Test of the Samsung Galaxy S10+: Excellence Without Praise


The Samsung Galaxy S10+ kindly celebrates 10 years of a successful smartphone range with a successful model, but with no surprises.

Almost two years ago Apple celebrated the 10th anniversary of its iPhone with a phone that will set the tone for an entire generation. The birthday gave birth to a smartphone where hardware and software were mixed in the best of worlds. In 2019, it’s Samsung’s turn to do the same with its Galaxy S products, Korea’s flagship range and flagship.

But next to the Galaxy Fold it’s hard to see this Galaxy S10+ as a format that will define the market: its obvious success contrasts with its lack of audacity, when competitors from China try all the gadgets possible while radically lowering the score. To the overwhelming and clumsy generosity of its competitors, Samsung responds with a product built on excellence rather than revolution. In a way, the Korean firm is blowing out its candles without taking any risks.

The Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus // Source: Ulrich Rozier for Numerama

The most beautiful Android phone

It seems difficult to take the design of the Galaxy S10+, which embodies Samsung’s mastery in this field. Elegant and boasting flawless finishes, the phone hides its square edges with a rounded silhouette. The soft glass back is a symbol of modernity, even if it catches marks and scratches and struggles to control the heat. On this point, it is advisable to purchase a protective shell and to choose a white colour, whose turquoise reflections are eye-catching and less prone to defects. Galaxy S forces, the screen overflows on the edges.

It’s hard to take the design of the Galaxy S10+ for granted.

Samsung has always refused the unsightly notch popularized by Apple, as if not to give in to a movement initiated by the enemy. In order to achieve a screen that is as edge-to-edge as possible, the engineers found a parry: the hole in the screen. In the case of the Galaxy S10+, it takes the shape of an oval due to a front sensor that sees double. If the idea seems debatable, integration is far from being as terrible as one might have thought.

In fact, Samsung had the good idea to melt it in the middle of the indicators at the top of the screen. The hole shifts everything to the left and breaks the usual harmony a bit. At least it trims the screen a lot less than a notch. Note that it is possible to hide the hole in a software way, which makes a huge black band appear on the top of the screen.

On the left aluminium edge, there is still the trace of the Bixby Button, object of all ergonomic frustrations. Luckily, it can now be turned into a physical shortcut to an application (one click or two clicks).

A sublime screen

Let’s forget that we’re in the presence of a nice phone and concentrate on the essential: its screen. On this point, the Galasy S10+ does not disappoint. Its 6.4 inch AMOLED slab is prodigious. And we weigh our words. Between its ink blacks and beautifully rendered colours, the phone has a lot to offer when it comes to broadcasting video content – even when viewing it outside. However, be sure to set it to its maximum resolution (and battery power) to enjoy a finer display. It is also advisable to stay in Natural for the reproduction of colours, unless you prefer bright tones.

Its 6.4 inch AMOLED slab is prodigious.

The Galasy S10+ is compatible with the HDR10+, a format that Samsung wants to impose on the TV market against Dolby Vision Clearly, the benefits will not be seen on a small screen size. It’s more like a buzzword to prove to users that HDR10+ exists – and has a real future (knowing that Netflix has chosen Dolby Vision).

Ulrich Rozier for Numerama

The Samsung Galaxy S10 // Source: Ulrich Rozier for Numerama

Paradoxically, in terms of sound, the S10+ is Dolby Atmos, an audio format familiar to Home Cinema enthusiasts. One still wonders why phone manufacturers are trying to make us swallow this pill, since Dolby Atmos requires well-made speakers to express itself, which will never exist on a smartphone. But the S10+ doesn’t need this marketing acronym to convince on its excellent sound quality – combining power and balance.

On the screen, one simply regrets that it is sometimes trimmed and shifted because of this famous hole that one learns to appreciate, if not accept. For example, when you look at Netflix, you will notice a wider black stripe on the left than on the right. This black stripe also appears when you navigate on a web page in landscape format. Depending on the application, you can force a zoom, with all that this implies in terms of image loss, depending on the ratio of the source.

Hide this sensor that I can’t see

With the Galaxy S10+, Samsung has finally finished – at last – with a physical fingerprint sensor on the back of the device. For better, but also for worse. The best, because the back no longer suffers from this small, misplaced square. The worst thing is that the replacement, which is integrated into the screen and works with ultrasound, is anything but transparent. Reserved for a specific area, it is neither reliable nor fast. Sometimes it takes several tries before he deigns to unlock the phone.

We wish the Galaxy S10+ had its Face ID…

Upon arrival, we will rely instead on password or 2D facial recognition If we won’t entrust it with our passwords because of its lack of security (assumed by Samsung), it at least has the merit of unlocking quickly the S10+. However, be sure to choose only one method or you may get your brushes tangled (e.g. thinking that your fingerprint is not recognised when your face has already unlocked the phone). We would have liked the Galaxy S10+ to have had its Face ID, a technology that today solves all problems (except the notch) and seems to be the way forward on the high-end side.

