Samsung has priced the smaller version of the top-tier S10 models more attractively than the S10+. In addition to its smaller display comes a lower capacity battery, a single front-facing camera along with less internal storage. Likewise, there is no option for a ceramic back as there is with the S10+. Read on to find out how the Galaxy S10 compares against its Plus namesake and how it stands up against other modern flagships.
The Galaxy S10 series is upon us. We have already reviewed the largest and most expensive model of the three, and now it is time to see how the regular Galaxy S10 fares in our tests.
The Galaxy S10 is generally more compact than the Galaxy S10+ due because of its smaller display. Its Dynamic AMOLED display measures 6.1-inches, which is 0.3-inches smaller than the one in the Galaxy S10+, but it still has the rounded screen edges that you may have seen with the Galaxy S8 or Galaxy S9. However, unlike the Galaxy S10+, the S10 has only one punch-hole front-facing, which may appeal more to those we prefer a clean look than what Galaxy S10+ offers.
Our test device has 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage, which currently retails for €899. There is also a 512 GB model that also has 8 GB RAM and which costs €250 (US$250) more. You could purchase a comparable microSD card for considerably less though.
The S10 has a 3,400 mAh, which is 700 mAh smaller than the one in the S10+ but 400 mAh larger than the battery in the Galaxy S9. Samsung has also equipped the S10 with three rear-facing cameras as it has with the Galaxy S10+. Additionally, the S10 features the same ultrasonic fingerprint sensor as its larger sibling and the reverse wireless charging PowerShare functionality too. Moreover, the S10 and Galaxy S10+ are some of the first commercially available smartphones to support Wi-Fi 6, which you may have seen referred to as the 802.11 ax standard, along with LTE Cat. 20. Samsung should also release a 5G model of the S10 in Q2’19, which has an even larger display and a larger battery too.
We have chosen to compare the Galaxy S10 against other non-plus-sized flagship smartphones. Our comparison devices will include the Apple iPhone XS, the Huawei P20 Pro, the LG V40 ThinQ, the OnePlus 6T, the Sony Xperia XZ3 and the Nokia 8 Sirocco.
, 108.5 GB free
There is no ceramic version of the S10, unlike the Galaxy S10+. Samsung has instead opted to equip the former with a glass back, which the company reports is made from Corning Gorilla Glass 5. By contrast, the touchscreen is protected by the newer Corning Gorilla Glass 6, which promises to be up to 2 times tougher than its predecessor. The S10 is just as thick as its larger sibling at 7.8 mm, while its triple rear-facing camera housing protrudes from the back glass by approximately 0.6 mm. The latter means that the S10 cannot lie flat on a table, but there is an edge around the housing that should prevent it from being as scratched as easily.
Samsung currently sells the S10 in Prism White, Black, Blue and Green. Our test device is the second of the four colours and picks up fingerprints more easily than our ceramic Galaxy S10+ does. However, there is no difference in the quality of craftsmanship between the two devices. Our review unit’s dark stainless-steel frame makes the device feel heavy, but also more premium than smartphones made from aluminium. The gaps between materials are all tight and even, with the two pieces of glass almost blending seamlessly in with the frame. The S10 is impervious to our attempts to bend it too, and its OLED panel does not distort no matter how hard we apply pressure to it.
The plastic card slot also sits completely flush with the frame, but it has a slightly glossier finish than the stainless-steel, which prevents it from blending in completely. The card slot is quite flexible too and has a rubber ring around its outer edge to prevent the ingress of dust and water. Our review unit is the DUOS model, which means that it supports dual-SIM functionality. The card slot has two nano-SIM card slots with the second SIM slot also doubling as a microSD card slot. You must forego dual-SIM functionality if you want to use a microSD card though.
The battery can only be replaced by removing the back glass, as has been the case with Samsung Galaxy phones since the S6. The back glass is secured with water-resistant and dustproof adhesive which helps gives the S10 its IP68 certification, but it does prevent people from replacing the battery without voiding the device’s warranty.
