19/08/2019

Modularity Never Looked this Good

When you think about gaming laptops, you probably think high-end, bulky, RGB-laden devices that can break your back and your bank at the same time. However, what you probably don’t think of, is a device that lets you switch out its processor and GPU on basically a whim. In an era where companies are trying to make your smartphone replace your laptop, Dell wants your gaming laptop to replace a full-blown gaming rig. That’s what the Alienware Area 51m promises to bring into the mix of high-end gaming machines. We’ve had the Area 51m for a while now, so let’s take a look at what this gaming laptop (starts at Rs. 2,99,590) is like.
Alienware Area 51m Specs:

Nowhere do I love writing about specs as much as on high end gaming rigs because these just boast of some of the most insane specs. Here’s what the Area 51m comes packing:
Processor    Upto 9th-gen Core-i9 9900K @3.6GHz, Turbo Boost up to 5GHz
RAM    upto 64GB
GPU    upto Nvidia RTX 2080
Storage    upto 2TB SSD
Display    17-inch FullHD 144Hz; optional Tobii eye-tracking technology
I/O    (1x) Power/DC-in Jack
(1x) RJ-45 Realtek 2.5Gbps Ethernet Port
(2x) Type-A SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Port
(1x) Type-A SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Port with PowerShare technology
(1x) Thunderbolt™ 3 Port (USB Type-C™ with support for SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps, 40Gbps Thunderbolt, and DisplayPort)
(1x) Alienware Graphics Amplifier Port
(1x) HDMI 2.0 Output
(1x) Mini-Display Port 1.4 (certified) Output
(1x) Headphone / MIC (retaskable)
(1x) Global Headset Jack
(1x) Wedge-shaped lock slot
Connectivity    Killer Wireless 1550 2x2 AC and Bluetooth 5.0
Price    Starts at Rs. 2,99,590

Dell was kind enough to send us the high-end variant of the Area 51m to review, with just the storage being a 512GB NVMe SSD + 1TB SSHD, and 32GB of RAM.
Design and Build

If I were to sum up the design of the Area 51m, I’d say ‘think Alienware, but more streamlined.’ That’s basically my opinion of what the Area 51m looks like. It’s a very Alienware design, and that’s not bad, a lot of gamers like the distinctively unique design that Alienware brings to the mix, but Dell has clearly changed the design a bit and made it look a lot better than other Alienware devices.

The laptop comes in two colors, Lunar Light (our variant), and Dark Side of the Moon (I wonder if they took permission from Pink Floyd for that). The Lunar Light variant that we have looks uniquely classy and menacing at the same time. There’s no way you’d think this might not be a gaming laptop, but it still manages to not look too out of place at our office, so if that’s something you want, great!

area 51m design build

Other than that, the laptop is made out of a magnesium alloy; it feels really good to the touch, and it also exudes a sort of class that most gaming laptops can’t really match. It’s still bulky, it’s still heavy, and oh, it comes with two 330W power bricks, and each one of those is heavier than my MacBook Pro. Just saying.

Inside, the keyboard is completely white, with RGB backlighting (obviously), the power button is the Alienware logo (also with RGB), and there’s a relatively small trackpad (also with RGB). There’s also RGB on the back, by the way, wrapped around the grilles.

alienware area 51m rgb

The Area 51m looks really good with the sort of dual tone thing it has going inside, with a white keyboard contrasting against the black of the display and the eye-tracking tech. It’s a pretty good looking laptop overall, with a lot of heft, and it obviously doesn’t feel like it might break easily. It might break other stuff easily, but not itself.
Display

The display here is a 17-inch Full HD panel, with a 144Hz refresh rate and Nvidia G-Sync, which, if you’re buying a laptop at this price, are most likely things you care about and want. Anyway, the only complaint I have with this display is that it’s not very bright. It’s bright enough indoors, and might actually hurt your eyes at night if you don’t lower the settings, but outdoors, I have doubts about the brightness. Still, the display does have a matte finish, and is rated to be anti-glare so it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

alienware area51m display

Other than that, this display is pretty great. It’s a Full HD panel like I said, and at 17-inches that does mean it doesn’t look quite as sharp sometimes, but it looks really great when gaming, and it doesn’t leave you wanting.

