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Samsung Galaxy S10+ Review - 10 Years of Excellence!

OPPO
Samsung released the Galaxy S10 late last February 2019 and this is our thoughts after using it as our daily driver for one month!
Samsung Galaxy S10+ Review - 10 Years of Excellence
The Samsung Galaxy S10+

In our impressions, the Galaxy S10 series left a great impression because of its polished design and build, its eye-popping display, large memory capacity, new 8nm processor and the new camera set-up!

How does it hold-up a month after though?


For our review part 1: Samsung Galaxy S10e, S10 and S10+ First Impressions


Display Quality

The new Infinity-O dynamic AMOLED display
The new Infinity-O dynamic AMOLED display

The new 
6.4-inch Dynamic AMOLED, 3040 x 1440 resolution display introduces class leading features that make the S10's display the best in the market. In fact, DisplayMate published their findings on their website that detail the performance of the S10's display. In summary, the display has a max brightness of 1,215 nits, it is class leading in color accuracy with 113 percent DCI-P3 and 142 percent sRGB coverage,  it is easier on the eyes because of the 42 percent Lesser Blue light emissions (compared to the S9), it produces better images and video too because it is HDR10+ complaint and Dynamic tone mapping.

Best screen on a phone yet!

It is fact one the brightest display we've ever encountered wherein even in daylight situations we would put the brightness slider at 40 percent because our eyes can't take how bright it can get.

The colors are deep but are incredibly color accurate with deep blacks and sharp details. No other display comes close especially when placed side by side with others.

With the new One UI and new display you only have two options for screen modes: natural (color accurate) or vivid (strong colors)

It has a bluelight filter mode but we barely used it because the new display is rated for lesser blue light emissions that results in less eye strain over time. 


Our only gripe with the display is the curved edges. When holding the phone normally when it doesn't have a case, the phone tends to detect our hands on the side which leads to the phone detecting two finger inputs which leads to frustrating situations. This is alleviated when the S10 is used with a case. The curved edge glass looks great but it isn't that functional. 

Lastly, it has the standard 10 points of touch for apps that take advantage of the multiple simultaneous points of touch.

Audio Quality

One of the two speakers is at the bottom
One of the two speakers is at the bottom

The stereo speakers themselves are one of the loudest we've ever had to try. The audio quality of the out out gets somewhat "tingy" at maximum volume but the clarity, depth and separation is noticeable right away.

The Samsung Galaxy S10 is one of the few flagships that offer a 3.5mm headphone jack, stereo speakers and an unspecified DAC. If you add Bluetooth 5.0's dual audio support makes the Samsung Galaxy S10 series one of the few phones with a more complete audio experience because you have the options to simultaneously connect to audio devices via Bluetooth, to use the built-in stereo speakers and to use the 3.5mm headphone jack. Not a lot of phones offer this complete experience any more.

When using the stock AKG tuned wired headphones, the audio quality is even better with more balanced mids and trebles. The bass is a little more prominent. The sound stage is decently sized with good clarity and with good separation.

Bluetooth audio is great with stable connections and with quick and reliable set-up. 

The ear piece is at the edge of the display and can could take a while to get used to. The output is clear and loud. Noise cancellation for calls is great.

Battery

The Samsung Galaxy S10+ delivers great battery life
The Samsung Galaxy S10+ delivers great battery life

S10+ carries a 4,100mAh battery that supports 15W Adaptive fast charging, wireless charging and Power share (reverse wireless charging).

With the PCMark Battery benchmark, the S10+ clocked in at 11 hours and 57 minutes! It is a 30+ minute improvement over the Note9's 11 hours 21. 

We are happy to say that the S10+ can last you through the day after the first week. The battery during the first few days seemed underwhelming but after a week of use, the software was able to adjust to my daily usage and was able to perform better than we hoped.

In our real world use with constant connection to Wi-Fi and LTE with heavy use of texting, calling, e-mailing, social media, YouTube and Spotify streaming and Chrome surfing, we were getting under 6 hours of on-screen time consistently. We would unplug the S10+ at 8AM in the morning and we would get home at 8PM with 30-35 percent battery left.

The 15W adaptive fast charging takes 1 hour and 45 minutes to charge the S10+ from 0 to 100 percent. We wish Samsung would implement a faster charging time in the next flagship.

