[First Cut] Samsung Galaxy S10+: Return of the Jedi… with a new hope?
The latest in the Phone Star Wars
There is a new Galaxy S in tech town. Make that three, actually. Samsung seems to have taken a leaf out of you-know-who’s book by coming out with three variants of its flagship, the S10e, the S10, and the S10+, with a 5G variant expected to come out later as well. As the name indicates, the most powerful of the current lot is the S10+ and that is the one we have for review. And judging by our initial impressions, it is a mix of the standard values of the S series and attempts to get new features in as well. A bit of the Jedi returning with a new hope, to use the Star Wars terminology.
Of course, the first thing that hits you about the S10+ is…duh, let’s be predictable, its display. Hardly surprising, given the sort of hegemony Samsung has established in that zone. There are AMOLED displays and there are excellent displays and then there are the ones that come on Samsung’s flagships. The S10+ carries forward this tradition with a magnificent 6.4-inch quad HD+ AMOLED display, which it calls the Infinity O. It totally butchers bezels, with the front dual cameras tucked into two punch-like holes in the top right corner, and it tapers slightly over the sides, making it almost blend into the back. The back itself is again glass and this time there is a spin on the design. While the competition is trying out gradient displays, Samsung has gone with what it calls a Prism finish, and the result is striking. We had a white unit, but it seemed to be imbued with shades of red when light played off it. That apart, the most prominent part of the back is the triple camera unit, which seems to have been taken right from the Note 9 in design terms, with the cameras being arranged horizontally rather than vertically along with the flash and a heart rate sensor.
And well, if the first thing that hits you about the S10+ is the display, the second will be its weight. At 175 grams, it is incredibly light for a device that houses a large battery (more on that later) and at 7.8 mm it’s very slim too.
The question is: how does it look? Well, very classy when the light plays off that back and that front is mind-bogglingly brilliant. The phone has a very premium look to it and in spite of the glass back and front (Gorilla Glass 6 on the front, 5 on the back), feels very solid and well, we actually found it a lot less slippery than some of the other glassy customers. There is a “but” out there, though, and that comes in terms of those dual cameras in the right corner in the front and that camera panel at the back. Both we feel, tend to intrude on what is otherwise a very seamless design. We also were a little puzzled at the relatively large “chin” of the device which seemed asymmetrical to the almost zero bezel top, although many might not notice that. Samsung has also placed a screen protector on the device, but it is already collecting dust around the front cameras, which is kind of annoying.
And notwithstanding all the solidity, the back does pick up scratches and smudges, the back does pick up scratches and smudges – Samsung has put a transparent case in the box but put it on, and bang goes those premium looks (it has been a long time since we saw a company bundle high-class cases with a premium device – perhaps the Mi Mix 2 was the last one to be accorded that honor). And oh yes, the Bixby button is still there on the left right below the volume rocker, making the S10+ one of the increasingly few phones to have display/power buttons and power buttons on opposite sides of the display. All said and done, we think the S10+ is a bit of a flawed beauty, but a beauty nevertheless – we still cannot stop admiring that back and the lack of weight. Its being water and dust resistant is a massive plus. Some might prefer the sharper finish of Note 9, but we can see a lot of people loving this one too.
But if the frame is lightweight, its innards are not. The Galaxy S series has been known to come with the best hardware in tech town and the S10+ is no different. The display is quad HD+ (though it is set to full HD+ by default, which is kind of weird), and is HDR 10+ certified, with an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner. It is very visible even in bright sunlight and cuts down harmful blue light as well. The processor is an Exynos 9820, which Samsung claims easily matches the 2019 flagship favorite, the Snapdragon 855, and is backed up by 8 GB of RAM with 128 GB and 512 GB storage, and there is even a 12 GB and 1 TB variant out there (we have the 8 GB/128 GB one). Oh and all that storage is expandable by another 512 GB, courtesy a memory card. There are twin speakers with support for Dolby Atmos and connectivity options galore including NFC, USB Type C, GPS, Wi-Fi, 4G, the works – and a 3.5 mm audio jack too! And running on top of this is Android 9, with Samsung’s new, more minimalistic One UI on top.
All of which is par for the course for an Android flagship. Where the S10+ pulls away from most of the competition (apart from THAT display) is in two areas: cameras and battery. Cameras have been one of the strongest suites of the Galaxy S series for a while and the S10+ comes with five of them – at the back are a 16 megapixel ultra wide, a 12 megapixel telephoto and a 12 megapixel sensor whose aperture can be changed (f/1.5 to f/2.4), while in the front are a 10 megapixel sensor and a 8 megapixel secondary one. There are stacks of camera tricks out there including special emojis, bokeh (live focus), effects and shooting options. Stay tuned for our detailed review but at the time of writing, we would say that the S10+ has the potential to take on the best out there. Then there is the battery – the phone not only packs in a large 4100 mAh battery (why scale down the display resolution with that big a battery, we wonder) with support for fast charging and wireless charging but also with the gift of wirelessly charging other (supported) devices placed on its back, a la the Mate 20 Pro. Is this the next flagship feature? We are not complaining, although we do wish it was faster.
All of which can be yours for a starting price of Rs 73,900. Which is kind of interesting, because it not only puts the S10+ in the range of Android’s flawed genius, the Pixel 3 XL, but also in proximity of the Mate 20 Pro from Huawei, the iPhone XR (the XS and XS Max have much higher price tags) and well, its own Note 9, which brings a S-Pen to the battle. To find out how well it fares, stay tuned for our detailed review.