While the whole world may be obsessed with Apples, sometimes all you want is an Orange. Sure, Apples are functional, look good and get the job done, if you’re hungry, but sometimes you need a little more variety, nay, zest in your life. For the past 10 years the Samsung Galaxy series of smartphones have been the proverbial overachiever in the market, often bettering their competition at their own game with better feature sets, performance and design. So, after a decade, is the Galaxy S10 a culmination of smartphone perfection? Let’s find out.
We will start with the design: to Samsung’s credit they have managed to craft a beautiful looking device with their virtual edge to edge infinity-O display, capable of an impressive Quad-HD+ resolution that is just stunning at first sight. It is bright, with punchy colors and great contrast and is a joy to experience media on. Built into the Dynamic HDR 10+ certified AMOLED screen is the inclusion of an embedded fingerprint scanner that uses ultrasonic pulses to determine the nuances of your fingerprint, users simply place their finger on the appropriate part of the screen and the phone will unlock. While this technology is still in its infancy, the one on the S10 worked surprisingly well most of the time for us, albeit a little slower than some of their competitors like OnePlus, but this is a great step in the right direction. Around the sides we have a lightweight aluminum frame and an all glass back protected by Gorilla Glass 6 for added reassurance from scratches. We are also particularly fond of the Prismatic colors available on this years’ models – Flamingo Pink, Prism Black, Prism Blue, Prism White, Canary Yellow and Prism Green – they not only look great but seem to majestically change in the shimmering light.
Powering this beast is top-of-the-line Snapdragon 855 or Exynos chipset (region dependent) backed by 8gb of ram with a base storage of 128gb with the ability to expand via a rare micro SD slot. You also find some serious futureproofing wireless connectivity with the S10 being one of the first devices to support next-gen Wi-Fi 6, which better assists in the seamless transition between Wi-Fi routers and is four times faster than 802.11ax. There is also gigabit LTE connectivity, an encouraging IP68 rating water and dust resistance plus a robust 3400mah battery that promises all day battery life. While we found this accurate in our testing, averaging about 6 hours of SOT, if and when the battery does need a top up, you also have Samsung’s brilliant included fast charger, Qi wireless charging capability and even wireless powershare for peace of mind. Lastly, the inclusion of powerful Dolby Atmos tuned stereo speakers sound truly superb and are a welcome upgrade from the S9.
Running the show software wise is Samsung’s own One UI which is based on Android Pie. This lightweight skin over stock Android, while much faster and smoother than previous generations, we are still not particularly fond of, especially the bundled Samsung bloatware that you have a little control over. Aesthetically, it is starting to show its age and looks closer to something gaudy LG would offer. Our biggest gripe is that unlike the Google One or Pixels of the world, Samsung is still slow off the mark when it comes to updates, they do eventually make their way to your phone, however by that point most people are day dreaming about their next smart device.
Finally, is the proverbial star of the show, Samsung’s new tri camera setup complete with a 12MP regular lens, 12MP optically zoomed telephoto lens, and a brand new 16MP ultra-wide lens. On the front, we also have a single 10MP camera in the much talked about hole punch design all entwined with Samsung’s own AI capability that includes a nifty scene optimizer, shot suggestions and more. While we were seriously impressed by the wide-angle camera with its 123-degree field of view, which is perfect for you vacationers, the primary dual aperture camera while better than my iPhone XS still fell short of the single lens Google Pixel 3 in picture quality. We found the HDR processing still a little over zealous, night shots were good enough but obviously highly noise reduced and the telephoto lens, while having great dynamic range, was at best enough. Truthfully, we used that the least, as we think most do. Gripes aside, photos will satisfy 90% of users who just want to post to Instagram, but where the S10 really shines is its much improved HDR10+ 4K UHD video recording and we just adore the super slo-mo option and live focus that allows real-time bokeh editing before the shot!
To sum up, the Samsung Galaxy S10 in a lot of ways is their opus. It is a culmination of 10 years of smartphone innovation all wrapped up in a sleek package. We still feel that the Galaxy series takes on an everything but the kitchen sink approach, but some users love that and see that as being ahead of the game. For us, Samsung is poised for a great 2019 and beyond and with a little more tweaking of the cameras and software experience, could burn down the orchard someday real soon!
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