By Rishi Alwani | Updated: 14 March 2019 22:16 IST
The Samsung Galaxy S10+ has an Exynos SoC for markets like India
Game Tools and Game Launcher are useful additions
Most games default to the highest settings
The Galaxy S10+ is Samsung's latest flagship smartphone. And in typical Samsung fashion, it's thrown in the kitchen sink, packed to the brim with features. These range from novelties like reversible wireless charging to meaningful upgrades such as a 4100mAh battery. Furthermore, the Galaxy S10+ sports the latest and greatest in terms of silicon. For Asia, Europe, Middle East, Africa, and India, specifications include an Exynos 9820 octa-core SoC, Mali-G76 MP12 GPU, and 8GB of RAM. The US version has the same amount of memory, but it gets Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 processor and an Adreno 640 GPU. According to our Samsung Galaxy S10+ review, the Exynos version has proven to be an absolute beast in terms of benchmarks.
That said, if you're planning to make use of all the Galaxy S10+ has to offer, you're probably going to be playing your fair share of games. To find out how well it works in terms of real-world performance, we took some of our favourite, more graphically intensive games for a spin. These include PUBG Mobile, Fortnite, Asphalt 9, and Arena of Valor. If you're serious about gaming on your phone, here's what you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy S10+.
Before playing a game, set the resolution on your Galaxy S10+
The Samung Galaxy S10+ supports a variety of resolutions. In our Samsung Galaxy S10+ review we noted that the phone has a native resolution of 1440x3040 pixels, out of the box, it's downscaled to 1080x2280.
You can change this in the Settings menu with the help of slider to hit its native 1440x3040 resolution, or drop to 720x1520 pixels. The lowest resolution makes text appear jagged, and also lowers details in-game, to make for a not so ideal experience. Personally, we prefer the highest resolution, or the WQHD+ option as it is called.
Samsung Galaxy S10+ Game Launcher and Game Tools explained
The Samsung Galaxy S10+ Game Launcher arranges all your games in a single place, allowing you to tweak them as you see fit. It's helpful in getting the best out of your games if you rotate between multiple titles, allowing you to choose one of the three settings for each of them. They're self-explanatory – 'Focus on power saving', 'Balanced', and 'Focus on performance'.
Digging deeper, you'll find an option to set the frame rate (maximum of 60fps) and force what's described as 'Low Resolution' in game, although it doesn't specify what resolution exactly. Samsung warns that individual game settings overrule the overall game performance settings and that changing settings per game may result in a game not running properly.
And then there's Game Tools which lets you take screenshots, record video, decide if you want to receive calls and notifications, or enable Dolby Atmos for higher quality audio. These features are easy to use, though we felt Dolby Atmos' effects are more pronounced with earphones such the AKG-branded pair packed in with the Galaxy S10+ for immersive audio.
Samsung Galaxy S10+ gaming performance: PUBG Mobile, Fortnite, and more
First up we played PUBG Mobile. It defaulted to the High setting with Ultra HD unavailable at the moment. While you can have the game covering the entire display, the presence of the front-facing dual camera breaks the immersion, forcing us to play it with a black bar along the top which covers it.
PUBG Mobile gameplay was buttery smooth on the Samsung Galaxy S10+ with dense foliage, sharp looking structures, and guns aplenty at the native WQHD+ resolution. Be it busy fire fights or running from intense bombardments, the PUBG Mobile frame rate was stable with no slowdown or lag at all. Playing multiple rounds on the Erangel map, the Galaxy S10+ had us winning chicken dinners with ease. PUBG Mobile on the Samsung Galaxy S10+ had strong performance with zero tweaking needed on our part.
It was a similar scenario with Asphalt 9. While the game wasn't playable on the Samsung Galaxy S10+ at launch via Google Play, it is now. There was no fiddling needed to get the best out of the game, defaulting to the highest settings and quality options. Asphalt 9 was a looker on most phones at launch, that extends to the game on the Samsung Galaxy S10+.
Highly detailed car models with reflections, incidental details like water and dust, and spectacular landscapes like the snowcapped peaks of the Himalayas and the rainy roads of Scotland, all of them benefit from the Galaxy S10+'s higher resolution and Infinity-O display that makes lighting and rain in Asphalt 9 look a bit more vibrant than what we're used to seeing.
