While we were testing for this Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus review, it felt like everything was somehow enhanced by the phone’s gorgeous, edgeless AMOLED screen. In fact, after finishing with the S10 Plus and looking at many of its rivals, we felt a little cheated by the size and the ‘limits’ of their touchscreens. Screen alone isn’t a solid reason to buy a phone and, at close to $1000 new, we couldn’t recommend you buy the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus just because it’s pretty. Equally, it’s one of the big considerations if you’re looking at getting one of the best smartphones in 2020, and thankfully the S10 Plus has the specs to back up the screen and justify the hefty price.
In addition to the latest version of the Android operating system, which is far more customizable than Apple’s iOS, the Galaxy S10 benefits from generous storage (to keep all your photos and videos safe), sensible security systems, a decent battery life and lightning quick charging system, and some very good cameras. It’s a superb all-rounder, but not without a few annoying flaws. Here are our thoughts on the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus.
Samsung Galaxy S10+ review: Design and styling
- Superb economic design
- Tough phone to damage
The physical design of the Galaxy series hasn’t changed much in recent years, at least not aesthetically. The big difference from the S9 here is the addition of a three-camera strip at the back of the phone, and a dual-selfie camera integrated into the screen at the front. The rear finger-print scanner is gone too, replaced by on-screen finger-printing with the S10. It all makes the phone feel sleeker and more advanced.
The Galaxy S10 Plus comes in a range of colors, from the standard Prism Black through to Green and White. We tested the black version, which is a magnet for finger-prints, but is also the most popular choice. All retail for roughly the same price, although the black version is on sale more often than the others.
You’ve got the power/wake button on the right of the device, not-quite-flush to the edge, with the volume rocker (again, slightly proud of the side) and virtual assistant button on the left. Your sim goes in the top, and there is space for dual-sims or MicroSD cards here, with the USB-C fast-charging input and 3.5mm headphone jack at the base. It’s fully featured, with very little wasted design - the only superfluous feature being the Bixby Virtual Assistant, because Bixby itself is useless.
It’s a tough phone too. The WQHD screen is made from glass tough enough to survive short falls onto concrete, and bigger ones onto wood or carpet. It has most other phones beat here. Dropping it will chip away at the edges, and leave dents and scuffs, but it’s tough to actually crack or chip the S10 Plus, much like the S9 before it. It’s waterproof too, although we wouldn’t recommend submerging it for long periods. Handily, you’ll get a warning if moisture is detected in the charging slot.
Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus review: Battery
- Decent-sized battery, lasts for a couple of days
- Powershare feature is disappointing
In terms of battery, the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus rates well against older Galaxy models, and above average when it comes to premium smartphones. The S9 was notorious for its limited battery life, but we managed to get about 36 hours out of the S10 Plus with normal use. That’s a day and a half from full-charge. A complete charge of the 4100mAH battery - which is larger in the Plus version than the regular S10 - takes about 2 hours.
Samsung phones have always suffered in terms of battery life, outside the Note series, but the S10 Plus addresses this. After the usual settling-in period, we found our battery drained consistently when used for most functions. When put to heavy use, with video capture, playback, and phone calls, the life drops to around 20-24 hours which is still very good, although it can’t match something like the Huawei P30 Pro in this department.
The Galaxy S10 Plus also features Powershare, which allows you to charge other phones by placing them back-to-back. Sounds fantastic on paper but, in reality, it’s both awkward to use and it charges so slowly, it really becomes an ‘emergencies only’ feature. Shame, but this feature is likely to improve with future iterations of the Galaxy.
Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus review: Screen and Audio
- Awesome 6.4” OLED screen
- Edgeless design makes a difference
As we mentioned earlier, that 6.4" WQHD edgeless screen (what Samsung calls Infinity-O) is absolutely stunning, and the phone’s best feature. It’s capable of displaying at 3040x1440 and, while not full 4K, is very close to it. Colors are incredible, and the fact that the screen fits all the way to the edge of the phone really gives the feel of additional space and width. We tested it with YouTube videos, Netflix shows, and several movies, and it excelled with all of them.
The only real criticism of the screen is that Samsung has been a little too clever with the combination of features and screen. It’s far too easy to activate one of the edge-touch features when you’re simply putting your phone in a pocket or bag, and that can get annoying.
Audio is great too, with the in-phone speaker providing clear sound whenever you’re playing media. The fact that a 3.5mm input is available on the phone gives the S10 Plus a significant advantage over most other modern smartphones, as it doesn’t force you to have wireless earbuds or headphones (looking at you, iPhone 11). However, the audio for voice calls isn’t perfect - you’ll find that the phone needs to be in the exact right place against your ear to provide loud-enough sound. It’s good for blocking out exterior noise, but can be a pain when you’re on the move and struggling to keep the handset in exactly the same spot next to your ear.
