Samsung S10 Plus Smartphone Review $1699
Samsung S10 Plus Smartphone Review
PAT PILCHER reviews Samsung’s giant-screened Galaxy S10 and is wowed by its superiority.
It’s an eerie thing. I was pondering (several weeks before the S10 Plus launched) about what specs I’d like to see. The Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus manages to tick nearly every box. It’s the bigger version of the Galaxy S10 and the more affordable Galaxy S10e. After several weeks I found a lot to like, and crucially, little to dislike.
Samsung has taken the all-screen philosophy to heart with the S10 Plus, and it’s mahoosive. Borrowing from Blackadder, its 6.4-inch display is “more capacious than an Elephant’s scrotum”. It equates to a 93.1 percent screen-to-body ratio and sports an edge-to-edge design with curved edges in what Samsung calls the “Infinity-o” design. This also means it has a pill-shaped ‘punch-hole’ for the dual front-facing cameras.
Under the front and rear glass, there’s plenty tucked away. Around the front, there’s an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor sitting under the screen. Inside the S10 Plus is a generous 4,100mAh battery which also powers the Wireless PowerShare feature Samsung borrowed from Huawei so you can top-up charge other widgets that are wireless charging compatible.
Around the back, there is no fingerprint sensor. There’s a triple-lens camera and an almost imperceptible camera bump. The rear shooter can take regular, telephoto zoomed, through to ultra-wide-angle photos. The rear shooters use a dual-aperture lens, so I was able to capture reasonably vibrant low-light pictures. Frustratingly, quality was a mixed bag as it lacks a Night mode. The ultra-wide lens can capture a 123-degree field of view to cram more into the frame. The Scene Optimiser can recognise more of what you are shooting and has 10 new categories. Shot Suggestions provides real-time AI shooting tips and is a useful addition too.
Live Focus is much better than with last year’s model. The background blur effect comes with an on-screen slider, and there are Spin and Zoom effects for arty farty shots. Colour Point keeps your subject in colour and like the mate 20 Pro, turns the background black and white. It also works with the front-facing cameras for striking selfies.
The S10 Plus’s screen is so crispy it could have been deep fried.
The S10 Plus has two front-facing cameras – these are 10MP and 8MP, which allows for better Live Focus portraits. Images from the front shooters looked good except in low light, where onboard image processing smoothed out pixel noise, often sacrificing sharpness. Video-wise, the S10 Plus can capture HDR10+, plus there is also Digital Video Stabilisation on the rear cameras which can make for smoother video footage.
The ‘punch-hole’ display may be on trend, but Samsung has stretched it out to accommodate two front-facing cameras, so the punch hole is more lozenge shaped than round. The new display design also means that there’s less bezel and more display.
While there was some concern expressed that the hole punch design would be a distraction, in practice this wasn’t the case. This comes down to several factors. Firstly, the front cameras line up with the notification bar, so they don’t get in the way. Secondly, when watching movies, a black bar is applied to the top of the screen which pretty much makes the hole punch lozenge vanish.
Either way, the S10 Plus’s screen is so crispy it could have been deep fried. This is thanks to a native 1440 x 3040 QHD+ resolution. When stretched over the 19:9 aspect ratio, this equates to 526ppi PPI, although the display is set to Full HD+ (2280 x 1080) by default to conserve battery power. That said, it’ll automatically switch up when a 4K movie or game is playing. It’s a subtle touch, but a clever one.
Speaking of movies, the S10 Plus also supports HDR10+ which teases extra detail out of dark scenes in movies. When combined with the ultra-vivid colours and high contrast levels of the OLED display, the screen really pops and is easily the best phone display available.
That said, there is a gotcha. The curved edges of the infinity-o screen sometimes registered my palm as a false touch. This quickly became irritating when typing. I often found myself typing more nonsense (than usual) in messages.
By going ultrasonic, a 3D scan of your fingerprint can be obtained which makes for a far more accurate unlock.
All told, the S10 plus has a real all-screen feel, even if it’s made up of less bezel rather than no bezel.
Design-wise, Samsung has stuck to the design language of last year’s iteration. This means that the S10 Plus should look familiar to most Samsung users. A crucial difference is that the aluminium frame holding both front and back pieces of glass is thinner than the S9 Plus (the 512 and 1T versions have a ceramic back).
The fingerprint sensor is now under the screen and uses Qualcomm’s ultrasonic fingerprint tech. By going ultrasonic, a 3D scan of your fingerprint can be obtained which makes for a far more accurate unlock that works even if your finger is wet. As cool as the tech is (and it is verily cool indeed), I found the under-screen fingerprint scanner was not as quick as the scanner on the back of the S9 Plus, and I also found I needed to use more pressure. That said, the speed issue is splitting hair as it is still quick enough and more importantly, is accurate. I also noticed that while I could locate the rear fingerprint scanner, I had to look at the S10 Plus to make sure my finger was in the right place, as there is a fingerprint icon on the screen to show where to place my dabs so prints could be captured. After a week or two, it became second nature.
Samsung also persisted with the dedicated key for Bixby. Press this, and Bixby launches. As it’s located below the volume button, I often mistook it for the volume-down button. While Bixby has improved hugely and can better handle complex queries, the dedicated button annoyed the bejesus out of me and ultimately is what held back the S10 Plus from a perfect 10/10 score.
Samsung does, however, gain brownie points for keeping a 3.5mm headphone jack (which is located alongside the USB-C port) and MicroSD card support. These are easy wins as so many other phone makers lack the engineering wherewithal to keep them.
The S10 Plus’s battery has a whopping 4,100mAh capacity, which Samsung says will deliver “all-day battery life or a bit more”. This is probably because of S10 Plus’s bigger screen. In use, I’d make it to the evening with 30 percent battery left and with light use, the S10 Plus delivered close to two days of use. Very impressive indeed.
The beating heart powering the S10 plus is Samsung’s own Exynos 9820 CPU. It’s octa-core and is paired with 8GB of RAM (or 12GB in the Ultimate Performance Edition). The combination provides more grunt than a bacon factory, making the S10 Plus the phone of choice for gamers and power users.
Its screen sets a new benchmark for phone displays.
Storage starts at a healthy 128GB (around 110GB is available out of the box). Add to this a microSD slot (which supports up to 1TB cards) and the fact that the S10 Plus can come with 512GB or 1TB and storage is plentiful. For those with new routers the S10 plus also supports next-gen Wi-Fi 6, which, in theory, is up to four times faster than 802.11ac standard.
There is a hell of a lot to like with the S10 Plus. Its screen sets a new benchmark for phone displays, and it’s plenty powerful. All that grunt doesn’t come at the cost of battery life. Combine this with a beautiful design that feels decidedly premium, and all told, Samsung is definitely onto a winner.
Dimensions: 157.6 x 74.1 x 7.8mm
OS: Android 9
Screen size: 6.4-inch
CPU: Octa-core chipset
Rear camera: 16MP + 12MP + 12MP
Front camera: 10MP + 8MP