Samsung Galaxy S10+ vs Galaxy S9+: What's the difference?

The flagship changes are more than just skin-deep

The Galaxy S10 line is here, and as rampant (and largely correct) leaks suggested, it's a major upgrade to Samsung's premium flagship approach.

Gone is most of the bezel thanks to a punch-hole camera cutout in the display, and elsewhere the S10 phones have been boosted with newer and additional tech to help Samsung compete against increasing threats from Huawei, Apple, and others.

The Galaxy S10+ is the biggest and most impressive of the bunch, but how much different is it really from last year's strong Galaxy S9+? And should you really consider an upgrade if you already have the S9+? Here's what we think, now that we've been hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy S10+.

Design: A serious shift

All things considered, the Galaxy S10+'s design is more evolutionary than revolutionary. It's still a glass-and-aluminium sandwich with some familiar curves in the mix, but the impact of the changes is very significant.

Thanks to the punch-hole display cutout, the screen dominates nearly all of the front of the phone. It's an eye-catching look, and definitely more appealing at a glance than last year's Galaxy S9+, which repeated the S8+'s design and began to look dated compared with the rush of notched and punch-hole rivals.

Granted, if you hate the idea of a notch or hole in the screen, then you probably won't be very happy about the Galaxy S10+. We think it's a fair trade-off, however, and it didn't seem particularly distracting in our initial hands-on testing.

Screen: Still stunning

Last year's Galaxy S9+ amazed with another Quad HD Super AMOLED stunner, at 6.2in. This time around, Samsung goes a bit larger at 6.4in, and this Quad HD Super AMOLED panel gets a little brighter too.

All told, there aren't big changes to the tech itself, but slicing off most of the top bezel and minimizing the bottom bezel ought to make the screen feel a lot more immersive on the Galaxy S10+. That is, again, unless you truly loathe the idea of any kind of camera cutout.

Camera: More in store

The Galaxy S9+ didn't hold the camera crown – that honour belonged to the Huawei P20 Pro, and then the Mate 20 Pro – but it came pretty close. The double-camera setup impressed with well-judged shots in a variety of scenarios.

The main camera swapped between f/1.5 and f/2.2 aperture on the fly, enabling better low-light shots in particular, while the secondary camera provided a 2x optical zoom boost.

The Galaxy S10+ aims for Huawei's throne with its own triple-camera setup, packing in zoom, wide, and ultra-wide cameras capable of crisp shots and plenty of detail. We'll have to wait for our full testing to see how it stacks up, but it's certainly a promising proposition.

Performance: Plenty of power

The Galaxy S10+ brings along the requisite spec bump that we expect from annualised handsets, with Samsung's new Exynos 9820 replacing the Exynos 9810 in Europe and some other territories, and Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 taking over for the Snapdragon 845 in the States.

In both cases, you should see improvements in both single-core and multi-core speeds, which means the Galaxy S10+ will no doubt be able to keep up with current games, apps, and media needs. Will you notice much of a speed difference when side-by-side? We're not sure yet, but it's unlikely to be tremendous.

Battery and perks: Bonus features

The Galaxy S10+ packs in a beefy 4,0100mAh battery pack, which is a solid boost over the 3,500mAh cell in the Galaxy S9+. Overall, you might get a couple extra hours of uptime per charge.

Both support wireless charging, but only the Galaxy S10+ has reverse wireless charging, which means it can charge other wirelessly-chargeable phones along with Samsung's new Galaxy Buds and Galaxy Watch models.

You can also get a load of storage on the Galaxy S10+, with 128GB in the base model and 512GB and 1TB options available. The Galaxy S9+ doesn't aim quite as high, with 64GB in the base model and 128GB or 256GB in pricier editions. As ever, you can use a microSD card with both to expand your tally.

Also, both have fingerprint sensors – the Galaxy S9+'s is on the back, as per usual, while the Galaxy S10+ tucks it under the display using ultrasonic technology. That's a more modern, flashy twist, although functionally it'll probably feel just as speedy and effective.

Initial verdict: Worth the upgrade?

The Galaxy S9+ might've seemed a bit predictable last year given how other phones were advancing and evolving, but the Galaxy S10+ feels like it's right on the cutting edge. The nearly full-face display with the camera cutout looks great, and the handset has a number of other tweaks and additions that make it feel fresh again.

Will you want to upgrade if you're still using the Galaxy S9+? You certainly might, given the significantly refreshed design, although we're not yet convinced that we'd ditch an excellent year-old phone at this point unless you've got a sensible/affordable upgrade plan.

We do not know the Indian pricing as yet because the device is said to launch in March in India. However, the Galaxy S10+'s UK £899 price point isn't that much more than the £869 starting price of the Galaxy S9+, although you can get the S9+ for quite a bit less these days even in India. So we might see it priced around the ₹65,000 bracket hopefully.

In any case, we'll have a full review of the Samsung Galaxy S10+ in the coming weeks, and we'll update this comparison once we've reached our final verdict.