Plus, Dell has really done a good job with the bezels on this, there are slim bezels wrapped around the sides of the display, with only the bottom bezel being bigger, but even then, I will excuse that because the Area 51m packs in Tobii eye-tracking there, so clearly, the space was needed.

alienware area 51m display 2

Gaming on this display is awesome. I played all the games that I usually do on a gaming laptop including Far Cry 5, Battlefield V, and PUBG, along with Apex Legends this time around, and it’s really fun playing these games on this display.
Performance

Oh, the performance. Let me put it this way. A Core i9-9900K, 32GB RAM, 8GB Nvidia RTX2080. What do you think the performance is like? If you’re thinking “insane” you’re right. This laptop handles everything like a champ, and it doesn’t break a sweat running basically any game on the highest of settings. Even with Battlefield V’s ray tracing turned on and graphics set to Ultra, the laptop easily churned out over 80-90 FPS at all times, and I loved it. Setting the graphics to Medium resulted in even better frame rates of well over 100 FPS.

In Far Cry 5, too, the laptop easily got an average frame rate of 118FPS at Ultra settings, and there were no frame drops or stutters anywhere. It’s just an awesome experience. Setting the graphics down to Normal resulted in average frame rates of 130FPS, with the game reaching 165FPS at max.
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Far Cry 5: Ultra
Far Cry 5: Normal
Far Cry 5: Gameplay

PUBG was basically a walk in the park for the Area 51m, with the laptop getting well over 150FPS in Ultra settings, and sometimes breaching 200FPS as well. Even with intense gunfights, grenade explosions, and a lot of smoke grenades, PUBG runs completely smoothly on this laptop.
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I also put the Alienware Area 51m through some benchmarks, and it went through them with flying colors as well. In 3DMark Time Spy, the laptop scored a whopping 9,802 points which is definitely pretty awesome. In PCMark 10, the Area 51m scored 6,911. Clearly, the laptop is a heavyweight, both literally and metaphorically.
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3DMark
PCMark 10
Keyboard and Trackpad

The Area 51m comes with a full sized Alienware TactX keyboard, which even though it’s not truly a mechanical keyboard, does manage to give a very nice experience. Typing on the keyboard is a great experience, unless you absolutely want a clicky keyboard, you’ll not have any issues with this one.

In my usage of the laptop, I spent quite a bit of time typing on the keyboard here, and it’s perfectly fine, except the thickness of the laptop does make it a little uncomfortable after long hours. For gaming too, the keyboard is amazing. True, it’s not as tactile as a mechanical keyboard is, but it’s not as if there’s less response here. The keys actuate pretty consistently, and there’s ample travel so you don’t feel like you’re typing on glass.

Unlike some other gaming laptops, the Area 51m doesn’t try to push the WASD keys in your face, letting them blend in with the rest of the keyboard. You do, however, get a row of macro keys on the left of the keyboard, and one above the numpad. These, you can customise for quick actions while you’re gaming. I didn’t use these much, but I did quickly come to the realization that if you’re used to a normal keyboard (one without the macro keys), you will end up hitting the wrong keys sometimes here, for a while, until you get used to it. I found myself pressing Caps Lock instead of ‘A’ a lot of times, which was annoying, but with time that becomes muscle memory.

alienware area51m battlefield v

The trackpad here, by the way, is pretty small, if you’re used to bigger trackpads, like I am. However, it’s not a bad trackpad at all. In fact, once I got used to the smaller area I could perform gestures and swipes in, it was a decent experience.

There’s RGB on the trackpad too, by the way, and it can be configured using the built in software, with effects like Breathing, Color, and more so you can keep your laptop looking as unique as you’d like. Also, while the trackpad does support the usual single-finger-tap for left click, and double-finger-tap for right click, there are dedicated left and right click buttons here, so you can use those if you want.
Modularity

Note: Dell did not let us open the laptop, so we don’t have pictures of the internals here.

So yeah, the Alienware 51m pulls off all the stops required by a gaming laptop, but Dell didn’t stop there. The company took this laptop a step further and made it modular. Yeah, the Area 51m is an upgradable laptop, and I don’t mean RAM upgrades.

