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Thread: Our Samsung Galaxy S10+ Review

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    Our Samsung Galaxy S10+ Review

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    Samsung had their work cutout with their 2019 flagship; the S10+. Donít forget that these days anyone can make an Android phone. Android itself has matured and thus has become less interesting. Couple that with the fact that Samsung phones usually command a price premium and prices in general across the industry have been rising and you can see how their job gets even harder.

    Note Iíve been a bit backed up recently which has slowed down the pace at which I review phones.`

    Here are the S10+ís key features:

    Screen cut-out with dual front-facing cameras
    In-screen fingerprint reader
    3 rear cameras; regular, zoom and now ultra wide angle
    128GB base storage with available 512GB and 1TB built-in storage options
    huge 4100mAh battery with the ability to wirelessly charge other devices
    Available ceramic back (instead of glass)

    The Galaxy S line, which used to consist of a regular S and a larger S+ model now includes a 3rd S10e model. Theyíre all quite similar and only differ in screen size, battery size, RAM/storage configuration number of included cameras and type of fingerprint reader.

    Body:

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    While most other flagships including the regular S10+ have glass sandwiching a metal frame, this S10+ is the ceramic edition which has a, wait a moment - a ceramic back which is available in either white or black whereas the ďregularĒ non-ceramic S10ís come in shimmery finishes.

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    While Iím not really strongly opinionated about what colour my phone is, I have to admit the white is quite understated in a good way - thereís something really ďunSamsungĒ about the finish.

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    Whatís the point? Think of it this way; whatís less likely to scratch? An eraser or a glass cup? The cup of course because itís harder than the eraser. Ceramic is denser and harder than glass so a ceramic back is less likely to get scratched.

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    That said, if you were to drop the eraser and the glass cup which one is more likely to shatter? The cup will shatter because itís harder and more brittle. Since a ceramic back is more brittle it will shatter more easily than a glass back.

    Still, there are videos of people dropping regular and ceramic S10+ís and itís hard to say which one is truly more durable.

    The real benefit of the ceramic version is that itís heftier so it feels fancier and is less common and thus more interesting and special than glass. Lets not forget that the ceramic models are only available with more RAM and storage than the regular non-ceramic ones so thereís that too. Just remember that the front is still glass.

    The S10+ is very tricky to use with one hand. Whenever I try to type, the palm of my hand touches the side of the screen and I end up hitting the letter P or the backspace key. That plus the small bezels means Iím unintentionally touching the screen most times when I pick it up. This would be okay if the S10+ was really good at knowing when youíre touching the screen accidentally but sadly they still havenít figured this out.

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    Whenever this happens, I wonder what the benefits, besides looking cool a curved screen brings. Of course, Iíve been saying this for years now about Samsung curved display so maybe itís just me.

    With all that said, I get the narrow bezels. Some designs are not all about function over form. A phone with thick bezels looks cheap and clunky next to one with skinnier bezels. The same thing can be said about the curved display. Theyíre like a pair of high heels; theyíre not as functional as a pair of regular shoes but some people like them for how they look.

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    Still, I have to admit, once you put one of these phones in a thick case you end up giving it bezels which makes it more pleasant to use.

    There's a power button on the right side along with a volume and a Bixby button on the left. If the Bixby voice assistant isnít your thing, you can reconfigure it to launch your favorite app.

    Despite the slim bezels Iím very happy that thereís a front facing speaker at the top. Like the S9 thereís a second speaker at the bottom. Youíll also find 3.5mm headphone jack and USB Type-C connectors at the bottom.

    On the back are a trio of cameras along with some other sensors. Unlike the S9, the fingerprint reader has been relocated under the screen in front.

    Display:

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    Samsung bucks the trend of housing the front facing camera(s) in a notch. Instead, there are a pair of front-facing cameras located in a cut-out at the top right of the screen. The screen actually wraps around the hole. Samsung uses the pixels around the hole for animations when youíre using the biometrics. The cut-out is flush with the screen. Thankfully Samsung hasnít named this feature S-hole.

    Hereís my take, I donít mind notches since I mostly look at the top of the screen to check out the network signal the battery level and the time. Having notifications there can be useful but often I find they just make the top look more cluttered. So, I donít mind that a notch can take up a bit of screen real estate. I have the same feelings for a cut-out.

    Theyíre also symmetrical when youíre holding the phone in portrait mode (which is most of the time) so I they donít bother me from an aesthetic perspective.

