The Samsung Galaxy S line is designed to be Samsung’s all-rounder device. These phones are packed with the best specs, and they promise the best performance. But there are slight tweaks to these phones to suit certain budgets and needs. The regular, non-plus version of the Galaxy S line has always hit that sweet spot between size, price, and performance. Some might argue that instead of scrimping a bit, you should go the full flagship. But if you can only afford the Galaxy S10 (sans plus), is it a worthy purchase?  

Cut from the same cloth

 Aside from their sizes, there isn’t much of a difference between the S10 and S10+. Both feature straight lines, gentle curves that thin out into polished glass surfaces, and minimal bezels with maximum screen real estate. The only disruptions would be the array of sensors at the back as well as the circular cutout for the selfie camera in front. It’s as refined as Samsung can get in 2019. Admittedly, the distractions aren’t much of my style. The horizontal layout reminds me of Cyclops’ visor. The “Infinity-O Display” is less offensive than the bigger notches, so I can ignore it easily. 

I got to test the Prism White model⁠—and it is beautiful to look at. This is a silly comparison, but it feels like the phone equivalent of a unicorn. Many smartphone brands do this gradient, color-shifting treatment to their phones and they do it well. Samsung’s take on it is pretty good, too. This is my favorite color option for the S10. Plus, it doesn’t look like a fingerprint magnet either. 

Quite handy

The S10 isn’t a small phone by any means. It’s smaller in the world of large-screened phones. With its shrunken bezels and high screen-to-body ratio, the S10 is made to be more compact than its competitors. With a glass exterior, the phone does feel slippery. But its manageable, somewhat narrow size makes it easier to hold. I didn’t feel like I was going to drop it, even when I was using it with just one hand. 

The one thing that didn’t feel natural is how the power button’s position is higher than usual. Perhaps this is meant to avoid confusion between the placement of the power button and the dedicated Bixby button on the opposite side. I prefer the power button in a more accessible position. Thankfully, the phone supports Tap to Wake and Raise to Wake, so you don’t have to reach up for the power button as often as you need to. 

Hallelujah, headphone jack

 You can only count the number of flagship phones that still have a headphone jack. So, I like that it’s still available for the S10. One other thing I’m happy the S10 has is that the IP68 water resistance. It can withstand depths of up to 1.5 meters in freshwater for 30 minutes. Still, don’t take it out for a swim. But if it accidentally dropped in a shallow pool or your pail in the bathroom, you can just let it dry and it’ll be fine. 

Screen, interrupted

 To make the phones more immersive, Samsung skipped the whole notch conversation. Instead, it decided to make use of the hole-punch approach, or what Samsung likes to call the Infinity-O display. Some argue that its placement on the right side of the phone throws off the symmetry of Samsung’s design. And I can’t exactly deny that. But I’m not particularly annoyed by it, either. Samsung has included wallpapers you can use to mask the camera, or you can look for some fun and cool ones online. Apps tend to ignore the cutout as well as the area to the side of it. Unless you force them to violate that portion of the screen, like if you expand a YouTube video.   

The screen doesn’t come with overly saturated colors out of the box. If you miss that treatment Samsung’s prone to do in the past, this phone has a Vivid Display Mode, which isn’t that overly saturated, either. Outdoor visibility is great. The blue light filter has been improved so that it has less of an impact on color reproduction, while still reducing the blue light that might affect your sleep. And if you want to save some battery, there is a new Dark Mode included with this phone.  

Another upside of the smaller screen is that it doesn’t register the mistouches of my palm on the screen, which is a problem that happens with curved-screen devices. 

Scan my print

 Samsung embeds the fingerprint reader under the display. It uses a new kind of fingerprint scanning tech that pulses ultrasonic waves at your finger and reads its reflection. This is designed to create a hard-to-spoof, three-dimensional image of it. It is accurate most of the time, but just slightly slower than the classic fingerprint reader. I got it to work with damp hands, too. The downside is it doesn’t provide a tactile indication of its placement. There is a visual cue for it, but it’ll take some adjustment until you find the right spot. 

A new UI

Samsung used to have one of the clunkiest user interfaces on Android. It took 10 versions of the Galaxy S line before Samsung figured out how to streamline its interface. And the result is one of the best UIs for Android. The One UI is built around the idea of making it easier to use larger smartphones, which is a necessity with 6-inch screens being considered the norm. Now, stock Samsung apps bring a lot of the actionable elements (like buttons and menus you tap on) to the bottom half of the screen. Or it lets you swipe with your thumb to bring elements that are at the top closer to your reach. It’s a clean, flat design language with simpler device settings and customization. It improves overall performance, too. 

It’s not perfect, though. Samsung decided to introduce gesture navigation here, which gets rid of the on-screen buttons.  You can just swipe up from the bottom edge of the screen to do what classic on-screen buttons let you do. It gives you a bit of extra space at the bottom. But there’s no major practical benefit for the feature. I still opted to use the on-screen buttons. 

