For ten years now, Samsung has been providing the world with outstanding smartphones with its Galaxy-S series. The Galaxy phones even come in a pack of four for a special birthday. The Galaxy S10 and the Galaxy S10 Plus are at the centre of attention. The question is almost inevitable: Is the Galaxy S10 really the best smartphone you can buy this year?
- Excellent processing
- Excellent performance
- Very good camera
- Sophisticated software
- Battery performance too low
- Extremely slippery housing
- Biometric unlocking incomplete
The Galaxy S10 is a pricey phone
The Galaxy S10 stars at $899.99 for the 128GB version. The 512GB version starts at $1,149. Those who like their phones colorful can look forward to new and actually very beautiful colors: Prism White, Prism Black, Prism Blue and Prism Green.
This is what a Galaxy smartphone should look like
The Galaxy S10 looks like a smartphone should look in 2019: flowing shapes, a metal frame, a slightly curved display with protected glass and as few edges as possible. The Galaxy S10 has a modern look, is beautifully crafted and sits perfectly in your hand. On the left the Bixby button is still below the volume rocker. On the right, there's the power button. Even the good old headphone jack is still present.
The back is made of glass and houses the cameras, which are arranged in a horizontal bar. Sharp-eyed smartphone fans will quickly ask: where has the fingerprint sensor gone? It's moved to the front and into the display.
Despite its sexy curves, the Galaxy S10 can withstand a lot. The smartphone is IP68 certified in all variants and will keep water and dust out quite reliably. As always, don't push your luck when it comes to this kind of thing, though.
As is the case with almost all current smartphones with glass on the back, the Galaxy S10 smears quickly and attracts greasy fingerprints almost magically. So wiping over and over again is the order of the day. If you don't want to do this or would like to give your smartphone more protection, then one of the new covers for the Galaxy S10 is the right choice for you. They come in several colors and designs, even with holes in them and with hidden LEDs on the back.
What's good about the design of the Galaxy S10
Samsung has once again achieved an extremely good finish. The Galaxy S10 looks noble and high-quality and is very well made. It also feels very comfortable in your hand. The transitions from the glass to the metal frame are almost seamless. Samsung hasn't had to fear Apple on this point for a long time.
This also applies to the accessories. There are plenty of them, and that's far from being the normal case with Android smartphones. Here it pays to back the top model of the market leader, because there are countless cases and more from Samsung and many third-party suppliers.
What's bad about the design of the Galaxy S10
The fingerprint smears and smudges are clear but that's a problem with almost all modern smartphones. I can live with that. I find three other things more difficult to stomach. The first is the surface, which is extremely slippery. Without a cover, the Galaxy S10 slips out of your hand or pocket pretty quickly. The second point is the power button. It's a bit too high for my taste. This doesn't bother me with the small S10 as much as with the Galaxy S10 Plus, but it could be more pleasant. The last point of criticism: the edges of the camera module quickly collect dirt and dust, which looks unattractive.
The Galaxy S10 has a superb display
Samsung engineers can easily build quality displays , and you can also see that with the Galaxy S10. The Super AMOLED displays in the two new Galaxy smartphones look gorgeous, have rich colors, great contrasts and are bright and vivid. In the Galaxy S10, the display is 6.1 inches diagonally. In the S10 Plus, it is 6.4 inches. And the best part: Samsung still manages without a notch!
The front camera is hidden behind a small hole in the upper right corner of the Infinity O display, which is a good half a centimeter in diameter. It is cut into the panel with a laser. You also have to get used to looking at this, but the hole takes up less space than most notches. I got used to it very quickly and hardly notice it anymore.
But the hole in the screen did claim one victim: Samsung has dropped the iris scanner for the Galaxy S10. There is also no 3D face recognition. Face Unlock is here, but it is only processed in 2D via the front camera. This is technically more unreliable and not as secure as 3D scanning.
By the way, the resolution of the Galaxy S10 is set to Full-HD+ by default. If you want to enjoy the maximum QHD+ resolution (and trust me, you do) you have to change this manually in the system settings.
What's good about the display of the Galaxy S10
Everything. yes, honestly, everything!
What's bad about the display of the Galaxy S10
Nothing, really nothing. I don't need the edge functions for the minimally curved edges, but you can turn them off. Otherwise, the display is perfect. You cannot fault it.
Samsung has cleaned up One UI a lot
The Galaxy S10 ships with Android 9 Pie in conjunction with the new One UI customization from Samsung. It looks very tidy and well thought out. The user interface also takes account the fact that smartphones are getting bigger and bigger and users are having difficulty operating them with one hand. One UI's solution is that the upper third of the screen mainly displays information, while the lower two-thirds are intended for operation - clever.