Ulrich Rozier for Numerama

The Samsung Galaxy S10 // Source: Ulrich Rozier for Numerama

Conservative, Samsung still believes in the jack port, which it houses alongside the USB-C port dedicated to charging. At least it offers the choice, even if it can pass for a posture, since Samsung accompanies its range with wireless headphones (the Galaxy Buds). Like the Huawei Mate 20 Pro before it, the Galaxy S10+ features reverse wireless charging, allowing you to recharge the battery of another device compatible with induction technology (it even works with an iPhone). Be careful though: Reverse charging drains the battery at high v speed and energy is lost in the conversion due to the limits of inductive charging (70% of the GS 10+ battery (or 2,870 mAh roughly) used to charge 40% of the battery of an iPhone X (or 1,086 mAh roughly)).

The Battery Life of the Galaxy S10+ allows you to get through a full day with intensive use, potentially much more with normal use. As proof, we still had 10% of battery life left after 8 hours of Netflix without the economy mode on. Quite a performance guarantee on this very important criterion.

The progress of the interface

Delivered with Android Pie, the Galaxy S10+ is especially convincing with the overlayer made in Samsung, called One UI. And we have to admit that the Korean firm has gone to great lengths to make the experience very enjoyable. Once you’ve spent a few long minutes in the menus to customize the interface and interactions to your preferences (especially if you’re coming from iOS, which is more rigid but oh so much more obvious), the S10+ is at its best. Of course, One UI takes advantage of the power embedded in the bowels of the phone to be pleasantly fluid, even with several applications in the background (beware of the heat).

A lot of effort to make the experience very enjoyable

Getting back to customization, there’s really something for the motivated: dark mode (we love it as much as we love macOS), home screen layout (including the grid structure), shortcut side panel, blue light filter, lock screen… There are so many options that it’s hard to see how the GS10 couldn’t convince anyone to lean into the interface for a few hours.

In the end, it is only in the small details that One UI can fish. For example, why doesn’t a Home page automatically delete itself when you remove all the applications it was displaying? And as always with Samsung, you’ll also need to sort through pre-installed duplicate software, with a batch of applications removed from the home screens that remain installed on the system.

What about Bixby? The voice assistant is still struggling to convince. Especially when it has to cohabit with Google Assistant which is much more powerful in everything these contextual software can do. At least Bixby lends its name to routines that automatically trigger actions under certain conditions. For example, the S10+ can be configured to switch to airplane mode when Netflix is launched – peace of mind guaranteed.

Pixel 3 still reigns

Photography has been one of the most important playgrounds for smartphone manufacturers for years now. And if, each time, a new smartphone seems to manage to raise theDxO score,it is rarer that, in practice, the sector is turned upside down.

No matter how many sensors at the back and front, filters andartificial intelligenceare in vogue, the recipe for good photography lies in other parameters, which are just as much about colour control, stabilisation and adaptation to regional taste in terms of shots – think of the beauty options that are all the rage in Asia but are very unpopular with Europeans.

In practice, the Galaxy S10+’s camera is of excellent quality and its multiple sensors make it more versatile: the 12-megapixel main wide-angle lens (26 mm, f/1.5 or f/2.4, 1.4 µm) is combined with a 12-megapixel (52 mm, f/2.4, 1 µm) x2 zoom and a 16-megapixel (12 mm, f/2.2, 1 µm) ultra-wide-angle lens. And if these formats make it possible to limit software processing, it’s hard to say that the GS10 dethrones the king of photophones, named Pixel 3. Our colleagues from FrAndroid confirm it: the photo is excellent, the fashions are welcome, but there is something missing that makes Pixel 3 always manage to make aphoto that we like. Under any conditions.

This part of the test being fundamental, we have decided to make a larger comparison of the photophoneswhich will be available next week.

Castejon manual for FrAndroid

Wide angle // Source: Castejon manual for FrAndroid

Castejon manual for FrAndroid

Dark Room // Source: Castejon manual for FrAndroid

Castejon manual for FrAndroid

Urban Landscape // Source: Castejon manual for FrAndroid

In brief

Samsung Galaxy S10+

Indicative note : 4/5

Samsung has certainly not run out of ideas to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its Galaxy S range. The Galaxy S10+ is an excellent smartphone, which should finish on the podium of the Android segment in 2019. But it’s not THE birthday smartphone that will redefine the segment over time. 

If Samsung has taken care of its copy from a software point of view with a pleasant and powerful One UI, the S10+ also does an almost faultless job on the hardware side. Almost because there are still some annoying details, such as that fingerprint sensor under the screen that would have deserved months more attention — when, for its 10th birthday, the iPhone had offered itself Face ID. However, in the Android smartphone market, the bar is set very high: Huawei’s response is expected at the turn of the century.

Top

  • Exquisite design
  • One UI very pleasant
  • What a screen!

Bof

  • Lack of boldness
  • The hole implies concessions
  • The biometric sensor integrated in the display
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