The Area 51m’s GPU is mounted on a removable module that can be replaced with any other GPU (as long as Dell sells it mounted on a module). The CPU, on the other hand, is basically a typical PC CPU. It’s locked into the motherboard with a very desktop-like CPU mount, so whenever you feel like you need to upgrade the CPU on this, you can just pop open the lock, and add the new CPU in. That’s it.

upgrade area51m

It’s a pretty neat idea, and it’s definitely something I think is a great solution to the problem of expensive gaming laptops getting outdated so quickly. However, it remains to be seen just how many of these modules Dell might release, and what the company prices them at.
I/O and Ports

In terms of I/O, the Area 51m has everything covered. It comes with so many ports I doubt you’ll be able to use them all in a normal use-case. There’s a 2.5Gbps ethernet port, 2x USB 3.0 Type-A SuperSpeed ports, 1x USB 3.0 Type-A SuperSpeed port with power sharing, 1x Thunderbolt 3 port, an HDMI 2.0 output, a miniDisplay port, a headphone/mic combo port, a dedicated headphone jack, and an Alienware graphics amplifier port as well. Clearly, you’ll not run out of ports on this laptop no matter what you’re trying to do.
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Speakers

The Alienware Area 51m comes with front firing speakers, and these are pretty damn loud. I really liked the sound from these units, especially thanks to the really well balanced output they have. The highs and lows are easily audible, there’s no crackling of sound even at highest volumes, and the speakers do seem to have a pretty wide soundstage.

Even though I found these speakers good enough for casual gaming, if you’re playing a game of PUBG, or if you’re playing at a more than casual level, I’d still recommend a good pair of headphones to go with it. These speakers are loud, but they don’t beat headphones.
Battery

The Area 51m is a beefy looking laptop, it has beefy specs, and as such it should have a big battery. Dell has fitted this unit with a 90Whr battery, and with that powering both the Core i9 and the RTX 2080, the battery life does take a major hit if you’re doing intensive tasks or maybe even playing games.

area51m battery

However, in normal day to day usage, the laptop lasts around 2.5 to 3 hours which is nothing great, but for a laptop of this size, packing hardware that is this power hungry, 3 hours is definitely a decent battery life. So, if you’re planning on using this laptop as your primary laptop at work, you’ll have to carry both of those humungous power bricks with you all the time.
Alienware Area 51m: Should You Buy It?

In conclusion, the Alienware Area 51m is definitely a power packed, feature packed gaming laptop that does everything you’d want a gaming laptop to do and then some. It runs every single game on the highest of settings, it has the latest 9th-gen processors, the latest RTX graphics cards, up to 64GB of RAM and so much more. Starting at Rs. 2,99,590, the Alienware Area 51m is a pretty solid laptop but it does have a lot of competition to cope with. There are laptops from Asus, MSI, and others that bring similar specs at a similar price as the Alienware Area 51m, but none of them bring the modularity, so the question is, are you willing to put your faith in Dell’s claims of a modular future for your gaming laptop? If so, the Alienware Area 51m is definitely not going to disappoint you. As far as gaming laptops go, the Asus ROG Strix SCAR II doesn’t really look like it’s very different from the breed of high-end laptops we’ve come to expect from major gaming brands. However, it does bring the latest RTX GPUs from Nvidia, and boasts of top-of-the-line specs. So, at it’s price point of Rs. 1,64,990, is the ROG Strix SCAR II worth your money? We’ll take a look at exactly that, in this detailed review of the ROG Strix SCAR II.
Asus ROG Strix SCAR II Specs:

First off, let’s get the specs out of the way. Asus was kind enough to send us the base configuration of the SCAR II and these are the specs it comes with:
Processor    8th-gen Core i7 8750H @ 2.2GHz
RAM    16GB DDR4
GPU    Nvidia RTX 2060 6GB
Storage    256GB SSD + 1TB SSHD
Display    15.6-inch FullHD 144Hz
I/O    1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 (Type-C)
2 x USB3.1 Gen1 , 1 x USB3.1 Gen2
1 x mDP 1.2
1 x HDMI 2.0b
1 x RJ-45 Jack
1 x SD card reader
1 x 3.5mm headphone and microphone combo jack
1 x Kensington lock
Connectivity    Intel® 802.11ac (2x2) Gigabit Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 5.0
Price    Starts at Rs. 1,64,990

