The Galaxy S10 Review: Less but not Lesser

The Galaxy S10 is the 10th-anniversary phone for Samsung. Major changes include a punch hole edge to edge display for its front camera and a triple-lens rear camera that include a wide, ultra-wide and a telephoto lens.

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The Samsung Galaxy S10 is a head turner. Samsung has used premium materials in its construction. You get a glass-aluminum sandwich which they have been refining from the Galaxy S6. Corning Gorilla Glass 6 is present at the front and Gorilla Glass 5 at the back. This should also help the phone resist scratches from day-to-day and also from accidental drops. The S10 is placed awkwardly in the middle of S10+ and S10e. It has to justify the best of both worlds to be a good buy. For this review, I am going to divide it into the following sections:

  • Display
  • Design and Build quality
  • Cameras
  • Biometrics
  • Software and Performance
  • Battery and Charging Speed

Display

The display on the GS10 is the very best you can get on any phone in the world. The real stunner that will take all of your attention, though, is the latest Dynamic AMOLED display.  The GS10 has a 6.1-inch Super AMOLED display. The  QuadHD+ panel boasts 550ppi which is denser than the Galaxy S10+ because of a smaller screen. The display is now HDR10+ certified that means you will be able to enjoy HDR content on it, though only selective content is available. The ultrasonic in-display fingerprint scanner on the Galaxy S10 resides under the display. You can also hide the punch hole by going into display settings.

Design and Build quality

Samsung has refined on this same basic design concept since 2015, slowly changing the proportions, stretching the edges and increasing the scale with each subsequent phone. It’s been a successful one to be sure; it’s more than a coincidence that just about every high-end smartphone has coalesced to look like the phones Samsung’s been making since 2015. The phone is ergonomically designed to sit on the hand without causing too much strain.

So Samsung can’t be blamed here for keeping the same design for GS10. The GS10 is a compact yet brilliantly designed phone. The phone is fully beefed up in terms of raw specs and hardware. You get an expandable memory card via micro SD card slot which doubles as a secondary sim card, a headphone jack, a USB-C port, Stereo Speakers. It is a true content consumption device. Also, you get double the base storage than in GS9. So there’s your treat.

What I like about the device is you can watch hours of Netflix, YouTube and you don’t feel the strain in your hands by holding the device. Also, the device is a conversation starter.

Cameras

The Galaxy S10 leans on the same main and telephoto camera pairing we saw in the Galaxy S9+, Note 9. That means a 12MP “Dual Pixel” sensor behind each lens, with a variable f/1.7 or f/2.4 aperture on the main and f/2.4 on the telephoto. Fine, but not necessarily new. The major upgrade in the camera department is upgraded with built-in DRAM, which now helps in taking multiple photos to stitch together and also in the super slo-mo video which now can be recorded up to 0.4 sec which is double the previous gen.

The thing that supposed to make up for the old hardware is software and post-processing. Samsung is yet again promising big about AI and an NPU providing new-and-improved photo quality. It certainly succeeds in creating great-looking photos, although the level to which it has improved over the Galaxy S9 and Note 9 is entirely questionable.

The photos are just great. Low light photography is just better than its older sibling Note 9 but the margin are really thin. But that a good thing as Note 9 was already a beast on its own. The only disappointment is that it still lacks behind the Google Pixel 3. The night mode on Pixel is just phenomenal, which the bright night on Samsung is miles behind. Bright night can’t be triggered manually and also for the bright night to work, the scene optimizer should be turned on. Considering the Galaxy S10’s camera sensor has large pixels and a very wide aperture, it’s surprising to see such mediocre performance in super-dark scenes where (admittedly few) other companies have figured it out. The best way to get the best shot is by using the Pro mode, where we can manually adjust for the desired environment.

But the best part of having GS10 is the ultra-wide lens, its new 16MP lens having the field of view of 123° similar to that of the human eye is just amazing. Though the quality is not that of the level of the main lens and it lacks OIS, but nonetheless, it’s really fun to use the unique perspectives and also you aren’t trading anything here.

