TechRadar evaluate Samsung Galaxy S10

6 min


The Samsung Galaxy S10 is engineered and designed to be a conversation-changer, a phone that’s crafted to turn everyone’s yearly question of “Do I really need to upgrade?” into a more exclamatory “I really need to upgrade!”

Image Credit: TechRadarImage Credit: TechRadar

The S10 remains a powerful and attractive phone even after its successor, the Samsung Galaxy S20, launched with 5G capability, improved cameras, and faster speeds than ever. If you don’t need the absolute latest and greatest, the year-old flagship remains a top-tier device with specs and cameras that will still be competitive against 2020’s better phones. Plus the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 will soon be replaced with the Galaxy Note 20, so it’s clear the Galaxy S10 is far from the newest phone from the brand.

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And, as a bonus, they’ve been discounted – being out for a while will have that effect.

There’s also a new budget king on the block: the Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite has a massive 6.7-inch screen with even more cameras than the S10e, plus a few upgrades. If you want to save even more money, and don’t mind a few compromises, this new budget flagship might be worth your while.

In its prime, the 6.1-inch Infinity Display really set the Samsung Galaxy S10 apart. The handset introduces a nearly-edge-to-edge look that stretches top to bottom, with pixels spilling over the curved edges at the sides – there’s no room for big bezels on Samsung’s new smartphone. For the most part, bezels don’t exist here.

Its new Infinity-O screen – also a feature of the bigger Galaxy S10 Plus and cheaper Galaxy S10e – is so large it actually displaces the front camera, consigning it to a small ‘punch-hole’ in the screen. All of the important sensors are neatly tucked behind this vibrant and bright Super AMOLED display.

Also behind the glass is the new ultrasonic fingerprint sensor. You won’t find a fingerprint pad on the back anymore, or anywhere visibly on the phone. Samsung put its sensor – now invisible – on the front, where we feel it belongs.

Samsung Galaxy S10 selfie

Image credit: TechRadar

The Samsung S10 officially makes punch-hole displays a trend after the idea debuted on the Honor View 20, and in-screen fingerprint sensors more mainstream after they appeared on the OnePlus 6T, Huawei Mate 20 Pro and a few Vivo phones.

It’s all designed to achieving that impressive 93.1% screen-to-body ratio on the front of the phone. And, frankly, we like it a bit better than a traditional notch. So far, only the selfie camera on devices like the OnePlus 7 Pro offer a cleaner-looking alternative on a very similar curved display. But Samsung’s punch-hole won’t bug you after a couple of hours with the Galaxy S10.

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Maximization is also the idea behind the Samsung S10’s rear-facing triple-lens camera. Samsung’s camera array has lenses to take normal, telephoto and new ultra-wide photos. The ultra-wide camera is all about capturing more of what’s in front of you without having to back up.

Sure, LG phones have touted ultra-wide camera lenses for years, like the LG V40, but Samsung’s cameras have been more consistent in low-light conditions. The feature is finally in a flagship-level phone you want.

The Samsung S10 also has features everyone can get. Its Wireless PowerShare feature lets you use the back of the S10 to Qi charge another phone or the new Galaxy Buds, cloning the reverse wireless charging idea in the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, a phone that’s not widely available in certain territories, including the US.

The Samsung S10 is an amalgam of other handsets’ single hallmark features packed into one phone, while Samsung pioneers as many technical features as it can cram in – faster Wi-Fi 6 and HDR10+ are both firsts for smartphones. And that’s what Samsung does best really.

The Samsung Galaxy S10 marks a decade of Galaxy S phones, and while there’s been little innovation in recent years from the most popular smartphone brands, including Samsung (Bixby and AR EMoji don’t cut it), the S10 has enough newness to tempt you to upgrade.

Samsung Galaxy S10 lineup

Image Credit: TechRadar

What’s not to like? Well, if you can handle the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus size, it’s our No. 1 pick thanks to its extra battery life, bigger screen and better performance as a gaming phone – and the price hike isn’t so terrible. And if you’re considering the S10 to save money or want a smaller screen, the better value is in the 5.8-inch S10e. Samsung has the best phones for 2019 (so far), but its biggest competition is none other than Samsung.

