The very first thing I noticed about the Galaxy S10 was its stunning, curved AMOLED screen, which Samsung calls the “Infinity Display.” It really does make every app look richer. The device included a preinstalled screen protector—which I hated, and peeled off immediately.
The device feels light at 5.53 ounces. (That’s versus 6.24 ounces for the iPhone XS, and 5.22 ounces for the Pixel 3.) That weight is pretty surprising, given how large the S10’s battery is. Relatively, it’s huge, weighing in at 3,399 mAh. (In comparison, the iPhone XS is 2,658mAh and the Pixel 3 is 2915mAh.) With enough gaming, you can still reliably run down the battery, but for the most part, you’re looking at a phone that will last you the entire day and then some.
One of the coolest new features Samsung has added to the S10 is with the flip of a toggle your phone becomes a wireless charger. That’s right, your phone can charge other phones— even iPhones—just by putting them back to back. This drains your battery, and fast, but I couldn’t help but admire the feature. Talk about a power move.
Unfortunately, the S10’s other power move—a built-in-the-screen finger scanner was less impressive. In theory, the S10 offers the best of both worlds, packing a Face Unlock for your lock screen, and Pattern or thumbprint unlock for the more sensitive actions. This has been touted as A Very Big Deal by Samsung, but unfortunately, it was nowhere near reliable enough for me. If I’m being generous, I’d say it worked about sixty percent of the time. That’s a stunningly low accuracy, that was only slightly alleviated by re-adding my thumb as multiple fingers.
The speakers are also a disappointment. At full tilt, they’re muffled and not particularly loud. In a blind audio test, five separate people preferred the iPhone XS’s speakers—and were divided between the S10 and the Pixel 3. However, the S10 is the only phone of the bunch with a headphone jack, at least.
Ultimately, I’m able to forgive these shortcomings due to everything the phone does right. And one of my favorite features is the camera. Or, cameras. The S10 has four (and the S10+ has a fifth, with the addition of an 8MP front-facing camera). I’m always skeptical of these multiple lenses, but the S10’s are a treat. There’s a 12MP Telephoto, a 12MP Wide-angle, and a 16MP Ultra Wide—each activated with a simple toggle flip. Of the lenses, my favorite was by far the least useful: the ultra wide that made everything look like a 90s skate video. It’s that wide. Like, “I can see my legs when I’m holding the phone in front of me” wide.
The photos below were taken three times from the same spot, using the Telephoto, Wide, and then Ultra Wide camera.
The wide-angle camera self adapts between two apertures (f/1.5 and f/2.4). This adds a ton of utility to the camera—especially during night photography when a wider aperture is necessary. But it's a little slow-focusing for my liking, and many times I waited while my subject went in an out of focus.
The S10+ has two front-facing cameras, so you can add depth of field to your selfies, but unfortunately, on the S10 you’ll have to settle for one. It focuses quickly and seems to takes capable photos.
The Selfie camera does come with some software effects to add a digital bokeh. Oh, and stay far far away from the AR Emoji.
The phone also boasts a whole slew of software features that can improve the quality of your photos and videos. The best of all is “Super Steady,” which stabilizes videos. There’s not much to say about it, except that it works phenomenally. I used the Super Steady in a video (below) while walking with an intentionally exaggerated bounce in my step, and it looked steady enough to be drone video. Once i turned it on, I couldn't think of a reason to turn it off