While these specs themselves are pretty great, the higher end variant of the ROG Strix SCAR II (Rs. 2,09,990) comes with the RTX 2070, and a 512GB SSD along with everything else that this variant brings.
Design and Build

As far as the design and build of this laptop is concerned, Asus hasn’t left a lot to be desired here. The laptop is pretty thin for the hardware it’s packing, which is always appreciated, and it also feels really well built. The chassis is made out of plastic, but seriously, metal would make this laptop insanely heavy, and it’s of a really good quality.

asus rog strix scar ii build

The SCAR II doesn’t feel cheap to the touch at all, no matter how picky you want to be with it. It also comes in this dual-tone design with a camo-print covering up half of the base of the laptop, and while I’m not really a fan of this particular design choice, quite a lot of people like it; it’s basically all about personal preference.

Other than all of that, the hinge here feels pretty solid, which is great since it’s most often the point of failure in laptops, and the design is rounded off pretty well with a stunning looking back-plate on the display, complete with a glowing ROG logo (which is RGB, by the way).

asus rog strix scar ii build 2

Speaking of RGB, gaming laptops tend to go overboard with that sort of thing, but the SCAR II seems like it hits the right balance between boasting itself as a gaming laptop, and being something you could bring to work without looking like you’ll probably just end up gaming all day long. There’s RGB in plenty of places, but it still manages to stay subtle with it, and I kind of dig the design of this laptop.

There’s also a full-size keyboard, complete with the numpad, and the arrow keys aren’t the condensed ones either. These are full sized arrow keys, and even though they are thinner than I would’ve liked, they’re a lot better than the compact arrow keys a lot of laptops come with these days.

asus rog strix scar ii build 3

The only complaint I have with the overall design of the laptop is the fact that there’s a huge, and I mean giant, bezel on the bottom of the display and it looks really weird and ugly. Most of it is probably only to fit the ROG logo right there, but that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. It could be to fit all of the display circuitry as well, but regardless of the reason, and from a solely design perspective, that massive bezel confuses me and I don’t like it. Oh, and did I mention, the webcam is not only on the bottom bezel, it’s also offset to the side, so video calls will be awkward as all hell with this.

asus rog strix scar ii bottom bezel
Display

Since I’m on the topic of bezels, I do have to give credit to Asus for really shrinking the bezels on all of the other three sides of the display. It’s a 15.6-inch FullHD display, with a 144Hz refresh rate, and 3ms latency — things that might not matter much to you if you’re a casual gamer, but if you’re looking for an experience with minimal input lag, and smooth visuals without motion blurring, this sort of thing is probably pretty important to you.

asus rog strix scar ii display

Anyway, the display itself looks pretty good. It’s bright, even though it’s not as bright as some might like, but it’s a matte panel, so it should be decent outdoors as well. Still, there are little to no chances that you’ll be playing games sitting in the sun. If you do tend to do that, this might be somewhat problematic for you.

Gaming on this display is fun. I won’t call myself a professional gamer, but in my experience playing games like PUBG, Battlefield V, Apex Legends, and Far Cry 5, I’ve not found reason to complain about the display. Things look quite good here, and I don’t think you will need to worry about the quality of the display, or the colors much on this laptop.

asus rog strix scar ii display 2

What might concern you a little, is the flex in the display, and in my experience with Asus gaming laptops, this has been quite common. Not that it would hinder your experience, or that it’s likely to break, but for a laptop of this price, I would’ve expected slightly better in terms of display flex. Then again, to be fair, most gaming laptops have displays that bend a lot for some reason.

Performance

Speaking about ‘most gaming laptops’, the performance is probably one of the most important things when considering a gaming laptop. After all, why else are you buying it in the first place? In my experience with the ROG Strix SCAR II, the performance has been pretty damn good.

Like I said earlier, I played a lot of games on this laptop, and the performance has been pretty great. Top-notch, I’d say, for a laptop in this price range.

