Samsung Galaxy S10 review
SAMSUNG GALAXY S10+
- PROS – Stunning design • Excellent camera • Decent battery life • Beautiful display
- CONS – Very expensive • No dedicated camera night mode • New fingerprint scanner can be frustrating
The new Galaxy S10 is finally here and Samsung needs it to be a winner.
Although the previous S9 was universally praised it seemed to look outdated within months of hitting shelves as firm’s such as Huawei delivered devices that outshone Samsung’s flagship.
This means the Korean technology firm is now playing catch-up to some of its biggest rivals.
Luckily, the S10 brings the Galaxy brand back up to speed with new features such as faster processor, better camera and embedded fingerprint scanner all being packed under its glass and metal frame.
But has Samsung done enough it put itself back in pole position?
Express.co.uk has been testing the larger Galaxy S10+ for the past few weeks and here’s our full review.
The Galaxy S10 features a giant 6.4-inch AMOLED screen
DESIGN AND DISPLAY
It’s really hard not to admire the look of the S10+ with this device featuring a high quality and luxurious design.
Samsung has stuck with its unique curved glass appearance which allows the screen to sweep around both sides of the phone.
This not only gives it a striking appearance but also makes it feel incredibly comfortable to hold in your hand and you’ll have no problem using this device for hours at a time.
Despite its relatively large size, the all-screen design means the S10+ doesn’t feel too big for your pocket and Samsung has now reduced the bezels around the 6.4-inch screen even further making it even easier to use.
All the buttons are in the right place and there’s even a headphone port tucked neatly on the bottom of the phone which gives this device a huge advantage over almost all of its rivals.
The all-glass and metal finish adds to the premium feel and there’s an array of colours such as Prism White, Prism Black, Prism Green and Prism Blue which should suit most tastes.
The hole-punched camera can be an irritation at times
Those buying the S10+ will also get the choice of the two new ceramic colours, black and white, which look equally as stunning.
If you thought the design was good, wait until you see the display.
Samsung already makes some of the best screens in the business but the S10+ takes the visual experience to a whole new level.
Content looks crisp, colourful and pin-sharp on the 6.4-inch AMOLED screen and as the first HDR10+-certified smartphone, the display delivers vivid digital content, and with dynamic tone mapping so you see a wider range of colour for a much more realistic picture.
One of the best things about the new display is that Samsung has reduced the saturation which definitely makes things look less aggressive and much easier on your eyes.
The only thing that slightly ruins what you are watching is the dual front-facing camera which is now punched through the screen.
Samsung has been clever by including wallpapers which hide this snapper during your daily usage but start watching a movie and it sticks out like a very sore thumb.
There’s no easy answer to the front camera problem as some people hate the Apple-style notch and the pop-up option, found on devices such as the Oppo Find X, is fraught with issues.
Samsung’s design isn’t ideal, and we’d rather just have a notch in the middle of the display, but until someone works out how to hide this snapper behind the screen it’s something smartphone fans are going to have to put up with.
There is some software in the settings that can hide this odd dual camera but it’s unlikely you’ll want to use it as this adds a nasty black bezel at the top of the screen.
Despite this camera irritation our overall experience of the S10’s design and screen has been first class and this is definitely the best looking and most visually stunning phone Samsung has ever made.
The Galaxy S10 comes with a headphone port
POWER AND BATTERY LIFE
The new S10 comes with a new Octa-core Exynos 8nm processor tucked under its hood and this means it’s certainly no slouch.
Although it can’t quite match the performance of Apple’s A12 Bionic brains the S10+ is now one of the fastest Android phones on the market.
Throughout our extensive tests, there was nothing this new phone couldn’t handle and you’ll have no problem using multiple apps and playing the latest memory-hungry games.
In fact, with a dedicated mode, the S10+ is an ideal device to play endless hours of Fortnite with it featuring gaming performance optimisation software and other extras such as Dolby Atmos and a vapour chamber cooling system.
To help the speed and power even further, those buying the S10+ can choose to pack it with either 8 or 12GB RAM plus there’s the option for a giant 1TB of internal storage.
Another big spec boost is the 4,100mAh battery which is now placed inside the S10+.
With this huge power pack now included, the device will easily power you through a day and if you are careful, with light usage, you can easily head into a second day without going near a plug.
When things do run low there’s usual fast refilling and this even works when you place the device on a compatible wireless charger.
Plus you can now use the S10 to refill other devices and accessories – more on that later in this review.
You’ll find a triple rear camera on the back of the S10
One of the biggest changes to grace the S10+ is the triple rear camera that is now placed on the back of this flagship.
This trio of snappers offers an accomplished experience with users now able to shoot images with an Ultra-Wide lens which has a 123-degree field of view.
There’s also a standard wide lens and a telephoto option for improved zoom.
This variety of options makes you feel like you have a camera bag full of equipment to choose from and its versatility is something fans are going to love.
We’ve no complaints with the photography system that Samsung has put in place with the S10+ offering everything most consumers could ask for.
The new on-screen UI also makes switching between these three cameras incredibly simple and the flexibility these lenses now offer is sure to be hugely popular.
All the shots we snapped on the S10+ looked sharp with plenty of colour contrast packed into the pixels.