    Thatís the big difference between a notch and the S10+ís cut-out - the S10+ís is asymmetrical, it just doesnít blend in. Eventually the novelty of it wears out and then it just sticks out because your notification area ends about ⅘ of the way across the top while the clock isnít in the top right corner anymore.

    I think the fact that itís off-center and isnít at the edge of the screen really draws attention to it in a bad way. I also notice it because I tend to look at the top right of the screen when Iím pulling down the notification screen.

    The screen itself looks fantastic; the slim bezels coupled with the curved edges makes a really great first impression.

    When display 100% white in Chrome, I measured a maximum brightness of around 350 cd/m2 with the screen in vivid mode which isnít bad. You might run into problems when itís really sunny outside.

    Putting the screen in natural color mode reduces the maximum brightness about 5%.

    As far as color goes, compared to the iPhoneís more calibrated looking whites which are a tad warmer - the S10ís are much whiter without being cold. As far as Iím concerned both are good approaches.

    It has very nice accurate color thatís never obnoxious looking.

    Viewing angles are excellent but not good enough that you donít notice that thereís something off about the curved parts of the display. That said, you get used to it.

    As I mentioned earlier, the screen has a fingerprint reader built-in it. While itís extremely cool feature, itís slow and half the time it doesnít work.

    Fortunately the front-facing camera allows a second way to unlock the S10+. It works much more quickly and is more reliable than the fingerprint reader. What usually happens is I put my thumb on the fingerprint reader but itís actually the facial recognition that unlocks the phone.

    To test the facial recognition I tried it with a baseball cap, large sunglasses than then both and compared it with the S9+ and XS Max. All 3 phones were able to recognize my face when I wore a baseball cap and when I took off my glasses. The S9+ and S10+ failed to recognize me when I wore large sunglasses.

    For best results you should setup both fingerprint and facial unlock so that both get a chance to recognize you.

    In out-right terms, the biometrics on the S10+ arenít as reliable as on the S9+ but they still work well enough that I wouldnít complain about them that loudly.

    You know whatís funny? I actually wrote this entire section and was going to publish it when I realized I didnít mention the screen resolution. It used to be the screen resolution was one of the first things Iíd mention pixel density has reached the point where it just isnít terribly interesting.

    Anyways, the S10+ has a resolution of 3040◊1440. Flagships have had 1440 pixel displays for a while now but theyíve slowly been getting taller. Like the S9+, it has an option to process the graphics at 1080 internally to help save battery life and like on the S9+, I canít tell any difference in image quality when this setting is on - even when I look real close.

    Thereís an even lower 720p setting but there is a difference so I recommend staying at 1080.

    Camera:

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    There are 3 cameras on the back with the following lenses; super wide angle, regular and portrait. I tested all phones with the HDR setting on.

    I compared it to the S9+, iPhone XS Max, Pixel 3 and the P30 Pro.

    Compared to the iPhone XS Max and Pixel 3 the S10+ photos tend to be a little bit more saturated (at the expense of color accuracy) a tad more processed looking due to stronger noise reduction and sharpening but itís pretty subtle. Itís the sort of thing you have to zoom in to really notice. I found it also tended to expose scenes a tiny bit brighter.

    In the low light scene with night mode activated it got the white balance wrong - itís a bit too warm as you can see by the reddish carpet

    The real story here is the inclusion of an ultra-wide angle camera. While UWAís have been found LG flaghips for a few years now, having a UWA and a zoomed in camera along with the regular one is still not always a standard feature.

    Compared to the Huawei P30 Pro the S10+ís UWA camera is noticeably wider. It captures a bit more on the sides. The S10+ also takes much cleaner looking UWA photos plus itís much better indoors. The difference is pretty drastic when youíre shooting video.

    If youíre shooting video be mindful that the UWA camera canít record video in 4K - instead it records video at up to 1080P. This wouldnít be a big deal to me except that thereís no option to use the UWA if youíve set the video to record at 4K. Initially I thought the UWA couldnít record video at all until I played around with the settings. Itís mostly a convenience thing; If you want the flexibility to shoot video with the UWA quickly, you need to leave the video at 1080P.

    There are 2 front-facing cameras. You get a normal wide-ish angle selfie camera along with a slightly more zoomed in one thatís FOV is similar to one found on an iPhone. The difference is subtle but thatís what makes it so great; I actually prefer a more zoomed in one if itís just me while the wider angle one is better if I want more than one person in the frame.

