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Review

Samsung Galaxy S10+ Review: The best Galaxy before the next frontier!

The new Galaxy S10+ is the annual refresh that is bigger, faster and lasts longer than before. While it offers the best Android experience Samsung has to offer today, is it the smartphone you really want?

samsung galaxy s10 plus review lead

Credit - Rehan Hooda


Highlights

  • The Galaxy S10+comes with three rear and two front cameras.

  • It is the first smartphone with an ultrasonic in-display fingerprint scanner.

  • The Galaxy S10+ is powered by 8nm SoC, up to 12GB RAM and 1TB storage.

The Galaxy S-series smartphones from Samsung are among the highly anticipated premium devices. The fan-favorite series has completed 10 years, and to mark this special occasion, Samsung has released five new smartphones, and three of them have made their way to the Indian shores. There is also a futuristic Galaxy Fold smartphone with a foldable display, but that will arrive at a later stage. For now, let’s talk about the Galaxy S10-series.

This year, Samsung has released a compact and affordable Galaxy S10e, then there is a regular Galaxy S10, and finally, you have the most premium Galaxy S10+, which I am going to talk about in the review. Being an annual refresh, it comes with a powerful and efficient 8nm chipset, up to 12GB RAM and 1TB storage, a better display, and refined design. Samsung has also added an extra camera on the front and the back compared to the Galaxy S9+, meaning you get a total of 5 cameras.

Samsung Galaxy S10+ price in India

With all the new additions in specs and features, the Galaxy S10+ does see a sizeable price hike compared to the Galaxy S9+. The base model with 128GB storage is priced at Rs 73,900, whereas the 512GB model is priced at Rs 91,900. Then there is the most premium model with 1TB storage with 12GB RAM which will set you back by a whopping Rs 117,900. That’s a lot of money, making it the most expensive Galaxy S smartphone to date. Do these additions make the Galaxy S10+ the premium smartphone you really want? Let me answer it in my detailed review below.

Watch: Samsung Galaxy S10 Series First Look

Samsung Galaxy S10+ specifications

Display 6.4-inch Dynamic AMOLED, QHD+ 1440×3040 pixels, 526ppi, 19:9 aspect ratio, Corning Gorilla Glass 6
Processor Samsung’s 8nm Exynos 9820 octa-core SoC
RAM 8GB/12GB
Storage 128GB/512GB/1TB (expandable microSD up to 512GB)
Rear camera 12-megapixel sensor with a wide-angle lens and dual aperture f/1.5 – f2.4
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12-megapixel sensor with a telephoto lens, f/2.4 aperture
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16-megapixel sensor with ultra-wide-angle lens, 123-degree field of view
Front camera 10-megapixel f/1.9 dual pixel PDAF + 8-megapixel f/2.2 depth sensor
Camera features AI scene optimizer, portrait mode (live focus), ultra slow-motion video recording (960fps) for 8 seconds, 4K UHD (60fps), AR Emoji, front camera UHD video recording
OS Android 9 Pie with One UI
Connectivity 4G VoLTE, Dual-SIM, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, (Wi-Fi 6), Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, USB Type-C
Security In-display ultrasonic fingerprint reader, Face Unlock
Battery 4,100mAh with fast charging, wireless and reverse wireless charging

Design: More refined, and gorgeous

Being the 10th-anniversary edition model, I was expecting a radical design change, like what iPhone X was to iPhone 8-series. But for some reason, Samsung went with the already perfected design, and it’s not bad in anyway. The front and back glass design is retained, and it now comes with Corning Gorilla Glass 6 protection.

The frame is made from aluminium and has a stainless steel finish to it, which looks and feels good. Up front, you have a display that stretches from edge to edge with thin borders, the back is clean with just the triple camera modules in the top half.

The power button is on the right, the volume rocker is on the left, and yes, the useless Bixby button is also there. The only good thing is you now get an option to remap it to open your favorite app, but sadly you can’t completely get rid of Bixby. Along the bottom you have the USB Type-C port and the 3.5mm still lives on, while other premium smartphones have done away with it.

Display: To infinity and beyond

2018 was the year of notches, and in 2019, we’re likely to see the notch getting replaced by hole-punch panels with in-display cameras. While the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10e comes with a single front camera with circular cutout, the Galaxy S10+ comes with dual cameras fitted in a pill-shaped cutout.

The hole-punch allows for a bigger edge-to-edge display, fitted in the same form factor as the Galaxy S9+. Samsung is calling the new display as Dynamic AMOLED, it supports HDR10+ for rich content viewing experience. Samsung has also improved the display brightness that now maxes at 1,200nits, and viewing under direct sunlight is no problem either. The color tones are natural (there is vivid mode as well, if you want extra punch), the whites are bright and blacks are pretty deep.

The hole-punch on the top right also means that notifications now shift to the right. Yes, it was distracting on day one, it just took a couple of days to get used to it. There is an option to hide the hole punch, which adds a thick black bar, and moves the notification panel down, but that completely defeats the purpose and eats up the screen real estate.

Cameras: The compact kit in your pocket

There’s no denying, the Google Pixel 3 has the best camera today, and it can do a lot more with a single lens along with some computational algorithms. As mentioned above, you get a triple rear camera setup, and there is an AI-based Scene Optimizer that tweaks contrast, brightness and sharpness levels to help you capture better photos. All said and done, what about the quality?

Well, the primary camera clicks photos good photos in daylight with enough details, and good dynamic range. The colors look vivid with the AI mode along with Auto HDR is turned on. If you want little toned-down colors, you can turn off the auto HDR and AI scene optimizer. Yet, even after that, the camera doesn’t produce soft and natural looking photos like the iPhone, but that’s completely fine if you like your photos to pop out. Close-ups look sharp and have good details.