Also, the main enhancement is in the video department. Now there is not a limit to shooting a 4K60FPS video like on GS9 and Note10. Also, you can shoot super steady video as that does a pretty good job but the quality is only up to FHD. Not only HR10+ is supported by the display of GS10 but also it can record video at HDR10+ which is a big feature.

Biometrics

Going all out is what Samsung did here too. The fingerprint scanner is underneath the display here. And unlike the competition, Samsung chose to go ultrasonic here which is I think the best choice if you are doing In-display fingerprint Scanner. The scanner is fast, accurate and reliable than most optical scanner but compared to the capacitive one it’s nowhere close. There is no situation in which the GS10’s fingerprint scanner is faster or more reliable than the S9’s.

Having the scanner on the display adds the benefit of being able to unlock your phone while it’s sitting on the table or pulling out of your pocket. But the scanner needs a lot of work to do. First, you need to subconsciously guess the ‘Perfect Spot’ in the display. There is a learning curve to using the ultrasonic sensor, once you learn how to use it, the scanner becomes less hustle to use.

There is an option for facial unlock too but it’s a less secure method compared to that of the fingerprint scanner. But it is blazing fast.

Software and Performance

The software really came to personal preferences. I do like the software on the GS10. It’s the best Samsung software yet. Its feature packed like the TouchWiz and Samsung Experience was but a little bit neat and clean. The One UI has pretty neat tricks up its sleeves. The ease for one-handed mode, dark mode, clean gestures control, switching the navigation buttons, changing the home, lock and AOD screen to anything you chose. In short, the entire software experience is sleek, consistent, modern and filled with features. Some changes lead to a difference of opinion based on personal taste, like the colors, icons and overtly rounded interface elements, but nothing is objectively bad here.

One thing is for sure when it comes to the performance aspect, GS10 is a beast in itself. You get double the storage and RAM here, i.e. 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage on the base model and on top of that, you get the top of line Snapdragon 855 or Exynos 9820 processor depending upon the reason. Here in Nepal, Exynos 9820 is available but it is no slouch. With the best in class specs, performance is fast and flawless. Apps launch time are quick thanks to UFS 2.1 and also games perform well. Multitasking is a boon for the size of the screen. The biggest thing that matters while using a phone is its consistency and that you get without a complaint in GS10.

Battery and Charging Speed

A 3400 mAh battery in a similar footprint as in GS9 which has a 3000 mAh battery. Samsung clearly upped the battery game here, which is particularly important since it has a 6.1’ QuadHD display. For my time of use, it clearly lasted a full day and I only have to charge while going to bed. No, the battery life is not as good as it bigger siblings GS10+ but its significantly better in its range. It is a full day phone without an issue.

Samsung has increased wireless charging speeds to 12W, which is fast but not the fastest as of Xiaomi’s new 20W wireless charging. But for Samsung’s credit, it is Qi certified. Samsung is little conservative for increasing the charging speed more from the same 15W (Quick Charge 2.0) due to the Note 7 fiasco, but it’s been nearly 3 years and their standards are no match for what companies are now doing with Quick Charge 4+ or proprietary chargers at up to 44W. But for the Galaxy S10 credit, the battery life lasts long that I haven’t been bothered by its slightly slower charging speeds.

The Review

The Galaxy S10 is the 10th-anniversary phone for Samsung. Major changes include a punch hole edge to edge display for its front camera and a triple-lens rear camera that include a wide, ultra-wide and a telephoto lens. In display fingerprint sensor is the fastest in the market if under the display tech is your jam, also its ultrasonic scanner which is miles ahead on security than optical ones. And a generous bump in base storage which is double than the last year model. Also, an additional reverse wireless charging feature which Samsung calls as Wireless Powershare. That’s a lot of change – just know that it comes at a high price and the Galaxy S10e and S10 Plus flank it from both sides as a better option.

But as a phone, the Galaxy S10 gets close in fulfilling the promise of being the best phone for the widest range of people out there — provided, of course, they’re able to pay $900 (here Rs.1,06,000) or more for a phone to start with. I can recommend a Galaxy S10 to anyone and not worry that it’ll be missing something they want or rely on in a modern high-end smartphone. Once you started liking the One UI, there is no reason to look further.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are your thoughts on it?