Every year, Samsung comes out with a couple of flagship smartphones in the Galaxy S line that offer incremental updates over their predecessors. The upgrades may not look dramatically different on the face of it, but you can bet good money that the experience gets consistently better year after year. The Galaxy S10+ is an incremental update over last year’s Galaxy S9+, so it looks and feels familiar from a distance. But using the Galaxy S10+ offers a whole new experience and that’s because the flagship is all about the little details.
The Galaxy S10+ is Samsung’s excess flagship, by which I mean it brings the most of everything. It gets the most display, the most RAM and storage, the most cameras and the largest battery among the three Galaxy S10 phones. The Galaxy S10+ brings the best that Samsung has to offer for the first half of 2019. It is probably Samsung’s best flagship as well. But just to be sure, we decided to review the Galaxy S10+ after using it for over a week.
Galaxy S10+ design
The Galaxy S10+ is a gorgeous phone. The design hasn’t changed much from last year, but Samsung doesn’t need to change what works. The Galaxy S10+ continues the traditional dual curved edges and a glass and metal sandwich. On first glance, the Galaxy S10+ looks no different than the Galaxy S9+. But you can feel the difference when you hold it. The Galaxy S10+ is incredibly lightweight for a phone that is loaded with hardware and features.
At just 175 grams, the Galaxy S10+ is easy to hold and offers a great in-hand feel thanks to its curved design. The phone feels sturdy and offers a slim form factor. The Galaxy S10+ is still pretty tall, which makes it difficult to reach the top of the display with one hand, but that’s exactly why we have One UI. But more on that later. The power button is also placed higher up on the right side of the frame, which requires some readjustment to reach. I feel the Bixby button on the left side has the best position and it would have been great if Samsung allowed us to swap the two functions.
While the front of the Galaxy S10+ gets a stronger Gorilla Glass 6 protection, the back is protected by a Gorilla Glass 5. The phone is offered in Prism Black. Prism White, Prism Blue colours. There is a Ceramic Black colour as well that is reserved for the 512GB variant while the Porcelain White option is available for the 1TB storage variant. I received the Prism Blue colour for review, which is subtle and a personal favorite, although many have been loving the Prism White for its gradient effect.
The Galaxy S10+ is incredibly lightweight for a phone that is loaded with hardware and features.
Theoretically, the rear panel is weaker and more susceptible to scratches compared to the front panel, but I did not notice any major scratches or scuffs during the two weeks I used it without a cover. Fingerprints and smudges are prominently visible on the Blue variant, which is where I feel the White option really helps.
As I mentioned, the Galaxy S10+ is all about the little details. I appreciate Samsung sticking to its guns and retaining the headphone jack this year. The bezels have reduced even further than before. The Bixby button can be (kind of) remapped. You also get stereo speakers (bottom grille and earpiece), and a Type-C port. But there are still some annoyances to the design.
There are two big changes to the design of the S10+ compared to its predecessor. One is the camera setup on the back. The S10+ gets three cameras now horizontally placed near the center. The other is the position of the fingerprint sensor, which has moved from the back to under the display on the front.
But S10+ is a new phone, and with that you get a new Samsung Infinity-O display, where the O stands for the O-shaped cutout on the display to house the selfie camera. But the S10+ comes with a slightly wide, pill-shaped hole on the top right corner because it gets dual selfie cameras.
Galaxy S10+ display
The Galaxy S10+ sports a large, gorgeous 6.4-inch QHD+ (3040×1440) Dynamic AMOLED display with a 19:9 aspect ratio, 522ppi and HDR10+ support. And just on first look, you will be hard-pressed to fault the display panel used by Samsung. The Galaxy S10+ offers a stunning OLED display, which comes as no surprise.
It might sound repetitive but Samsung really does make some of the best display panels on a smartphone. It is possible that the Galaxy S10+ offers the best screen on a smartphone right now. The new Dynamic AMOLED display offers deeper contrast, better dynamic range and excellent viewing angles. You can switch to a Natural mode in the display settings if you want the colours to look less saturated and more natural to the eyes. The display can offer up to 1200 nits peak brightness which is more than enough to make the display legible even under the harshest sunlight.
It is possible that the Galaxy S10+ offers the best screen on a smartphone right now.
From the colours on screen to the contrast, everything looks absolutely fantastic. The QHD+ resolution and HDR10+ support offer a lot of sharpness, which is especially great for watching HDR videos. You won’t really notice the difference much even if you tone it down to FHD+ resolution, and it also helps save some battery life as well.
