones. Carriers all wanted to have their own special version of these devices that stood out from other networks. They were basically the same phones just with different bodies and names.

That trend didn’t last long, though, at least for Samsung. The Galaxy S II was released next and it maintained the same name across carriers in the U.S. Samsung stuck with the roman numerals for the Galaxy S III, but finally adopted numbers with the Galaxy S4 in 2013.

In 2014, the Galaxy S name expanded to tablets with the “Galaxy Tab S.” That’s where things stand today. The Galaxy S line includes smartphones and tablets. It’s one of several lines of mobile devices from Samsung, including the Galaxy Z, Galaxy A, Galaxy J, and Galaxy M.

The “S” Marks High-End Devices

Now we know when the Galaxy S arrived, but what does it actually mean? In general, the “S” is just a letter used to differentiate between the many mobile devices Samsung offers. It’s reserved for high-end smartphones and tablets.

The idea is that, if you see a Galaxy device with “S” in its model name, you know it’s going to be a premium device. However, there is still some variance in the “S” models. For example, the Galaxy S “FE” line consists of slightly more affordable versions of their flagship counterparts.

That’s really the purpose of the “S.” The actual letter isn’t that important; it’s just a differentiator to organize devices.

The “S” Also Means “Super Smart”

However, the “S” does have a specific meaning. Apparently, it stands for “Super Smart.”

Samsung explained this back in 2011. It’s a little silly, but it makes sense for devices that are supposed to be the top of the line. The company had definitions for all of its series’ at one time, including “W” (Wonder), “M” (Magical), and “Y” (Young), but it seems to have dropped that in recent years.

There you have it. The “S” in Galaxy S stands for “Super Smart.” Now you can say you don’t just have a Samsung Galaxy smartphone; you have a Samsung Galaxy super smartphone.

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Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has been covering consumer technology for over a decade and previously worked as Managing Editor at XDA-Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews.
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