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Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10+ review: Premium refinement

By James Lu - 23 Mar 2019
Prices:

Overview & Design

 

The first of many new flagships in 2019

Okay, let's just start by stating the obvious: the Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10+ are not the most exciting phones Samsung is releasing this year. That is, without a doubt, the jaw-dropping Samsung Galaxy Fold. But the Galaxy Fold is also likely to cost around S$2,500, and that's just not feasible for most people.

For most people, the more realistic option will be the Galaxy S10 or the S10+ (or possibly even the S10e) that start from S$1,298. While they lack the Fold's crazy display and all the party tricks that go with it, they make up for it with stunning displays of their own, great camera performance, a clean new UI, and the most powerful processor Samsung has made in years - essentially combining the best from 10 years of Galaxy S series.

In this article, we'll focus on the Galaxy S10 and the Galaxy S10+ models. We'll review the S10e really soon.

  Samsung Galaxy S10 (128GB) Samsung Galaxy S10+ (512GB)
  Samsung Galaxy S10 (128GB) Samsung Galaxy S10+ (512GB)
Launch SRP
  • From S$1298
  • From S$1798
Latest Price
  • From S$830
  • From S$1060
Operating system
  • Android 9.0 Pie with Samsung One UI
  • Android 9.0 Pie with Samsung One UI
Processor
  • Samsung Exynos 9820 8nm octa-core (2x2.7 GHz Mongoose M4 & 2x2.3 GHz Cortex-A75 & 4x1.9 GHz Cortex-A55)
  • Samsung Exynos 9820 8nm octa-core (2x2.7 GHz Mongoose M4 & 2x2.3 GHz Cortex-A75 & 4x1.9 GHz Cortex-A55)
Built-in Memory
  • 8GB RAM
  • 8GB RAM
Display
  • 6.1-inch / 3,040 x 1,440 pixels (550 ppi) / 19:9 ratio / Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O Display
  • Always-On Display
  • 6.4-inch / 3,040 x 1,440 pixels (526 ppi) / 19:9 ratio / Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O Display
  • Always-On Display
Camera
  • Rear: Triple 12-megapixel dual f/1.5 and 2.4, 26mm wide + 12-megapixel f/2.4, 52mm telephoto, 2x optical zoom + 16-megapixel, f/2.2, 12mm ultrawide
  • Front: 10-megapixel, f/1.9
  • Rear: Triple 12-megapixel dual f/1.5 and 2.4, 26mm wide + 12-megapixel f/2.4, 52mm telephoto, 2x optical zoom + 16-megapixel, f/2.2, 12mm ultrawide
  • Front: Dual 10-megapixel, f/1.9 + 8-megapixel, f/2.2 depth sensor
Connectivity
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax (2.4 + 5GHz), 4G+ LTE Cat 20 (up to 2000Mbps), Bluetooth 5.0, VHT80, MIMO (2x2), GPS, GLONASS, NFC, Screen Mirroring
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax (2.4 + 5GHz), 4G+ LTE Cat 20 (up to 2000Mbps), Bluetooth 5.0, VHT80, MIMO (2x2), GPS, GLONASS, NFC, Screen Mirroring
Storage Type
  • 128GB internal storage
  • 512GB (MicroSD)
  • 512GB internal storage
  • 512GB (MicroSD)
Battery
  • 3,400mAh
  • 15W Samsung Adaptive Fast Charging
  • 15W Fast Wireless charging
  • 9W Reverse Wireless charging
  • 4,100mAh
  • 15W Samsung Adaptive Fast Charging
  • 15W Fast Wireless charging
  • 9W Reverse Wireless charging
Dimensions
  • 149.9 x 70.4 x 7.8 mm
  • 157.6 x 74.1 x 7.8 mm
Weight
  • 157g
  • 175g / 198g (ceramic)

Video overview

Before we drill down on all the details, here's a video overview of what's new with these new phones:-


 

Design

Samsung was pretty much the only brand to skip out on the whole notch craze that's dominated phone design over the past two years. Now though, it's one of the first to jump on the hole punch bandwagon that seems like it will be the hottest trend of 2019. Are holes better than notches? I don't think anyone truly loves either option, but at least most people can agree that a small hole is less obtrusive than a huge notch.

The S10 has a circular hole punch cutout, while the S10+ has a pill-shaped cutout to accommodate its two front cameras. The S10+ cut-out is a lot more obvious because not only are there two cameras, but the large space between them - it's seriously large enough to fit a third camera in there - is cut out too. Is the extra camera worth the larger cut-out? More on that later.

Both displays are Infinity displays, which means they curve at both edges like an infinity pool. The curves on the S10 and S10+ are more subtle than previous years, and there's no longer a distinct sloping edge, but while it doesn't look quite as cool, it does mean there's more display space you can actually use. 

The bezels on the sides are thinner than ever too, and the bottom bezel has also shrunk in comparison to the S9 and Note9, making these phones the most full-display phones Samsung has ever made. If you want actual specs, the S10 has an 88.3 percent screen-to-body ratio, while the S10+ has an 88.9 percent screen-to-body ratio. 

Both phones are thinner and lighter than last year's models too. They're roughly the same size, but are remarkably just 7.8mm thick, almost 1mm thinner than their predecessors. The glass-backed S10+ weighs just 175g, while the S10 is just 157g.

Flip the phones over and you'll see the cleanest designs Samsung has had in years. Thanks to the new in-display fingerprint scanner, there's no longer a rear fingerprint scanner, and the result is a more streamlined, minimalist rear.

Both phones have the same triple camera setup, comprising of a 12-megapixel variable aperture f/1.5 + f/2.4 lens, a wide-angle 16-megapixel f/2.2 lens, and a 12-megapixel f/2.4 telephoto lens with 2x optical zoom. Next to the three lenses is the LED flash and heart rate sensor.

I do wish Samsung had color-matched the camera module to the rest of the rear as it did with the Note9, but that's just a minor complaint.

Speaking of colors, if you opt for one of the four Prism colors, you'll get the usual glass back, but if you go for Ceramic Black or White, which are exclusive to the S10+ (512GB and 1TB options only), you get a much nicer and more scratch resistant ceramic back instead. The ceramic models are over 20g heavier, coming in at 198g, but the more premium-looking finish and increased durability are worth the added weight in my opinion.

The power button is on the right side of both phones, but it's positioned unusually high up, which makes it a little tricky to reach, especially on the S10+. You can wake the screen by raising it or double-tapping it, so you don't really need to use the power button, but still, a lower button would have been preferable.

On the left-side, you'll find the volume rocker and dedicated Bixby assistant launcher. Unlike previous years, the Bixby button can now be remapped to launch other apps. The button has three options: single press, double press, and long press, however only the first two can be remapped. Long pressing it will always launch Bixby, but at least you can now remap the other two options.

The bottom of the phones look basically the same as their predecessors, with a USB-C port is in the middle, a 3.5mm headphone jack to the left and the earpiece and loudspeaker on the right. Once again the combo nano SIM and microSD card slot tray can be found on the top of the phone. As always, both phones are IP68 dust and water resistant.

8.5
  • Design 9
  • Features 8.5
  • User-Friendliness 8.5
  • Performance 9
  • Value 8
The Good
Gorgeous Dynamic AMOLED display with small hole punch cutout
Improved UI
Great battery life
Good benchmark performance
Versatile triple camera setup
Ultrasonic in-display fingerprint scanner
3.5mm headphone jack
The Bad
No AF and OIS on ultrawide camera
No X-factor features
Iris scanning removed
Fast charging limited to 15W
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