Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus review: Hands-on


The Galaxy S10 Plus is a larger, more powerful version of the S10. It adds an extra front-facing camera as well as a bigger screen and battery.

But because the smaller S10 has the exact same three rear cameras, this Plus is no longer the obvious upgrade choice it once was. We went hands-on with the phone before Samsung’s Unpacked launch event to see if it’s worth the extra spend.

We also took a look at the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10e.

Price and availability

The Galaxy S10 Plus starts from £899 / $999, putting it right in competition with the iPhone XS. 

You can pre-order the Galaxy S10 Plus now. Doing so with most retailers will get you a free pair of Galaxy Buds, Samsung’s wireless headphones launched at the same time. The phone ships and goes on sale on 8 March.

Check out our round up of the best Galaxy S10 deals.

Plus or bust?

The Galaxy S9 Plus has dual rear cameras compared to only one on the regular model. For some, that was worth the upgrade. You don’t get that advantage this time with the S10 Plus as the normal S10 has the same triple cameras as the Plus model.

Those sensors should produce stunning results, though. Our full review will assess how the new 16Mp ultra-wide lens copes with noise and post-processing. The other two lenses are the same two found on the S9 Plus, both 12Mp including the f/1.5-2.4 variable aperture sensor.

The updated camera app we tried zooms very smoothly between all three lenses, a neat software trick that LG has struggled with – though it is worth remembering the LG V40 and Huawei Mate 20 Pro also have three cameras and use them in the same way as the S10 Plus.

But, a bit like Apple, when Samsung adds a new feature then people besides tech enthusiasts begin to notice the breakthrough.

There are changes round the front too. The bezels are practically gone with a 6.3in AMOLED display that pushes a 93.1% screen to body ratio. It’s only interrupted in the top right corner by a pill shaped dual camera cut out – two lenses rather than one on the 6.1in S10 or 5.8in S10e.

Samsung has opted for this rather than a notch design and it’s an interesting move. Notches are a pain, but cut outs will block a circle of video in full screen mode in certain situations.

The extra 8Mp lens adds depth sensing to the 10Mp camera also found on the S10 and S10e. It looked brilliantly crisp and clear in our time with the phone.

Powerhouse

So yes, it’s not the upgrade over the normal model that you got with other generations, and you might not like the camera cut out, pushing as it does some status icons from the right corner to halfway across the top of the display.

But there’s no doubt the Galaxy S10 Plus is one of the most powerful phones ever made. Running on the 8nm Exynos 9820 in Europe and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 in the rest of the world it was blisteringly fast when we used it, helped by the 8GB RAM as standard (with either 128 or 512GB on board storage and expandable up to 512GB).

The S10 Plus will also come in a special ceramic version that has an insane 12GB RAM and 1TB storage, giving the 10GB RAM McLaren OnePlus 6T a bit of one-upmanship. Samsung phones do tend to slow down a year or two into use thanks to the heavy Android skin but this much RAM should hopefully keep things running smoothly.

With a 4,100mAh battery the S10 Plus should be an all-day phone no problem, and you can top up with Quick Charge 2.0 or Qi wireless charging, but it’s notable that Samsung has not upgraded to Quick Charge 3 or 4 unlike rival devices.

Bells and whistles

The phone has absolutely every feature you could think of on it – this is a Samsung Galaxy S phone, after all. This means IP68 dust and water resistance, a wireless power sharing feature for charging other devices like on Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro and an in-screen fingerprint sensor. The latter supposedly works in wet and cold and looked reliable in the demo we were shown.

Real world use will see if it stands up, but we found the Mate 20 Pro and OnePlus 6T struggled to work a lot of the time. It is secure enough to use for biometrics as fingerprint data is stored in the secure enclave.

As for the phone being able to charge other phones and devices, it’s a bit of a gimmick. It’ll be best when the phone itself is plugged into the wall and passing power through. Otherwise not only are you charging the other device very slowly, you’re also losing power from your own phone while not being able to use it.

Facelift

One of the best things about the S10 Plus is the new software skin. Samsung’s version of Android 9 Pie is called One UI and boy is it an upgrade on ugly Samsung software of yore.

Gone are any hint of bad design and water drop sounds, instead replaced by slick animations, thoughtful adjustments to core apps and menus that don’t overcomplicate the Android experience too much.

Whether or not Samsung will improve its speed in updating the security and software on its phones remains to be seen.

Early verdict

The S10 Plus is now the luxury Galaxy S phone for two reasons – the regular S10 has the same triple camera set up, and the S10e exists at an even cheaper price point than that. The Plus also comes in a special, expensive 12GB RAM/1TB storage edition, which is mad but will please the specs nerds among us.

If you want the biggest screen possible on Samsung’s latest flagship and take a lot of selfies then you’ll appreciate the display and extra front facing cameras. But it’s the extra spend you’ll want to consider, as the features you want could well be on the two cheaper S10 models.



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