Galaxy S10 camera test
Galaxy S10 camera test
Like all Samsung flagships the photos can look a little over saturated at times but on the whole, the photographic experience on the S10+ is superb.
There’s also some nice little software extras now included such as the ability to post straight to Instagram and a Best Shot mode which helps you compose your photos better.
Along with the triple lens camera on the rear, there’s also that double lens on the front.
Although this looks a little unsightly, it does offer the ability to add depth of field to your selfies and there’s now a wide-angle mode so more people can join you in your photos.
If it’s video you want then the S10+ will shoot some fine moving images with 4K and full image Super Steady recording with digital stabilisation technology.
Both front and rear cameras can shoot in UHD quality, and in an industry first, the rear camera gives you the flexibility to record in HDR10+
S10 camera test
The dual front-facing camera offers a range of effects
A shot using the S10’s zoom
You also get all the usual slow-motion modes and there’s a pro option if you want to dig deep into the manual settings.
We really like the S10’s camera but there is a feature it’s missing.
Google’s latest Pixel 3 now comes with its Night Sight mode which makes images taken in almost total darkness appear crystal clear without the need for a flash.
Samsung has tried to include something similar with an automatic scene optimiser trying to do its best to replicate this incredible nighttime photography.
Sadly, in our tests, it came nowhere close to Google’s dedicated setting and you can see for yourself the difference it makes.
Below is an image shot at the same time without using the flash – Google’s Night Sight mode is on the left and the S10 is on the right.
The Pixel 3 on the left v Galaxy S10 right
Like all new flagships from the main manufacturers, the S10+ is pushing the price to new levels.
This device costs £899 which can be increased to over £1,390 if you start adding more internal storage and 12 GB of RAM.
That’s a high price to pay for a phone especially with so many Android smartphones from the likes of OnePlus and Xiaomi costing a vast amount less.
Admittedly, those cheaper models can’t quite match this latest offering from Samsung but there’s still a question mark over whether people are prepared to pay almost £1,000 for a phone.
The Korean firm is confident in its pricing with them actually saying this premium market is growing a rapid rate.
That may have been backed up as Samsung revealed on Friday that its new Galaxy S10 line-up has generated more pre-order sales than any Samsung smartphone sold in the United Kingdom.
In the UK, Galaxy S10+ has accounted for 57% of sales, showing a rising trend of consumers opting for high-performance handsets. Prism Black remains the most popular colour of choice, accounting for 47% of total S10 line-up sales.
Samsung Galaxy S10
The S10 will land in your pocket running Samsung’s version of Android 9 Pie – something it calls One UI.
Express.co.uk recently reviewed this new OS, which is also available for older Samsung phones, and you can read our verdict here.
On the S10, One UI looks and feels good with it offering a simplified way of moving around the device.
Samsung has also clearly thought hard about the size of the new screen and there’s plenty of settings buried within this operating system to make using the device more intuitive.
It’s all pretty positive but we still don’t understand all the duplicate apps that continue to appear on Samsung’s phones.
There’s two email clients, web browsers and photo apps which just makes things way more complicated than it needs to be.
The other thing to aware of is that Google will announce its next Android update in the coming months and if Samsung follows its usual rollout don’t expect your S10 to be upgraded until next year.
Samsung Galaxy S10 review
There’s some nice little extras tucked inside the S10+ including an embedded fingerprint scanner under the display.
This works pretty well although we’re still not convinced this Ultra Sonic sensor is as good as the physical option you’ll find on older devices.
During our usage, it just didn’t feel as fast or accurate and there’s some work to do before we can honestly say it’s the best option.
What we do prefer is that this scanner is no longer on the back of the phone which is a huge improvement and means you don’t have to reach to the rear case to unlock the device.
Along with the new embedded scanner, there’s also facial recognition which is fast and very accurate.
It is worth noting that, unlike Apple’s technology, Samsung’s face identity is not all that secure with some videos already showing how the device can be unlocked simply by pointing the front camera at an image of the owner.
The S10 now includes the ability to refill other devices
Another new addition on the S10+ is Wireless PowerShare which turns the phone into a portable charger.
Once switched on you can place other compatible devices such as phones or accessories on top of the S10+ for an instant refill.
It works really well and we can see other manufacturers bringing this technology to their devices in the future.
It is worth noting that Samsung is not the first firm to launch a device with reverse wireless charging as Huawei introduced it on their Mate 20 Pro last year.
Other things you’ll find on the S10+ include a headphone port, expandable storage and a water-resistant design that should cope with most of life’s perils.
There’s no question that Galaxy S10+ is one of the best phones Samsung has ever made.
It looks fabulous, has that incredible triple rear camera, good battery life and extras such as the ability to refill other devices wirelessly.
The screen is also one of the greatest we’ve ever seen and is guaranteed to make your content look better than ever.
However, none of this is really that new with other manufacturers, including Huawei, already producing phones with many of these features.
Samsung is also battling against the ever-growing army of cheaper and feature-packed Android phones from the likes of OnePlus and Honor.
If you buy the S10 or S10+ you are going to love it but with all that smartphone competition out there it’s a tough choice to make.