I have been reviewing Samsung’s flagship smartphones here at tech2 since the Galaxy S8. While the design of Samsung’s flagship smartphone has largely remained the same, the expectations have grown year on year.
This year, those expectations were sky high, partly thanks to all those leaks about folding smartphones floating about on the internet months before launch.
Before Samsung announced its new S series flagships, it wowed audiences with an ultra-premium folding flagship device called the Galaxy Fold. Jaws dropped and minutes later we were shown the S Series line-up, that kind of looked like your regular Android flagship, which was kind of a downer.
And that’s not a good thing! It’s like telling your guests that Gordon Ramsay is cooking up something special for their next meal, but they can only warm up and have the frozen food from the refrigerator.
Yes, the luxury Galaxy Fold foldable will be exciting, but it will be out of reach for most and that kind of dampens things for the regular S Series buyers as they now have another Samsung phone to look up to.
But save for that folding display, everything else is pretty much the same. The Galaxy S10 Plus offers a new Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O display, RAM and storage options that would make a OnePlus fanboy drool (12 GB RAM + 1 TB storage), has a slimmer and substantially lighter design considering its 6.4-inch display and that mammoth 4,100 mAh battery.
So is it worthy of an upgrade from last year’s Galaxy S9+? Or is it better than Google’s Pixel 3 XL that is honestly it's only competitor price wise?
Well… Yes and yes; but there are plenty of ifs and buts and that’s what I’m going to dissect in my review.
Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus Design 8/10: A mixed bag
I loved the design of the Samsung Galaxy S8, back then it was new and fresh and its polished metal frame almost reminded me of a luxury timepiece.
Sadly, Samsung stuck to a similar design last year, and it’s getting a bit old this year with the same curved edge display with thinner bezels. Honestly, I did prefer something more exciting but the new S10 Plus does have one detail going for it, its weight.
At 175 grams, the Galaxy S10 Plus has to be the lightest Plus-sized Galaxy device I have held in years and with the last Note 9 weighing in at a hefty 201 grams, the lighter weight is a welcomed change.
The phone honestly feels a lot lighter than it looks, but it has also grown slimmer which makes it comfortable to hold. Just that the glass and chrome-finished metal frame makes it extremely slippery for one-handed use.
Oh! And that glass back still does not feature an oleophobic coating like an iPhone nor does it come in a matte finish like the Pixel 3 XL, which means it is a smudgy mess after minutes of use.
Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus Display 9/10: It’s pretty darn good!
Samsung with the Galaxy S10 Plus went in for an even bigger, pill-shaped cavity that looks a bit odd even if the screen is 6.4-inches wide. The hole-punch will or will not get in your way depending on the app you use. The YouTube app, for example, works around the hole and it does get a bit distracting.
Netflix, on the other hand, ignores the hole-punch camera adding a black bar that covers it up.
Games like Asphalt 9: Legends, will use up every inch of space, which means that the pill-shaped cavity is very much noticeable, but it usually out of view while gaming.
Apart from that very noticeable cavity, the Dynamic AMOLED display is super bright (1,200 nits) and along with the dual-speaker setup turns the smartphone in a top class portable media player.
The colours are vibrant and on supported apps do a fine job of showcasing support for HDR10 and HDR10+ video content and TV shows.
Indeed this is an area where OnePlus fans simply cannot compare a Rs 38,000 6T to a Rs 73,000 Galaxy S10 Plus.
Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus Cameras 8/10: Having triple cameras are not enough
Is it pathbreaking like Google Pixel 3 XL? No
But can you shoot some great images with it? Yes.
Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro really stuck it to Google Pixel 3 XL when it was launched last year. It packed in an arsenal of cameras and lenses and came with its own custom-made Kirin 980 SoC with dual NPUs and this allowed it to pull off some things a lot better than the Pixel 3 XL, like a class leading digital zoom, AI filters in video and some crisp macro shots.
The Samsung Galaxy S10+ features a similar arsenal of cameras:
1 x 12 MP wide-angle camera with OIS and AF
1 x 12 MP telephoto camera with OIS and AF
1 x 16 MP ultrawide camera with no OIS and no AF
But its software processing is kind of a let-down.
Daylight images looked stunning and showcased a lot of detail. The autofocus system is fast and can keep up with pets and kids. The colours are a bit saturated and typically Samsung.
Check out our Samsung Galaxy S10 camera and video samples in the carousel below or simply click here to our Flickr album.
Ultrawide and Telephoto Lens
The Ultrawide camera is really useful in cramped environments and helps bring out the vastness of a valley in front of you or turn a simple street scene into something exciting.
But there’s plenty of lens barrel distortion so you have to ensure that your subjects are nowhere near the edges of the frame, else they will end up looking stretched.
Meanwhile, the 2X optical zoom is good but is nowhere close to the Mate 20 Pro’s 5X optical zoom and its 10 X digital zoom which produces usable images at the far end.
Samsung’s noise processing and dual aperture system are a bit too aggressive in low light and this results in bright images that lack detail and looked a bit blurry. But that’s visible when only when you pixel peep.
Super Night Shot sounds like a cool feature, but the images are not impressive. The problem with using the low light camera feature is that it is only available when the scene turns extremely dark or completely dark. The Scene Optimiser will then activate the night mode but sadly the results aren’t good and the images, barely usable.
