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For many people, the smartphone world has only two players: Samsung and Apple. And realistically, there’s not much chance that people will swap between these two companies.
So it is not surprising that the world of technology stops and carefully observes every time Samsung updates the Galaxy S line in a similar way that it does each time a new iPhone comes out. Fortunately, the Galaxy S10 (Check on Amazon.com) is a great phone and this is due to no small part to the fact that it remained mostly unchanged from last year’s Galaxy S9 (Check on Amazon.com). Samsung simply took it to another level.
It is difficult to find a flaw with the Galaxy S10. It sports fantastic hardware, a stunning display and a myriad of features. The new wide-angle camera is a pleasure to have and the photographic experience is the most complete out there.
Inside the package, we find a 1.67A power adapter, a USB/USB-C cable, a USB to USB-C adapter and a micro USB to USB-C adapter. In addition, we also have the excellent AKG in-ear headphones.
Design and display
Samsung iterates on the same design concept that was first launched with the Galaxy S6, changing the proportions, thinning the edges and increasing the scale with each subsequent phone. It was a huge success then and it’s no coincidence that almost all high-end smartphones are designed to resemble the phones that Samsung made since 2015.
The key theme is efficiency: cramming the best specs into the most compact phone possible. The S10+ (Check on Amazon.com) for example, manages to fit the same screen of the Note 9 (Check on Amazon.com) into a smaller and lighter shell that also has a bigger battery!
Equally impressive is the fact that Samsung managed to keep all of the previous features. A microSD card slot, located next to the SIM. A headphone jack next to the USB-C port at the bottom and stereo speakers.
The only drawback of the design is the accidental activation of the touch display. This is in fact, the first “Infinity display” with which I had problems with accidental activation. Luckily a thin case can definitely “solve” this problem.
The showstopper is definitely the AMOLED display, amazing as always and the new benchmark for all other companies. If I had to choose a phone-based only on the display, I would choose the Galaxy S10. The thing that really impressed me was its brightness and low reflectivity, a combination that makes it visible even under direct sunlight.
New ultrasonic fingerprint sensor
The only controversial decision was Samsung’s switch to an in-display fingerprint sensor. It’s not the first one we see, but it’s the first one to use ultrasonic technology, which means that it uses sound waves, rather than optical technologies.
Put it simply: the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor is not as fast, accurate or easy to use as a modern capacitive fingerprint sensor. This should not come as a surprise since capacitive sensors are a more mature technology while the ultrasonic sensor is still relatively new.
Anyway, if you decide to also use the face unlock, which is faster but not that secure, you will only have to rely on the fingerprint sensor, in order to access secure applications and to make purchases.
Hardware & connectivity
The Samsung Galaxy S10 has the same spec sheet as the Galaxy S10 Plus, so it is a compact variant of the latter, and not a “minor” one (such as the Galaxy S10e).
At its heart, we find the Samsung Exynos 8920, with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal memory expandable via microSD. The MicroSD slot can also accommodate a secondary SIM.
On the front, there is the large 6.1-inch display, and on the upper right corner, we can see the new hole punch notch that houses the single 10-megapixel front camera. On the back, we find a triple camera module equipped with the same 3 sensors of the Galaxy S10 Plus.
What is new in the photographic compartment is the software and processing power. Samsung introduces a new Artificial Intelligence and a Neural Processing Unit (NPU) that guarantees improved photographic quality (at least according to Samsung). It certainly manages to capture great photos, although we are not entirely convinced that it is an improvement over the Galaxy S9+ and Note 9.
Samsung’s camera is incredibly fast in all situations, the interface is easy to use, both the dynamic range and colors are great, and the photos are always bright. It seems that the S10 adds some extra juice to HDR processing, and in certain conditions, you get photos a tad more vivid but the improvements are really subtle (if there are any). Don’t get me wrong this is not a bad thing, it’s just a little disappointing considering that the last generation was also not a huge upgrade compared to the previous year.
This is especially true in photos in low light conditions, where the S10 Plus still lags behind the competition. Photos taken in really dark scenes are usable but nowhere as amazing as the photos obtained by competing smartphones.
All this criticism, however, goes away whenever I use the new 16MP ultra-wide-angle camera. The 123-degree field of view is wonderful for two reasons: it offers a new and fun shooting option that reflects the field of view of the human eye, and it offers a new tool that captures interesting and eye-catching photos in a variety of scenarios.
The quality is not quite on par with the main camera since it has a narrower aperture and no OIS, but the photos are always good in the right lighting. If you upload a lot on Instagram you are going to love it.
Software and Performance
The One UI is based on Android 9 Pie and is actually standardized throughout the Samsung range. It is still the best software from Samsung. Most of the updates made by Samsung are improvements in usability and clarity, with larger buttons and simpler lines. The entire software experience is elegant, consistent, modern and feature-rich.
One UI also has the best performance on the market. The apps are blazing fast, games run fine, multitasking works smoothly, and apps don’t crash for any reason.
Animations are slightly slower than, for example, the OnePlus 6T but I have a feeling that they are slower by design. The thing that maintains the sense of speed across the entire interface is its consistency. Every time you tap on an icon or open an app or change something, everything happens at the same speed. Every time I click on the camera, it opens in the same amount of time. It’s crazy that this is not something that we have come to expect in all phones by now. the Galaxy S10 manages to provide the consistency that many others lack.
Battery life and charging
Samsung has increased the size of the battery (3,400mAh). With normal use, I can easily reach the end of the day with 30% remaining battery.
Samsung also increased wireless charging speeds to 12W, which makes it darn fast, though not the fastest. Sadly, the charging speed via the included charger is the same as the previous S9 and S8. Samsung should have invested in faster charging times. Thankfully, since the battery lasts a full day, I only have to recharge it at night, so the speed isn’t a real concern, for me at least.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 costs (Check on Amazon.com) which are in line with the rest of the family. Is cheaper than S10+ (Check on Amazon.com), but more expensive than the Galaxy S10e (Check on Amazon.com).
Samsung has, once again, set the bar for all other smartphones. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ were solid devices, but Samsung updated and made some major improvements with the S10 and the S10+. The cameras are the same between the two models, and the new wide-angle lens is a pleasure to have and use. The displays are still the most cutting-edge in the industry. Battery life is better, especially on the S10+. We also find the best Samsung software, that offers a solid performance.
The only drawback, if we can call it that, is the in-display fingerprint sensor, which may be a hassle but it isn’t a deal-breaker. No phone is perfect, so there’s that.
The Galaxy S10 comes as close as possible in being the best smartphone for most of us!