By Aditya Shenoy | Updated: 3 April 2019 21:14 IST
The Samsung Galaxy S10 packs in a powerful processor and fits in the palm comfortably
Samsung Galaxy S10 has a small footprint and is easy to use in one hand
It is powered by a Samsung Exynos 9820 SoC and has 8GB of RAM
The rear camera setup is identical to the Samsung Galaxy S10+
The Samsung Galaxy S10 is the "middle child" in the Galaxy S10 trio that the company has just launched. While the Galaxy S10+ has been recognised as the best that the Galaxy S series has to offer, the smaller Galaxy S10e has also managed to gain popularity thanks to its relatively powerful hardware and reasonable price. The Galaxy S10 then is stuck in the middle, claiming to offer the best of both worlds. Does it really manage to do that, or are you better off with either of its siblings? We put it to the test to find out.
Samsung Galaxy S10 design
The Samsung Galaxy S10 is a good-looking smartphone and there is no denying that. Samsung has used premium materials in its construction. You get an aluminium frame that is sandwiched between Corning Gorilla Glass 6 at the front and Gorilla Glass 5 at the back. This should also help the phone resist scratches from day-to-day use to some extent.
The Galaxy S10 has a 6.1-inch Super AMOLED display, which sits right between the 5.8-inch display of the Samsung Galaxy S10e (Review) and the 6.4-inch display on the Samsung Galaxy S10+ (Review). Since it is a QuadHD+ panel it pushes out 550ppi which is denser than the Galaxy S10+ as well. The display is also HDR10+ certified, so you will be able to enjoy HDR content on it. Just like with the Galaxy S10+, you get an ultrasonic in-display fingerprint scanner on the Galaxy S10.
The Galaxy S10 has a small footprint, and the rounded aluminium frame makes it comfortable to hold in the hand. It has the SIM tray at the top along with a microphone. At the bottom, it has a USB Type-C port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a loudspeaker, along with the primary microphone. The back of the Galaxy S10 is a fingerprint magnet and you will have to wipe it down frequently or pop it into the clear plastic case that comes in the box.
Samsung pre-applies a screen protector on the display which you might or might not like, but at least you won't have to go hunting for one that works with the in-display fingerprint scanner. There's still a Bixby button on the right, which can be used to trigger Samsung's voice assistant. You also have the option to set either a single- or double-press to launch a different app as long as the other of those options still triggers Bixby, just like we noted in our Galaxy S10+ review.
The hole-punch design might not appeal to everyone but we didn't have an issue with it
The Galaxy S10 has a hole-punch design for its single front camera. Yes, you do miss out on content in the top-right corner of the screen, but we didn't find it distracting. You'll get used to the design very quickly. If you don't like this, you do have the option to mask the camera hole with a black band across the top of the display.
At the back, Samsung has gone with a triple camera setup identical to what the Samsung Galaxy S10+ has. This module also houses the heart rate sensor and a single LED flash.
Samsung ships the Galaxy S10 with quite a few goodies in the box. You get a 15W fast charger, a USB-Type C to Type-A adapter, AKG-branded in-ear headphones, and a clear case. This phone is available in Prism White, Prism Black, and Prism Blue in India, though the higher-end variant with more storage is only available in Prism White. We had a Prism Black unit for review.
Samsung Galaxy S10 specifications and software
All three Galaxy S10 siblings have the same Samsung Exynos 9820 SoC, but the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+ get 8GB RAM with 128GB of internal storage for their base variants, while the Galaxy S10e has to settle for a little less RAM. The Galaxy S10 is also available with 512GB of storage. If you don't want to buy the higher-priced Galaxy S10 variant, you can still use a microSD card in the hybrid dual-SIM slot for up to 512GB more space.
Connectivity options on the Galaxy S10 include dual 4G as well as VoLTE, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5, NFC, ANT+, and the USB Type-C port. This phone also gets four satellite systems for positioning. The Galaxy S10 is capable of charging wirelessly as well as reverse charging other devices wirelessly. This feature is handy to charge smaller devices such as the Galaxy Buds.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 has a triple camera setup at the back
Samsung has done a very good job on the software front. You get the latest One UI based on Android 9 Pie. We have used this UI on the Samsung Galaxy S10+ as well as on the Samsung Galaxy A50 (Review), and we have found it to be convenient to use. Android 9's Digital Wellbeing feature helps you control the amount of time you spend on various apps.
Samsung has also made a few useful customisations such as Smart Stay, which keeps the screen awake as long as you are looking at it. There are a lot of handy motion and gesture shortcuts. You also have the option to switch to gesture navigation instead of the traditional three-button Android navigation scheme.
The Apps Edge shortcut bar can be accessed from any screen to launch apps. Samsung also offers a pop-up panel allowing compatible apps such as WhatsApp and Messages to hover on top of any app to facilitate multitasking. Dual App support lets you run two instances of some apps. The software experience is identical to that of the Galaxy S10+, so you can read about it in more detail in our review of the elder sibling.
The Galaxy S10 does have quite a few preinstalled apps but you can go ahead and uninstall most of them. We found that the My Galaxy app would send push notifications which would fill the notification shade up over the course of a day. We couldn't opt out of messages, so we disabled notifications from this app altogether.
Samsung Galaxy S10 performance, cameras and battery life
The Galaxy S10 has an excellent display that delivers a crisp output. You will enjoy it while playing games or watching content, and honestly, we didn't find the hole-punch to be distracting. You can change the effective resolution as well as tweak the colours if you like. We stuck to the default full HD+ resolution and the Vivid colour profile, but you can bump up the resolution to the native QHD+ and choose Natural output if you don't want colours to pop as much.