Camera

The triple rear cameras
The triple rear cameras

At the back of the S10+ is a triple camera set up made up of a 12MP (f/1.5/f/2.4) with Dual Pixel AF and OIS, a 16MP f/2.2 123-degree ultra wide-angle lens, and a 12MP f/2.4 telephoto lens with OIS, AF, and dual tone LED flash.
The camera app
The camera app

It features the usual Samsung camera modes like Pro, Photo, Video, Live Focus, Super Slow-mo, Slow motion, Food, Panorama and Hyperlapse! A new addition is the new Instagram mode. 
Scene optimizer and smart features
Scene optimizer and smart features

Intelligent features like Scene Optimizer, Shot suggestions, Flaw detection are present and can be disabled. It how has a Document scan mode that automatically detects and scans a document without distortion. There is also a starburst option that adds starbursts in dark scenes captured with the rear camera.

HDR is enabled automatically along with the Quick Launch feature wherein you double tap the power key to launch the camera app.

Beauty mode is activated by toggling the magic wand icon on the top right. The beauty mode allows 8 levels of beautification in skin tone, jaw line, chin, eyes, nose and lips.

What is common in almost all modes is the quick access to the different modes and the different lenses above the shutter button that is easy to reach when shooting one-handed.

Food seems to adjust the colors to make the food look more appetising as compared to the standard Photo.
Instagram mode that takes the images directly to the Instagram app after captured
Instagram mode that takes the images directly to the Instagram app after captured

The dedicated Instagram mode allows you to shoot at full screen with access to the three rear camera lenses and the front facing cameras with flash. After taking the picture it takes you directly to the Instagram app where you can do the usual edits on an Instagram stories.

The images from the standard lens produces one of the best images we've seen on a smartphone in daylight or low light using 'Auto.' The details are sharp, the colors pop but are not over saturated and the contrast is strong. It is also the best performing lens in low light with minimal noise and loss of sharpness.

Surprisingly, there are situations wherein the telephoto lens delivers better image quality than the standard lenses. Most of the time, it is on par with the standard lens but there are situations where the color, the detail and the contrast are stronger and better on the telephoto lens while having lesser noise levels. In low light, there is minor loss of detail because of the noise reduction but it maintains a good image.

An even bigger surprise was that the S10+'s ultra wide angle is the best implementation we've seen so far! The image is distorts to give a somewhat fish eye effect. The sharpness, color and contrast are very good up until the extreme edges where the image softens and the colors become somewhat off. This is normal for an ultra wide lens but Samsung did a great job in maintaining image quality across the frame. In low light, it is able to have good color and contrast but sharpness suffers because of the aggressive noise reduction. It is also the worst performing sensor of the three in low light conditions.

The distortion of the ultra-wide angle is even more apparent when used up close or in macro range even with the distortion corrections turned on.
Samsung's Bright night or Night mode
Samsung's Bright night or Night mode

The S10 also has a night sight or night mode but unlike the implementation of the competition, it can only be activated when several requirements are met. It can only be done when the flash is turned off while using the "Photo" mode with Scene Detection turned on. Once this is turned on, the scene has to be dark enough for the 'Bright Night' mode to be activated. (This is indicated by the Moon with stars icon and not the moon only) Once all conditions are met, the camera app will prompt you to hold the camera steady and it take multiple exposures needed for the night mode.

Rear Camera Samples

Normal daylight
Normal daylight
Tele daylight
Tele daylight
Ultra-wide
Ultra-wide daylight
Normal indoor
Normal indoor
Tele indoor
Ultra-wide indoor
Ultra-wide indoor
Normal dim
Normal dim
Tele dim
Tele dim
Ultra wide dim
Ultra wide dim
Normal low light
Normal low light
Tele low light
Tele low light
Ultra-wide low light
Ultra-wide low light

The S10+ carries a dual front facing set-up of a 10MP f/1.9 and a 8MP f/2.2 RGB with Dual Pixel autofocus. It supports an on-screen flash feature.

The selfie camera modes are the Photo, Video, Instagram and Live Focus. 

In Photo Mode, you have access to the standard selfie mode and the wide selfie mode. What's weird is that the wide and the standard selfie mode are using only the 10MP sensor. The second camera acts as a depth sensor for the Live Focus modes.

