If you are looking for a new high-end Android smartphone, you cannot ignore the Samsung Galaxy S10. What are the pros and cons and is it better than the competition? We find out in this extensive Samsung Galaxy S10 review.
Samsung Galaxy S10MSRP € 899,-
Colors Green, Black, White, Blue
OS Android 9.0 (One UI)
Screen 6.1 inch OLED (3040 x 1440)
Processor 2.7GHz octa-core (Samsung Exynos 9820)
Storage 128GB or 512GB (expandable)
Camera 12, 12 and 16 megapixels (rear), 10 megapixels (front)
Connectivity 4G (LTE), Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi, GPS, NFC
Format 14.9 x 7 x 0.8 cm
Weight 157 grams
Other Heart rate monitor, under-display fingerprint scanner, headphone port
Website www.samsung.com/en 8 Score 80
- Update Policy
- Excellent hardware
- Premium, modern housing
- Many commercial apps included
- Glass back is very smooth
- Battery charges relatively slowly
Samsung Galaxy S10 review after price drop
The Samsung Galaxy S series consists of three devices for the first time this year. In addition to the regular S10 and the larger S10 Plus, Samsung also sells the S10e. This model has a smaller display and less good hardware, and is therefore cheaper.
Speaking of prices: all three S10 variants have dropped significantly in price after their release on March 8. The suggested retail price of the S10e was 749 euros, but at the time of publication you get the smartphone for less than 600 euros. The regular S10 was released for 899 and is now for sale for 760 euros. And the S10 Plus of no less than 999 euros is now sold for 880 euros. These are price drops of between twelve and twenty percent in just over a month.
There is no official explanation for the rapidly falling prices. In general, it means that a smartphone does not sell well (enough), but Samsung says it is satisfied with the sales figures. In any case, lower prices are good news for you as a consumer, because you get the same smartphone for less money. Keep that in mind when reading the Galaxy S10 Plus review from my colleague Joris.
Design: beware, slippery
The Samsung Galaxy S10 has a sleek and modern appearance. The front consists almost entirely of screen, with a hole for the selfie camera at the top right. The vertical screen edges are rounded, a design choice that you have seen on more expensive Samsung devices for years. On the back you will find a triple camera module, which is slightly thicker than the rest of the housing. The bulge is so minimal that the smartphone does not wobble when it is placed on the table with the screen up. So you don't have to worry about that.
You may find the camera hole in the screen disturbing, but I quickly got used to it. You can argue whether this solution is better than a traditional screen notch. Less pleasant is the placement of the on and off button. It's on the right side, near the top. As a right-handed user with average hands, I find the knob placed too high.
The S10 is a solid smartphone that can probably take a beating. Still, a case is not an unnecessary luxury, especially because the glass back is very smooth. The device slips out of your hand(s) quite quickly, especially if you have wet fingers. In addition, the glass is sensitive to fingerprints and vulnerable to fall and impact damage. The advantage is that the smartphone supports wireless charging - something I will discuss in more detail later. It is nice that the Galaxy S10 is water and dust resistant and has a 3.5 mm headphone jack. This wired audio port is no longer standard on more expensive smartphones.
Display with special fingerprint scanner
The screen of the Galaxy S10 measures 6.1 inches and that is quite large, especially compared to smartphones from a few years ago. It is therefore difficult to use the phone with one hand. Yet the device is smaller than you may think, which is due to the minimal bezels around the screen. They make a smartphone physically larger, but the S10 has very narrow screen edges. The curved sides give the display a futuristic look and make swiping from the screen edges more pleasant. There are also disadvantages: the edges reflect more than the rest of the screen and you often accidentally touch something.
Like the Huawei P30 Pro and OnePlus 7, the Samsung Galaxy S10 has a fingerprint scanner under the screen. But where the first two devices use an optical scanner, Samsung opts for an ultrasonic scanner. It should be more accurate and safer. By placing your finger on the designated spot on the display, the device unlocks. The scanner has a clear learning curve. Because the unlock screen is off and the scanner is in the display, you can't feel or see where to place your finger. After a few days this went well and I am quite positive about the scanner. He is fast and almost always works. I like it as much as the scanner on the Huawei P30 Pro - which I used for the S10. The key question is whether a fingerprint scanner under the display is an improvement over a 'normal' scanner, for example on the back of your device. Not as far as I'm concerned, and I'm talking about ease of use, speed and accuracy.
The display itself is fantastic, by the way. That's no surprise: Expensive Samsung smartphones invariably have excellent screens, which come from their own factory. The S10 uses a 6.1-inch OLED panel with a razor-sharp qhd resolution. The screen has a very good contrast, can be very bright and dimmed and shows very nice colors.
Hardware: the best of the best
As you would expect from an expensive smartphone, the Galaxy S10 has a set of impressive specifications. They are identical to those of the S10 Plus. The powerful Exynos processor and 8GB of RAM make the device lightning fast. Also all popular games run without problems. The storage memory is standard 128GB, which means that you can store a lot of photos, videos and apps. Conveniently, you can increase the memory with a micro SD card.
The S10 also offers support for the latest and fastest form of WiFi, has Bluetooth 5.0 and an NFC chip for contactless payment, for example. 5G support is also missing. Samsung sells a special S10 with 5G abroad, but it will not come out here because the Netherlands will not get a 5G network until 2020 at the earliest.
