The 10th anniversary special from the galaxy of Samsung is here and if you’re in India, you’ve got quite a few options that fit the price bracket. But does a Galaxy owner think of the other debris floating around in space when a beautiful shiny star is right in front of ‘em?
Which begs the question, is this the de facto choice for those who want ‘Premium’ but not an Apple product? It sort of is at this point and Samsung has us spoilt for choice with three of its best guardians. I picked up the Galaxy S10, the original flagship.
DESIGN: Pins and holes
Sandwiched between two beautiful slabs of glass, the S10 is a beautiful piece that hasn’t changed its form factor drastically and rather Samsung has been improving it. The black review variant we received looks subtle and mature, it not only feels like a flagship to hold, it also has the looks to match.
The polished metal frame makes the S10 a bit taller and wider than the S9, but barely enough for you to notice any major difference in terms of feel. The 6.1in display curves around the edges as usual and you’d find that even if you have small-ish hands, this phone will not feel out of place or too large in the palm because of slimmer bezels.
There’s no notch and a camera peeps through a hole on the top right. It actually is a much better experience than the standard notch and you soon get used to it. There are clever ways Samsung has made use of this, more of which is below.
The back is ruled by an array of three cameras and is pretty much regular otherwise. There’s no Physical fingerprint sensor because now it resides under the screen and uses ultrasonic tech rather than optical. It is more secure however quite annoying and takes a lot of coaxing sometimes for it to recognise my print.
The beautiful headphone jack and the option to expand the storage also stick around so does the Bixby button, although it is a little less annoying this time around as you can set it up to open any app of your choice.
Display & Sound - The right shade of yellow
The warmish Samsung AMOLED display packs in a resolution of 3040x1440 and is an absolute stunner. It isn’t crazy vivid and oversaturated like before, although it does pop out at you. Samsung has a built in Vivid Mode and a Neutral Mode that really tones things down and balances the colours quite well to make them appear as natural as possible.
The contrast is best in class too with black levels that have now reached Vantablack quality. It is also HDR-certified and will support the format on YouTube and Netflix. Content looks really amazing and is a pleasure to watch. The display gets seriously bright too and really offers the best experience under direct sunlight. It hardly loses its composure and there’s barely any harsh reflections either.
The S10 is quite a tune belter and gets decently loud with an emphasis on the midrange which is really detailed. Having Dolby Atmos adds its own benefits for those who like to tune their sound and prefer listening through headphones. We love the headphone jack and the convenience that comes with it. A pair of AKG earphones are thrown in gratis as well.
CAMERA: Three Two One
There’s one variable-aperture sensor for general shooting, a 12MP telephoto for 2x zoom, and a 16MP ultra-wide for when you absolutely have to get everything into a single shot (you know for those ‘footlong’ subs). Although the wide-angle camera is sort of the weekling among the trio as the other two come with optical image stabilisation.
Switching from one mode to another is pretty seamless and there’s absolutely no lag when it happens. While the pixel count hasn’t changed, Samsung’s software has pulled up its socks and gotten to work rather well. Exposure levels and the way it handles details in shadows is proper 2019 flagship level as well.
While it is an upgrade from the S9, it certainly doesn’t match the iPhone and its true-to-life details, the S10’s images look more ‘worked on’ and easier on the eye. It still can’t be as comfortable in the night as industry leaders like the Pixel and the P30 Pro, although it still manages to capture decent images, just not at the same level as those two.
If you want outright quality and the absolute best camera performance, then the S10 isn’t for you, but for most regular day-today snaps, it really impresses and most won’t have much to complain about here.
PERFORMANCE: EXYNOS IS ENOUGH
The Indian S10 comes with the snarky Exynos 9820 processor backed by 8GB of RAM. Other countries get the Snapdragon 855 thomper, but Samsung’s own isn’t bad at all.
It just doesn’t score well in benchmarks and falls behind the competition, but in day-to-day use it didn’t seem to lag or crash even once.
It has been quick and available when beckoned and everything works flawlessly in any scenario be it gaming or watching a movie or just work. There’s a built-in device maintenance tool as well that should keep it swirling around in your galaxy smooth even after a year or two.
Gaming is a joy too and the S10 manages to put out more frames than the competition in some cases. Playing Fallout and PUBG is an absolute joy as well as some indie games like Limbo gain advantage from the beautiful display too while running as smooth as silk.
BATTERY LIFE: IS THAT ALL YOU'VE GOT?
The 3400mAh battery is the biggest disappointment about the S10. The hungry Exynos chip is a real beast and that stunning display doesn’t help either. Lowering your resolution to the standard full HD helps a little but not by much. If you use the S10 sparsely it might last you till midnight after which you will need to charge it.
Playing games like PUBG drains the battery like a thirsty German empties a pint of beer on a hot summer’s day. You can lose up to 20-25% in an hour of gaming which is a lot for a flagship and isn’t quite nice at this level.
Yes, the S10 does take just 1.5 hours to a full charge which is pretty fair and acceptable at this point and having the wireless charging capability helps a lot since you can top up on juice quite flawlessly although not as fast as the main charger.
Surprisingly the S10 also supports charging for other Qi-enabled devices including its own buds and considering the S10 already suffers in this department, we wouldn’t really recommend it.
OS & SOFTWARE: PIE MEETS ONE UI
Samsung’s new One Ui is much more sensible and has a much cleaner and streamlined approach to Android. There is a tonne of things you can customise and there’s honestly no need for a separate launcher.
The biggest change is in the notification and tray area, allowing you to customise to your heart’s liking. The pull-down easy access bit has been around since quite a few Samsung devices now but the new refreshed UI makes it more seamless and ‘out there’.
The real change here is the lack of any obnoxious bloatware. Yes, the S10 is still plagued with a bit, but they are Samsung’s own and come already stowed away in their own app folder. This is the biggest change Samsung has made and we are really pleased with this.
A few settings do require you to dive deep and explore, but everything is quite intuitive and not messy or cluttered like you’d find on Huawei devices. The phone offers traditional navigation keys, a slider and gesture controls which are swappable too and work brilliantly.
With Pie comes a watchdog that tells you how much you’ve eaten of it. The ‘Digital Wellbeing’ monitor tells you how much time you’ve been spending on your ‘digital’ life and when you should take a break. You can also set timers for specific apps and go complete OCD on it.
You also get a built-in night mode that looks oh so beautiful and also has a slightly positive impact on battery life. There are a host of themes to choose from including some that make clever use of that punch hole camera.
SAMSUNG GALAXY S10 VERDICT
So if you haven’t figured it out already, the Samsung S10 finds itself as a Jack of all, but master of none. It sort of gives you an overall experience that you won’t complain about and can live happily ever after with, but there are phones out there at this price that do certain things better in most departments which make the S10 feel a little pompous in its asking price.
The OnePlus 7 is yet around the corner, however the current OnePlus 6T also offers some insane value for money and comes with a sleek Android experience too. But if you don’t care about the camera trickery of others and want the absolute finest Android experience, it is the Samsung you should choose. This is Android done right and the way it should have been done long ago.