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Samsung Galaxy S10 review: the sweet spot

Guardian Technology 06 Jun 2019 06:09
The smaller, cheaper Galaxy S10 fits a beautiful 6.1in screen into a more manageable size, sacrificing little in the process. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Galaxy S10 is Samsung’s middle-of-the-road top-end phone, featuring a large screen in a pretty compact body for those who don’t like the current breed of massive flagship superphones.

The regular, non-plus versions of Samsung’s Galaxy S line have always been the sweet spot between size, price and performance. They offer big, beautiful screens in bodies that are practically tiny by today’s giant-phone standards.

The Galaxy S10 isn’t all that small, of course, measuring 70.4mm wide and 149.9mm tall with a stunning 6.1in QHD+ AMOLED screen. It’s about the same size as Apple’s iPhone XS, and considerably smaller than the Galaxy S10+, Huawei P30 Pro and OnePlus 7 Pro. It’s also one of the lightest top-end smartphones on the market at just 157g: 18g lighter than the S10+ and a full 49g lighter than the OnePlus 7 Pro.

The display also hides Samsung’s ultrasonic fingerprint scanner for unlocking the phone with your thumb on the screen. Arguably the most unusual aspect of the Galaxy S10 is the existence of a headphone socket in the bottom – a rare sight for a top-end smartphone in 2019.

Performance

The Galaxy S10 has the same processor, memory and storage as the larger Galaxy S10+ and therefore performs similarly. In this US this means Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 processor, but outside in the UK, Europe and many other regions it means Samsung’s own Exynos 9820, as tested here.

The Galaxy S10 runs Samsung’s new One UI version of Android 9 Pie.

The fingerprint reader is embedded under the screen, using ultrasound to read your ridges through the display. Most other in-display fingerprint readers are optical, which is less secure than ultrasonic sensors, but both can still be fooled like most biometric systems with the right equipment.

The Galaxy S10’s triple rear camera is one of the better systems on the market and is the same as that fitted to the larger Galaxy S10+. It’s main 12-megapixel camera, 12-megapixel telephoto camera and a 16-megapixel ultrawide-angle camera work together for easy and flexible shooting modes zooming from 0.5 to 2x, and on to a 10x hybrid zoom.

  • The stereo speakers are pretty good

  • The ultrasonic fingerprint sensor is incompatible with most screen protectors, but a compatible one is included in the box

  • The haptic vibrations are sharper than last year’s model, but not as good as Apple’s excellent Taptic Engine in the iPhone

  • Due to the smaller size I didn’t record any mis-touches of my palm on the screen, which is a common problem for curved-screen devices

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S10SamsungHuaweiAppleGoogle
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