The most popular Android lineup is already due for a refresh. As we rumors of an S20 have been coming up strong, it’s never a bad idea to revisit the current flagship and see how well it aged, and especially at a time when we hear that the new flagship will ditch some key features this phone has.
This particular experience of revisiting the Samsung Galaxy S10+ has been interesting. I mean, sure, the S7, S8, and S9 were all good phones, but always overshadowed by competitors like OnePlus for the price, the Pixel for its camera, and even Samsung’s own Galaxy Note because of the added features. The Galaxy S10+, by contrast, won most of its comparisons and became the Galaxy S that I’ve relied on most, and it has mostly to do with all the things Samsung got right.
The hardware, for example, played a key role. It’s as if Samsung listened to its customers and did something about it. Consumers always care about how a phone is going to look after months or even days of use. Unless you picked the black variant, every other color Samsung offered handled fingerprints well. This ceramic white variant doesn’t need a case to look clean, and the chrome accents on the sides aged really well, even after a minor fall into ceramic. I did mostly use this phone with a transparent Spigen case just to avoid any potential drama, and I think the hardware aged well, this phone could seriously pass as a new phone if seen on a table.
Consumers want a large screen, but don’t want a heavy phone that’s hard to handle. I seriously don’t know what voodoo Samsung did here, but this is the most comfortable phablet I’ve used all year. Samsung shed 14 grams off the weight, and I do feel the distribution changed because this phone impossibly light to hold and handle. As a result, It was a pleasure to use it, handle it with one hand, and even if I did drop it once, it wasn’t while handling it.
Consumers want the best and largest screen money can buy. That amazing contrast ratio that Apple claims with the 2 million to 1, yeah, the Galaxy S10 lineup brought it six months earlier. Samsung continues to be the king of displays, so much so that if any other company wants to compete, they use a Samsung panel. Color reproduction is on point, brightness is class-leading in direct sunlight, and content consumption is on point thanks to loud dual-firing speakers and a headphone jack. Really my only complaint is the durability of the glass. Over time it got a few nicks and scratches that are hard to hide, and then there’s the problem that you can’t really use a screen protector because of the UltraSonic Fingerprint scanner.
Now, probably the most requested feature for any great smartphone, is that the camera system is as good as every manufacturer says it is. Let’s face it, every company claims their phones are great at this, but very few achieve that. The Galaxy S10+ wasn’t necessarily my favorite in this department, but it definitely landed in my top 5 for 2019, with results that are still good today. Samsung’s approach to photography matured a lot after the Note 9, with less saturated color and a more accurate depiction of what the eye could see. The company wasn’t the first to include a night mode on its flagships, but I find its results to be the brightest in certain scenarios. Maybe even too bright in some cases, with overblown results, but hey, at least you have the option.
Samsung was also a tad late to embrace the versatility of the triple-camera array, and this being its first device with an ultra-wide, I must say distortion from that camera was definitely not my favorite. Still, this is the camera that allowed the Super Steady video that many praised. I honestly preferred to stick with the standard video because you could switch focal lengths at 4K, and stabilization was just as good. This was also the first smartphone to provide 4K video from the Selfie camera, and for me, that was huge. Matching this with a microphone thanks to the 3.5mm headphone jack made this an ideal phone for VLOGGing.
Even the field of view of this selfie camera allowed for some good selfies, selfie portraits, and this continues to be one of my favorite portrait mode smartphones because you have a lot of options to modify them after the fact.
Last but not least, consumers in search of a flagship don’t necessarily upgrade often, so futureproof internals are essential. The Galaxy S10+ still has a great processor even a year later, and there’s good enough RAM and lots of storage that’s expandable. Its battery is still one of the largest in its category, there’s reverse wireless charging, and it is IP rated.
Software & User Interface
Now, this is where things get a little spotty as the engine is only as good as how it performs. Samsung’s One UI 2.0 feels slightly faster than the version this phone launched with, but notice I said slightly. The amount of animations in the user interface is seriously unnecessary. And sure, you can go deep into settings and disable these or make them faster, but try teaching that to the average consumer this phone targets.
Some just want to get to the search menu, and the loading time of that command is slow. It gives any user a bad first impression, which gets completely addressed once you play a game. This is one of those powerhouses out there that just needs less fluff to not look like a slower product than it really is.
And then there’s the topic of how long it takes Samsung to update their phones, precisely because of One UI. It really makes you question why it exists if it doesn’t really add value, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say that. It does provide some nifty shortcuts from the edge menus. We received features like Dark Mode way before Google baked it in, and I’m a huge fan of having my company accounts on Secure Folder to not have to sync the company account to my phone for everything else. There are still things this phone can do that Google hasn’t brought to the market.
Another one of my reasons to complain about software bloat is endurance, but it seems Samsung figured that part out. Over time the phone’s battery life has actually improved. This is one of those phones you’ll be able to use through the end of the day.
To Conclude, I guess the biggest question left is not just if the Samsung Galaxy S10+ aged well, but also if you should consider the hot deals that will continue to emerge as its successor gets announced.
The answer is quite complicated because this phone on its own is good enough. If the Galaxy S20 wasn’t weeks away, there are a ton of good reasons to buy this device. The looks are here, the internals are here, the screen is here, the camera is here. My biggest concern really is software. Samsung is notorious for going from slow to a complete crawl the older a product gets when it comes to software updates.
If it were up to me, I’d definitely wait for the announcement of the next Galaxy to make up my mind. Saving money is great, but if you’re planning on holding on to the phone for a long time, it might be a better idea to spend extra and get an extra year’s worth of smartphone.