Hands on: Samsung Galaxy S10 review

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EARLY VERDICT

The Galaxy S10 is a fitting 10th anniversary phone for Samsung and its storied S series. It delivers on change with a novel-looking Infinity-O screen so large it displaces the front camera, and a triple-lens rear camera that takes ultra-wide photos. Its in-screen fingerprint sensor tech should serve you well, while its Wireless PowerShare could serve your friends well. That’s a lot of change – just know that it comes at a high price.

Pros:

  • High screen-to-body ratio
  • In-screen fingerprint sensor
  • Wireless PowerShare perk

Cons:

  • Stunning price hike
  • Bixby button still exists
SAMSUNG GALAXY S10 SPECS

Weight: 157g
Dimensions: 149.9 x 70.4 x 7.8mm
OS: Android 9
Screen size: 6.1-inch
Resolution: QHD+
CPU: Octa-core chipset
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128/512GB
Battery: 3,400mAh
Rear camera: 16MP + 12MP + 12MP
Front camera: 10MP    

Samsung Galaxy S10 specs:

The Samsung Galaxy S10 release date is Friday, March 8, which is one week earlier than last year’s phone. It was officially announced on February 20, with pre-orders opening right away in some countries. In the US, Galaxy S10 pre-orders start on February 21.

It’s the 6.1-inch Infinity Display that really sells this phone. It introduces a nearly-edge-to-edge look that stretches top to bottom, with pixels spilling over the curved edges at the sides – there’s no room for big bezels on Samsung’s 2019 flagship smartphone.

Its new Infinity-O screen – also a feature of the Galaxy S10 Plus and cheaper Galaxy S10e – is so large it actually displaces the front camera, consigning it to a small ‘punch-hole’ in the screen. All of the important sensors are neatly tucked behind this vibrant and bright Super AMOLED display.

Also behind the glass is the new ultrasonic fingerprint sensor. You won’t find a fingerprint pad on the back anymore, or anywhere visibly on the phone. Samsung put its sensor – now invisible – on the front, where we feel it belongs.

The S10 officially makes punch-hole displays a trend after the idea debuted on the Honor View 20, and in-screen fingerprint sensors more mainstream after they appeared on the OnePlus 6T, Huawei Mate 20 Pro, and a few Vivo phones. It’s all in the cause of achieving that impressive 93.1% screen-to-body ratio on the front of the phone.

Maximization is also the idea behind the Galaxy S10’s rear-facing triple-lens camera. Samsung’s camera array has lenses to take normal, telephoto and new ultra-wide photos. The ultra-wide camera is all about capturing more of what’s in front of you without having to back up.

Sure, LG phones have touted ultra-wide camera lenses for years, most recently the LG V40, but Samsung’s cameras have been more consistent in low-light conditions. The feature is finally in a a flagship-level phone you want.

Latest technology updated:

The Galaxy S10 also has features everyone can get. Its Wireless PowerShare feature lets you use the back of the S10 to Qi charge another phone or the new Galaxy Buds, cloning the reverse wireless charging idea in the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. A phone that’s not widely available in certain territories, including the US.

The Galaxy S10 is an amalgam of other handsets’ single hallmark features packed into one phone. While Samsung pioneers as many technical features as it can cram in – faster Wi-Fi 6 and HDR10+ are both firsts for smartphones. And that’s what Samsung does best really. 

There’s a hitch or two in Samsung’s masterplan to get everyone to upgrade to this particular handset. The S10 is expensive, even more so than last year’s Galaxy S9. Although, it’s markedly better value than the iPhone XS, which is more expensive and has a smaller 5.8-inch screen.

Then there’s the fact that Samsung’s biggest competition in 2019 may be Samsung. The Galaxy S10e is cheaper and almost as good. While the Galaxy S10 Plus is the phone you’ll want if you can handle its price and screen size – and that’s to say nothing of the Galaxy S10 5G. The foldable Samsung Galaxy X, which early adopters may look for true innovation at a higher price.

The Samsung Galaxy S10 marks a decade of Galaxy S phones, and while there’s been little innovation in recent years from the most popular smartphone brands. Including Samsung (Bixby and AR EMoji don’t cut it), the S10 has enough newness to tempt you to upgrade. We’re still testing the camera, performance and battery life, but it’s already shaping up to be one of 2019’s best smartphones.

Samsung Galaxy S10 release date and price

News and launch dates:

The Samsung Galaxy S10 release date is Friday, March 8, which is one week earlier than last year’s phone. It was officially announced on February 20, with pre-orders opening right away in some countries. In the US, Galaxy S10 pre-orders start on February 21.

The Galaxy S10 price is $899 that will be ₹ 63,828 INR. If you like the look of this phone but think that price is a too high, you have two options: you can go for the cheaper Galaxy S10e, which starts at $749 that is ₹ 53,179 INR onwards, or suck up the price hike, marvel at the new 6.1-inch screen and 128GB base storage, and realize that Apple charges $100 more for the 5.8-inch iPhone XS with 64GB of storage.

