Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus Review
Arguably the best phone on sale today
The Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus is an exceptional, and expensive, piece of kit. However, it’s hard to argue that the new S10 Plus isn’t worth its $999 asking price – it excelled across all areas of our testing. This might just be our new favorite Android phone.
- Fantastic screen
- Great-looking design
- Strong cameras
- Speedy processor
- OneUI is a huge improvement over previous Samsung skins
- Samsung can be slow to issue OS updates
- Bixby isn't very helpful
The Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus is the second biggest, second most expensive phone in Samsung’s new S10 lineup, behind the 5G-compatible variant of the S10.
While the Samsung Galaxy S9 was an iterative upgrade over the S8, the S10 series – and S10 Plus, in particular – is almost a complete revamp of Samsung’s phones.
For a start, it does away with bezels and notches almost entirely, with a new dual punch hole front camera. It also gets Samsung’s new and vastly improved Android skin, called OneUI. We’ll touch on these in more detail later, but at the moment, all you need to know is that the S10 Plus is a serious contender for the best phone on sale at the moment.
In this review:
- S10 Plus design – A beautiful, considered piece of phone design
- S10 Plus screen – Sharp, bright, and stunning
- S10 Plus performance – With 8GB of RAM, it powers through tasks
- S10 Plus software – Still a mixed bag, but Samsung is improving
- S10 Plus cameras – Great, but not outstanding
- S10 Plus battery life – Puts other flagship phones to shame
- S10 Plus price – Yes it’s expensive, but it’s worth it
- S10 Plus rivals – Trades punches with the best phones on the market
- Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus verdict – Probably our new favorite Android phone
Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus design
The S10 Plus is a stunning phone. Our Prism White sample looks gorgeous, with light reflecting and refracting into different colors as it bounces across the rear case.
The horizontal, centrally-mounted rear camera stack gives the phone a welcome symmetry compared to iPhone and Google alternatives, and the curved sides of the screen and rear case make the phone a delight to hold – a stark contrast compared to the Samsung Note 9.
You’ll also notice that the S10 Plus features a headphone jack and space for a microSD card, which is great to see in a 2019 flagship phone.
Another pleasing revelation is that, despite its large 6.4-inch screen, the S10 Plus doesn’t feel overly large in your hand. This is thanks in part to the small bezels and punch hole front cameras, but also to the curved sides, which let you get a better grasp on the phone.
Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus screen
The 6.4-inch display is one of the S10’s many highlights. It has a super-sharp 1440×3040 pixel resolution – perfect for watching TV shows and films.
The screen also makes use of Samsung’s new Dynamic AMOLED technology, which helps to make colors even more vivid and bright. This means you won’t be straining to see what’s on your screen, even in bright daylight.
As we mentioned above, the S10 Plus’ display curves at the sides, joining with the aluminum frame that runs around the edge of the phone. It looks great, and makes the S10 Plus feel great in-hand, but we’re not sold on the actual utility of the curved sides. Samsung has brought its Edge Screen tech, which allows you to swipe in from the right-hand side of the screen to reveal a small app drawer – but when you can summon the phone’s entire app drawer by swiping up, this feels a bit pointless.
However, the biggest quirk on the S10 Plus’ screen is the two punch hole cameras, mounted side-by-side in a kind of tablet-shaped black void. They can appear strange at first, but after spending some time with the phone, we absolutely love them. The punch hole camera is definitely preferable to the notch – it doesn’t eat into the screen as much, and it looks cleaner and more polished.
The S10 Plus has one of the best phone screens on sale – if not the best.
Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus performance
The S10 Plus is a blisteringly fast phone. It uses Samsung’s own Exynos 9820 chip in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, while the rest of the world gets the slightly quicker Snapdragon 855.
Those with the 128GB storage option get 8GB of RAM, while anyone with the 1TB storage option (which really isn’t necessary) gets an equally unnecessary 12GB of RAM.
As a result, the S10 Plus will breeze through any sort of multitasking, and let you play games with ease.
The S10 Plus also has four power mode options, which allow you to decrease the screen’s brightness or rein in that crazy fast processor in order to extend the battery life. It’s a neat trick, and puts you in greater control of your phone’s performance – ideal if you’ve got a long trip somewhere and don’t want to run the battery down too much.
The S10 Plus is easily one of the fastest phones on sale today, and can easily hang with the best models from Apple and Huawei.
Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus software
The S10 Plus’ software is a real mixed bag.
Samsung’s new OneUI Android skin is great, and it excels on the S10 Plus. Gesture controls are effortless, and the way apps interact with the punchhole camera is brilliant – with OneUI, you never feel that you’re losing out on screen real estate.
However, updates do still take a little while to come through, and we’d ultimately prefer it if Samsung adopted a near-stock version of Android like Motorola has. With that said, it’s difficult to overstate how nice OneUI is compared to older Samsung skins.
Then there’s Bixby. Don’t get us wrong – Samsung’s Bixby smart assistant is getting better, and the company’s decision to open up a marketplace for Bixby developers is a step in the right direction. But Google Assistant is still light-years ahead of Samsung’s smart assistant.
Put simply, Bixby just isn’t as smart as Google’s offering. For example, we asked Bixby how to get from Camden (where the Tech.co offices are) to the Sir John Oldcastle pub in Farringdon. Google Assistant was able to take us straight there, but Bixby gave us a route to Victoria station – roughly two and a half miles away, which would be disappointing if you wanted a quick beer after work.