What's good about the software of the Galaxy S10
The new alignment of controls at the bottom of the screen is great. I have pretty big hands, but I'm still able to reach everything comfortably with one hand and my thumb.
I'd also like to praise Samsung for its system-wide dark mode. It's a matter of taste, of course, but when it's dark it's easy on the eyes. Overall, Samsung has included so many options in its One UI that it is possible to customize the phone as much as possible so that all users should be happy with it.
What's bad about the software of the Galaxy S10
In some places, however, the simplification of One UI goes a bit too far for me. The top level of the system settings has been streamlined so much that I had to keep digging through submenus to find what I'm looking for. Again and again, the search function has to be used because the menu differs so much from the "normal" Android One and also from earlier Samsung smartphones.
What also bothers me is that Samsung is still trying desperately demonstrate its independence from Google that doesn't exist. Its own calendar, its own browser, its own picture gallery, its own apps for almost everything and even an additional app store - this is simply not necessary and often even annoying. Anyone who has tried to use the password manager from Google on the Galaxy S10 and not Samsung's own one (yes, there is one too) knows what I'm talking about.
The Galaxy S10 Plus has plenty of power and storage
With the One UI and the new Exynos 9820 in the European version we tested, the Galaxy S10 is faster than its predecessor. We couldn't find any small jerks or slowdown when trying it out. The Galaxy S10 marches quickly through menus, apps and the browser. Everything starts without delay, and multitasking doesn't cause any problems for the Galaxy smartphones either. That's the way it has to be these days. The version with the Snapdragon 855 will hardly differ, as Qualcomm's flagship chip is also a powerhouse.
What's good about the performance of the Galaxy S10
The performance of the Galaxy S10 is a complete success. Even if the Samsung smartphone still isn't as fast as the OnePlus 6T in our tests, I didn't manage to bring it to the limit of its power. No matter if I open many apps, run big games or high-resolution videos, or all of that at the same time: the Galaxy S10 handles it all. It gets warm, if you demand a lot from it, but not in an unpleasant or dubious way.
What's bad about the performance of the Galaxy S10
When it comes to performance, the new fingerprint sensor in the display is disappointing. It works with ultrasound instead of optical scanning and is faster and more reliable in the test than the sensor in the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, for example. Nevertheless, it happens again and again that the fingerprint is not recognized correctly until the second or third time. Facial recognition is faster, but only works in 2D via the front camera. It can be tricked quite easily with a Selfie video, for example. That's why I'm not really convinced by the biometric features in the Galaxy S10.
Samsung Galaxy S10 Benchmarks
|3DMark Sling Shot Extreme
|3DMark Sling Shot Vulkan
|3DMark Sling Shot
|3DMark Ice Storm Extreme
|Geekbench (Single / Multi)
|4.406 / 9.998
Samsung delivers on sound
The Galaxy S10 has a speaker on the underside but uses an additional earcup for a bit of stereo. There's a headphone jack next to the USB port, which is almost a rarity on smartphones these days.
What's good about the sound of the Galaxy S10
The sound of the speakers in the Galaxy S10 is much better than in previous Samsung smartphones. This allows you to watch a video or listen to music in between. The 3.5mm jack is a real bonus, even though I usually use Bluetooth headphones. Those who pre-ordered the Galaxy S10 got the Galaxy Buds for free on top. I really like these headphones.
For those who prefer to listen by cable, the Galaxy S10 comes with AKG-In-Ears. The cable is covered with fabric, they are plugged in via the headphone jack. The sound is very good all around, very full and equipped with good balance. This is certainly one of the best headsets you can get from a smartphone manufacturer in the box.
What's bad about the sound of the Galaxy S10
Honestly, nothing. There's everything I expect from a smartphone in terms of sound, and even more. Nothing to complain about.
Samsung is following suit with its flagship cameras
The more the merrier, as the old saying goes. It also applies to cameras in the smartphone business in 2019 - at least to a certain extent. More lenses and more megapixels don't guarantee a good photo. But, more choice in focal length makes for more fun and more creative possibilities. This is also the case with the Galaxy S10, because there are lots of cameras on board. This is the rear configuration:
- 16 Megapixel Ultra Wide Angle, f/2.2
- 12 Megapixel normal focal length, Dual Pixel AF, OIS, f/1.5-2.4
- 12 Megapixel Telephoto, f/2.4
At the front, the Galaxy S10 relies on a single 10MP selfie camera. The overall quality of the photos looks good the first time you try it out, and the camera is still extremely fast and switches quickly between the individual lenses.
