You probably know by now that Samsung has introduced not one, but two major flagship phones for the modern smartphone enthusiast. The big hero of the line-up, of course, is the Galaxy S10 Plus. It has the largest screen, the most memory and storage, the biggest battery, and the most onboard cameras. It combines all of these, along with other hardware and software features, for a package that quite commendable when you first look at it. But does it hold it together upon closer inspection? Having just spent the past 12 hours with it, we’re here to share some of our thoughts.
The Galaxy S10 Plus is, by all accounts, a culmination of all the efforts that Samsung has expended over the past 10 years. It has been trying to create the perfect smartphone powered by Android, and today it has unveiled its latest attempt yet. Sure, the more pocket-friendly Galaxy S10 may be carrying many of the same features, but the Galaxy S10 Plus is the true flagship — it offers more, better, bigger — you get the idea.
In Samsung’s view, the Galaxy S10 Plus should be lauded for a number of different qualities. It has a wow-inducing in-display fingerprint scanner, a true-vision three-lens multi-camera setup, a fast-charging built-in battery that can be used to charge other devices wirelessly as well, and of course a “modernized” bezel-less screen.
These are, indeed, commendable, but we feel it should be mentioned that the Galaxy S10 Plus looks, sounds, and truly feels like more than just the sum of its parts.
The Galaxy S10 Plus is visually striking. It may not be the first phone on the market with a bezel-less screen, but it’s the first to use an extended punch hole on one of its corners. The punch hole, in this case, is a dual-lens selfie cam.
This odd design choice looks jarring in pictures but feels quite natural in person. As with notches, it tends to fade away into the background after a few seconds of looking at the screen. It only becomes apparent when you look at it directly. That’s good news for those who think it might be distracting when the phone is in use.
Once you get past the dual-cam punch hole that is present on the top right corner of the Galaxy S10 Plus, you’ll find that there are plenty of other bits to inspect elsewhere on the phone. On the right side sits a power/lock switch button, while the left side holds the volume rocker. And then, that’s pretty much it — no other buttons are present.
With ultrasonic fingerprint scanning tech built right into the display, you can just press your fingers directly to unlock the phone. It worked well enough for the most part, but it felt like it will take some time to get used to it.
The overall experience of handling the Galaxy S10 Plus is quite interesting simply because it may look familiar — candybar shape, relatively flat screen, multiple cameras, loud speakers and all — but there are a number of new widgets and features that turn the actual experience brand new.
For example, we still haven’t figured out why both the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10 Plus apparently weigh less than our old iPhone X. These new phones are made of back-to-back glass, which we assume is made by Corning. But neither model is as weighty as Apple’s previous flagship.
They aren’t slippery, either. The Galaxy S10 Plus feels perfect in the hand, fits perfectly in our regular pants pockets, and so far, has worked perfectly as far as the smartphone tasks we’ve thrown at it go.
We want to note that in our hands-on time, we haven’t been able to determine what exactly the new Dynamic AMOLED screen offers over the old kinds of AMOLED displays found in previous flagships. Perhaps that’s a testament to how good the old models have been and still are?
Of course, the presence of the triple-camera setup on the back adds even more complexity into the mix. Thankfully, Samsung’s renewed take on the Android software makes things easy to operate.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus comes with the a brand new UI called One UI. The test unit we handled came with version 1.1 of the software, and compared to TouchWiz, it’s like a breath of fresh air. Samsung has adapted the idea of minimalism fairly well with this new UI, which is based on Android 9.0.
We instantly found the Galaxy S10 Plus UI to be user-friendly. Menu and other on-screen options were easy to find and figure out, and many advanced features remain hidden until they are specifically called upon. From what we’ve seen so far, the new phones with the new UI will function great whether they are in the hands of power-users or newbies. For new users especially, this new take on Android might be what’s necessary to push even greater adoption of the Samsung Galaxy S platform worldwide.
And while we don’t doubt that the Galaxy S10 Plus and its brethren will attract many newcomers to the Android OS — and entice others to switch from other brands — we also think that the inclusion of some legacy features on these phones will be appreciated by more than a few. To take one example, one that we were pleasantly surprised to find, the Galaxy S10 Plus includes a 3.5mm headphone jack. We tested it, and yes, it works just as you would expect.
Other old smartphone features that Samsung retained with the Galaxy S10 Plus include a removable SIM card tray, a microSD card slot, and ongoing support for the Android platform. Okay, that last bit might be a joke, but it’s true: the Koreans are absolutely carrying “the open OS” on its back.
The hardware here is most impressive, and the software is now seemingly up to par. There may have been a time when Samsung needed Android more than the other way around, but we’re not so sure that this is still the case now.
To sum up, our brief experience with the Galaxy S10 Plus showed us that it has plenty of promise. As with many other phones announced and released these days, price might be the one thing that ends up holding it back.
We don’t know yet, but we expect the Galaxy S10 Plus to be a roundly expensive smartphone. It certainly looks, sounds, feels, and performs like one.