Review of the Samsung Galaxy S10

This is a review that's a little long overdue.

Samsung is such a powerhouse in the mobile space, that I've felt this big gap in the blog by not having this in my lineup of reviews.

But, I have it now ... and it's the S10, not the S10 Plus, which I'm okay with.  I've started to like having a smaller device as I walk about.  I have to carry 2 phones; one work, one personal.  I've always kept the work phone as an iPhone - a) for the contrast - I love people's reaction seeing that I have one; b) size - I usually have an XL style phone for personal, so it's nice to have something smaller.

Well, the phones keep getting bigger and bigger, and devices are getting more and more expensive and will need, like the P30 especially, protection.  Just more and more bulk.

And the S10 isn't that much different from the plus variant, literally just the size.  (unlike the Pixels, which sacrifice a few features... grr).

So let's get into the review.  The flagship of the masses.  $1400 outright, what does that get you?

Just for comparison sakes, let's see what specs are of the $1400 S10 compared to the $1574 S10+

Galaxy S10+Galaxy S10
Processor2.84GHz x1 + 2.41GHz x3 + 1.78GHz x42.84GHz x1 + 2.41GHz x3 + 1.78GHz x4
TypeSnapdragon 855Snapdragon 855
Rear Cam12MP (f/1.5-2.4, 26mm, 1/2.55", 1.4um) + 12MP (f/2.4, 52mm, 1/3.6", 1.0um), 16MP (f/2.2, 12mm, 1.0um)12MP (f/1.5-2.4, 26mm, 1/2.55", 1.4um) + 12MP (f/2.4, 52mm, 1/3.6", 1.0um), 16MP (f/2.2, 12mm, 1.0um)
Front Cam10MP (f/1.9, 26mm, 1.22um)10MP (f/1.9, 26mm, 1.22um)
ReleasedFebruary 2019February 2019
fingerprint under screenfingerprint under screen
Qi + ReverseQi + Reverse
(as a reminder, you could always visit to compare this against other phones)

As you can see, it's literally just the display size.  You get everything of the other, just in a smaller package.  Oh, and a slight hit on the battery... but more than 3000mAh is going to be a good battery.

Let's go over the body of it.  It's a good hand feel, but a little on the slippery side.

We have power on the right, volume on the left with the Bixby button too (which can be ... sorta remapped).

On the bottom, we have the speaker and ... what's this, an actual 1/8" jack?  Wow.  If you're into that kinda thing, for sure, you'll like that.

The back is that slippery glass, and we have the nice row of cameras/sensors, semi reminiscent of the LG days.  I'm just really glad the fingerprint sensor is no longer up along that row.

The glass on the front has that subtle curve feel.  Not as pronounced as it was with the P30 Pro, but it's there.

To be honest, it didn't take long for me to slap a case on it.  Just felt better.  Something to ensure I had a grip on it.

Okay, that's the physical nature of everything, let's turn it on.

Now, the device doesn't have a back fingerprint sensor, but it does have one under the front glass, a la the P30 Pro.

On first time turn-ons (like after a reboot), it just doesn't work at all... I don't know why it bugs me that it doesn't.  On the Pixel 2/3 it wouldn't work, but you'd get a little vibration that said: "hey, buddy, use the PIN for first times".  I seem to always forget and start thinking the sensor doesn't work.

So it's on and we're met with the typical Samsung UI.  For a guy like me it means cracking the knuckles and getting in and adjusting.  Playing with the screens, turning off the app tray sorting (I don't know why you'd want to folderize the heck out of that screen and not have it alphabetical... the home screen is where you do your customization).

Especially tho', it means turning off all those touch sounds and tap vibrations, changing the Samsung keyboard to GBoard etc...

Weird was that you had to go into the device and make sure it's set to the highest resolution setting.  I mean, why would you want less?

The big thing for me is to switch around the navigation buttons.  I don't know why Samsung always seems to have it 'backwards'.  Turn that around, and then they have a new little 'gesture' option.  They get rid of the software buttons and have little 'pads' at the bottom that remind you where they are, and instead of tapping, you give a little upward swipe to press the button

Samsung has been a lot 'lighter touch' in the past few years, however, there are still plenty of Samsung apps in there, and a couple 3rd party apps too.  Clearing the clutter takes some time to get just right.

But let's take a look at what we do get.

First up, let's talk about the unlocking.

The fingerprint sensor sucks.  There, I said it.  Compared to a real one, it's garbage.  But even compared to something like the P30, it's not really good.  Sure, it works, but it feels like all those first generation fingerprint sensors back in the day where it took a fraction of a second too long to make you think it's not working.  Most times I'm unlocking the phone with the fingerprint sensor I'm taking longer than it would be to just type in a PIN.  It often says "press harder" "keep your finger there longer" ... harder, longer?  Get your mind out of the gutter Samsung!!

Half the time it works fine, just takes more than I'm used to from the P30 Pro.  The other half I have to do it a couple times.

Which leads me to the other unlocking method.  One I've shied away from, but with the Pixel 4 sitting to my right, I'm going to have to learn to like I guess.  That's the face unlocking.

