With MWC 2019 now behind us, numerous competitors have released equally stellar looking smartphones. The S10 is far from a reinvention for the series, and I’m slightly disappointed the main camera hasn’t seen an obvious update, but there’s plenty here regardless including the best phone display and a slick design.
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- Review Price: £799
- Weight: 57g
- Size: 149.9 x 70.4 x 7.8mm
- Screen: 6.1-inch, 19:9 (Edge), Wide Quad HD+, Dynamic AMOLED+
- Rear camera 1: Dual Pixel 12-megapixel OIS f/1.5 – f/2.4 AF
- Rear camera 2: 16-megapixel ultra-wide f/2.2 FF
- Rear camera 3: 12-megapixel telephoto OIS f/2.4 AF
- Front cameras: Dual Pixel 10-megapixel f/1.9 AF
- Memory: 8GB + 128GB / 8GB + 512GB – microSD up to 512GB (all)
- Battery capacity: 3400mAh
- Processor: Octa-core 8nm processor
After their big launch a few weeks ago, Samsung’s new trio of flagship phones are available to buy right now. As with the previous Galaxy S phones, the S10 is here to serve as the perfect remedy to Apple’s latest lineup of iPhones.
If the Galaxy S10 Plus is Samsung’s iPhone XS Max competitor and the Galaxy S10ehas been designed to take on the iPhone XR, then the standard S10 is the direct rival to Apple’s iPhone XS. With this in mind, all of these phones appeal to the same types of users as Apple’s iPhones– those who want the best there is and will pay a premium to get it.
- Read our Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus review
Samsung Galaxy S10 Price and Release Date
The Samsung Galaxy S10 is on sale right now, with the phone shipping from March 8. Those who pre-ordered landed themselves a free pair of Samsung Galaxy Buds, which launched alongside the S10 Series. This deal is no longer running.
Prices in the UK start from £799 for the 128GB model and £999 for the 512GB model. In the US it’ll cost $899. That pricing means it is $180 or £60 more expensive than the Samsung Galaxy S9 when it launched in February 2019. Another way of looking at it is that it’s £200/$100 cheaper than the iPhone XS.
In the UK it looks like all major carriers – EE, Vodafone, Three and O2 – are stocking the phone, alongside Virgin Mobile and Tesco Mobile. Check out our Samsung Galaxy S10 pre-order deals for all the latest news on pricing and the best offers.
Best Samsung Galaxy S10 Deal
Samsung Galaxy S10
Through giffgaff, you can either buy the Galaxy S10 outright or find a tailor made monthly contract that suits you. Plus, you can get extra value added to your old phone when you trade it in – perfect for saving money upfront.From £38.42/month
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When Samsung launched the S10, it didn’t stop at just three phones, however. The company also let loose to sizeable Galaxy S10 5G, which marries the sensibilities of the S10 family with the next-generation technology that is 5G. There’s also the Galaxy Fold, the company’s first device that sports a continuous folding screen. Even with so much choice, there’s every chance that if you’re here, reading this then you already have your heart set on the vanilla Galaxy S10, and having spent an extended amount of days with the phone already, I can say with confidence that you’re backing a good horse.
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Samsung Galaxy S10 – Screen
Just as the plentiful leaks suggested, the Samsung Galaxy S10 sports what the Korean giant is calling an “Infinity O” display. The “O” refers to the new hole-punch camera, which sits inside the top-right corner of the display. This has allowed Samsung to reduce the thickness of the bezel at the top even further. This is the most full-screened Samsung phone yet, although I’m still not convinced it’s necessarily better.
In previous incarnations, the display was completely free from distractions. In Samsung’s current device your view is obstructed somewhat by the cutout when watching full-screen content. I’m sure given time you’ll get used to it, as you would any notch, with it eventually fading into the background; but it feels like an answer to a problem that didn’t exist in the first place.
The 6.1-inch (up from 5.8-inch on the S9) display is, as you’d expect from Samsung, gorgeous. It’s an OLED panel with a quad-HD+ resolution, sloping edges and HDR10+support – just like Samsung’s high-end QLED displays.
HDR10+ is a competing standard to Dolby Vision (the HDR tech supported by the latest iPhones) and it gives extra metadata to supported movies and TV shows, making them look, in theory, even better than regular HDR10.
Samsung also claims the display will be able to reach an impressive 1200 nits of brightness (nits being a measure of luminosity), making it ideal for both HDR contentand for outdoor use in bright situations. Samsung reps couldn’t confirm whether you’ll be able to manually up the brightness all the way to its peak (a feature LG introduced with the G7), or whether it will jack up automatically in certain situations. I’d wager it will be the latter, since previous S-series phones have normally been around 600 nits normal use.
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The screen has also been designed to be kinder on the eyes, with less blue light emitted than before which will help with that pre-bedtime browsing.
The final trick packed inside the display is an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor. Replacing the traditional physical sensor on the rear, this slightly more futuristic method requires a hefty press on the lower portion of the display to spring into life, to ultrasonically scan your finger.