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Samsung Galaxy S10 release date and price

The Samsung Galaxy S10 release date was Friday, March 8 and it was announced on February 20, with pre-orders opening right away in some countries. In the US, Galaxy S10 pre-orders started on February 21. Now that its successor has launched, the S10’s price has been discounted.

There’s a hitch or two in Samsung’s masterplan to get everyone to upgrade to this particular handset. The  Samsung  S10 launch price was expensive, more so than the Galaxy S9, although it’s markedly better value than the iPhone XS, which was more expensive and has a smaller 5.8-inch screen.

The Galaxy S10e is cheaper and almost as good, while the Galaxy S10 Plus is the phone you’ll want if you can handle its price and screen size – and that’s to say nothing of the Galaxy S10 5G and the Samsung Galaxy Fold, which started at an even higher price.

The Samsung Galaxy S10 price now starts at $749 / £669 / AU$1,149 / AED 3,199 for the 128GB of storage model, meaning you’re spending an additional $180 / £60 / AED 100 on this phone over the S9 launch price.

If you need more storage (and don’t want to use the microSD slot inside the Galaxy S10) you can opt for the 512GB model which costs $1,149 / £999 / AU$1,699.

If you like the look of this phone but think that price is a tad high realize that Apple charges $100 / £200 / AU$430 more for the smaller 5.8-inch iPhone XS with half the internal storage, 64GB.

In certain timely sales and deals, you can sometimes find the Galaxy S10 for up to half price its initial launch price, but these discounts are far from reliable, as they can often be hard to find.

Display

Samsung’s screens are so good “our competitors are even using them”, Samsung brand manager Paul Guzek told TechRadar, an all-too-obvious dig at Apple. It’s hard to disagree.

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In fact, the  Samsung S10’s 6.1-inch 19:9 Super AMOLED display panel looks better than anything Samsung sells its rivals, and it’s been crowned the most color accurate smartphone display ever.

It has elegantly curved edges with pixels that spill over the sides, amped-up brightness for better outdoor visibility, and HDR10+ support for superior contrast and color.

There’s a QHD+ resolution too, which creates a pixel density of 550ppi, ensuring everything on screen is highly detailed. However, the phone defaults to Full HD+, which looks as good and you probably won’t notice a difference on a phone this size, unless you’re using it for VR two inches from your face. It also saves battery life by burning fewer pixels.

Samsung Galaxy S10 typing

Image credit: TechRadar

The new Infinity-O display type is what stands out – for better or worse. Samsung has successfully avoided a notch cut-out at the top of its flagship phones, instead using a laser-cut hole in the top-right corner of the screen to embed the front-facing camera, as on the Honor View 20.

Is a ‘punch-hole’ camera more or less distracting than a notch? From our time with the  Samsung  S10 so far, we’d say less. It sits comfortably to the right in the notification bar, providing plenty of space for the time, battery and connectivity icons, as well as any notifications you may have.

It’s also given Samsung more screen real estate to play with than ever, and don’t let the bigger 6.1-inch screen size scare you off.

The S10’s dimensions are 149.9 x 70.4 x 7.8mm (and it weighs 157g), so it’s only marginally taller and wider than the S9 with its 5.8-inch screen, and noticeably thinner and a bit lighter.

Those marginal increases in height and width are due to the  Samsung S10’s screen-to-body ratio of 93.1% (the S9 was 83.6%). The S10 Plus sports that 6.4-inch screen with the same screen-to-body ratio and a nice size if you can handle it. However, if you’re wary of false corner touches (especially when typing) due to the bezel-less edges, stick with the normal S10.

Bezel does outline the top and bottom of this display, even if we said it wasn’t big. Samsung’s top speaker still reigns, and there’s a thin but noticeable chin across the bottom; it’s less bezel rather than bezel-less.

And the fact that the bottom bezel is larger than the top one catches our eye – it may be more distracting than the punch-hole.

There’s little to dislike regarding the new display – if the Infinity-O doesn’t distract day-to-day, and as mentioned we’ll update this review when we have more hands-on time with the S10.

Read more reviews on Techradar


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