Samsung Galaxy S10+ review: It’s the same but different in great ways

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The S10+ has a premium build using premium materials. It also has a fantastic camera and all the performance you’ll ever need.

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So we know the Samsung Galaxy S10+ has been out for a bit now but really, this review isn’t that late. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it out to Unpacked in San Francisco so we also didn’t get a review unit that day either. That left us waiting for our review unit of the Samsung Galaxy S10+ to show up in the mail.

I like to call the Samsung Galaxy smartphones the iPhone of Androids. They’re simply some of the most used Android devices on the planet and they match the quality and performance of the fruit phone. The Samsung Galaxy S10+ is more of the same from the Korean electronics giant but different in some great ways. Read on for the full review of the Samsung Galaxy S10+.

Video Review

Specifications

The Samsung Galaxy S10+ has the following features and specifications:

  • Display
    • 6.4″ Super AMOLED
    • 88.9% screen-to-body ratio
    • 16m colors
    • 1440×3040 resolution
    • 522ppi
    • HDR 10+
    • Corning Gorilla Glass 6
    • Always-on display
  • OS: Android 9 Pie
  • Chipset: Qualcomm SDM855 Snapdragon 855
  • CPU: Octa-core (1×2.84 GHz Kryo 485 & 3×2.41 GHz Kryo 485 & 4×1.78 GHz Kryo 485)
  • GPU: Adreno 640
  • Memory
    • Internal – 128GB, 512GB or 1TB
    • External – microSD, up to 512GB
    •  RAM –6GB, 8GB or 12GB (1TB only)
  • Cameras
    • Dual Front
      • 10 MP, f/1.9, 26mm (wide), 1.22µm, Dual Pixel PDAF
      • 8 MP, f/2.2, 22mm (wide), 1.12µm, depth sensor
    • Triple Rear
      • 12 MP, f/1.5-2.4, 26mm (wide), 1/2.55″, 1.4µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS
      • 12 MP, f/2.4, 52mm (telephoto), 1/3.6″, 1.0µm, AF, OIS, 2x optical zoom
      • 16 MP, f/2.2, 12mm (ultrawide), 1.0µm
    • Video front – [email protected], [email protected]
    • Video rear – [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], HDR, dual-video recording
  • Audio
    • 3.5mm headphone jack
    • Dual-speakers
    • 32-bit/384kHz audio
    • Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
    • Dolby Atmos/AKG sound
  • Connectivity
    • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot
    • Bluetooth 5.0, A2DP, LE, aptX
    • NFC
    • GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO
    • USB 3.1, Type-C 1.0 reversible connector
  • Sensors
    • Iris scanner
    • In-display fingerprint scanner
    • Accelerometer
    • Gyro
    • Proximity
    • Compass
    • Barometer
    • Heart rate
    • SpO2
  • Features
    • Samsung DeX
    • Fast charging 15W
    • Fast wireless charging 15W
    • ANT+ support
    • Bixby
    • Samsung Pay
  • Battery: Non-removable Li-Ion 4,100 mAh battery
  • IP68 certified: Dust/waterproof over 1.5 meters and 30 minutes
  • Dimensions: 157.6 x 74.1 x 7.8 mm (6.20 x 2.92 x 0.31 in)
  • Weight: 175 g / 198 g (ceramic) (6.17 oz)

What’s In The Box

  • Samsung Galaxy S10+
  • USB Type-C data/charging cable
  • Travel adapter
  • Sim card ejection pin
  • USB connector
  • AKG earphones
  • Manuals and documentation
S10+ review
Box contents

Design

So at this point what more can be said of Samsung’s design of their Galaxy phones? Mostly there are slight improvements in the look of the device and the build quality is always very high. They always use premium materials, as they should considering the price, and these phones always look amazing. As I said before, Galaxy is the iPhone of Androids.

The Samsung Galaxy S10+ looks different than the previous generation in only a few ways. Of course, there is the new double punch hole for the S10+ to make room for the dual-camera. The body also seems a bit more squared off and less rounded in the corners. Sort of more like what the Note9 is shaped like. And finally, the fingerprint sensor is now under the front display.

