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Hands-on review: Samsung’s outstanding Galaxy S10

By Tom Richmond
Wed 6 Mar 2019
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Samsung recently announced the launch of their annual flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S10.

Set to be launched alongside the larger S10+ and the cut-price S10e, this year’s phone promises to please Android lovers and perhaps even tempt more Apple lovers to jump ship from iOS.

In June, it will be 10 years since Samsung launched the first Galaxy device. A decade on, they continue to set the standard, along with Apple, for the ultimate smartphone.

I’ve been using the S10 for over a week now, and despite being an iPhone adopter since 2009, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with the device.

Specs

The Galaxy S10 sports a 6.1” dynamic AMOLED 3040 x 1440 (Quad HD+) display which, in short, is by far the best on the market.

The screen covers practically the entire front of the device thanks to a reduction in bezel size compared to last year’s S9.

Furthermore, Samsung has again decided against the use of any notches, and instead opted for a ‘punch-hole’ in the screen to house the 10MP front-facing camera.

You’ll either love or hate this change, but I found it didn’t obstruct my view whilst streaming videos and browsing social media. Cleverly, a number of Samsung’s pre-installed wallpapers have darkened corners to make the camera less noticeable.   

The back of the S10 features three cameras which, again, I’d say are currently the best available on a smartphone.

The S10 packs a typical 3400mAh battery which can be charged wirelessly or fast charged via USB-C.

For me, one of the most impressive features is Wireless PowerShare - this allows you to charge other devices wirelessly through your device, whether it be earphones, a smartwatch, (or even your friend’s iPhone!)

In an increasingly wireless world, you’ll also be happy to hear that the headphone jack has survived for another year.

Design

Samsung’s Galaxy devices are normally one of the prettiest smartphones on the market thanks to their ultra-crisp displays and their overall sleek design, and the S10 is no different.

The device itself is a pleasure to hold and at 157g it feels like a sturdy and premium phone.

The only physical buttons on the device are the volume slider, the lock button and, annoyingly, Samsung’s Bixby button, although this can now be mapped to a function of your choice.

Samsung has dropped the iris scanner, but still retained the ability to use facial recognition to unlock your phone.

One of the biggest changes this year is the migration of the fingerprint scanner from the front to the back of the device. The technology has advanced too - the S10 now uses Ultrasonic technology, built into the screen which uses sound waves to increase the speed and accuracy of the scanner. Early problems with this, however, have been discovered when using certain screen protectors.

In terms of design, the Galaxy S10 feels several years ahead of Apple’s iPhone XS.

Cameras

Samsung has gone all out this year with their flagship. The S10 packs a total of four cameras - one on the front, and three on the rear.

The ‘selfie’ camera is 10-megapixels and performs well in low light, but the real magic lies within the aforementioned lenses on the back of the phone.

You can easily switch between the standard and telephoto cameras, both of which are 12-megapixels, but the showpiece lies in the ultra-wide-angle 16-megapixel camera which produces stunning images at the touch of a button.

Low-light images using the Night Sight feature are the best you’ll find on any smartphone. Another feature, Best Shot, uses an algorithm that directs you towards the best shot in aand takes the picture for you.

Performance

I typically found that a full charge would comfortably last me a day with regular use, which is around average.

Samsung has included an Octa Core processor and doubled the RAM from the S9 to 8GB. You have just two storage options for the S10 - 128GB or 512GB, but you also have the option to increase the memory by a further 512GB via microSD - something Apple has never offered.

The S10 is incredibly fast, and the best and smoothest experience I’ve had with an Android. The devices will be shipped installed with Android 9 Pie at launch on Friday.

Verdict

The Galaxy S10 both fulfilled and exceeded my expectations. The power of the device makes it more of a mini computer than a top-of-the-range smartphone.

As more iPhone users toy with the idea of moving over to Android, I predict the S10 could be more of a reason than ever for them to do so.

The fact is, there are both pros and cons to each operating system, and it all comes down to personal preference.

If you’re willing to spend around $2,000 on a phone, the chances are you’re considering either an Apple or a Samsung.

For me, I’m going to try and hang onto my ageing iPhone until September when Apple usually announces its new device, then I’ll make up my mind.

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