Samsung Galaxy S10 – A hole lot of cool

Samsung’s flagship phone for the first half of 2019, the Samsung Galaxy S10+, was released on February 20th, a few days before MWC, and yet it stole the show. But, how does it compare now MWC is over? Let’s see.

Specs

The Samsung Galaxy S10+ has pretty average internals for a 2019 flagship phone. In the US, it ships with the Snapdragon 855, but everywhere else, it ships with the Exynos 9810. It also ships with 6-12 gigabytes of RAM (which I was completely wrong about), a 6.4″ gorgeous HDR10+ AMOLED display. So, overall, great specs, few of which I predicted, but, let’s just ignore that.

Design

So, the design of the S10+ is quite controversial. It uses the hole-punch (or infinity-o) display type, which brings mixed reactions with it. I personally think that it looks nicer than the notch design, and is less obtrusive. But, no matter your opinion, it still offers a higher screen-to-body ratio than its notched competitors.

Besides the screen, the phone is quite predictable, mainly due to the huge number of leaks preceding even the Note 9’s launch. The horizontal cameras arrangement is my biggest gripe with this otherwise great design. Granted, it allows for the huge 4100 mAh battery (more on that later, but I got that wrong too), but it just makes the S line look too much like the Note line. By now, the only difference between Samsung’s S and Note lines is the S-Pen, which only really appeals to a minority of people. Samsung will need to change it up with the Note 10 if they want people to buy it.

Also, a seriously underrated part of the S10 line is the thickness, or lack thereof. The Samsung S10+ comes in at 7.8mm, which is incredible when you compare it to the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, at 8.6mm. 0.8mm doesn’t sound like much, but it is noticeable.

Battery

The Samsung S10 comes with a whopping 4100 mAh battery, which really is surprising considering how thin it is. The software also makes good use of that, causing it to win multiple battery drain tests. Honestly, I am really impressed by this phone’s battery life. Well done Samsung.

Honestly, I am really impressed by this phone’s battery life. Well done Samsung.

Nevertheless, if the Note 9 has taught us anything, it is that battery capacities aren’t everything, as the battery life on that phone began degrading after only a couple of months of use for a number of other tech reviewers. Hopefully, the software enhancements that Samsung has made to the phone this time around will make a difference in that area.

Software

Samsung is one of the very, very few manufacturers that I can honestly say have completely changed my opinion of their software, in only 1 phone. The S10 comes with One UI, Samsung’s new skin over Android 9.0 Pie, and it is honestly super cool. It is important to bear in mind that I have never actually used the S10+, or any Samsung phone for that matter, and the biggest reason for that fact is the lacklustre software. But, now, with their new design language that focuses on simplicity and one-handed use, I really want to try it. That is the second biggest compliment I can give a Samsung phone in 2019.

Cameras

The Samsung S10+ has a triple rear camera setup, a normal lens, a telephoto lens, and a wide-angle lens. The lenses are 12 megapixels, 12 megapixels and 16 megapixels, respectively. Basically, the cameras are great. But, as I promised, I am going to compare this phone to the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, the king of camera versatility.

As for the normal lens, Huawei has 28 more megapixels than the Samsung S10+, but numbers aren’t everything. The normal camera is undoubtedly better on the Samsung phone, by far. The colours are more vibrant, the dynamic range is better, and the scene recognition on both phones… still doesn’t really do anything. Great job.

The telephoto lens is a 2x zoom lens, which is significantly lower than Huawei’s 3x zoom lens, with a 5x lossless zoom. Basically, Huawei wins here, hands down.

The wide-angle lens is at 123 degrees, which is 3 degrees wider than Huawei’s, which doesn’t sound like much, but can make a real difference. However, Huawei offers a 2.5cm autofocus, for macro shots, while Samsung offers no such autofocus. This is a very close one, but I would have to give it to Huawei, for those macro shots.

So, overall, a great camera setup is let down by a lackluster telephoto lens, and less sharpness than competitors.

Extras

Samsung offers a few extras, but they are pretty good. Samsung is the first to offer an in-display ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, which is still as futuristic as ever. However, with all of the hype that this got, I expected it to be faster than its optical counterparts, in phones like the Vivo Nex Dual-Display Edition, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, and the Oneplus 6T, but the aforementioned Vivo phone is noticeably faster.

Wireless Powershare is Samsung’s answer to Huawei’s Reverse Wireless Charging, and is nearly twice as fast. It also has the ability to charge the new Galaxy Buds and Galaxy Active smartwatch, and it is this quality that, in my opinion at least, puts it a league above Huawei’s.

Samsung offers wireless charging too, but at 12 watts, I am just ashamed. Some have praised Samsung’s “Fast Wireless Charging 2.0” for its charging speeds, claiming that it charges nearly as fast as wired charging. No. No, it doesn’t. It is only 2 watts faster than the previous generation, compared to the 15 watt wireless charging on the aforementioned Huawei flagship, and the 20 watt wireless charging on the latest Xiaomi flagship. That is just sad.

But, I hear you say, few people use wireless charging anyway, which is true. Even I, a wireless charging fanatic, could excuse this lackluster speed if they had increased the wired charging speeds to match competitors. I mean, Oneplus has now ventured into 30 watt charging, and their phones cost half the price of Samsung’s. So, what is it? 40 watts? 35? 30? …25? No. 18 watts is the limiting wired charging speed of Samsung’s latest flagship, and that has been true of every Samsung flagship for over 2 years now. That is just shameful. Come on, Samsung.

In the foldable phone, the Samsung Galaxy Fold, they were keen to mention the “super-fast” 25 watt charging that they managed to fit in. Samsung, in a smaller and more attractive package, Huawei managed to get 55 watt charging into their foldable phone, the Mate X, not to mention 5G. Never have I been more ashamed of Samsung.

Price

Honestly, the price is nowhere near as high as I expected. The S10+ starts at $999, for the base model, which is about £899. That is pretty reasonable, considering that it is the same price as the Note 9, which had much fewer features, and a more dated design. £900 is still expensive, but when you look at competing flagships from certain fruit-based companies, the price seems a lot more reasonable.

Verdict

The Samsung S10+ is a great phone, truly great. Will you be buying it? Probably not. That price tag is just too high for some to swallow, and with the Huawei P30 launch less than a week away, we can expect to see a similar design, much better cameras, and a similar price, not to mention real fast charging, at about 40 watts. Would I recommend this phone right now? No. I would recommend waiting until the P30 launches, and then decide which of the two is better for your purposes. Honestly, though, Huawei is going to have to hit this one out of the park to beat this phone.

So, what do you think of the Samsung S10? Is the price too much for you, or will you be picking one up? Let me know in the comments below