The S10 Plus’ low light capabilities need a lot of work, especially when compared to the competition (Pixel 3 XL and Mate 20 Pro) and that is a reason for Samsung to worry.
As for selfies, there are plenty of improvements with better edge detection in daylight. Low light selfies have improved a bit since the Galaxy S9 Plus and Note 9, but they are nowhere close to what you can capture on a Pixel 3 or 3 XL.
I will be publishing a detailed photo and video comparison in the coming week. So stay tuned for that.
The Super steady video mode is downright amazing! There’s a video I shot in a bumpy cab ride on the not so perfect streets of downtown Mumbai, and it almost appears as smooth as stabilised drone footage. This is really impressive stuff for a smartphone, but the footage is not crystal clear like the regular video mode so it won’t convince you to leave your GoPro behind on your next vacation. More so, because it only shoots at 1080p.
And with that, I can say that Samsung’s 4K 60 fps video footage is spot on and the best you can get on an Android smartphone. That is a tall claim, but you can check out the Flickr album.
Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus Battery Life 9/10: It sticks!
Considering that triple-camera setup and a big display to power, the 4,100 mAh battery does a pretty fine job of keeping up.
With my daily use which includes gaming, streaming music and video and plenty of calls, the S10 Plus easily got me a day of use with about 30 percent or more to spare.
With casual use over the weekends and fewer calls, I got more than a day, which is pretty good for a smartphone with a 6.4-inch display. And I only ran the display at full resolution, which is QHD+ in this case. Running it at a lower FHD+ (default) will see better battery life savings.
Our standard PC Mark Work 2.0 Battery Life test also delivered an impressive figure of 10 hours and 33 minutes with 20 percent to spare after the test.
Samsung’s PowerShare unlike’s Huawei’s Reverse Wireless Charging tech actually works! And will charge up a phone (10 percent in 15 minutes for my iPhone XR) or a supported Samsung accessory pretty quickly. In short, your Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus can double up as a power bank provided you are ready to lose some battery life in exchange.
My only gripe was the 15 W Adaptive charger that felt abnormally slow (around 1 hour and 40 minutes top up) after using the Mate 20 Pro’s 40 W charger.
Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus Performance 9/10: Top Notch!
The octa-core Exynos 9820 SoC performed admirably well both when it came to power savings with day-to-day tasks like messaging apps, and when it came to performance while playing graphic intensive games.
The S10 Plus managed the SoC temperatures really well and did not slow down even after half an hour of PUBG Mobile at ultra graphics. The heat at the back was evenly spread out as well. I did notice some stuttering with Asphalt 9: Legends (downloaded from the Galaxy Apps store) and PUBG Mobile but these could be optimisation problems that should be sorted once the smartphone goes on sale.
3.5 mm headphone jacks are a rarity in this price range, but I’m glad Samsung continues to retain one.
The audio quality using the in-box AKG headphones is really good. But more impressive is the dual speaker setup that delivers loud and crystal clear audio without any tearing. These have to be the clearest speakers (the loudest would be the Asus ROG) on any Android smartphone so far but they lack the bass that the 2018 iPhones can push out, so they still sound a wee bit better.
Oh and then there’s that troubling fingerprint scanner. It works, but just not when you want it to.
To make things worse the AOD (always on display) does not showcase a marker when the device lies flat on a table. So you will have to place your finger randomly until the phone wakes up and displays the marker to authenticate and unlock.
Since this is the only secure way to authenticate the smartphone. It can get really frustrating and even be a deal breaker for some.
Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus Software 9/10: Finally sorted out
For the first time ever, Samsung actually sorted out its software problems that have been plaguing its smartphones since the first Galaxy model.
It may have taken Samsung 10 years to deliver the smooth, fluid and stable One UI after the horrible TouchWiz and the bearable Experience UI, but it’s well thought out and a charm to work with.
One UI is highly customisable and there are plenty of Samsung and third-party themes that change the look of the entire UI (not just the app drawer, home screen and lock screen).
Everything just fits and all buttons (at least with native apps) are can be reached out easily with your thumb without the need to stretch your fingers and reach out to them.
While Bixby has not grown any smarter, you can now finally remap the Bixby button to either not react to a single press or to open any other app you would like it to.
Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus Verdict and Price in India
The Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus features the clearest speakers of any Android smartphone, it is the lightest plus-sized Galaxy device, has a brilliant display to stream movies and for once, it does a great job with software as well.
The only less impressive feature here is the still camera, but that can be improved with software updates. Still then, those willing to pay over the Rs 70,000 mark will have a tough choice.
On one hand, you have the imaging powerhouse that is the Pixel 3 XL with paltry RAM and internal storage (4 GB + 64 GB) at Rs 83,000.
Then there’s Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro at Rs 69,990 that gets you a stunning design, a really good camera, great battery life but bloated software that somehow manages to keep up.
And then you have the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus which falls a bit short on the imaging front at Rs 73,900.
The Pixel 3 XL isn’t the perfect smartphone either with lousy charging speeds, average video performance, but it clicks photos like no other smartphone out there. If photos are a priority and you are a mobile photography enthusiast (everyone almost is… or at least thinks they are) I’d recommend the Pixel 3 XL despite that ugly and gigantic bathtub display notch.
But if you are in the market for a brand new device that comes with plenty of new tricks and takes the kitchen sink approach to things, then look no further than the Galaxy S10 Plus.