Battery life and charging
The battery of the Galaxy S10 is not removable and has a capacity of 3400 mAh. That is usual for a high-end smartphone with this screen size. For the past few weeks I've been able to go on for a long day without worry and I usually had between 15 and 25 percent power left late at night. If you are a heavy user, for example because you play a lot of games, the battery can run out before going to sleep. On the other hand: if you take it easy, you probably only have to take a plug after two days. All in all, the battery life is good enough, although there are devices that last longer.
Charging can be done in two ways. The supplied plug charges the battery with 15W, which means that the battery is fully charged within two hours. That's not so fast. Competing devices from OnePlus and Huawei charge faster thanks to 30W or even 40W chargers. Even the Samsung Galaxy A50 and Motorola Moto G7 Plus, devices that cost less than 300 euros, have chargers of 25W and 27W.
You can also charge the Galaxy S10 wirelessly with a Qi charging station. Wireless charging is possible with a maximum of 12W and because of the lower speed is especially interesting if you are not in a hurry. For example, because your device is on the wireless charger overnight. If you want to quickly refuel some power, it is better to use the wired charger. The S10 can also wirelessly charge other equipment. If you place the device with the screen side down, you can place another Qi-enabled product on the back. For example, you can charge a modern electric toothbrush, the new AirPods or another smartphone with the power of the S10. Nice, but it takes a long time to load and a lot of energy is lost. Moreover, it is not practical that you cannot use your S10. There is therefore a good chance that you will hardly use this function.
Three cameras are good, but not the best
The Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus have the same three cameras on the back. It concerns a primary 12-megapixel lens, a 16-megapixel wide-angle lens and a 12-megapixel telephoto camera. The latter offers 2x optical zoom and is missing on the cheaper Galaxy S10e. Is that bad? Not as far as I'm concerned. With the optical zoom, you can bring an object closer without sacrificing quality. Nice, and it works well. However, twice the zoom isn't much, so its usefulness is limited. The difference with the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom (799 euros, 5x optical zoom) is big, and Huawei's P30 Pro (999 euros) does even better. The S10's telephoto lens is a nice extra, but I hope to see a more advanced zoom system on the Note 10.
I am more enthusiastic about the primary camera. In sufficient light, it shoots very nice pictures, with good colors and a large dynamic range. In short: a very solid camera. It is more difficult in the dark, but you can still take nice pictures - even without a flash. He has to lose out to the more expensive Huawei P30 Pro, the smartphone camera with the best night mode.
The portrait mode of the S10 camera works very nicely and you can use all kinds of cool extras, including filming in ultra-slow-motion in a high video resolution.
Below you can see three photos from the primary S10 camera, shot in automatic mode.
The third camera on the S10 (Plus) is a wide-angle lens. It zooms out to 0.5 times, as it were, so that you can capture a larger part of the environment. This works properly, although sometimes you cannot avoid a fishbowl effect. Some objects appear skewed or convex. Nevertheless, the wide-angle camera is a nice addition that I would like to see on all smartphones.
Because a picture is worth a thousand words, you can view the three S10 wide-angle photos below. These were shot on automatic mode right after the regular photo, in exactly the same place.
Software and updates
At its release, the Galaxy S10 ran on Android 9.0 (Pie) with Samsung's OneUI shell. OneUI is the latest version of Samsung's own software layer. According to the manufacturer, the shell is optimized for large smartphone screens and places important buttons and settings at the bottom of the display. Text is positioned more at the top. That's right, with three screenshots to illustrate. OneUI works great and looks fresh, thoughtful and modern. In my opinion, the software could be a bit quieter, especially in terms of color use.
Years ago, Samsung installed dozens of its own apps on its devices, to the frustration of some of the users. Fortunately, that era is behind us: on the Galaxy S10 you can choose which Samsung apps you do and do not want to install.
Even Samsung's mediocre digital assistant Bixby has been improved. You can set that pressing the special Bixby button (on the left side) starts your favorite app or performs an action. For example, turning on or off WiFi or Bluetooth. If you press the button twice, Bixby will start - unfortunately you can't escape that. The digital help is still messy and stupid, and does not speak Dutch. It would be good for Samsung to make Bixby optional, because Dutch consumers are better off with the Google Assistant.
Samsung guarantees software support until February 2021, which is two years after the release of the S10. The manufacturer "striving" to give the smartphone a security update every month during that period. In recent years, expensive Galaxy's received two to three major Android updates. This probably also applies to the S10 series.
Conclusion: Buy Samsung Galaxy S10?
It's not a surprise, but the Samsung Galaxy S10 is an excellent smartphone. The device has a beautiful design, a fantastic display and all the specifications you expect in a flagship. The OneUI software works fine, the three good cameras give you many options and the battery lasts a day without any problems. However, it is not a ten. The battery charges quite slowly, the Bixby assistant remains in the way and the new fingerprint scanner does not feel like an improvement. And the days when Samsung's best smartphone had the best camera are behind us with the Huawei P30 Pro.
When it was released, I would not have wholeheartedly recommended the Samsung Galaxy S10, which is mainly because it cost 899 euros at the time. That's a lot of money for a smartphone. Now that the device has dropped considerably in price, it is also a better buy.
If the S10 appeals to you but you find it too big and/or too expensive, you can look at the S10e. It has a smaller screen and costs less, but also cuts down on a few specifications. If you are looking for a larger S10, you can go to the - more expensive - S10 Plus. Samsung offers something for everyone. Only when you are looking for the best smartphone camera, you can better look at Huawei.