In Battlefield V, the laptop easily pushed out 80-90 FPS on Ultra settings, even during intense gunfights, which is awesome, and switching the graphics to Medium resulted in well above 100-110 FPS at all times.
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Battlefield V: Ultra
Battlefield V: Medium

Far Cry 5 pushed the laptop quite a bit too, but the SCAR II easily pushed out 80-90 FPS at Ultra settings in the game as well. With graphics set to Normal, the game got around 100+ FPS at all times which is just awesome.
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Far Cry 5: Ultra
Far Cry 5: Normal
Far Cry 5: Gameplay

I also tried playing PUBG on the laptop, and well, obviously, it was able to run the game pretty well. At Ultra settings, the game ran comfortably at over 130FPS; I didn’t really try it any settings lower than that since 130FPS is awesome anyway, and getting more than that wouldn’t have helped me anyway.

pubg gameplay 130fps

I even tried a bunch of benchmarks on the laptop, and the scores were impressive there as well. In 3DMark TimeSpy, the laptop scored 5,825 points, whereas in PCMark 10, we got a score of 5,372. In Cinebench, the laptop scored 2726cb in the CPU test.
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Time Spy
PCMark 10
Cinebench

So yeah, as far as the performance of this laptop is concerned, it’s very impressive, and I don’t see any cause for complaint here. It can easily handle all the games thrown at it, and it should be solid for games coming out this year as well.
Keyboard and Trackpad

Like I said earlier, the ROG Strix SCAR II comes with a full sized keyboard, complete with a proper set of arrow keys. However, Asus has made subtle changes to the keyboard’s design to make it better suited for gamers. For starters, the WASD keys are accented, by which I mean they are transparent, so they’re easier to spot. There’s also a small marker on the ‘W’ key that is easily felt by a finger, so you can quickly position your hand without even looking at the keyboard.

asus rog strix scar ii keyboard

Then there’s the fact that the volume up/down, mic mute, and ROG Armoury Crate keys are positioned separately, above the rest of the keyboard for easy access. So while you’re in a game, you can quickly adjust the audio level, mute/unmute your mic, and even access the ROG armoury crate so you can quickly adjust system settings, including the RGB lighting on your laptop, the fan speeds, and a lot more.

asus rog strix scar ii special keys

It’s not a mechanical keyboard, by the way, but it feels really good to type on. There’s considerable travel here, but not so much that it would cause fatigue while typing for long, and the keys are quite tactile and bouncy — something you’ll be quick to notice if you tend to sometimes hit the keys harder than you probably should.

As it is with most things about this laptop, the keyboard here also doesn’t leave a lot to be desired. True, a mechanical keyboard would’ve been awesome, especially for gamers, but this chiclet keyboard is pretty damn good in itself, and I quite like it, be it for gaming, or for everyday usage.

The ROG Strix SCAR II comes with a pretty big trackpad as far as most gaming laptops (or even most Windows laptops) are concerned, and I really appreciate the extra space it allows for making use of things like Windows gestures, and just general cursor movement without having to constantly reposition your hand.

The trackpad does support left and right clicks with the usual one-finger/two-finger tap, but there are dedicated left and right click keys on the bottom of the trackpad if that’s more to your liking. Personally, I didn’t use them much, but on times that I did, the keys felt really good and tactile to the press.
I/O and Ports

As it is with most gaming laptops, the ROG Strix SCAR II comes with a whole army of ports in tow. The laptop has a USB-C port, 2x USB3.1 Gen 1 ports, 1x USB3.1 Gen 2 port, a miniDisplay port, an HDMI 2.0b port, RJ-45 ethernet port, card reader, and a headphone/mic combo port.
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So yeah, I don’t think you’ll run out of ports while using this laptop, and it pretty much has you covered on all fronts, I/O wise.
Battery

The ROG Strix SCAR II comes with a 66Whr battery, and with that, the laptop does struggle with running the Core i7, and the RTX2060, if you’re doing intensive tasks, that is.

In normal, day to day usage, the laptop manages to last around 4 hours with some web browsing, and general text-editing. However, if you try to do intense gaming on the laptop, it pretty much ends up dying in around an hour and a half of usage. Still though, I wouldn’t expect anyone to be gaming without connecting the power cord in, so that shouldn’t really be an issue.

rog strix battery

Anyway, 4 hours on regular usage is definitely decent, but obviously, if you’re planning on using it for your work as well as for gaming, you will definitely need a charger a couple times a day.
ROG Strix SCAR II: Worth the Money?

