Samsung unveiled three new Galaxy S10 series models at an event in San Francisco on Wednesday - the Galaxy S10, Galaxy S10+, and Galaxy S10e. Samsung's latest flagship offerings are packed to the gills with features in the hope of giving sales at the top-end of the market a boost after the underwhelming showing by the Galaxy S9 and the Galaxy Note 9. The headline feature on the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+ is perhaps the in-display “ultrasonic” fingerprint scanner, while all three new phones feature “hole-punch” selfie cameras at the top-right.
The Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+ feature design language that we've come to associate with Samsung's premium devices. Despite some new elements, the phones will look familiar to anyone who has used Samsung's recent devices, and there's nothing wrong with that. We are big fans of Samsung's flagship offerings, and the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+ follow in their footsteps.
Despite packing bigger batteries, the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+ are actually lighter than their predecessors. At 7.8mm, they are marginally thinner as well. You get more colour options than before, and the more expensive Galaxy S10+ gets a couple of ceramic finishes as well.
S10+ pack 6.1-inch and 6.4-inch Quad HD+ Dynamic AMOLED displays with HDR10+ support, with the same curved edge finish that we saw in their predecessors. In fact the “Infinity-O Display” is more edge-to-edge than before as the bezels at the top have been minimised by moving the selfie camera to a “hole” at the top-right of the display.
The Galaxy S10+ packs dual front cameras, so this cutout is definitely more noticeable than on the other two smartphones. On the home screen and in most apps, the cutout is part of the status bar at the top so it's unlikely to get in your way.
We also watched videos in full screen mode on the Galaxy S10+ and the cutout didn't really bother us, though your mileage may vary. We didn't really have the chance to play any games on the phone so we don't know if the cutout would impact gameplay by hiding some UI elements, or if there's an option to mask the cutout completely with a black bar.
At 1200 nits, the display should be good to use outdoors even on the brightest of days, but it's not something we got to test during our time with the smartphones.
Like we mentioned earlier, the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+ pack in-display fingerprint scanners, a first for Samsung, but something we've seen in other phones like the OnePlus 6T, and even budget offerings like the Oppo K1, among others. Though Samsung says the “ultrasonic” technology it is using makes the authentication process more secure, from a day-to-day perspective, the experience of using them will be pretty similar to what we've seen with other in-display fingerprint scanners.
Across all devices that we've reviewed, we've found in-display fingerprint scanners to be slower and often not as reliable as ones embedded in physical buttons. Our limited time with the Galaxy S10+ presented a similar experience, though we will reserve our judgement until we've had a chance to use the phone on an everyday basis as part of our review process.
The phones with version 1.1 of Samsung One UI, which is based on Android 9. The overall look is pretty similar to what we've seen with One UI update that shipped for previous Samsung flagships.
All three phones are powered by the Samsung Exynos 9820 SoC (Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 in select markets). The Galaxy S10 packs 8GB of RAM and up to 512GB of storage, while the Galaxy S10+ will have an additional variant with 12GB of RAM and 1TB of in-built storage. The Galaxy S10e will be available in 6GB and 8GB RAM options, with storage topping out at 256GB. The headphone jack lives on, and, like before, there's a microSD card slot as well.
Apart from being the most affordable phone in the Galaxy S10 lineup, the Galaxy S10e is arguably the most interesting one as well. In the time that we spent with the device we were reminded of the iPhone XR, and not just because of the bright yellow-coloured option that's exclusive to this phone.
Just like the iPhone XR, the Galaxy S10e lacks some of the features found in more expensive duo, though in areas like the display, it seems like less of a compromise when compared to Apple's offering. While the iPhone XR sits in between its two more expensive brethren when it comes to display size, Samsung is positioning the Galaxy 10e as a device that offers a “premium experience in a compact size”.
If you are not a fan of how flagship — and indeed all — phones have gradually crept up in size, you will appreciate the Galaxy S10e. We certainly found it to be the easiest device to deal with during the time we spent with the trio and we believe that will be the case with most people as well.
The Galaxy S10e lacks the telephoto camera found on the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+, so you still get a dual-camera setup including the ultra-wide camera that Samsung is heavily promoting as one of the highlight features of the Galaxy S10 lineup. It also foregoes the in-display fingerprint scanner for one that's embedded on the power button on the side of the phone.
Another feature that Samsung spent some time talking about at the event is reverse wireless charging or as Samsung is calling it, the Wireless PowerShare experience. Also seen in the likes of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, this essentially turns your phone into a wireless charger, letting you charge other Qi-compatible devices like the new Galaxy Watch Active, the Galaxy Buds, and even other smartphones by keeping them on the back of the device.
We tested this feature out and found that it worked as advertised, though obviously you will need to line up the “sweet spots” of the two devices right next to each other, which is a limitation of current wireless charging technology and not something specific to the Galaxy S10 devices. This feature is available in all three phones.
We didn't get a chance to test out the cameras of the new phones at the hands-on area, but as we've mentioned earlier, they pack plenty of improvements in the camera department, and the camera alone could be a potential reason to upgrade from older devices, if Samsung is able to deliver on all of its promises.
Galaxy S10, Galaxy S10+, and Galaxy S10e price in India have been revealed. The Samsung Galaxy S10 price in India starts at Rs. 66,900 for the 128GB variant, going up to Rs. 84,900 for the 512GB variant. The Samsung Galaxy S10+ price in India starts at Rs. 73,900 for the 128GB variant, going up to Rs. 91,900 for the 512GB variant, and Rs. 1,17,900 for the 1TB variant. Finally, the Samsung Galaxy S10e price in India is set at Rs. 55,900 for the sole 128GB variant being launched in India. Pre-bookings will open today via Samsung's site, Flipkart, Amazon, Paytm, Tata CliQ, and select retailers. Stay tuned to Gadgets 360 for a detailed review of the new Samsung smartphones.
Disclosure: Samsung sponsored the correspondent's flights and hotel for the trip to San Francisco.
With Galaxy Fold, has Samsung kicked off a revolution in smartphone tech? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.