The Live Focus mode produces more pleasing bokeh than the competition. It is one of the best implementations we've seen so far. The Edge detection has also improved especially when detecting individual hair fibers. It isn't perfect though and it still can't replace a true bokeh from a dedicated camera. It has new effects aside from the standard out of focus areas like the black and white bokeh.

There are circumstances wherein we use the natural bokeh of the camera and found it more pleasing than the live focus modes but you would need to have the selfie camera to be too close to your face to achieve great results.

The selfie images from the standard and the wide selfie are identical with sharp details, vibrant color and good contrast in both day light and low light. It may be too sharp that it can bring focus to unwanted flaws. In low light, the amount of grain increases and some sharpness is lost but overall one of the better low light selfies overall.

Samsung deserves the DxOMark rating it got.

Selfie Camera Samples

Selfie daylight
Selfie daylight
Indoor selfie
Indoor selfie
Indoor selfie bokeh
Indoor selfie bokeh
Indoor black and white bokeh
Indoor black and white bokeh
Low light selfie
Low light selfie
Selfie low light with screen flash
Selfie low light with screen flash

The Galaxy S10+'s rear camera is capable of shooting up to 4K 60fps without stabilization or tracking but has Dual Pixel AF (not tracking) across all resolution. You can't have stabilization and tracking at the same time. Stabilization works at 4k 30fps and 1080p 60fps.

What makes the S10 unique is that it can record HDR10+ videos. (up to 4K 30 fps but not 1080p 60fps) This mean you can record video with class leading dynamic range and eye popping colors from the get-go.

The footage that comes from the rear camera can also be switched in between the three different lenses for added versatility.

There is also a super steady mode that promises near gimbal like stabilization but it locks the video recording to record at 1080p 30fps and with only the main camera lens.

The footage from all modes are surprisingly sharp with great color and contrast. The footage softens with increased grain in low light. The standard stabilization is good but if you're used to the iPhone XS or XS Max Stabilization, the S10's stabilization will fall short for you. The super steady mode on the other hand is an improvement over the standard stabilization but is still no match for the iPhone.

Selfie video camera is capable of shooting up to 4K 30fps with Dual Pixel AF. This is one of the only phones right now with Dual Pixel AF in the selfie camera. The footage from this phone is sharp with accurate colors and strong contrast. In low light, the footage softens with increased grain but with almost no discoloration.

Video Samples


Performance

Samsung Galaxy S10's benchmark scores
Samsung Galaxy S10's benchmark scores

The official Philippine model of the S10 series carries the Exynos 9820 SoC and the 
Mali-G76 MP12 GPU as opposed to the Snapdragon 855 in other countries. The Exynos isn't as powerful as the Snapdragon but is able to hold its own according to benchmarks.

Still very powerful!

In AnTuTu, the Exynos variant scored 330,878 with a whopping 151414 GPU test score. While in Geekbench, the Exynos variant scored 4548 in the single-core test and scored 10,060 in the multi-core tests.



In our one month with the S10+ with the display at full 1440p with constant connection to WiFi and LTE, the phone remained snappy and responsive without noticeable lag or deterioration of performance with our daily productivity, social and gaming apps. It isn't as fast as Oxygen OS.

The large 8GB RAM allowed for us to virtually have so may apps in the background without a hitch when switching one from the other or when using multi-window mode.

We tried several games like NBA 2K19 and PUBG Mobile. It runs NBA at high settings with smooth frame rates. 

The thermal management of this device is great despite its thin and lightweight form factor. The back gets warm if you turn the 4G or while playing games but it never gets alarmingly hot.

The UI

One UI 1.1
One UI 1.1

The Samsung Galaxy S10+ is running on the latest version of One UI 1.1 that is based on Android 9 Pie. It is highly similar to the One UI 1.0 from the Note9 that we reviewed here.

Experience is nearly same with the Note9 but with tweaks and quality of life improvements. One example is the accommodation of the UI elements for the larger display and the punch hole. The other example is once you pop open the lid of a Galaxy Buds, a Pop-up will appear that asks you to connect to the Galaxy Buds appear like the AirPod does for iOS devices.

In short, we love the new simpler and one handed use focused UI the One UI delivers especially with the large display of the S10+. One UI is also more aggressive in shutting down apps that run in the background which saves battery.

The Bixby button can be remapped but with a caveat. You can't remove it completely. You have the choice of either mapping Bixby to either a single tap or a double tap. You are free to map the other to any app of your choice except for another or competing digital Assistant.