Overall, the ROG Strix SCAR II is definitely a pretty impressive gaming laptop for its starting price of Rs. 1,64,990, especially considering the fact that it packs in the latest RTX-series of GPUs from Nvidia. Most other laptops in this price range are still packing last generation’s GTX10-series GPUs which aren’t bad by any means, but I’d really suggest getting an RTX GPU instead, if not for the ray-tracing, then for the future proofing it brings.

At the end of the day, I’d definitely suggest the ROG Strix SCAR II as a laptop that you can get if you’re looking for a gaming laptop in this price range that can handle everything you throw at it, and comes packed with the latest GPUs you can get right now. Samsung’s flagship smartphones have always been one of the best looking Android devices out there, and the recently launched Galaxy S10 and S10+ are no exceptions. In fact, in many ways they build upon the successes of their predecessors, and improve upon many of their drawbacks. I’ve been using the Galaxy S10+ as my daily driver for well over a week now, so if you’re wondering what these phones are like, keep reading to get our detailed S10, and S10 Plus review.

Note: For the most part, everything I say in this review applies to both the S10 and the S10+. For places where this doesn’t hold true, I’ll be specifically mentioning it.
Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus Specs:

Before we take a look at the phones themselves, and their real-world performance, here’s a quick rundown of the specs these flagships are packing inside their glass and metal chassis.
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Search:
     Galaxy S10    Galaxy S10 Plus
Display    6.1-inch WQHD+ SuperAMOLED (1440x3040)    6.4-inch WQHD+ SuperAMOLED (1440x3040)
Processor    Exynos 9820    Exynos 9820
RAM    8GB    8GB/12GB
Storage    128GB/512GB    128GB/512GB/1TB
Battery    3,400 mAh    4,100 mAh
Operating System    One UI based on Android 9 Pie    One UI based on Android 9 Pie
Connectivity    Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax (2.4/5GHz); Bluetooth® v 5.0     Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax (2.4/5GHz); Bluetooth® v 5.0
Price    Starts at Rs. 66,900    Starts at Rs. 73,900
Showing 1 to 8 of 8 entries
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Alright, now that we have the specs out of the way, let’s move on.
Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus: What’s In the Box

First things first, the unboxing experience of the Galaxy S10 is pretty much exactly as it was with past Galaxy flagships, and you find quite a bit of stuff inside the box:

    The Galaxy S10 or S10 Plus (depending on what you bought)
    A clear case (of surprisingly good quality)
    AKG tuned earphones (with braided cables, yay!)
    A USB Type-A to USB-C cable
    15W Adaptive Fast Charger
    Leaflets and manuals that you won’t read (or at least I didn’t)

A couple of things stood out to me in the Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus box. First, the included clear case is of a really good quality, which is awesome because I didn’t mind putting it on my phone at all. Second, the included earphones have a braided cable, which is great, and not something you’d find in most other smartphones.
Design and Build

The Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus (hereafter referred to as the Galaxy S10, or S10, unless stated otherwise) are possibly the most gorgeous phones I’ve set my eyes on. Samsung went all out on the S10, and basically left no stone unturned.

galaxy s10 rear design

The phones come in a beautiful glass and metal sandwich design, with a gorgeous curved display up front, and a curved back; both of which blend perfectly into the metal chassis. Holding these in your hand is a remarkably comfortable experience, which is all the more appreciable if you’re trying out the larger, Galaxy S10 Plus, which somehow, feels really great in the hand for a phone of its size.