The differences are subtle but they do make the device at least look fresh. Our review unit came in the Prism White color but you can get it in Prism Black, Prism Blue, Flamingo Pink, Ceramic White, and Ceramic Black if you wish. I actually really love the Prism White color as it gives off a nice rainbow effect when handling it and it doesn’t show fingerprints nearly as much as darker colors.

S10+ review
Love the Prism White color

On the back of the Samsung Galaxy S10+, you’ll find the triple camera setup and the LED flash. On the bottom, you’ll find the USB-C connector, headphone jack, one of the pair of stereo speakers and a microphone. On the top, you can find the SIM card tray as well as another microphone.

Along the left side of the phone is the volume rocker and the Bixby button. Along the right side of the phone is the power button. The front of the phone houses that beautiful Samsung display as well as the dual-cameras and earpiece that doubles as the second stereo speaker.

The phone is basically two slim slabs of premium glass held together with a premium polished aluminum frame. I think the frame would have looked better unpolished but that is a personal opinion. An unpolished frame may have given the phone a better grip and made it less slippery in the hand.

Overall, this is still a fantastic design from Samsung. While the looks remain familiar, they do just enough to make them different than the previous generation. The company has been selling enough Galaxy phones to know what works and how to make a killer design by using premium materials.

Display

What more can be said of Samsung displays that hasn’t been said already? Simply put, they make fantastic displays and the Samsung Galaxy S10+ is no exception to that fact. Their AMOLED displays are legendary and good enough to make it into the competitions smart devices. Even Apple has used its display technology and that’s saying something when your biggest competitor relies on your technology.

Samsung also continues to shrink the bezels of their smartphones with this one having an 88.9% screen-to-body ratio and a 6.4″ display. One of the things I’ve noticed with the shrinking of the bezels is the increased incidents of unwanted display input. Samsung has managed to wrap the screen so close to the edges that the meat of my palm tends to register input when I don’t intend to. This can get a bit annoying at times and I’ve had to learn how to handle the phone a bit differently.

This year, Samsung has also moved the fingerprint sensor from the back of the Galaxy to the front. That’s right, the fingerprint sensor is embedded into the display, something we all knew was going to eventually happen. Samsung is using ultrasonic technology instead of optical technology for its fingerprint scanner. I’d like to say that the fingerprint sensor works flawlessly but it really doesn’t.

I found that the sensor took a few seconds longer to unlock the phone than a traditional fingerprint sensor and sometimes it didn’t unlock at all. Apple’s Face ID is probably even a bit faster than the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor on the Samsung Galaxy S10+. That being said, I think everyone’s experiences with the sensor are going to vary as I have heard some people haven’t had any issues at all. Don’t get me wrong, this is a minor issue to me, it doesn’t happen in every instance but it happens enough that it was worth mentioning in this review.

S10+ review
Brilliant color from this screen

As for the display itself, as I mentioned, it’s a Samsung display and it looks fantastic. It has a 1440 x 3040 resolution with a 522ppi which should surprise no one. The display packs punchy colors just like Samsung likes doing on their AMOLED displays. Blacks are inky and deep and whites are clean and crisp. Text is easy to read and clear, it’s the same song and dance every year with these displays. I especially appreciate the screen brightness on this phone, it does amazingly well in sunlight and that matters to me. They ‘re just amazing displays and even users of competitor smartphones can admit that.

Before we close this section out, I have to mention the dual-punch hole for the cameras. I actually don’t mind the punch hole and I think it looks better than the notch. But I do have to say that the dual-punch hole is a bit more distracting than a single punch hole. Still, it’s better than the notch, without a doubt.

Overall, Samsung delivers again in the display department. They are king of the hill when it comes to smartphone displays and even its QLED TV line pack great displays. The ultrasonic fingerprint sensor is a great idea but at times it does fail to do its job fast enough or if at all. The instances of bad fingerprint sensor readings were few and far between but worth talking about so that Samsung can improve on the technology.

Software

As with any brand new Galaxy device, you would expect it to be running the latest Android version and the Samsung Galaxy S10+ does exactly that. Running Android 9 Pie with Samsung’s own One UI over top the software experience is much improved.