Average price: $999
Operating System: Android
Screen size: 6.4” edgeless
Storage: 128GB / 512GB
5G Ready? Yes (some models)
Headphone jack? Yes
Charging Type: USB-C
Also consider… iPhone 11
Samsung Galaxy S10+ review: Camera
- Triple rear camera is good for pros
- Disappointing selfie-cameras
If there’s one area where the S10+ was slightly underwhelming, it’s the camera. It’s all relative, as the triple rear camera (16MP ultra-wide lens, 12MP wide lens, 12MP telephoto lens) does provide excellent pictures, especially at short and mid-range. However, it doesn’t feel like a big step up from the S9, and it can’t compete with rivals like the P30 Pro. Live Photo and Live Video mode will automatically adjust depth of field for you, which is probably the camera’s neatest trick, but as a point-and-snap camera, it actually feels like a step-down from the S9. Those with specialist camera knowledge will delight in messing with the pro settings, and will get better pics from the S10 Plus, but many users will likely feel underwhelmed if they’re upgrading from previous Samsung models.
The front-facing cameras (8MP and 10MP) offer great options for taking wide or angled selfies, but the clarity is merely average. It suffers in sub-optimal light conditions and, while Samsung’s photo-editing and enhancing software is always smart enough to clean up your pics and add vibrancy to colors, it definitely feels like the S10 Plus loses out here to the likes of the cheaper Google Pixel 3a. If you’re an avid selfie-taker, there are cheaper phones with better front-facing cameras; but if you know your way around advanced camera settings, and love to post on Instagram, there’s plenty to love here.
Live Video is a key strength of the S10 Plus camera, and it’s here where the phone does its best work. You can adjust depth of field on videos, and the footage you get is crystal clear. It can capture in 4K too, and there’s enough on-phone storage to shoot plenty of video.
Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus review: Software and assistant features
- Superb version of Android OS
- Bixby is poor, as ever
All Samsung phones run on the Android operating system, and the S10 Plus probably gives you the smoothest version of this OS, thanks to the powerful processing and quantity of RAM inside the device. If you’re an Apple user wondering what all the fuss is about, then know this: Android is a little more complicated than iOS, but offers you much more control over how your phone is configured, and what your on-screen display actually looks like. If you want to give it a try, Smartswitch does make it very, very easy to transfer all your data over from any other phone.
There are actually two virtual assistants on the S10 Plus. The Google Assistant, who appears in all Google Apps (Android is a Google-based system, so they come pre-installed, but can be removed) is helpful, and picks up your commands very well. Bixby, who is Samsung’s own assistant, is very unhelpful and has been for several generations of Galaxy phone. Voice recognition and learning simply can’t match other assistants like Siri or Alexa, and we often found that it was quicker to just perform the task we wanted via the touchscreen. The fact that Bixby has its own button, on the side of the S10, further compounds the issue, especially as it’s all too easily pressed when pulling the phone from a pocket, or adjusting the volume.
Samsung Galaxy S10+ review: Security
- On-screen finger scanner is great
- Facial recognition works well
New for the S10+ is the ability to unlock the phone via on-screen finger-print recognition. You can now set several fingers to be recognized with a simple tap on the actual phone screen, and it usually works quickly and accurately. There’s a neat piece of visual feedback to show that you’ve attempted the finger-print unlock, and unlocking usually happens in less than a second, which is quick enough.
The S10+ also has face recognition which is mostly reliable, although not quite as secure and accurate as the finger-print scanner. Setting it up in optimal lighting is the key to avoiding frustration. We couldn’t trick it into recognizing a different face, which very much provides piece of mind for anyone who uses face recognition as their primary way of unlocking a handset. Elsewhere you can set a 6-digit numerical password, and you can even have the phone set to automatically unlock when it’s on your person, or in a trusted location. The trusted location extends a little further than an average house, due to the location accuracy of the feature, but by no more than a few meters.
Should I buy the Samsung Galaxy S10+?
The Samsung Galaxy S10+ is an absolute powerhouse of a smartphone, and one of the best we’ve tested. While expensive, you get exactly what you pay for here - one of the most advanced phones in the world, with a stunning screen, loads of features, and some powerful specs that will last you for several years of any cell phone contract. Security is great, the Android OS means you can seriously customize your on-screen set-up, and the battery and fast charge features mean you’re unlikely to run out of juice.
Sure, the selfie camera is merely average, and Bixby as a voice assistant is deeply disappointing, but these are small issues in an otherwise excellent smartphone. If you can afford the price of admission, and you want a plus-sized phone in your life, this is the one to get.