I’ve used a few phones that feature this tech, and to put it simply, they’re quite poor. Both the OnePlus 6T and Huawei Mate 20 Pro suffered slow scanners that often demonstrated issues identifying my fingerprint. Thankfully, Samsung’s implementation is much slicker. The use of ultrasonic tech means it doesn’t require the optical light to function, and it’s a lot faster and more reliable than the competition.
Unlike the Galaxy S9, there’s no iris scanning in the S10. That biometric solution was obviously deemed too bulky to fit inside the Infinity O notch and ditched entirely. I’m not going to mourn its loss at all; if you’re a fan of facial-unlocking then note that there is an option here that uses the camera instead.
Samsung Galaxy S10 – Performance
Screen aside, the rest of the design feels nice and familiar. Present and correct are the super-smudge-attracting glass on the rear of the device, USB-C along the bottom edge, and even a headphone jack. The S10 is a delicate phone that remains hard to hold for extended periods, as a result of its sharp edges. While I’m aware that Samsung is a firm fan and has every faith in this design, I think more could have been done to help the phone stand out.
Samsung loves to ship its devices with the latest and greatest internals and, predictably, the S10 is no different. Powering the range is the Exynos 9820. In the US, this is switched up for the Snapdragon 855 which is a 7nm chipset.
The S10 comes with the now standard 8GB of RAM, rather than 4GB, and you can choose between 128GB or 512GB of storage. MicroSD support remains, as does Qi wireless charging and an IP68 water-resistance rating.
Samsung Galaxy S10 – Battery life
Battery life on the Galaxy S9 was hardly what we’d call great, so it’s nice to see Samsung fit a larger cell inside the S10. The 3400mAh battery isn’t the largest on the market, though, so it will be interesting to see how well it performs.
Oddly, there don’t appear to have been any obvious improvements to charging speeds here. With numerous phones now supporting USB-C PD or higher-wattage chargers, the S10 feels almost outdated with its Adaptive Fast Charging which seems to still be based upon Quick Charge 2.0.
One welcome update is Wireless Powershare, which enables you to charge other Qi-enabled tech by placing it on the S10. You can use the tech to charge other phones – the iPhone XS, for example, but it’s likely to be more useful to quickly top-up the power of accessories such as the new AirPod-rivalling Galaxy Buds. Charging a phone via Powershare will likely be just too slow.
Samsung Galaxy S10 with free wireless charger
For a limited time only, you can get a free ultra thin wireless charger when buying a brand new Galaxy S10 smartphone through Samsung directly. Plus, you can also save up to £300 when trading in your old phone.
Samsung Galaxy S10 (Prism White) with free Pay As You Go SIM Card
If you’re after a bit of data to go with your brand new Galaxy S10 then Argos has you covered – giving you a free PAYG SIM right out of the gate. Credit plans are also available.
Samsung Galaxy S10 128GB Black – 30GB of data on O2
If you’re willing to pay a small upfront then this deal takes your monthly cost right now. Plus, 30GB is a sizeable chunk of data for all your streaming needs.
Samsung Galaxy S10 – Software and One UI
All new entries in the Galaxy S series ship with the Android 9 Pie and One UI. This is Samsung’s reinvention of its tired TouchWiz and Samsung Experience launcher. Now, even though the design is notably different to that which came before, it still looks very Samsung.
There’s a focus on being able to use apps with one hand, and much of what you interact with has been pushed down towards the bottom of the screen. The camera UI has a very iOS-feel to it and there are AI-based elements too. The whole system is meant to learn your behaviour and open frequently used apps quicker. Whether this will actually work remains to be seen.
There’s a system-wide dark mode, too, which looks great on the OLED display.
Samsung Galaxy S10 – Camera
Addressing the camera right at the end of this review might seem odd, but the reality is that it feels like the area on which Samsung has spent the least amount of time. Or at least this was the impression I got during my demo of the phones.
You get the same optically stabilised 12-megapixel main sensor of previous devices on the rear. It can shift between f/1.5 and f/2.4 to let in more light in certain environments and it uses dual pixels for faster focusing. It was a good camera last year, but right now it isn’t even in the same league as the Google Pixel 3.
However, you do get two further cameras on the back of the S10. A 12-megapixel f/2.4 tele sensor for getting closer to subjects and helping with portrait modes, and a 16-megapixel ultra wide-angle camera for cramming more into the shot. It’s a trio of sensors reminiscent of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro and it should provide plenty of variety when shooting.
I’d have liked a bigger focus on the main camera, and unless there have been software improvements aplenty, it will likely lag behind the iPhone XS, Google Pixel 3 and Huawei Mate 20 Pro.
Having spent an hour with the Galaxy S10, I’m excited to spend more time with it. It’s far from a reinvention for the series, and I’m slightly disappointed the main camera hasn’t seen an obvious update, but there’s plenty here regardless to interest phone upgraders.