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Galaxy S10 review: Don’t abandon Samsung’s 2019 flagship just yet – CNET

The poor Galaxy S10 always suffered from middle-child syndrome. Being sandwiched between the larger, more lavishly appointed Galaxy S10 Plus and the smaller, pluckier, far cheaper Galaxy S10E was never easy. In fact, I wondered more than once why it even existed, other than to suddenly look like a deal during promotional sales. 

How it stacks up

Like

  • Sharp screen
  • Long battery life
  • Noteworthy camera quality
  • Wirelessly charges other devices

Don’t Like

  • In-screen fingerprint reader is hit or miss
  • Lacks the distinction of S10 Plus and S10E

And now, the Galaxy S10’s reason for being has become even more precarious. Samsung has since released the Galaxy S20, S20 Plus, Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra (not to mention the Galaxy Z Fold 2).

The name change is significant, representing a major shift in what it means to be a premium Galaxy phone: 5G, real camera improvements and more megapixels, a huge battery, a 120Hz screen refresh rate.

The Galaxy S10 can’t compete against those specs, especially when it comes to future-proofing the phone in the rising age of blistering 5G data speeds. But for some people, the S10 could settle into the obvious choice for a high-end phone with a reasonable price, especially when the price inevitably drops even further.

galaxy-s10-2

The Galaxy S10 racks up the features, including three rear cameras and the ability to wirelessly charge other devices.

Angela Lang/CNET

Yet for many, 5G phones won’t be a practical option for several years. Buying a 4G phone this year that you hold onto for another two or three years isn’t a terrible idea for many, especially if 5G still hasn’t arrived where you live, and it means saving a sizable chunk of change. Specs wise, the Galaxy S10 will valiantly carry you through one more cycle of phone ownership — just so long as it comes down to a price you’re willing to pay. 

The Galaxy S10 initially started at $900 (£799 and AU$1,349), only $100 cheaper than the Plus ($1,000, £899, AU$1,499) and $150 more than the S10E ($750, £669, AU$1,199). Expect price drops to settle even further now that the Note 20 is here, with further seasonal discounts by store and carrier, such as buy one, get one free offers.

The Galaxy S10 remains as terrific a phone as it was when I first reviewed it in March 2019. The screen, camera and battery life are top notch. That’s unsurprising when you consider that it’s just a pared-down version of the excellent Galaxy S10 Plus ($460 at Back Market), which was one of the top phones in a talent-stacked year. 

Read more: Best Samsung Galaxy S10, S10 Plus and S10E cases

There are a few main differences to be aware of between the Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus, if you’re considering the two:

  • There’s only one front-facing camera on the S10 instead of two, but it doesn’t detract much.
  • The screen is slightly smaller (6.1 inches versus 6.4 on the Plus).
  • Battery life is a tad shorter (just over 18 hours in our looping video drain test versus 21 on the Plus).
  • There’s no 1-terabyte storage option.
  • You can’t buy it with a ceramic backing as you can the 512GB and 1TB Galaxy S10 Plus.

For more Samsung Galaxy comparisons, check out these CNET articles:

If I liked any phones more it would be the Galaxy Note ($950 at Amazon) 10 for value-for-money-meets-luxury specs, and the Note 10 Plus for even more power features and specs.

For more details on the Galaxy S10’s individual features, read my Galaxy S10 Plus review. With a few exceptions, the core features are the same as the Plus model. Keep reading below for a full specs comparison among the Galaxy S10, S10 Plus and S10E.

Galaxy S10 vs. S10E vs. S10 Plus

Samsung Galaxy S10E Samsung Galaxy S10 Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus
Display size, resolution 5.8-inch AMOLED; 2,280×1,080 pixels 6.1-inch AMOLED; 3,040×1,440 pixels 6.4-inch AMOLED; 3,040×1,440 pixels
Pixel density 438 ppi 550 ppi 522 ppi
Dimensions (inches) 5.6 x 2.8 x 0.27 in. 5.9 x 2.77 x 0.31 in. 6.20 x 2.92 x 0.31 in.
Dimensions (millimeters) 142 x 70 x 7.9mm 149.9 x 70.4 x 7.8mm 157.6 x 74.1 x 7.8mm
Weight (ounces, grams) 5.3 oz.; 150g 5.53 oz.; 157g 6.17 oz.; 175g
Mobile software Android 9.0 with Samsung One UI Android 9.0 with Samsung One UI Android 9.0 with Samsung One UI
Camera 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 16-megapixel (ultrawide-angle) 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 16-megapixel (ultrawide-angle), 12-megapixel (telephoto) 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 16-megapixel (ultrawide-angle), 12-megapixel (telephoto)
Front-facing camera 10-megapixel 10-megapixel 10-megapixel, 8-megapixel
Video capture 4K 4K 4K
Processor Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
Storage 128GB, 256GB 128GB, 512GB 128GB, 512GB, 1TB
RAM 6GB, 8GB 8GB 8GB, 12GB
Expandable storage Up to 512GB Up to 512GB Up to 512GB
Battery 3,100 mAh 3,400 mAh 4,100 mAh
Fingerprint sensor Power button In-screen (ultrasonic) In-screen
Connector USB-C USB-C USB-C
Headphone jack Yes Yes Yes
Special features Wireless PowerShare; hole-punch screen notch; water resistant (IP68); Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 Wireless PowerShare; hole-punch screen notch; water resistant (IP68); Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 Wireless PowerShare; hole-punch screen notch; water resistant (IP68); Fast Wireless Charging 2.0
Price off-contract (USD) $750 $900 $1,000
Price (GBP) £669 £799 £899
Price (AUD) AU$1,199 AU$1,349 AU$1,499

First published Jan. 30.

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