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Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10+ .

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

The Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10+ are two of the first flagship smartphones of 2019, and they’re also among the first to feature a hole punch display, which means they have a small hole cut out in the display for the camera. Are holes better than notches? I don’t think anyone truly loves either option, but at least most people can agree that a small hole is less obtrusive than a huge notch.

The S10 has a circular hole punch cutout, while the S10+ has a pill-shaped cutout to accommodate its two front cameras. Both displays are also Infinity displays, which means they curve at the edges. The bezels on the sides of these phones are thinner than ever, and the bottom bezel has also shrunk in comparison to the S9 and Note9, making these the most full-display phones Samsung has ever made. If you want actual specs, the S10 has an 88.3 percent screen-to-body ratio, while the S10+ has an 88.9 percent screen-to-body ratio.

Both phones are thinner and lighter than last year’s models too. They’re roughly the same size, but are remarkably just 7.8mm thick, almost 1mm thinner than their predecessors. The glass-backed S10+ weighs just 175g, while the S10 is just 157g.

Flip the phones over and you’ll see the cleanest designs Samsung has had in years. Thanks to the new ultrasonic fingerprint scanner, there’s no longer a rear fingerprint scanner, and the result is a more streamlined, minimalist rear.

The power button is on the right side of both phones, but it’s positioned unusually high up, which makes it a little tricky to reach, especially on the S10+. On the left-side, you’ll find the volume rocker and dedicated Bixby assistant launcher. Unlike previous years, the Bixby button can now be remapped to launch other apps.

The bottom of the phones look basically the same as their predecessors, with a USB-C port in the middle, a 3.5mm headphone jack to the left and the earpiece and loudspeaker on the right. Once again the combo nano SIM and microSD card slot tray can be found on the top of the phone. As always, both phones are IP68 dust and water resistant.

The S10 and S10+ are equipped with Samsung’s first Dynamic AMOLED displays. These are essentially the same as the Super AMOLED displays of years past, but with a new emphasis on HDR. These displays are the first to support HDR10+ which means they can display a much higher dynamic range. Both phones have the same 3,040 x 1,440 pixels resolution and 19:9 aspect ratio, with the S10 using a 6.1-inch panel (~550ppi) and the S10+ a larger 6.4-inch panel (~526ppi).

The displays are sharp, with great contrast, natural colors and high maximum brightness. In fact, according to Samsung both panels can reach 1,200 nits, which is practically unheard of, especially for an OLED display.

Both the S10 and S10+ use the same triple rear camera setup, which takes the dual camera setup from last year’s S9 and adds a third ultrawide option. This gives you a versatile combination of a 12-megapixel variable aperture f/1.5 + f/2.4 wideangle lens, a 12-megapixel f/2.4 telephoto lens with 2x optical zoom, and an ultrawide 16-megapixel f/2.2 lens. While the wide and telephoto lenses both have OIS, the ultrawide does not, and it also lacks autofocus. This is readily apparent if you use the default camera app to zoom out too much.

Image quality from the wide and telephoto lens is excellent with great detail retention, sharp focus, natural colors, and no noticeable artifacts or graininess. Even at 100% crop, details remain fairly sharp and there’s no overaggressive processing or smoothing typical of most smartphone cameras.

Despite being higher resolution, the ultrawide lens isn’t quite as good, and there’s also some noticeable barrel distortion. The lack of autofocus also means you have to be careful with your focal distance, especially if you’re taking pictures of buildings or anything else with sharp lines.

On the front, the S10 has a single 10-megapixel selfie camera, while the S10+ adds a second depth-sensing camera. The secondary camera lets you take Live Focus (Portrait Mode) selfies with artfully blurred backgrounds, but that’s about it. There’s actually a Live Focus mode on the regular S10 too, but the background blur is software rendered and doesn’t look as good.

As usual, there are two processor variants for the S10 and S10+. In the US/ China both phones are using Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 processor, while the rest of the world gets Samsung’s new 9820 processor.

The Exynos 9820 is an 8nm octa-core chip in a 2+2+4 conflguration with two big Mongoose M4 cores clocked at 2.7 GHz, two Cortex-A75 cores ticking at 2.4 GHz, and four powereffi cient Cortex-A55 cores running at 1.9 GHz for less demanding applications. For graphics, the 9820 is using a Mali-G76 MP12.

In past years, Samsung’s Exynos processors have lagged behind a bit, but that’s changed this year and the 9820 has no problems keeping up with other flagship processors.

Battery life was excellent on both phones, with the S10’s 3,400mAh battery lasting just under 13 hours, and the S10+’s 4,100mAh battery lasting almost 14 hours.

Both phones use Samsung’s Adaptive Fast Charging technology, but it’s starting to look a little dated now, supporting just 15W charging. Both phones also support fast wireless charging through the Qi 2.0 standard, which will also give you 15W of charging. Finally, both phones also offer reverse wireless charging, which lets you charge other devices like your Samsung Galaxy Buds.

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The Bixby button can now be remapped to launch other apps.
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The S10 and S10+ aren’t going to blow you away with innovative new features but they do offer a refined, premium Android experience.
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The S10 has a hole punch cutout, while the S10+ has a pill-shaped cutout.
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