The Galaxy S10 is a fitting 10th anniversary phone for Samsung and its storied S series. It delivers on change with a novel-looking Infinity-O screen so large it displaces the front camera, and a triple-lens rear camera that takes ultra-wide photos. Its in-screen fingerprint sensor tech should serve you well, while its Wireless PowerShare could serve your friends well. That’s a lot of change – just know that it comes at a high price and the Galaxy S10e and S10 Plus flank it from both sides of the coin as better options.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 has been engineered to be a conversation-changer, a phone that’s intended to turn everyone’s yearly question of “Do I really need to upgrade?” into a more exclamatory “Do I really need to upgrade!”
The Galaxy S10 does make this case, according to our month and a half of testing – with some clear caveats.
It’s the 6.1-inch Infinity Display that really sells this phone. It introduces a nearly-edge-to-edge look that stretches top to bottom, with pixels spilling over the curved edges at the sides – there’s no room for big bezels on Samsung’s 2019 flagship smartphone. For the most part, they don’t exist here.
Its new Infinity-O screen – also a feature of the bigger Galaxy S10 Plus and cheaper Galaxy S10e – is so large it actually displaces the front camera, consigning it to a small ‘punch-hole’ in the screen. All of the important sensors are neatly tucked behind this vibrant and bright Super AMOLED display.
Also behind the glass is the new ultrasonic fingerprint sensor. You won’t find a fingerprint pad on the back anymore, or anywhere visibly on the phone. Samsung put its sensor – now invisible – on the front, where we feel it belongs.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 officially makes punch-hole displays a trend after the idea debuted on the Honor View 20, and in-screen fingerprint sensors more mainstream after they appeared on the OnePlus 6T, Huawei Mate 20 Pro and a few Vivo phones.
It’s all in the cause of achieving that impressive 93.1% screen-to-body ratio on the front of the phone. And, frankly, we like it a bit better than a traditional notch. It won’t bug you after a couple of hours with the Samsung Galaxy S10.
Maximization is also the idea behind the Galaxy S10’s rear-facing triple-lens camera. Samsung’s camera array has lenses to take normal, telephoto and new ultra-wide photos. The ultra-wide camera is all about capturing more of what’s in front of you without having to back up.
Sure, LG phones have touted ultra-wide camera lenses for years, most recently the LG V40, but Samsung’s cameras have been more consistent in low-light conditions. The feature is finally in a flagship-level phone you want.
The Galaxy S10 also has features everyone can get. Its Wireless PowerShare feature lets you use the back of the S10 to Qi charge another phone or the new Galaxy Buds, cloning the reverse wireless charging idea in the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, a phone that’s not widely available in certain territories, including the US.
The Galaxy S10 is an amalgam of other handsets’ single hallmark features packed into one phone, while Samsung pioneers as many technical features as it can cram in – faster Wi-Fi 6 and HDR10+ are both firsts for smartphones. And that’s what Samsung does best really.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 marks a decade of Galaxy S phones, and while there’s been little innovation in recent years from the most popular smartphone brands, including Samsung (Bixby and AR EMoji don’t cut it), the S10 has enough newness to tempt you to upgrade.
What’s not to like? Well, if you can handle the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus size, it’s our No. 1 pick thanks to its extra battery life, bigger screen and better performance for gaming – and the price hike isn’t so terrible. And if you’re considering the S10 to save money or want a smaller screen, the better value is in the 5.8-inch S10e. Samsung has the best phones for 2019 (so far), but its biggest competition is none other than Samsung.