The Galaxy S10-series brings a new Samsung Infinity-O display, where the O stands for the O-shaped cutout on the display to house the selfie camera. But with the S10+, the cutout is wider and pill-shaped compared to the regular S10. The bigger hole is to house dual selfie cameras.
Last year, we had notched phones. Notches were distracting, but ultimately we had to get used to it and it became easier after a while. With the hole-punch display, I have to say that I was able to get used to it a lot faster. In fact, the pill-shaped cutout placed on the top right corner often escaped by sight. It is easier to ignore it while watching movies or playing games, and especially while One UI’s Night Mode is enabled. If you still find it distracting, you have the option to hide the cutout by blackening the entire top bar.
Galaxy S10+ performance and software
The Galaxy S10+ gets the same Exynos 9820 chipset as the Galaxy S10 in India. It’s an octa-core chipset based on a 8nm process that comes with a dedicated NPU and Mali-G76 MP12 GPU. The Plus-sized model comes with up to 12GB of RAM and up to 1TB of internal storage, which reiterates my point that the phone is all about excess. I received the 8GB RAM variant for review, and let me tell you that it is all the RAM that you will need.
Right out of the box, the Galaxy S10+ performs as fast as you would imagine. Two weeks later, the flagship is still snappy as ever. Apps opened swiftly and browsing through the UI was fluid. The chipset is a smooth and efficient operator, staying cool even under duress like playing games like PUBG on the absolute highest graphics settings. With 8GB of RAM, you won’t have to worry about the phone hanging on you while you multitask. Games run incredibly smooth with no lag and browsing through heavy apps and websites is buttery smooth as well.
Samsung’s new One UI based on Android Pie nicely compliments what is a terrific hardware. It has taken a while, but I feel One UI is Samsung’s best, ost sorted software experience yet. One UI is designed to make the UI easy to use on larger phones. Samsung apps have been redesigned to offer action buttons on the bottom half of the display, leaving the top half for the header and content. There’s a lot of blank space this way, but I don’t mind it. It feels less cluttered and easier on the eyes. It is especially great for parents or grandparents who want an easy, no mess UI.
One UI brings a new gesture navigation, which is a little difficult to get used to. My favorite feature is the system-wide Night Mode which turns the background pitch black, which looks fantastic and deep on the AMOLED display. There is some bloatware still, and you should be mindful of downloading some Samsung apps that push out annoying ads.
The Ultrasonic fingerprint sensor is a major new feature that is seen for the first time on the Galaxy S10 and S10+. The technology uses sound waves to register a 3D model of your fingerprint. It is supposedly more accurate and faster than the optical in-display fingerprint sensor, and after two weeks of using it, i have to say it is true.
The ultrasonic fingerprint sensor has ruined every other in-display fingerprint sensor for me.
I won’t deny it, the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor has ruined me. The sensor is intuitive and works mostly flawlessly. Even with a thin screen guard on top, the sensor had no trouble recognising my fingerprint. All you have to do is lightly tap the surface of the designated area and the phone unlocks in a snap. The ripple animation is a nice touch and makes the whole process feel smooth and fluid. There is also a face unlock feature that isn’t as secure as Apple’s Face ID as it does not make a 3D map of the face.
The stereo speakers on the Galaxy S10+ delivers a clear sound quality and good volume levels. Call quality is absolutely clear and I also did not experience any call drops during the review period.
Galaxy S10+ camera
The Galaxy S10+ offers some great cameras, that’s not so different than what we got last year with the Galaxy S9-series. But that’s also the problem. We are moving towards the age of computational photography where companies like Huawei, Google and Oppo are offering dedicated Night modes that are able to capture really impressive low-light shots. Today, even Samsung’s innovating Dual Aperture feature falls short. Samsung is yet to offer its own dedicated Night Mode and it is a feature that is desperately missing on the Galaxy S10-series.
The Galaxy S10+ comes with the same triple camera setup as the regular S10. So you get a 12MP f/2.4 telephoto lens with OIS and autofocus, a 12MP wide-angle lens with Dual Aperture (f/1.5-2.4), and a 16MP ultra wide-angle f/2.2 sensor. On the front, the S10+ gets a 10MP f/1.9 main camera and a 8MP f/2.2 depth camera with support for Live Focus.
This is a pretty sweet camera setup that offers you more ways to shoot and capture an image compared to a typical dual camera setup. With a press of a button, you can quickly switch between a standard wide-angle, ultra wide-angle and telephoto. You also get options like Live Photo, Pro mode, Food, Super Slow-mo, Hyperlapse, and there is even a dedicated Instagram mode, which directly opens Instagram right after you have clicked a picture so you can share it instantly.