Unlike the competition like Huawei or LG, Samsung retains their home grown apps that are duplicates to the Google apps like Mail, Calendar and the like. We wish Samsung would follow the competition for a tighter integration with Google services and less confusing duplicate apps. This is unlikely though because these home grown apps work with Bixby.

Other features

S10 foregoes the traditional fingerprint scanner for a ultra-sonic In-Display fingerprint scanner which Samsung says is more secure than the competition's optical implementation. It scans and registers fingerprints quickly but because the animation takes a long time, it seems like the scanner is slow. The hit-rate of the In-Display fingerprint scanner is 4 out of 5 times. We noticed that it consistently failed once every 5 scans.

Samsung retains the Face Unlock feature but not the Iris scanner. This results in a ridiculously fast Face Unlock that is faster if not on par with the OnePlus 6T that is significantly less secure. (So much so that Samsung even warns the user in the Face Unlock settings)

The Samsung Galaxy S10 carries a Cat20 4G LTE that gives fast and stable GSM, 3G and 4G connection depending on your telco's coverage.


Bluetooth 5.0 is fast, responsive, easy to set up and near seamless.

WiFi connections are stable with good data transfer speeds and latency. 

The gyroscope, GPS are quick, responsive and accurate.

Pros - Beautiful build and design, great selfie and main cameras, best ultra-wide lens in the market, great battery life, best display in the market today, one of the loudest speakers in the market, lightweight, One UI is a big improvement
Cons - Power button could be placed lower, easy mistaken taps because of curved display, under 2 hours of charging time, limited night mode, duplicate apps can be confusing

Samsung Galaxy S10+ Specs

Display: 6.4-inch 3D curved Gorilla Glass 6 protected Dynamic AMOLED screen w/ QHD+ 3040 x 1440 resolution at 522 ppi
CPU: 2.7GHz 64-bit Exynos 9820 octa-core processor w/ NPU
GPU: Mali-G76 MP12
RAM: 8GB/12GB
ROM: 128GB/512GB/1TB expandable via microSD card up to 1TB
Back Camera: 12MP (f/1.5/f/2.4) w/ Dual Pixel, OIS + 16MP f/2.2 123-degree ultra wide-angle lens + 12MP f/2.4 telephoto lens w/ OIS, AF, and dual tone LED flash
Selfie Camera: 10MP f/1.9 + 8MP f/2.2 RGB w/ Dual Pixel
Battery: 4,100mAh w/ Adaptive fast charging, fast wireless charging w/ reverse wireless charging
OS: Android 9.0 Pie w/ One UI
Connectivity: WiFi 6, 4G LTE Cat 20, Bluetooth 5.0, OTG, NFC, GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, dual SIM (hybrid)
Sensors: Accelerometer, light, orientation, proximity, gyroscope, sound, magnetic, pressure, heart rate
Others: Ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, face unlock, IP68 water and dust resistance, USB-C, UHQ 32-bit/DSD audio support, AKG stereo speakers, Colors: prism white, prism green, prism black, luxurious ceramic black, luxurious ceramic white
Dimensions: 157.7 x 75 x 7.8 mm
Weight: 175 g
Price: PHP 55,990 (8GB RAM/128GB ROM), PHP 89,990 (12GB RAM/1TB ROM)

Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy S10+ has the best display in the market because of its maximum brightness, color accuracy and HDR10+ compliance.

It has a complete audio experience because of the unspecified DAC, 3.5mm headphone jack and the stereo speakers. It has one of the best cameras in the market. It may not be class leading in battery life but it is one of the few phones that can last the whole day.

Though we wished the power button had better placement, a better night mode and faster charging time, these nitpicks aren't deal breakers for us.

The S10+ is one of the best phones you can have today and it is the first phone that we think is worth the PHP 55,990 price tag because it is the phone that is near perfection with most of our concerns being nitpicks. 

If you can afford it, the Samsung Galaxy S10+ is one of the best phones you can have today.

If you want to save cash and can live without the In-Display fingerprint scanner, larger battery and the telephoto camera, we also highly recommend the Galaxy S10e.

Build/Design - 4.5
Display - 5
Audio - 4.5
Battery - 4.5
Camera - 4.75
Performance - 4.5
Average - 4.625/5
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