The S10 uses Gorilla Glass on both the front and the back, so you don’t really need the pre-installed scratch guard, and the included back cover, but I’d suggest you use them still. The back here is protected with Gorilla Glass 5, while the front has the latest Gorilla Glass 6 to protect it from scratches and impact. As much as I love Corning for making our phones more resilient against scratches, my naked OnePlus 5 had a terrible amount of scratches on it — a fate I’d rather not repeat with my Galaxy S10.

galaxy s10plus rear 2

Of course, since this is a Samsung flagship, it has IP68 rating, so you can pretty much spill anything on it, and it won’t just die on you; although I do have to tell you, taking it swimming might not be the best idea. The phone comes with all the usual buttons and ports you’d want, and one button you probably don’t want, but you can make good use of it (I’ll tell you that later). There’s a power button, which, on the S10 Plus is way too high up for my liking, there are the volume rockers, the USB-C port, the headphone jack (yes, that still survived), and there’s the Bixby button, which… well, let’s just say I can live without it.

galaxy s10 plus buttons
Display

For a phone that’s basically a hole-in-one (pun-intended), the Display is still the show stopper here. It’s a gorgeous WQHD+ SuperAMOLED display which, measured diagonally, is 6.1-inches on the S10, and 6.4-inches on the S10+, and it’s pretty much what you expect from a Samsung display. This has to be the best display I’ve seen on a smartphone so far, and even though it has all of Samsung’s quirks, like the oversaturated colors, it manages to pull it off in such great style that you won’t be able to look at another phone without feeling like those displays just aren’t as good.

galaxy s10 plus display image

Speaking of saturated colors, Samsung does include a ‘Natural’ screen mode on the phone, pushes the saturation down a bit, for anyone wanting a more natural feel on their phones, but I still stuck to the Vivid setting, because it just looks absolutely stunning; but that’s mostly just personal preference, and it’s great that Samsung is giving users the choice.

galaxy s10 plus display image 2

I can’t round up the display segment here without talking about the punch-hole, now can I? So here it is. Yeah, the S10 has a punch hole design, that Samsung likes to call ‘Infinity-O’, and personally I prefer this over the notches (even the teardrop ones). Now I know, people have issues with it because of symmetry and what not, and that’s fine. Like I said, it’s a personal preference, and I just feel like it gives me a better experience than I’ve had with notched phones.

galaxy s10 plus punch hole image
Biometrics

Normally, I’d move to the performance or the cameras on a review, but the Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus come with ultrasonic in-display fingerprint scanner, which, unlike the optical in-display fingerprint scanners you’d find on most phones, can work even without needing the display to turn on. That’s pretty awesome because you basically don’t need to use the power button any more. Just touch your finger on the screen and it unlocks.

galaxy s10 plus fingerprint scanner image

Plus, it works if the phone is wet, or if your fingers are wet, and it also works with oily fingers so you can unlock your phone while stuffing yourself with fries, as I quite often find myself doing.

galaxy s10 plus fingerprint unlock wet

The only problem with the fingerprint scanner here though, is that it’s kind of slow, and kind of inconsistent. It’s not the best experience, unlocking the phone with the in-display fingerprint scanner, and you can’t be quite sure that it will unlock just because you touched it. It’s also very moody. Sometimes it opens with just a tap, other times you have to press your finger quite firmly for the phone to unlock, so it’s obviously not something you’ll enjoy using. I didn’t.

There’s also Face Unlock here, and it’s considerably faster than the fingerprint scanner. In fact, sometimes it opens so quickly it seems like the phone wasn’t even locked. However, this is a simple 2D face unlock system, unlike the 3D system you’d find on something like the Mate 20 Pro, or the iPhone XS line up. It doesn’t have an IR sensor either, so it doesn’t work in pitch darkness. However, it’s still surprisingly good at detecting faces in very low light. There’s an opt-out feature that makes the screen brighter to unlock the phone in dark conditions, and that sort of works, but it’s very uncomfortable in pitch darkness because the screen is just so bright it hurts your eyes.

face recognition s10

There was another weird thing that happened with my Galaxy S10 unit, where, for some reason, it was unlocking with Devinder’s face as well. It stopped doing that later, so I’m not sure how it was getting the false positives, but it was and that’s just really weird. Some other reviews have mentioned the phone unlocking with photos too, but that didn’t happen on my unit at least, so I can’t confirm if that actually happens.

So yeah, the biometrics on the S10 aren’t the best of the lot, but there’s a silver lining, Samsung can easily fix at least the face unlock with a software upgrade, and I really hope they do.
Performance

In terms of performance, the S10 comes with the Exynos 9820 in India, and it’s Samsung’s top-of-the-line flagship processor built in the 8nm process, so amazing performance and better battery life is pretty much guaranteed on the phone. However, the S10s retailing in the US pack in the 7nm Snapdragon 855, and while that 1nm might not a big deal, what is a big deal is the fact that the cores on these processors are clocked considerably differently.