The Bixby compromise

Samsung finally lets you remap the Bixby button. But there’s a caveat. You can’t officially remap it to other digital assistants, but you can use it to launch other apps quickly. You can either configure the single or double press to launch your app of choice. One of these options will always launch Bixby. And when you hold down the Bixby key, it’ll always open Bixby Voice. 

As fast as it can be

 Using the same processor, memory, and storage as the bigger Galaxy S10+, you can expect it to perform similarly. It can take whatever you throw at it, whether it be for a resource-demanding game, social media use, web surfing, or productivity. The phone doesn’t heat up either. We expect nothing less from this flagship phone. 

Crisp and clear

The Galaxy S10 has one of the best smartphone audio performance I’ve heard in a while. It comes with a bottom-firing speaker as well as one in the earpiece. The sound comes out loud and clear from both, and the speaker doesn’t crackle when you push the volume to its maximum. But you don’t even need to crank it all the way up. It even has a little bit of bass to it. I do tend to cover the bottom-firing speaker, though, when I have the phone in landscape. 

More is more

 For the first time, Samsung brings a total of four cameras into its flagship line. The three of these are at the back of the S10. You get a main 12-megapixel camera along with a 12-megapixel telephoto camera and a 16-megapixel ultrawide-angle camera. It’s a good camera setup that gives you flexible shooting options and lets you zoom from 0.5 to 2x to 10x hybrid zoom. You don’t even need to be a pro to experiment with these shooting modes. A new set of buttons makes it easier to toggle between the three modes. And if you need to get finer control over the zoom, you just need to slide your fingers across the button area. 

In general and under good lighting, the photos the S10 produces are sharp. With Samsung’s Image Optimizer feature enabled by default, the photos get a boost in terms of color. It leaves things like flowers, natural landscapes, and even food with more saturated colors. Samsung has been able to temper this a bit, but it’s still noticeably more vibrant than the actual object. If you’re not a fan of that, you can disable this feature. 

When you shoot with the telephoto camera, you get 2x zoom without quality decreasing. These look good as long as the area is well-lit. If the lighting isn’t adequate, the S10 will switch to the more sensitive main camera and use digital zoom, instead. Unfortunately, this results in poorer image quality. But we can’t exactly fault Samsung for this as phones with secondary telephoto lens tend to do this. 

The wide-angle camera is good for shooting in tight spots or when trying to get big outdoor areas in a single photo. These shots will be a bit noisier and have less detail if you shoot in low light. Without autofocus, it’s not suited for close-ups either.  

The low-light performance isn’t the best here. There is no delay with processing, but the shots do turn out noisy. If you keep a steady hand or use a tripod, you could get some good shots. The telephoto and wide-angle lenses are less sensitive to light, so night photos taken with these lenses might not be as clear and detailed as those taken using the main camera. 

Selfies look decent here. And by default, Beauty Mode is turned on to help cover imperfections. Auto HDR can help compensate for uneven lighting, letting you take usable selfies, even with the sun shining behind you. 

Works for the daily grind

The S10 can get you through a full workday with its 3,400mAh. But I will find myself charging at the end of the day to make sure it doesn’t die on me in the middle of my morning the next day. Wired charging seems to be a bit on the slow side, too, at around two and a half hours. But I do appreciate the Wireless PowerShare feature on this phone that lets you charge other Qi-enabled devices. 

Our Verdict:

Not everyone can afford to get the best of the best, which for Samsung right now is the Galaxy S10+. But that doesn’t mean you’re sacrificing much when you get the S10. It’s a good all-round device. Unfortunately, it’s gotten overshadowed by the S10+ and even the S10e. But it’s the happy middle and still worth your hard-earned peso if you want a flagship phone. 

Specifications

Display: 6.1” Quad HD+ Dynamic AMOLED, 3,040 x 1,440 resolution, 19:9 aspect ratio, HDR10+, Corning Gorilla Glass 6 

SIM: Hybrid dual (nano, dual standby) 

Operating system: Android 9.0 Pie, One UI 

Processor: Samsung Exynos 9820 octa-core 

GPU: Mali-G76 MP12 

Memory: 8GB RAM 
Storage: 128GB internal, expandable up to 512GB via microSD 

Cameras: 12MP dual aperture, Pixel OIS + 16MP ultrawide 123-degree, FF + 12MP telephoto, 2x optical zoom, OIS, AF; 10MP front w/ f/1.9 aperture 

Connectivity & I/O ports: 4G LTE; Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax; Bluetooth 5.0, A2DP, LE, aptX; GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, Galileo; NFC, USB 3.1 Type-C 

Security: Ultrasonic fingerprint sensor 

Other features: IP68 dust-/water-proof 

Battery: 3,400mAh w/ Wireless Power Share 

Dimensions & weight: 149.9 x 70.4 x 7.8mm, 157g 

Price: P49,990 

Samsung Galaxy S10 Review: The all-rounder
Build Quality 8.7
Form Factor 10
Ease of Use 9
Performance9
Value for Money 9
9.1Overall Score

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