Samsung Galaxy S10 – A Long Term User Review!
So this is the Samsung Galaxy S10, one of my favorite Android smartphones to date because of what it offers for the price. Now a lot of you might be thrown off by that statement, because this phone was priced at $899 when it launched. However, did you know that a couple of months later and Samsung dropped the price of this phone by $200 bringing down to $699, which puts this phone in a very competitive space. Now the S10e and the S10+ have also received price cuts, but regardless the Galaxy lineup is certainly in a competitive position after the price drops, and you can certainly pick it up for a lot less in certain areas as well. Now I’ve spent about 10 weeks with the Galaxy S10 so I’m going to be sharing my experience using this device and of course go through its ups and downs.
All right, so first things first, the fit and finish. How has it held up so far? Well, I have the regular sized S10 and not the larger S10+ and I had no issues handling the phone, because the size is just perfect for my large hands. Here’s a comparison shot next to the recently announced OnePlus 7 Pro, and the S10 looks like tiny in comparison to that phone, but it packs a punch inside.
So for starters it’s a 6.1-inch AMOLED display that’s super sharp and vibrant. Again, Samsung is known to have one of the best, if not the best displays on smartphones. And the S10 is not shy here. You still get vibrant colors and deeper blacks, and consuming content is just awesome. However, I’m not a fan of the curved edges, because it kind of gets in the way when you’re watching something in full screen mode with these reflections popping up and videos at the top and bottom look a bit odd. And look, I said the exact same thing with previous Samsung devices so it’s not like they’re going to change anything with their next generation phone, but I have run into a lot of instances where the phone would just start scrolling in the opposite direction when my palm gets in the way. So basically, palm detection is still kind of finicky. Now you could install this one app called EdgeTouch from the Galaxy App Store and set custom rejection profiles, and it works about 80% of the time.
All right, so let’s talk about that punch hole cutout at the top right hand corner of the display. At first glance, it wasn’t really my cup of tea, but after spending about 10 weeks with the phone it really hasn’t been that distracting. For the most part as I’m scrolling through content, especially when I’m going through Instagram, Twitter or my YouTube description feed content, and it’s primarily on the center part of the display and not at the top, so I can easily disregard that. In fact, you can actually take advantage of some cool wallpapers geared for the S10 to give it a little bit of character and I think you’ll easily get used to it.
When you pick up the S10, you will immediately feel how well built it is. These stainless steel frame along with gorilla glass construction, and polished with some amazing details here and there just made me appreciate the work that went into creating this. Sure, the glass back is a fingerprint magnet and prone to cracks, but that’s nothing a case or a skin can’t address. On top of that, in Samsung style you get a IP68 water resistant rating, a headphone Jack – Yes, it’s still here, which is awesome – and stereo speakers that sound excellent.
There is support for fast wireless charging, and a nifty little feature called Wireless PowerShare which lets you charge other Qi enabled devices by just placing it on its back. The caveat is that it’s only 4.5 watts, so charging a phone or something that requires more power isn’t really ideal. In my case, it was easily able to top up my smartwatch that supports Qi, which was cool. So be aware of the limitations as you take advantage of PowerShare.
Another key selling feature of the Galaxy S10 is the in-display 3D ultrasonic fingerprint scanner. So instead of shining a light through the glass to read your fingerprint, like what OnePlus does with their smartphones, this actually reads a 3D contour of your thumbprint. If it matches, it will unlock and you can get into your phone within a matter of few seconds. Now there are a few ways to approach this. First you can simply place your thumb onto the screen for a few seconds to unlock or a simple tap works as well. And mind you, this is with the screen completely turned off, which is pretty nice. From my experience it’s pretty fast, but not as fast as the OnePlus 7 Pro, but I’ve ran into a lot of times where the reader just wouldn’t work. If I want to go pay for something using Google Pay…it just just wouldn’t work, I would have to go manually in and unlock the device to pay for that.
Moving on to software, and as much as Samsung has the edge with the hardware design and when it comes to packing a ton of features, it does fall short by little bit in the software department. Now don’t get me wrong, it isn’t terrible. In fact, the upgrade to One UI has certainly cleaned things up quite a bit. The settings menu is noticeably cleaner and easier to navigate around with.