Ordering the Galaxy S10 in advance of March 8 will net you bonuses in some countries. In the US, for example, Samsung is offering free wireless Galaxy Buds worth $149 / AU$249 when you pre-order either the Galaxy S10 or Galaxy S10 Plus.

Display

Samsung’s screens are so good “our competitors are even using them,” Samsung brand manager Paul Guzek told TechRadar, an all-too-obvious dig at Apple. It’s hard to disagree.

In fact, the Galaxy S10’s 6.1-inch Super AMOLED display panel looks better than anything Samsung sells its rivals. It has elegantly curved edges with pixels that spill over the sides, amped-up brightness for better outdoor visibility, and HDR10+ support for superior contrast and color.

The new Infinity-O display type is what stands out – for better or worse. Samsung has successfully avoided a notch cut-out at the top of its flagship phones, instead using a laser-cut hole in the top-right corner of the screen to embed the front-facing camera, as on the Honor View 20.

Is a ‘punch-hole’ camera more or less distracting than a notch? We’re going to reserve judgment for our final Samsung Galaxy S10 review, when we’ll put the phone through its paces in day-to-day use. One thing we can say right away though is that it’s given Samsung more screen real estate to play with than ever.

Design

You’re not going to be overly surprised by the rest of the Samsung Galaxy S10 design, though there are a few notable enhancements, two hidden surprises, and an old classic here.

Its thinner aluminum frame is sandwiched between smooth glass, with the back coming in your choice of color: Flamingo Pink, Prism Black, Prism Blue, Prism White, Canary Yellow and Prism Green. Samsung Galaxy S10 colors will vary by region, with the US getting all but yellow and green.

There’s the smallest of camera bumps on the back, housing the triple-lens camera array, while we saw no signs of Samsung’s invisible reverse wireless charging module below this. It’s a particularly clean look in a world of camera bumps and rear-fingerprint sensors.

Samsung laid out two scenarios in which Wireless PowerShare would be helpful: charging a friend’s phone, or charging your Galaxy Buds at night, effectively making your plugged-in S10 a mobile Qi charger pad. Samsung noted, though, that PowerShare won’t work when the phone is below 30%.

Hardware:

Also invisible – this time around the front – is the fingerprint sensor. While a lot of Android phones have used a rear-facing fingerprint sensor, Samsung stuck with the front-facing physical sensor pad all the way up to the Galaxy S7. So the switch to the back felt foreign on Samsung phones – but it’s come back to the front in the S10, this time tucked underneath the glass.

And here’s a welcomed classic that hasn’t changed since the first S phone a decade ago: the 3.5mm headphone jack. Samsung is one of the few phone makers that includes the standard headphone jack in 2019 – and it’s doing it despite introducing the wireless Galaxy Buds.

Camera

Samsung wants you to take photos at any angle, so the Galaxy S10 has a triple-lens camera on back with a 12MP regular lens, 12MP optically zoomed telephoto lens, and a brand new 16MP ultra-wide lens.

We’re going to take a hard look at the camera, how it compared to the class-leading Pixel 3, and determine how good the ultra-wide photos look. Samsung’s 123-degree field of view is rather wide, which serves the purpose of not having to back up to get everything in a shot. But that may result in an unnatural fisheye look. This ultra-wide camera also lacks OIS compared to the other two lenses.

Samsung galaxy S10

On the front, we have a single 10MP camera with dual auto-focuses. If you upgrade to the S10 Plus, you’ll also get an 8MP camera meant for enhancing depth in portrait photos.

AI Support:

Scene optimizer gains 10 new categories, with Samsung’s camera AI now able to tell the difference between a cat and dog to fine tune things like white balance. Shot Suggestions is a new feature that uses the neural processor engine to nudge you to properly level your shots or frame subjects better.

On the video side, the software has been upgraded to record in HDR10+ and offer Digital Video Stabilization. Samsung says that this is meant to make all of your Ultra HD video as smooth as an action cam. Shots fired, GoPro Hero7 Black.

Specs and battery life

The Samsung Galaxy S10 gets proper under-the-hood upgrades, touting the new top-of-the-line Snapdragon or Exynos chipsets, depending on which country you live in. It should be plenty fast.

It’ll also come with 8GB of RAM – a serious upgrade over the 4GB of RAM in last year’s S9 – and includes options for 128GB or 512GB of internal storage. There’s no 64GB version to worry about here, and Samsung still supports expandable storage.

It contains a 3,400mAh battery, an upgrade over the 3,000mAh capacity of the S9. Because of the bigger screen, officially, Samsung is still claiming all-day battery life if not a bit more.

Also onboard is next-gen Wi-Fi 6, which will support seamless transition between Wi-Fi routers and is four times faster than 802.11ax. It should deliver a 20% speed boost, but you’ll need a new router to really get any use out of this feature.

What you won’t get on this phone is the S10 Plus and Note 9-exclusive vapor chamber cooling. If you’re a gamer, you may want to upgrade to the larger phone for more than just the bigger screen.

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