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Regular
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2X Zoom
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Ultra-wide-angle
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Close-ups
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Low-light
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The is portrait mode (live focus), which is much improved now. The edge detection is pretty good, and Samsung has added a couple of neat tricks too that work well. Low-light photos look good especially the ones shot outdoors. There isn’t much noise, unless you shoot in complete darkness. There is a night mode, just like Night Sight on Pixel smartphones, but it activates automatically when Scene Optimizer is on, and when you’re in dark, but the results were not as good as Pixel.

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And then let’s talk selfies. The primary front camera captures good photos in day-light with accurate skin tones and details. However, the camera gets a little weak in low-light where the skin smudges out a bit. There is the secondary camera to add blur effects to the background, and it does a good job in ample lighting conditions, but gets weak in low-light.

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Peak performance, exactly as you expect

Our review unit is the base model with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage. In India, the smartphone is powered by an Exynos 9820 SoC fabricated on 8nm process, and it features an octa-core CPU – 2 custom cores, 2 Cortex A75 cores and 4 Cortex A55 cores. The chipset is powerful and can easily handle any task that you throw at it – be it running multiple apps in the background, multi-tasking with two apps on the screen and more.

Even playing graphics intense games such as Fortnite (60fps) and Asphalt 9: Legends is a cakewalk. And thanks to the 3D vapour chamber cooling, games run cooler. Just ensure that you switch battery to high-performance mode, because if it is on balanced mode, the back will start getting extremely warm.

Having a powerful, yet efficient 8nm chipset delivers a good battery life. On a full charge, the 4,100mAh battery was able to last one full day with a screen on-time of over 5 hours. Now, I’m sure people will say its average, but my usage involved gaming, Bluetooth music streaming on Spotify (on mobile data), Galaxy Watch connected 24×7, and the usual social media usage.

The Galaxy S10+ supports fast charging (10W) and it tops up the phone to full in a little over 90 minutes. I’m disappointed here as competition such as OnePlus and Huawei are offering up to 40W fast charging which quickly tops up the phone to 50 percent in less than 25 minutes. There is reverse wireless charging, which is more of a gimmick.  

Security: Ultrasonic sensor goes mainstream

To do away with the notch and to make the forehead slimmer, Samsung has done away with the iris scanner. It has included face unlock instead. It works pretty well, and unlocks faster than the S9 and Note 9. Another meaningful addition to the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+ is an in-display fingerprint scanner, which it claims is more secure than the optical scanners used on Huawei, OnePlus and other devices.

It practically works well, but the in-display solution isn’t as fast as the physical capacitive sensors. Simply tap on the screen, and that is enough to unlock the phone. However, there is one-second gap between scanning your finger, authenticating and unlocking. I hope with updates, it could get faster.  

Software: Fluid and responsive

The Galaxy S10-series runs on Android 9 Pie OS with One UI interface on top. It is designed for tall displays where it becomes difficult for the thumb to reach all four corners of the screen. The display is split into two sections – the upper half is the viewing area, whereas the bottom is the interaction area where all controls have been moved. However, it only works with first party Samsung apps, and third-party apps are yet to take advantage of it.

The interface is fluid, and in my near two weeks usage, I didn’t come across a single moment where the phone showed any signs of stutter. Samsung has also added support for Digital Wellbeing, which helps you get control over the amount of time you spend using each app. And then there is Bixby, the assistant that once had great potential, but has now turned useless. It looks like even Samsung is done trying, and the assistant is just there for the namesake.

Verdict: Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy S10+?

So, before I answer that, let’s talk about the competition. You have the popular OnePlus 6T, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, which is the dark horse in this Android flagship battle, and then you have the Pixel 3 XL. The Huawei Mate 20 matches the Galaxy S10+ in almost every aspect, it has a QHD+ display, an in-display fingerprint scanner (optical), a powerful 7nm chipset, triple rear cameras, 40W fast charging, oh and well, it is slightly cheaper too.

Then there is OnePlus 6T, which has top of the line hardware, good cameras, if not excellent, 30W fast charging, an in-display fingerprint scanner (optical), near stock Android and over Rs 30,000 cheaper. And then you have the Pixel 3 XL (review), which is slightly expensive compared to the Galaxy S10+, but except for the stock Android software and excellent cameras, there aren’t many frills like triple cameras, or in-display scanner.

Now, that brings us to the Galaxy S10+. For reference, the Galaxy S9+ started at Rs 64,900, whereas the Galaxy S10+ starts at Rs 73,900, that’s a hike of Rs 9,000. For that premium, you get a better 8nm chipset, an additional camera on the front and back, 600mAh extra battery capacity, 8GB RAM, 128GB storage, better display, and an ultrasonic in-display fingerprint scanner. Sure, these upgrades do justify the price hike, but should you upgrade?

If you want the latest and the best that Samsung has to offer, buying a Galaxy S10+ is a no brainer. If you’ve been using the Galaxy S8-series, yes it’s worth upgrading. If you’re using the Galaxy S9+, the new smartphone brings iterative updates, and unless you care about those, you are better off for one more year. In case you’re a Galaxy Note user, you’ve got to decide whether you want to move away from the S Pen or you can hold on a few months for the next Note.

Lastly, if the Galaxy S10+ looks a little out of budget to you, well, the Galaxy S10 could be a right fit. Priced at Rs 66,900, you get a slightly smaller display, a single front camera, smaller 3,400mAh battery. But besides that, you get all the other goodies that the premium S10+ has to offer.

  • Published Date: March 6, 2019 10:49 AM IST


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