Samsung used to run TouchWiz over top Android, which was an experience that was hit or miss for many. Most users hated TouchWiz but put up with it for a very long time. Thankfully, Samsung has made some major improvements to its user experience and One UI is a great redesign that looks good and works great.

One UI is clean and uncluttered and Samsung does offer themes and icon packs in its own store. I do wish that Samsung would open up their One UI to work with 3rd-party icon packs and other visual elements. I generally throw a 3rd-party launcher on my phones to accomplish these things but I really didn’t mind One UI’s look and feel and even though I didn’t like some of the icons, I was able to tolerate it.

S10+ review
Feels nice in the hand

As is Samsung’s general penchant, they include a handful of software that you wouldn’t find on something like the Google Pixel. Some of these apps include:

  • Bixby
  • Smart pop-up view
  • Smart capture
  • Direct share
  • Dual-messenger
  • Video enhancer
  • Device care
  • Themes

I was actually surprised to see a lot less added software than has been on Galaxy devices in the past. Overall, Android 9 is great and Google has been doing really awesome things with it. Samsung’s One UI is also great and to the point, I don’t feel I need to have a-3rd party launcher installed.

Performance

Our Samsung Galaxy S10+ review unit is running the Snapdragon 855 CPU with the Adreno 640 GPU, 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. These are, of course, flagship specs which you should expect from a US$999 phone.

So it goes without saying that the Galaxy S10+ has no problem getting through everyday tasks with ease. Web browsing, email, social media, gaming, texting, phone calls, everything you do with your phone runs like a champ on the S10+.

Scrolling is smooth and clean, pinch to zoom is accurate and without stutter, everything just feels like a well-oiled machine. This is exactly what we would expect from a flagship phone. Multi-tasking and dual-window had no issues whatsoever. With the Snapdragon 855 and Adreno 640 paired with that 6GB of RAM, you should be able to muscle through everything.

The hardware also performed well, the physical buttons are all tactile and give good feedback. The one area that falls under performance that I covered in the display section is the ultrasonic fingerprint scanner. I love the idea and it does work. but there were times it was slow or failed to unlock the phone at all.

The bottom line is that Samsung makes great hardware and their flagship phones contain great hardware that excels in performance. No one will be disappointed with the performance of this smartphone.

Speakers/Sound

Stereo speakers or get off my lawn! At least for flagship phones, stereo speakers should just be a default now. But not all stereo speakers are created equal. Apple’s iPhone XS Max has some of the best speakers on a flagship phone right now. The Google Pixel 3 XL stereo speakers are okay but I found them to be a bit rattly when the volume was past 50%.

The Samsung Galaxy S10+ stereo speakers fall somewhere in between the two aforementioned devices. The speakers are loud and the sound is full but I failed to get the same level of clean and balanced tone as I did from the iPhone. I generally don’t compare phones in my reviews but these are flagship devices and the comparisons sometimes just fall into place.

This is not to say the speakers are horrible or awful. I think they’re fine for most and they’re certainly better than a single speaker and most users are going to be happy with these speakers and probably think I’m an idiot for saying they’re not the greatest. Basically, I think most users buying this phone won’t complain.

S10+ review
Speaker

The Samsung Galaxy S10+ also comes with a headphone jack, something the iPhone and the Pixel 3 XL lack. This isn’t a huge deal to me but I know there are plenty of users out there who still covet the headphone jack and Samsung is still catering to them for good reason. Many people will simply buy a Galaxy because it has the headphone jack, so that is a good move here by Samsung.

Overall, the sound on the Galaxy S10+ is above average but does fall a little short of its closest competitor. But not by much and I am probably just splitting hairs.

Camera

Here we go, camera time. Like other OEMs, Samsung is doing a ton with the camera this year, or should I say CAMERAS. This thing has five cameras in total, three on the back and 2 on the front. One thing Samsung does well is overkill, pack in as many features as possible because more is better.

Honestly, this is the way of things now. I think Google is currently the only flagship that’s not packing dual or triple rear cameras. Never mind the rumors that the Pixel 4 XL will sport dual-cameras, we’re talking the here and now.