This works rather not so badly... when it does.  Better than the fingerprint I'll say.  And times when you think it shouldn't (like dark room) it's fine.  Sometimes if you're not staring at it at the right angle it has issues.  It's neat seeing how the little camera punchout has a bit of a 'halo' as it's scanning your face.  You'll have to see if the 'redo circle' comes up.

It is set to that once it's fine, you still have to 'swipe up' to get into the phone.  The Pixel just puts you there automatically.

Sometimes, picking up the phone doesn't 'trigger' the sensing part, so you have to hit power to get the lockscreen to think you want it to open to start looking for your face.

It's not perfect, but still better than the fingerprint in my opinion.

I mentioned the Bixby button.  I'm still not sold on Bixby, I don't think it's as robust as Google, and I miss the Google 'now' screen.  You can set the trigger for the button in a bit of a unique way.  Essentially, Samsung still wants you to use Bixby, now you have the choice for it to happen after 1 press or 2.  So if you don't want to use Bixby, set it to occur after 2 presses, and set it to launch Assistant after just 1.

Another feature I've enjoyed with this is the 'pop up view'.  Think of it like the old Sony 'mini apps windows' and the Facebook Messenger floating heads.  Certain apps you can set up to have this pop up view bubble show up.  Tap it, and Hangouts shows you the message chain and it's a little mini app window and you can interact, send a reply and close it out.

You can even trigger the pop up view from the multi view layout.

With the window you can adjust the size, and the transparency.  I find that kind of stuff way better than split screening.  But that's just me.

Speaking of split screen, you have this nifty 'edge panel', which we've seen in other Samsungs.  I don't think I'd seen this new 'app pairing' feature, where you can set a shortcut to automatically launch 2 apps in split screen.

Neat little thing.

Can't say I ever used it, or the Edge panel even once tho'.  There are plenty of edge widgets to browse through, but I can't say any tickled my fancy just enough.  I'm open to suggestions tho'.

Speaking of 'doubling up', there was a setting to allow you multiple 'instances' or accounts for a single app.  Do you manage 2 Facebook accounts, or Whatsapp numbers?  You can do it from the system level here.

Another neat unique thing I noticed with Samsung was that when you took a screenshot, you'd get the typical file name "SCREENSHOT_DATE_TIME" but there was aadded at the end "APPNAME" like
Screenshot_20191007-211239_Samsung Internet.jpg

It's a little thing, but I really liked it... doubt most people would even notice.

There was also this neat feature where a swipe up from the bottom would bring up Samsung Pay

It only happened a couple of times for me, and never again.  The screen it brought up was the set up screen for Samsung Pay... but I don't know why I could never get past this "get started" page.  I know I had set it up before, but it was stuck there.  Weird.

Getting into the camera, it was very ... refreshing that in the setting there was nothing about what resolution was which.  Switching between the 3 cameras was very intuitive via the buttons, it was really nice (tho' a part of me was wanting to know what resolution I was using).

Using the camera was fun.  There is a setting I highly recommend, the 'shot suggestions', where it will have a little yellow dot appear on the screen with a bit of a level that suggests how you should frame the shot to get the best out of it.

I'm constantly using that.

Navigating the features and how to switch between the cameras is very intuitive.

The shots it takes are good.  Some are really great.  I'll throw a couple down below for you to take a look at, but I'll try to get a sampling comparison in the coming days.

I really did like the macro focus it could pull out, that was really nice.

Also, I liked how in the gallery app if you looked at details of the image (swipe up) you could see what auto tags it set.

Nevertheless, I like the colour, I like the detail.  I don't think it's wowed me like Huawei or Pixel have, so I'm a little spoiled.  My dad has last year's S9 and has really enjoyed the photos it took when he went out to BC.

You can set up the AR emojis.  It's gimmicky, but it's a thing.

Overall, the performance as it dances between all these different features and apps was really good.

There were some times it got a little 'sluggish'.  Like scrolling through my dinos in Jurassic World Alive had a bit of a "scrolling through mud" feel.  I don't know if there were some background app updates or something, but there were times it was annoying.  Not often.  In 2 weeks of solid use, I'd say like 3 times.  So not much.

The battery is where I think the performance takes a hit.  At 3400mAh, this should be a respectable amount of battery.  My Pixel 3 XL had the same size battery, so you'd think with a smaller screen it should be even better.

It wasn't.

I guess I was really REALLY spoiled by the P30 Pro, but I would say even the iPhone 8S battery is better.  I thought it was just the first few days, but no, it never really got better.

It has this odd issue with some Qi chargers that when it gets to 100% it would flash the screen on saying "FULLY CHARGED", and then it would drop to 99%, and then Qi would put it back to 100 and it would flash on again.  Very annoying late at night.

Also odd was that sometimes it would get 'stuck' thinking it was being charged and have the battery icon and lock screen continue to say it was slowly wirelessly charging.

Some odd quirks for sure.

In the end, battery - I have chargers everywhere.  Lock screen issues - well, it's not perfect, but I've seen worse.

Everything else is fantastic.  You just have to stomach the price.  Get through that and it's a great option.

Photo samples