I just got my hands on the brand new Samsung Galaxy S10 – lucky me! Check out my thoughts on the most recent flagship from Samsung.
Set-up and design
The Samsung Galaxy S10 is all screen. The sleek, stream-lined design with rounded edges is what we’ve come to expect from Samsung. The aluminium frame and Gorilla Glass 6 front and Gorilla Glass 5 back are elegant, and the device feels lightweight and comfortable in hand.
From the front, the S10 looks pretty similar to the S9 but for one major change – Samsung has removed the notch and the front camera is now hole-punched into the top right-hand corner of the screen, which they’re calling the ‘Infinity-O display’. Surprisingly, I became used to this design really quickly and hardly noticed the camera – it didn’t get in the way when watching video content or in everyday use. But if you really did find the front camera to be a distraction, you can choose to ‘Hide front camera’ in the Settings, which puts a black bar across the top of the screen.
The 6.1 inch display[iii] is a touch bigger than the Galaxy S9, but with a thinner frame, and the screen size (combined with HDR-certification and vivid AMOLED technology) was great for viewing video content.
The device measures 149.9 x 70.4 x 7.8 mm (L x W x H) and because there’s no more front camera notch, the screen is nearly edge-to-edge, spilling over the curved sides. And best of all, after complaining about weight in my previous two reviews, this one is only 157g – hooray!
At the top of the device you’ll find a microphone pinhole and card slot, and down the bottom – a USB-C port, loudspeaker, microphone and…. a headphone jack! Samsung is one of the few phone manufactures that still include the standard 3.5mm headphone jack, despite introducing wireless Galaxy Buds, and it’s such a welcome feature for those of us who still use wired headphones.
On the right-hand side you’ll find the power button, although it is higher up than in previous models and not as easy to reach. Over on the left is the volume controls and Bixby button (Bixby is Samsung’s artificial intelligent assistant).
One of the biggest selling points of the S10 is the camera. It comes with three lenses on the back including:
12MP camera – with optical image stabilisation
16MP – ultra-wide-angle camera with 123-degree field of view
12MP – telephoto lens with 2x zoom.
I was able to capture great photos in daylight, that are detailed and clean, and the colours are vibrant while still maintaining a natural look.
The camera is also packed full of a range of great features:
One of my favourite camera features was the ‘best shot’ function. In the camera settings you have the option to turn on ‘Shot suggestions’, which guides you to line up your shot. This intelligent camera function pulls from the rules of photography to help you line up the best photo composition[iv].
Of the three camera lenses on the back, the 16MP ultra-wide-angle camera allows a 123-degree field of view. This is such a handy feature for those moments when you’re trying to capture a landscape, or a group shot, and there isn’t enough room for you to back up.
I took the above shots standing in the exact same spot and was amazed by how much I was able to capture and pleasantly surprised at the lack of distortion.
I had been told by a few people that Samsung has one of the best cameras for taking photos at night so I had to test this out.
The Galaxy S10 has a built-in Scene Optimiser which automatically enhances different types of photos, including those shot in low light. The shot on the left was taken with Scene Optimiser disabled, and the shot on the right was with it activated.
For low light shooting, the Scene Optimiser shoots, saves and compresses several shots into one to get you most optimised image. But because of this, it means you have to be quite patient and hold the phone really still for a few seconds while the shots are taking – as you can see, my dog Mia couldn’t hold still that long and hence the blur around her head.
Overall, I was pretty impressed with the outcome of the photos. The camera certainly pulled in a lot of light to the extent where it almost looked like day time.
My favourite muse was back again to help me test out the live focus camera function.
‘Live focus’ is Samsung’s version of portrait mode – it makes the subject of the photo sharp and detailed, and has several different options for the background. And the great thing is, you can change the background option even after you’ve already taken the shot.
For the photo in the top left I used ‘colour point’ which makes the subject coloured and the background black and white. I think you could get some really cool and arty shots using this function, although it can be slightly off sometimes (see the patch of green grass at the bottom of the photo).
The second photo was taken using ‘zoom’. I found this one to be kind of funny and I’m not sure I’d use it very often.
Finally, the bottom photo was taken using ‘blur’ background. This was my favourite option and I would use this one the most. I like how you can blur the background to make the subject really stand out. Although I did notice that this setting tended to sharpen the part of the subject that was closest to the camera – see how Mia’s nose is sharp, but the top of her head, ears and paws are blurred with the background. I would have preferred to have the whole subject sharp and only the background blurred.
I booked in a brunch date as soon as I found out about the ‘Food’ camera setting.
The top photo was taken with the standard camera settings and turned out lovely – the colours were bright and natural and the lighting was spot on.
The below photo is taken on the ‘Food’ camera setting. The colours are more vibrant, although personally I prefer the more natural colours in the top photo. And similar to the live focus function, the focal point was smaller than I would have liked it to be – it focused in on the fruit bowl in the centre and blurred the rest of the food on the platter.
This setting worked better for a smaller plate of food – I used it to shoot the pink latte above.
Slow motion video
The slow-mo video option was really fun to play around with. It records at 240 frames per second.
There was a somewhat noticeable difference in quality between standard video recording, which shoots in 4K UHD, and slow-motion which records in 1080p. But overall I was pretty happy with the quality of the videos, particularly the second video of the pancakes.
Both of the videos above were captured in ‘Slow motion’, but the camera also allows for ‘Super Slo-mo’ which records at 960 frames per second.
I was really impressed with the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor built into the display. I found it worked consistently and quickly.
For the most part, however, the facial recognition kicked in and unlocked the phone before I even needed to press my finger on the scanner. It unlocked the phone almost instantaneously each time I picked it up.
When I first set up the facial recognition function, it directed me to take a shot of myself both wearing my glasses, and without them, so no matter what, it was able to recognise my face – I loved this feature!
It took me a little while to work out how to turn on the PowerShare setting. For some reason, it doesn’t appear as an option when I did a search of the Settings. It was actually hidden in the quick settings menu that can be pulled down from the top of the home screen.
When I did find it, I tested it out on a Google Pixel 3. It was really simple to use – just turn PowerShare on and put the phones back to back – and there you have it! The charging began straight away. I found that it drained the Samsung battery at a quicker rate than it charged the Pixel, but it is a cool feature that would come in handy if your friends have a compatible device (those that support WPC Qi wireless charge) and need a top up.
The only time I used Bixby was through the camera. The Bixby Vision app is built into the phone’s camera and does a bunch of cool things like translating languages, identifying the number of calories in your lunch, and showing where you can buy things.
All you have to do is point the camera at what you’re interested in and the results pop up. It was more accurate for certain things (it was spot on with my shoes) and I’d be keen to give this feature a go when I’m travelling later this year!
Sleek design and large screen that spills over the side edges
Takes good photos
Fast and reliable facial recognition unlock
The device tended to run hot in my hand – it was noticeable when I was taking photos
I don’t think the Bixby button is entirely necessary – it got in the way sometimes when I thought it was the volume button
What do you think of the Samsung Galaxy S10? Tell us in the comments below 😊