As for PUBG Mobile competitor, Fortnite, the Galaxy S10+ performed admirably, though it did require some fiddling with the in-game settings beforehand. The game defaulted to its Epic quality preset and capped the frame rate at 30fps. While these are par for the course, what's interesting is that it scaled the game's 3D resolution to 75 percent. What this means is, even if we were playing at 1440x3040 by choosing the resolution in the Galaxy S10+'s settings, the game would still output at 1080x2280.
Hence, to get the best out of it, we had to set the 3D resolution slider in Fortnite all the way to 100 percent. Sticking with the Epic preset and a 30fps cap resulted in smooth and stable gameplay.
The powerful internals of the Galaxy S10+ combined with the Infinity-O display do justice to Fortnite's colourful locales, guns, and weapons, making them look even better.
If you're hankering for a more fluid experience, you could choose the High setting for graphics quality which allows you to set the frame rate to 60fps, but it doesn't look as sharp. It still looks good mind you, but to us, the higher visual fidelity and capped frame rate simply played better.
Regardless of what you choose, tracking down chests, exploring forests, or simply gunning down foes up close or afar was great and a step up from Fortnite on the Note 9. In fact we'd go as far as to say that the Samsung Galaxy S10+ is possibly the best mobile for Fortnite on Android right now.
Finally we tried out Arena of Valor, the mobile equivalent of Dota 2 or League of Legends, with an emphasis on quick responses. The game defaulted to the highest settings which allow for detailed textures, particles, and effects, with High Frame Rate Mode toggled off.
Arena of Valor is one of the few smartphone games with a frame rate counter and with the High Frame Rate Mode toggled on we saw around 58 and 60 frames per second, dropping to around 56fps in demanding moments with multiple enemies on screen. Needless to say, it's best played with High Frame Rate Mode switched on, making for a superlative experience.
In terms of battery drain, we saw around 13 percent lost after approximately 30 minutes of gameplay while connected to WiFi and this was fairly consistent across games. This was with Dolby Atmos turned on and off. It barely got warm to touch while indoors or on the go over hourlong sessions of play.
Samsung Galaxy S10+'s Game Tools battery saver mode
As we mentioned earlier, Game Launcher in the Samsung Galaxy S10+ has options to 'Focus on power saving', 'Focus on performance', or 'Balanced'.
Considering that we didn't need to resort to these options to eke out better performance — as we were playing everything maxed out or close to it — we wondered if there was any benefit in terms of power savings. We played both Fortnite and PUBG Mobile at their default settings with the Game Launcher power saving option on.
25 minute matches of Fortnite saw battery drain by 11 percent while 30 minute PUBG Mobile rounds on Erangel saw the Galaxy S10+'s battery take a hit by 13 percent. This was identical to what we saw without enabling this setting in these games. While this option may work with other titles, it had no impact on either battle royale game.
What did work, was dropping the resolution via the Display option in Settings. For PUBG Mobile, setting the resolution to 1080x2280 didn't improve performance by any stretch, resulting in an image that wasn't as sharp but saw the Galaxy S10+ battery decrease by eight percent instead of 13 during a 30 minute match.
Decreasing the resolution even further to 720x1520 didn't do the game any favours in the visuals department, looking blurry in parts. However, the battery life excelled even further, with the loss of about six percent over the course of a 30 minute game.
Fortnite had similar gains. Be it the Epic preset with 30fps or the High preset with 60fps, dropping to 1080x2280 saw the Galaxy S10+ battery decrease by seven percent instead of 11 while going even further to 720x1520 had the battery drop by five percent over the course of a 25 minute game. Keep in mind that this was while we were connected to Wi-Fi with Dolby Atmos off, so your mileage may vary.
Your mileage may also vary depending on the games you play and other settings such as Adaptive battery, which is off by default. Sticking to a lower resolution while playing Fortnite and PUBG Mobile is a decent option if you're up for battle royale on the go and don't have a charger in hand with 1080x2280 being the sweet spot between power efficiency and visual fidelity.
Is the Samsung Galaxy S10+ the best Android gaming phone?
The Samsung Galaxy S10+ showcased a consistently great experience across each and every title. Throw in welcome power savings thanks to being able to change resolution and you have a compelling, flexible mobile gaming option.
With several smartphones using Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 SoC due shortly it will be interesting to see how they compare to what Samsung has on offer. As it stands, the Samsung Galaxy S10+ launched in India with the company's Exynos 9820 SoC is one of the better choices on offer.
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