There’s also a dedicated Bixby button under the volume rocker on the side of the phone. It can be remapped, however, so you can open any app with one press, or open Bixby with two presses.
Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus cameras
The S10 has five, count them, five cameras – two on the front and three on the rear.
Let’s start with the front cameras. The S10 Plus has an 8Mp lens and a 10Mp lens with different aperture sizes, which let in different amounts of light for sharper images with greater contrast. The selfies it takes pack in a lot of detail – especially in regular mode.
However, switch to the live focus modes – Samsung’s equivalent of Apple’s portrait modes – and things take a turn for the worse. Images lose some detail, with textures and surfaces becoming noticeably smoother. This is likely due to the live focus modes being designed to make people look their best, but despite what Instagram might suggest, completely smooth faces just look a bit strange.
The rear cameras, however, are great. They have auto HDR (high dynamic range) capabilities which ramp up the contrast between colors, and images look great as a result. It might be due to the rare London sun, but images appear warm and full of life.
However, despite the array of different lenses, the S10 Plus’ images can lack a little detail. It’s not a major gripe, and you’ll still get great photos – but you’ll get even better ones on any Google phone.
Video quality from the rear cameras, though, is incredible. Expect super-smooth, surprisingly stable videos with a great amount of detail, color, and light.
Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus battery life
The S10 Plus is almost in a class of its own when it comes to battery life. It has a huge 4,100 mAh battery, which outstrips both the iPhone XS Max (3,174 mAh) and the Google Pixel 3 XL (3,430 mAh).
We were comfortably getting around 1.5 days of heavy use from the S10 Plus, and you could probably extend this out to 2.5 days with judicious use of the phone’s power saving modes.
If you want a smartphone with great features and a great battery life, then look no further.
Samsung S10 Plus cost and value for money
There’s no point in sugarcoating this – the S10 Plus costs $999.
However, given the top-drawer screen, excellent performance, incredible battery life, and impressive cameras, the S10 Plus does a lot more to justify this price tag than some of its similarly-priced contemporaries (we’re looking at you, iPhone XS).
You should take some solace in the fact that Samsung phones, unlike iPhones, tend to drop in price as the year goes on. Having launched in April 2019, if you’re looking to grab a new phone in the second half of 2019, you’ll likely be able to pick up some pretty enticing deals.
Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus rivals
The S10 Plus has a number of rivals, including competition from the other three phones in the S10 range.
Samsung S10 Plus
Samsung S10 5G
|Who is it best for?||Someone looking to get a great phone for slightly less than they though possible||Will be a great fit for most people, providing you can stretch to the extra cost||Power users — if you're one of the most demanding phone users, the S10 Plus will have you covered||Anyone who wants to be ahead of the curve with 5G (and has money to burn)|
|Screen||5.8-inch 1080×2280 AMOLED||6.1-inch 1440×3040 AMOLED||6.4-inch 1440×3040 AMOLED||6.7-inch 1440×3040 AMOLED|
|Processor||Snapdragon 855||Snapdragon 855||Snapdragon 855||Snapdragon 855|
|Front cameras||10Mp wide-angle||10Mp wide-angle||10Mp wide-angle + 8Mp depth sensor||10Mp wide-angle + Time-of-Flight (TOF) camera|
|Rear cameras||12Mp wide-angle + 16Mp ultrawide||12Mp wide + 12Mp telephoto + 16Mp ultrawide||12Mp wide + 12Mp telephoto + 16Mp ultrawide||12Mp wide + 12Mp telephoto + 16Mp ultrawide + TOF camera|
|Buy it now||From Verizon||From Verizon||From Verizon||From Verizon|
If you’re looking to save some money and still get a top-drawer phone, get the S10e. However, if you’re eyeing up an S10, we’d try and find another $100 or so to get the S10 Plus.
The S10 5G, however, we wouldn’t bother with – you might get an extra camera and a bigger screen, but the infrastructure isn’t in place to justify having a 5G phone yet.
But what if you have an S9 or S9 Plus? Can the S10 Plus really be that much better? The answer is yes, and then some. The S10 Plus is like a glimpse into the future of Android phones – it’s slick, beautifully designed, and powerful. The S9 series, however, is like the best of the old guard.
So what about external rivals, like Google and Apple?
We’d say that unless you’re already locked in to the Apple ecosystem, you should get the S10 Plus over an iPhone XS or XS Max. We’d also say, however, that there’s never been a better time to break free from Apple’s grasp.
The Pixel 3 XL, meanwhile, is cheaper than the S10 Plus, and has a better camera to boot. However, the S10 Plus is faster, and has a better battery life. But again, the S10 Plus uses Bixby, while the Pixel 3XL gives you a seamless Google Assistant and Android experience — plus you get all the new updates first.
If it was up to us, and we had the extra cash, we’d probably pick the S10 Plus – and we don’t say that lightly.
Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus verdict
The Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus isn’t perfect, but it is excellent. The screen, with its beautiful (if slightly pointless) curving sides and punch hole cameras, is incredibly sharp and bright. The phone’s battery life is remarkable, and its speed is breathtaking.
Yes, Bixby isn’t great, and yes, Samsung is slow to push out Android updates – but we’d happily make these sacrifices to have an S10 Plus in our pocket.
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