The speakers on the Galaxy S10 are good, and Samsung uses the bottom-firing speaker along with the earpiece to simulate a stereo effect. There is Dolby Atmos support for both headphones as well as the loudspeaker, and this can be enabled easily using a quick toggle. The speakers are loud enough for you to notice when you get an incoming call in a crowded place, and to enjoy videos and games on this phone. The earpiece is also loud, and we could easily hear the other party on calls.
We had a fair idea of how the Samsung Exynos 9820 would perform since we have already tested the Galaxy S10+. The Galaxy S10 delivered similar performance and we did not notice any lag or stuttering during our review. We also played PUBG Mobile, Asphalt 9: Legends, and F1 Mobile. We found that PUBG Mobile ran at High settings without any issues, while Asphalt 9 Legends and the F1 Mobile ran at the default settings without any problems.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 is well designed and looks premium
After playing games for a while, we found that the phone would get warm to the touch, but not to an uncomfortable degree. After playing PUBG Mobile for 40 minutes, the battery level dropped by 14 percent, which is acceptable. You can also check out our gaming review of the Galaxy S10+ to see how the Exynos 9820 performs in different games. If you intend to stream Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, you'll be happy to know that this phone has Widevine L1 DRM support so you can get content at the highest available resolution. We could also watch HDR videos on the device thanks to the HDR10+ display.
In benchmarks, the Galaxy S10 performed very well. It clocked 326,216 points in AnTuTu while managing 7,862 in PCMark Work 2.0. This phone scored 4,467 and 9,711 in Geekbench 4's single-core and multi-core tests respectively. In the GFXBench T-Rex benchmark, it managed to hit the peak of 60fps, while also returning 57fps in the Manhattan 3.1 test. Overall these scores are similar to what the Galaxy S10+ and the Galaxy S10e managed in our tests.
The triple camera setup on the Galaxy S10 is quite versatile.
The Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+ have the same camera setups at the back consisting of a 12-megapixel telephoto camera, 12-megapixel wide-angle camera and 16-megapixel ultra wide camera, and both phones deliver very similar photos and videos. The camera app is easy to use and there are quite a few modes to choose from.
There are icons for switching between the three cameras. Daylight shots as well as macros are crisp and detailed. There is a scene optimiser that is capable of recognising what the camera is pointed towards and setting the phone up accordingly. We noticed a slight improvement when taking shots with the scene optimiser enabled. In macros, we noticed that the scene optimiser bumped the contrast up.
We found the wide angle camera to be useful for landscapes, but it did result in a bit of barrel distortion at the edges. Samsung has thought about this and offers shape correction options in the camera app itself.
When taking portrait shots in Live Focus mode, the phone is able to distinguish between the subject and the background and apply a blur effect quite well. It also lets you change the blur intensity before you take a shot. What we found to be interesting is that we could also change the effect type and intensity after the photo was shot.
Tap to see full-sized Samsung Galaxy S10 camera samples
Photos taken at night were bright and had good amounts of detail. We found that even in low light the scene optimiser could detect what we were shooting, helping us get clear results. The Galaxy S10 also managed to keep noise under control, just like the Galaxy S10+.
The 10-megapixel selfie camera takes good photos that have a lot of detail. With the Galaxy S10, you'll have to rely on a single selfie camera for Live Focus, since this phone lacks the depth sensor that the Galaxy S10+ has. Edge detection is acceptable, and we did not face any issues.
Video recording tops out at 4K at 60fps for the rear camera, and 4K at 30fps for the selfie shooter. You get a Super Slow-mo video mode that lets you shoot at 960fps, and a super steady mode that uses the wide-angle sensor and crops the frame to allow for more stabilised footage. Video stabilisation is excellent, and this phone manages to iron most shakes out of videos.
In order to make this phone sleek and compact, Samsung had to cut down on battery size, but the Galaxy S10 still has an acceptable 3400mAh battery. After starting the day at 9am, running a few benchmarks, using Google Maps for navigation for an hour, taking several of camera samples and playing 40 minutes of PUBG Mobile, we ended our day with 15 percent remaining in the battery at 11PM. We had the phone set to full-HD+ at all times, and your mileage will differ if you change the screen resolution. The Galaxy S10 managed to go on for 14 hours and 23 minutes in our HD video loop test.
The supplied charger is quick to charge the phone. We saw it go up to 50 percent in 27 minutes and it took about an hour and 15 minutes to charge completely. You can also use a compatible fast wireless charger if you like.
Verdict It is clear that the Galaxy S10 offers nearly all the features and benefits of the Galaxy S10+ in a more compact body and at a more affordable price. You don't miss out on that cutting edge ultrasonic in-display fingerprint scanner or the powerful Exynos 9820 SoC.
For people who don't like bulky phones and prefer a relatively compact powerhouse, the Galaxy S10 should fit the bill. Yes, it doesn't have that additional depth sensor in the front, which the Samsung Galaxy S10+ (Review) does, but that shouldn't really matter if you don't take a lot of selfies. If you are looking for a smartphone that does it all and fits comfortably in the palm of your hand, your search ends here.
Is Samsung Galaxy S10+ the best Android flagship overall? Are Samsung Galaxy Buds the best truly wireless headphones in India? We discussed these things on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.