A new standard in mobile is born with the release of the Samsung Galaxy S10. The whole is far greater than the sum of its parts with this new Galaxy phone, as Samsung has poured all their ten years of experience into their new series of flagships.
The Galaxy Series has always introduced new concepts, such as the Note series, as well as other advances in mobile technology. On their 10th anniversary, Samsung released a trio of Galaxy S10 models which, they claim, sets the standard for mobile for the next ten years. Has Samsung achieved what it said it would? Steven Ambrose tests the S10+.
At first, glance not much has changed since the launch of the Galaxy S8 and the refined S9 a year ago. Once you have held the new Galaxy S10+, you immediately notice that every part of the new device is fresh and new.
The Galaxy S10 and S10+ follow the previous models with a solid aluminium frame with wraparound glass front and back. In the S10 series, the curve has been made flatter, and the overall fit and finish improved significantly. The Galaxy S10 series feel every bit the high-end flagship phones that they are. The construction is flawless and the materials ooze quality.
The screens have edged even closer to the body with little or no surround evident. The Galaxy S10+ has the same screen real estate as the Note 9, yet is far smaller and lighter. A key innovation is that there is no notch and the front cameras are set in a small punch out in the screen. I found these to be much less invasive than the ubiquitous notch and very easy to ignore.
The screen itself is the best screen on any mobile device currently available. The colour, resolution, and sharpness are outstanding, and due to the enhanced brightness, the S10 series is very easy to see outdoors. In the default setting, the screen is set to HD for battery life reasons, you can set it higher, but for all purposes, I used the Galaxy S10 as it was set. The screen also offers HDR and HDR plus, and it did make compatible Netflix movies a little brighter.
Included under the screen is an ultrasonic fingerprint reader. Initially, I found the sensor to be very hard to use, but a software update has fixed all that. The under screen fingerprint reader is a little slower than the capacitive units we have become accustomed to, but in regular daily use, I found this sensor to be fast accurate and easy to use.
Included in this version of the Galaxy S10 is the latest Exynos processor from Samsung, along with 6GB of ram and 128 GB of storage which is expandable via SD card. In actual use, and away from the test bench, this phone is unflappable. Nothing I tried caused the S10 to slow down or stutter or be anything less than fast and fluid
Gaming was excellent, movies even better, and generally, along with the new user interface called Samsung One UI, this is the best mobile experience I have had with a Samsung device. The smooth fluid user interface on top of Android 9 is comparable to Apples iOS 12 in actual use, which is a massive improvement on previous Android devices.
As in all other flagship devices, cameras are multiplying from two to three to four to five; which is a good thing. The Samsung Galaxy S10 has four cameras in total, three on the back and one on the front. The S10+ adds an additional depth-sensing camera on the front. The rear array includes a wide angle 12-megapixel (77-degree) lens, telephoto 12-megapixel (45-degree) lens, and ultra-wide 16-megapixel (123-degree) lens. The front Selfie cameras are 10-megapixel, with an 8-megapixel RGB depth camera on the S10+
The big addition in the Galaxy S10 serious is a big step up in computational photography assisted by the new NPU subsystem in the latest Exynos chip. In less geek speak, this is AI assisted computational photography and what a slim smartphone lacks in lenses is made up with computer smarts.
Several modes with Bokeh, (background blurring), and ultrawide angle pictures, along with a multitude of other effect are available. The AI assistant will automatically adjust for best picture after quickly detecting what you are pointing the Galaxy S10 at.
In the current scheme of things, the Galaxy S10 cameras are without question some of the best out there. What Samsung has achieved is remarkable, there is a significant advance in a simple point and shoot, and consistently good pictures are delivered no matter the lighting conditions. However, the Leica-designed system on the Huawei Mate 20 Pro is better at very low light photography and the skin tones can be somewhat warmer and more natural on the Apple iPhone XS series.
Much of the differences are small in the overall picture. The Samsung Galaxy S10 will make every photo look good and offers levels of detail and clarity that is hard to believe that it comes from a smartphone.
The front cameras are used for face-unlock as well, and here Samsung has dramatically improved on the Galaxy S9 and even Note 9 performance. I found the face-unlock worked quickly even in low light. It is not as good as the Apple system, but better than any other face recognition setups on any other Android phone.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 has a 3400mAh battery and the S10+ a massive 4100mAh battery. Together with Android 9 and its energy-saving features, I found that the battery always gave me a full day of use, unless you watched movies for hours. In regular use, I could get through a day and a half without charging. Thanks to the fast charge system a 30-minute top-up will get you comfortably through the rest of the day
The S10 has a one party trick; you can use the wireless charging to reverse charge another wireless charging phone or the Samsung Buds in their wireless charging case. You must switch this on manually. I did not find I used this feature often, but it is nice to have none the less
Samsung has brought some massive changes to the market in the user interface with the launch of the Galaxy S10 series. The new One UI is fantastic. I have never been a fan of Samsung’s interface, as I found it clumsy complicated and very noisy, with notifications happening all the time. The new One UI is entirely different. Samsung has optimised the user interface for large screen phones and keeps most of the useful functionality at the bottom of the screen where it is easy to use.
Overall the new UI is quick and easy to use. Much of the complexity of Android is well structured and placed in a layout that makes customising your phone is relatively straightforward, customisation is an Android strength, the One UI makes this easy and predictable rather than arcane and messy as in the past.
Android 9 is standard, and the new UI integrates seamlessly into some of the key features of Android 9. I found the new software experience to be a massive leap for Samsung as so many rough edges are gone and useful features just work, as they should.
Most users will find the new UI, which is available for many older models including the Galaxy S8 and S9, to be a pleasure to use. The one nice feature for me is the ability to set up your home screens as you would like them and then lock the screens, so stuff does not disappear as it did on the past.
The Samsung S10 Serious is currently the best of the Android flagships on the market and should stand Samsung in good stead for 2019. The whole experience is far greater than the sum of the parts.
The Samsung S10 series does include some top-notch parts – the screen is the best available; the cameras are as good as, if not better than, most of the competition and overall construction cannot be faulted. Living with the Galaxy S10+ is a seamless and enjoyable experience. Samsung has distilled 10 years of flagship experience into the S10 series. This maturity pays off, and the S10 and S10+ stand above all other Android smart devices.
Samsung used to throw technology and features at the market, and the overall user experience suffered as a result. With the Galaxy S10 series, Samsung has mastered the whole experience without sacrificing any technological advances and features.
The Galaxy S10 simply works. Samsung Pay integrates seamlessly and is useful, and the ecosystem of Samsung appliances that work with the Galaxy S10 are endless and useful, from TVs to earbuds.
The price is high yet competitive with other similarly specked top end products from Apple and Others. If you are in the market for a class-leading mobile device, then I suggest you look long and hard at the new Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10+
Available from operators and retailers countrywide from R15,999.00 and various packages
More information | Samsung |