Samsung Galaxy S10+ review: Impressive camera takes your photos to a new level
Samsung’s flagship phone is pricey but provides excellent photos and cutting-edge tech
Samsung is clearly trying to tempt a whole new set of customers with the S10+. Photograph: NYT
Product name: Samsung Galaxy S10+
Where to buy: www.samsung.com
It’s getting increasingly difficult to differentiate the flagship mobile phones from each other. No sooner has one company brought out its hotly anticipated handset than its rival is announcing something similar.
The Samsung Galaxy S10+ is the biggest of the three phones the company announced last week. Its selling point? A new display that Samsung has christened the Infinity-O display: it goes practically edge to edge and the camera and fingerprint reader are integrated into the screen. That allows Samsung to squeeze in an extra 0.2 of a inch into the display: bigger, it seems, is better – but only if you can keep the phone almost the same size as before. In fact, the S10+ is a fraction smaller and thinner than the S9+.
Physical dimensions aside, the S10+ takes some of the elements of the S9+, keeping the curved screen and the general look, and refines it a little. The camera is a cutout in the curved dynamic AMOLED screen. The earpiece for calls is so tiny it may as well not be there, but it works just as well at the S9+ when you are making and taking calls. The back shows off the triple camera and the lack of fingerprint sensor, instantly marking out the phone as the new breed.
And despite its size the S10+ is surprisingly light, at 175g to its predecessor’s 189g. That 14g makes a difference, although you may feel that you’ve lost the phone on occasion.
Coming back to the fingerprint reader, Samsung has integrated it into the display, like Huawei did with the Mate 20 Pro. Integrating the fingerprint reader was another way of squeezing in extra screen space. But Samsung is using ultrasonic technology to read your fingerprints, which is different from the Mate 20 and One Plus 6T. The technology uses soundwaves to read your print, and in theory that should make it more accurate and more likely to work even when your fingers are a bit wet or greasy. The reader also works through screen protectors, although the first attempt was a bit hit and miss; it turned out the phone needed an update to the software, which solved a few issues.
The main selling point of the S10+ is the camera, which has been upgraded to a triple camera. That means it takes similar camera specs to the S9+ and adds in a third 16 megapixel camera for wide-angle shots. Huawei did something similar with the Mate 20 Pro, although the Chinese phonemaker still holds the crown when it comes to night shots. Overall though, the S10+ certainly takes some excellent shots, and it will give the Huawei phones some serious competition. That is partly due to the AI the company has added to the camera, which picks out the perfect settings for your shot.
The selfie camera is well equipped, upgrading to a dual 10 megapixel camera that will help you raise your selfie game, and adding an 8 megapixel camera for depth.
Video seems good too; the phone has digital stabilisation technology to smooth things out. Both front and rear cameras can shoot in ultra high definition, and the rear camera can also shoot in HDR10+, which will give you brighter colours, darker blacks and an all-round better shot.
Best move? The Samsung S10+ keeps the earphone jack. In a world where phonemakers are ditching the 3.5mm connection in favour of USB C or Lightning, the fact that Samsung is still holding on either makes it in tune with its customers or slightly quaint. I can’t quite decide, but I’m not sure it matters. The jack is here to stay for now.
But what about power? The S10+ has a 4,100 mAh battery, which seems huge. However, it also has a bigger screen draining the power. So far, the S10+ has consistently lasted a full day on a single charge, even when connecting Bluetooth devices such as ear buds.
That big battery also has an added advantage: you can use it to charge other wireless devices.
That is something that Huawei introduced in its Mate 20 Pro. The feature can also be used to charge the new Galaxy Active watch and the Galaxy Ear Buds – AirPod rivals that come with their own charging case.
Wireless charging? Check. The ability to share power with your other wireless charging devices? Check. A new display that looks amazingly detailed and squeezes a fraction of an inch more screen space in? Check and check. The S10+ may be pricey, but it earns it. Mostly. That third camera on the back will bring new dimensions to your photos.
The not so good:
If you were hoping to pick up the S10+ for under €1,000, you’re out of luck. The phone starts at €1,019 for the 128GB version, and the 1TB version will set you back over €1,600. That extra space will cost you, although you could go for the 128GB version and buy the biggest memory card you can afford. The only sacrifice there is the RAM, which is 12GB on the 1TB phone, but the 8GB in the 128GB handset, it’s no slouch.
Earphone jack. Need I say any more?
S9+ users can skip the upgrade but Samsung is clearly trying to tempt a whole new set of customers with the S10+.