Samsung currently only sells the S10 with 8 GB RAM, which is 4 GB less than the most expensive Galaxy S10+ models, but it should be plenty for most people. The S10 comes with a maximum of 512 GB UFS 2.1 storage too, which is only half of what the most expensive Galaxy S10+ has. Both devices have a USB 3.1 Gen.1 Type-C port though that provides not only provides fast data transmission but also support for wired image output to external screens via HDMI or DisplayPort. The S10 supports the Samsung DeX desktop mode too and USB On-The-Go (OTG) for connecting external peripherals like a keyboard and mouse.
The S10 supports all modern microSD file systems including exFAT, but we could only format our microSD card as external storage, which means that we could only save apps and data to internal storage by default. However, there is an option to enable the latter for microSD cards, which is hidden within Developer options.
Samsung also includes practically every sensor going into the S10. There is still a heart rate sensor next to the rear-facing cameras with which it also equipped the Galaxy S9. There is also support for dual-audio Bluetooth 5.0 and many audio codecs, but Samsung continues to ignore aptX HD. There is NFC and MST functionality too for use with services like Google Pay and Samsung Pay. In short, the S10 is suitably equipped for a flagship smartphone, although there is no radio receiver or IR blaster, which may frustrate some people.
One of the highlights of the S10 and the S10+ is their ultrasound in-screen fingerprint readers. We have seen in-screen fingerprint sensors before with the OnePlus 6T and the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, but the ultrasonic one in the S10 and S10+ should provide improved security, faster recognition and work better at night. Alternatively, you could use 2D facial recognition, but this is not as secure as using a fingerprint. Samsung has removed the Iris scanner with which it equipped its Galaxy S9 series, but there is still the option to set a password, pattern or PIN.
The Galaxy S10 ships with One UI, which is a Samsung customised version of Android 9.0 Pie. One UI looks tidier, cleaner and feels quicker than Samsung Experience, which it replaced in late 2018.
Bixby remains a focus of One UI, and now supports more languages including German along with a new option to set routines. Like Google Assistant, Bixby can now also learn from your habits and provide advice on when to take a break or the optimal route based on current traffic information.
Samsung has also announced that it will make the Bixby button configurable via a software update. The company refers to this as “Bixby Key Customization”, but we could not test this at the time of writing, but we suspect that Samsung will roll it out soon via an OTA update. The feature should make its way to the Galaxy S8 and S9 series too.
The DUOS model also has a dual-messenger feature that allows you to create a duplicate of an app so that you can have a dedicated app for each SIM card.
The Galaxy S10 does not support multiple user accounts, but it can backup contacts, data and message history to a microSD card or external storage when connected to a computer. You cannot save data to a NAS like you can with the Mate 20 Pro though.
Samsung includes plenty of bloatware including its Galaxy Store. Our review unit has a few Microsoft apps pre-installed too, which can only be disabled. Most of the pre-installed apps cannot be uninstalled.
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Communication & GPS
The S10 and Galaxy S10+ are the first smartphones to support the new Wi-Fi 6 standard. The Wi-Fi Alliance has decided to change the nomenclature with the new ax standard, so IEEE 802.11-ax has become Wi-Fi 6. The Wi-Fi module supports VHT80 and can connect to 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz networks. Samsung claims that the device can achieve up to 1.2 GBit/s download speeds, which is impressively fast. However, the Mate 20 Pro could theoretically achieve up to 1.7 GBit/s with VHT160 despite supporting up to the older Wi-Fi 5, or 802.11 ac, standard.
Both the S10 and the Mate 20 Pro smartphones are too fast for our current reference router, the Linksys EA8500. Our review unit achieved excellent transfer speeds in the iperf3 Client Wi-Fi tests that we conduct, but they fall short of some other flagships like the LG V40 ThinQ and even the Galaxy S9. It appears then that Samsung has some optimising to do with the S10’s new Wi-Fi module, but we doubt whether most people would notice the difference between the transfer speeds in our comparison tables during daily use. In short, the S10 should always maintain a fast Wi-Fi connection without any connection issues or performance dropouts.
The S10 supports almost all 2G and 3G frequencies and utilises LTE Cat. 20 for fast connections over LTE. However, our review unit supports surprisingly few LTE bands. While you should have no issues with connecting to LTE networks on intercontinental trips, the S10 does not support enough LTE bands for it to be considered a global smartphone. If you decide to buy an S10 or Galaxy S10+ on a trip to Asia or America, we would recommend first checking whether that regional variant supports all LTE bands that your home country uses because it may not do.