Let’s run down a list of camera features on the Samsung Galaxy S10+:

  • Food mode: Adjusts settings for best food photos
  • Panorama mode: Takes panorama photos
  • Pro mode: Control ISO, AF, aperture, white balance and more
  • Live focus: Basically Samsung’s Portrait Mode. You can adjust the blur level, spin level, zoom level, and color point.
  • Photo mode: This is basically your auto everything camera (which is the one 99% of users will use). Here you can choose from your three lenses in the back. wide angle, regular, and telephoto.
  • Video mode: Records 4K video
  • Super slow-mo: Records motion at a super slow frame rate
  • Slow motion: Records motion at a slow frame rate
  • Bixby Vision: This helps you identify objects and products by pointing the camera at it. Bixby will try and identify what it is looking at and look it up on the web for you.
  • AR Emoji: This allows you to create an AR emoji of yourself that you can share via text messages.

There are even more features deep in the settings menu of the camera app, so much you would be reading for hours.

For our testing, we just used the camera as most people would, right out of the box point and shoot and none of the extras.

Samsung has always made great cameras and they’re among the best in any smartphone. I do think that the way Samsung processes their photos in software is different from Apple and Google, so the results aren’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea.

Samsung Galaxy S10
Front facing camera live focus

That being said, I do think the photos produced by the Samsung Galaxy S10+ are excellent. They are a bit more saturated, like Samsung likes to do, than I like but this is a preference. I also felt that the contrast wasn’t as great as other phones and felt like highlights were blown out a bit. That’s not to say this camera doesn’t produce great pictures, it absolutely does.

I just think that everyone is going to have a different take on the photos that come out of these cameras. Check out the gallery of photos and judge for yourself.

Overall, the camera is great. Samsung users already love their cameras and Samsung isn’t going to disappoint them here. I think the people that will complain about the Samsung Galaxy S10+ camera will be those who are using a different phone and simply want their phone to be the better one.

Reception/Call Quality

Bluetooth reception is excellent, as is Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity with no issues at all. Call quality is equally good and the speakerphone is great. Overall, there are no issues at all with these categories. For as long as Samsung has been doing this, these two should be a given to work well.

Battery Life

With a 4,100mAh battery, I was able to get through two days of use easily. There were some days I didn’t make it two days but that was with heavier use of video and media. Battery life should please most users and for the price of the phone, it should at least last a full day and more.

Price/Value

Starting at US$999.99, the Samsung Galaxy S10+ is far from being a budget smartphone. Most people aren’t going to buy this phone outright but they’re probably going to make payments via a carrier. At this point, I think users have to make up their own minds if these flagship prices are worth it to them.

There are other phones that are cheaper with similar specifications and could be good alternatives. This is not to say the phone isn’t worth the money. There are a ton of features that Samsung offers that are well worth it but in this ever-growing landscape of smartphones, the choice becomes harder.

Wrap Up

Samsung users are going to love this phone. I know many users who have been using Samsung phones for a very long time and they will not use anything else. For those users, the Samsung Galaxy S10+ is a winner. iPhone users looking to switch to Android will also love this phone.

The way I see it, prices for flagship phones are crazy but people are willing to pay the price. Both Apple and Samsung users will pay the price without question.

The S10+ has a premium build using premium materials. It also has a fantastic camera and all the performance you’ll ever need. I think most of you have already made up your minds before you ever started reading this review.

*We received a review unit of the Samsung Galaxy S10+ for the purposes of this review.

Samsung Galaxy S10+

US$999.99
9.7

Design

9.5/10

Display

10.0/10

Software

9.5/10

Performance

10.0/10

Speakers/Sound

9.5/10

Camera

9.5/10

Reception/Call Quality

10.0/10

Battery Life

10.0/10

Price/Value

9.0/10

Nailed it

  • Samsung keeps refining the design
  • Build quality is off the charts
  • Samsung still makes some of the best display technology
  • New Samsung UI is actually very nice
  • Great performance breezes through everything
  • Great dual speakers
  • Another great camera system
  • Excellent battery life

Needs work

  • 2019 flagship pricing may turn some away
  • The glass is curved so much your palm sometimes activates the touch display
  • Camera is excellent but results are going to be subjective
  • In display fingerprint sensor is hit and miss

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