Samsung, too, relies on AI
With the new Exynos 9820, Samsung now also has a processor with an NPU unit, and the Koreans use this in a similar way to the competition with the camera. Automatic scene detection, bokeh effect and live filters and particularly complex image stabilization for videos are aspects where the AI in the Galaxy S10 is intended to help.
If desired, the NPU can also be used to improve the composition, i.e. the composition of photos. The assistant uses a system of dots and an artificial horizon to encourage the photographer to point the camera in a certain direction or at a certain level in order to help users capture the perfect picture.
All these little helpers can be switched on and off in the camera app. The scene recognition even gets its own icon in the bottom right corner. This is handy if you notice that the AI does not achieve the desired effect when looking at the display. You can always switch off the composition help via the menu if you find it unnecessary.
- Photos and videos we took with the Galaxy S10
What's good about the camera of the Galaxy S10
I'm still impressed by the speed of the Galaxy S10 when focusing, shooting and saving photos. Also, the change between the three lenses is pretty fast. I'm also pretty happy with Samsung's camera app. In general, the trend to combine lenses with different focal lengths is excellent, because you can get really creative with your smartphone camera.
With the Galaxy S10, I was also impressed by the image stabilization when shooting videos. Even when tobogganing with your smartphone in your hand - you can find the video in the folder with the pictures above - it doesn't get too hectic. Well done!
What's bad about the camera of the Galaxy S10
Samsung's ultra-wide angle lens distorts quite a lot, more than at least the LG V40 ThinQ or the Mate 20 Pro. If you use this camera, you should take care to keep the horizon in the middle of the picture. Especially for low-light photos, the wide-angle lens is weaker than the other two cameras.
I would also have liked to have a dedicated night mode like Google and Huawei offer. This allows you to consciously choose to spend a little longer taking a photo in the dark, to get better results. With Samsung everything is automatic, and especially in the low-light range, the camera of the Galaxy S10 is a little behind the others.
Charging is inspired by the Mate 20 Pro
The Galaxy S10 has a battery with a capacity of 3,400 mAh. That's fine, but not outstanding on paper. It will be exciting to observe the battery life in our review of the Galaxy S10, because the Galaxy S9 is not considered to be particularly good in this department.
What's good about the battery of the Galaxy S10
Whether copied from Huawei or not, I find Wireless Power Share very convenient, especially when traveling with the Samsung Galaxy Buds. With such accessories, it's more than a useless gimmick. I also welcome the possibility to charge the battery wirelessly.
What's bad about the battery of the Galaxy S10
The most important thing about a battery is still the battery life, and the Galaxy S10 regularly disappoints me. Anyone who moves to areas with rather weak mobile phone reception will have to look for a power outlet around 3 or 4 pm, at least that's how I felt on holiday - and that's without having much to do with the Galaxy S10. Active accounts with social media and email, a few photos and a little surfing - we're talking about maybe an hour in total here - are enough to bring the battery to its knees. That's just not good enough.
Even here in Berlin, where I have very good reception at home and in the office, the battery has regularly landed at around 15 percent around 10 pm, and the smartphone needs more juice. The standby consumption is also quite high. If you read the tests from the US, where a Snapdragon is in the Galaxy S10 instead of the Exynos processor, it sounds much better. It also only helps a little if you reduce the resolution of the screen to FHD+.
Speaking of battery and resolution, Samsung offers the Adaptive Energy Saver option. This allows the Galaxy S10 to automatically set the power mode so that the battery lasts longer. I activated this option, but then found out that the Galaxy S10 always downgrades the resolution from QHD+ to FHD+. Not all apps can handle this, Facebook, for example, has to be stopped and restarted manually every time you change it. However, Samsung explicitly says that adaptive energy saving doesn't change the resolution. But it does - and that's annoying.
What's also not particularly successful is the rapid charging technology, because it is, well, not particularly fast in comparison. Oppo, OnePlus and Huawei charge their batteries much faster. Especially given that battery life is not great, fast charging would have been nice to make up for it.
Samsung Galaxy S10 technical specifications
Is the Galaxy S10 still the best Android smartphone?
Is the Galaxy S10 the best smartphone on the market? It depends on your wishes and requirements. But the ingredients are right, and even in the tenth year of the S-Class, the Samsung will be the smartphone of the future. The display is fantastic, the camera versatile and the operation comfortable. Samsung has caught up massively with its software, hopefully the supply of updates will also be improved.
The complete package of the Galaxy S10 meets high expectations and in some places even exceeds them. But the weaknesses in the battery are the real catch of the Galaxy S10. Compared to other top smartphones, the battery life is below average and charging isn't quite as fast as it should be. Should this keep you from buying one? You have to decide that for yourself. For me, Samsung offers what I want in all areas and even more - except for the battery. Too bad.