They do have dark mode integrated, which is pretty cool, although I’m confused as to why they’ve named it Night Mode cause on other smartphones that usually means turning on the blue screen filter. You also have a lot of customization options like being able to change the Always-On-Display to a certain type.
There’s a built-in Theme Store, but most require that you to pay for them. And as always, Samsung preloads the phone with their own browser, e-mail clients, et cetera. Now personally I’m not a huge fan of One UI because something about it just doesn’t feel right. I mean it could either be the design or just the way that there are just too many corners throughout that user interface. So I just ended up installing Nova launcher, my own custom icon pack, some widgets to clean things up here and there. I was also able to remove some of the bloatware applications that Samsung preloaded, and I was comfortably able to use the S10 after spending about an hour to an hour and a half just setting up the phone. So that’s a great thing about Android, you can customize it to the way you like, but I just want to say that the out-of-the-box experience might be a little bit too overwhelming for some users.
A quick note on software updates, I received like two or three of them over the course of my testing period. They fixed some bugs and also claimed to improve the biometric fingerprint scanner, but there wasn’t a scientific method to prove that because it still remains the same since day one. Now there’s still no official word on android Q rolling onto the Galaxy S10. It still isn’t official, but once it is I’m really not sure when Samsung is going to roll it out to the Galaxy S10, possibly by the end of this year or maybe early next year so just to keep that in mind.
And before I forget, Bixby is still here. I don’t think Samsung’s going to let go of that thing anytime soon. I just disabled it the moment I received this phone, and I’m so invested in the Google ecosystem and so I prefer using Google assistant because it’s faster and it just gets the job done. By the way, in a recent update, Samsung allowed users to reprogram that Bixby button to open a certain app or a command, which is highly appreciated.
Battery life was pretty good, but not great. I was able to get through my day without a problem, but do keep in mind that this only features like 3400mAh battery. The phone supports Quick Charge 2.0, and of course you can charge it wirelessly as well to top it up. My screen on time was averaging between 4.5 to 5 hours, so again it is respectable for a phone this size.
And finally there is the camera performance. Now I’m not going to go too in-depth with these three cameras because I did a separate dedicated video analyzing the pictures coming out of these three sensors, and walking you through the UI and what Samsung is offering, and of course doing video tests as well. But to sum it up, you get a 60MP ultrawide angle lens, a 12MP standard lens, and a 12MP telephoto lens for that extra reach. The final images are pretty impressive in well-lit scenarios, Samsung does tend to oversharpen the image just by little band, but you only notice that if your pixel-peeping. Low light performance is unfortunately not the S10’s strength, the level of detail just completely falls apart. The ultra-wide angle lens on the other hand is a welcome addition. It comes in super handy in certain situations and I love having that flexibility of switching between all three lenses. Again, if you want full in-depth analysis of the camera performance, you can check out our video here.
A quick note on video performance, the colors coming out of the center are great and there’s good dynamic range and sharpness. The microphone quality is also very nice, and when you pair that up with a sensor that has good auto-focussing, there’s nothing really you can complain about with the Galaxy S10 cameras.
So I guess this leads us to the conclusion, as I mentioned at the very beginning of this video the Galaxy S10 is one of my favorite Android smartphones for 2019 because of what it offers for the price. I mean if you can pick up this phone for $699 it is a great value because the amount of features that it packs is just crazy. You’ve got fantastic build quality, the display is awesome, it’s got great flexible cameras, and on top of that you have Top of the Line specs like IP68 water resistant rating, expandable storage, a headphone jack, and stereo speakers. What else can you ask for? With all of that being said, if you’re looking to save a little bit of money on the galaxy S10, I would actually highly recommend picking up the Galaxy S10e because it offers a lot of the features that the S10 offers but with a few compromises, which is totally worth the cost. Something else that I quickly want to discuss is that ever since I started working on the Galaxy S10 review a lot of phones have been coming out, including the Huawei P30 Pro that is currently facing massive issues in the North American market with Google services and whatnot, but it has some great camera performance. You also have the Pixel 3a, it offers fantastic camera performance, great software experience at a ridiculously good cost. And the recently announced OnePlus 7 Pro that sets some interesting standards for 2019. So I think Samsung might have lowered the prices on the S10 simply because of what these phones offer for their price. So that is pretty much it, let me know what you guys think about the Galaxy S10.