    The camera app has a lot of different modes and options this can be a good thing but somehow on the S10+ it just feels needlessly complex and cluttered.

    Software:

    A couple of months ago Samsung actually ditched their TouchWiz Android user interface in favor of their new One UI. Is it a case of same wine, different bottle? Actually no, itís a pretty big difference and not just a rebranding.

    The first thing I noticed is that there is less duplication of preloaded apps. Basically with the exception of Gmail, Chrome and Google Play, the S10+ only comes with alternate versions of the usual apps preloaded Android apps.

    Hereís something interesting; the S10+ doesnít come with a dedicated music app. It doesnít come with Play Music or a Samsung music program or Spotify.

    Instead of Google Drive you get Microsoft OneDrive/Office Mobile, Samsungís Gallery app instead of photos, etc. Anyways you can always download whatever app you want to use and uninstall a lot of the included ones.

    Another thing I noticed is that the One UI doesnít push you as hard to sign up for a Samsung ID. If you donít want to signup or login you wonít be bothered much.

    Under it all is Android 9.0 Pie. The One UI doesnít use the Pie task switcher where you swipe up to switch apps like on a Pixel. Instead it uses the older task switcher/home button/back buttons along the bottom.

    I liked the One UI though I must say once I got my apps launched I spent very little time interacting with it.

    Multimedia:

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    Despite the smaller bezels the S10+ has very impressive speakers. Initially I thought they were less meaty sounding than the speakers on the S9+ and iPhone XS Max but after listening more I find them much clearer and less processed sounding. I think theyíre the best pair of speakers on any phone Iíve tried and actually one of the best things about the S10+.

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    The curved screen and minimal bezels makes it tiring to hold for long periods of time. A thick case helps to fix this.

    Samsung included a 3.5mm headphone jack at the bottom.

    The S10+ is available with 128, 512GB or 1TB of built-in storage which can be augmented with MicroSD cards. Weíve come a long way, I remember the original Samsung Galaxy came with 8GB of built-in storage.

    Performance:

    Inside is Qualcommís Snapdragon 855 SoC which feels a tad faster than the 845. Depending on the configuration the S10+ either comes with 8 or 12GB of RAM. 8GB is a good amount and should be for the next while so I doubt youíll find any difference between it and 12GB.

    To test battery life, I put Prime Video on the S10+, downloaded a season of the Grand Tour in good quality and set it to play for a few hours. I didnít run the test from full to empty because most phones will activate a low power mode when the battery is low plus. I also ran the test when the battery was no higher than 99% full.

    I wrote down the starting and ending percentage and time and then worked out how many minutes on average it took for the meter to drop one percentage. I used a colorimeter to set each phoneís screen brightness as close to 100 nits when displaying a 100% bright background in Chrome as I could (usually within 10%).

    The S10+ would last around 7.5 mins in WQHD+ mode before the battery would drop a percentage. Switching to FHD+ mode would take it to around 8 mins. The Huawei P30 Pro get around 11 mins in FHD+ mode (it has a lower resolution display that isnít WQHD+).

    Conclusion:

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    In the end one of the S10+ 's signature features, the in-screen fingerprint reader is a bit of a dud in that itís noticeably slower than the facial recognition. Itís fast becoming a vestigial feature that they might as well omit entirely. That said, the facial recognition, while not quite as reliable as the S9+ works well enough that overall I donít have serious complaints about the S10+ 's biometrics.

    The extra camera on the back allows for a greater deal of flexibility with your taking pictures. You probably wonít use the ultra wide-angle camera that frequently but when you do need it, thereís no replacement for it.

    The 4100mAh battery is a boon for heavy users. While thereís always gonna be some users who need more, 4100mAh gets you that much further between charges.

    In a market full of notched displays, the screen cut-out is very cool. That said, after the novelty wears off, I donít think itís a better solution than the notch - at best itís just different take.

    While weíve reached peak smartphone, the S10+ moves the needle enough to keep things interesting.

    Rating:

    4.5 out of 5

    Pros:
    Speakers
    Flexibility of 3 cameras
    Camera image quality
    Large battery

    Cons:
    Difficult to hold
    Fingerprint reader doesnít work
    Cut-out is ugly
    Expensive

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  3. #3
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    Having the screen cutout off to one side lets the rest of the top be used for notification space instead of splitting the line like notch phones. It keeps the notification area together and keeps notification icons from being obscured by the notch. And the three lens for the camera are extraordinarily convenient for framing shots.

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