The Snapdragon 855 inside the Galaxy S10 comes in a tri-cluster architecture, with 2 extreme performance cores clocked at 2.84GHz, two high performance cores clocked at 2.41GHz, and four high efficiency cores clocked at 1.78GHz.

On the other hand, the Exynos 9820 comes in a tri-cluster architecture too, with 2 extreme performance custom cores clocked at 2.73GHz, two high performance Cortex A75 cores clocked at 2.31GHz, and four high efficiency Cortex A55 cores clocked at 1.95GHz.

Clearly, when it comes to extremely demanding tasks (like benchmarks, and tasks like video editing), the Snapdragon 855 should be able to perform better than the Exynos 9820, and that’s evident in benchmarks.

Note: we don’t have a Snadragon 855 unit with us, so these are benchmarks taken from reliable sources.

In AnTuTu, the Snapdragon 855 powered Galaxy S10 scored 359,817 points, while the Exynos 9820 powered S10 scored just 331,245 points.

To be fair, a score of 331,245 is nothing short of awesome, but it’s a little concerning that the scores differ this much simply because of the choice of processor here.

Anyway, moving away from synthetic benchmarks, the Galaxy S10 is nothing short of amazing when it comes to performance. In all my time using the phone, I’ve not noticed any lags or stuttering whatsoever. The phone is a flagship, and it performs like one. Multi-tasking is a breeze, and I even found myself using the floating apps feature quite often and the phone still doesn’t break a sweat handling Instagram, Spotify, Gmail, and Messages at the same time. It’s just a brilliant device when it comes to performance, and it has not once let me down.

s10 plus normal usage

Performance in games is extremely impressive as well. Playing PUBG Mobile on the Galaxy S10 is a wonderful experience. The gorgeous display, paired with top of the line specs make up for an experience unlike any other.

galaxy s10 plus pubg
User Interface

As far as real world performance is concerned, the Galaxy S10 is mind-blowing, and it doesn’t feel bogged down at all.

Part of that is due to the switch from Experience UI to One UI. This new UI is just miles ahead of the older Experience UI that we were used to on Samsung’s previous gen flagships.

Not only is it lighter than Experience UI was, it also feels more refined, and it makes changes to the UI that allow for easier one handed usage as well. It still brings a bunch of interesting features, and it also brings bloatware. However, you can remove that bloatware if you want to. There are still the usual things like Edge Panels, a Game Launcher, a screen recorder for games (that you can use for other apps as well), and a bunch of cool features.

one ui bloatware

One of the biggest issues I have here, is that Samsung saves screenshots in the DCIM folder, and then they keep getting synced to Google Photos and that’s just annoying. However, we figured out a way to make the phone save the screenshots in a different folder and you can check out our how-to on that if you’re interested.
Bixby

Bixby is still here, not that I was expecting it go away. I was hoping that it’d go away though, because it’s basically unusable. It’s the Siri of the Android world, and just like previous S-series flagships, it still has its very own button on the side which you will eventually press by accident and come face to face with Bixby.

However, to Samsung’s credit, the company does allow the button to be remapped. To my disappointment though, you can’t remove Bixby from the button completely. So, Samsung offers two settings for the Bixby button: a single press, and a double press. You can choose to assign the single press or double press to another app, but at least one of the two presses will be assigned to Bixby at all times. Plus, you can’t set another assistant app to launch by pressing the button. Samsung has specifically black-listed those. Along with all of that, long pressing the Bixby button will always launch Bixby no matter what.

remap bixby key

It’s very obvious that Samsung wants us to use Bixby for our daily tasks on this phone, and so I did give it a shot. To my surprise, Bixby is a very capable virtual assistant thanks to its incredibly deep links with almost every system app and setting. It can take selfies for you, it can enable and disable alarms, lock your phone, and do so much more. Plus, Bixby Routines just make these tasks a lot easier. The only problem is, Bixby barely ever gets it right when you talk to it. It hears things incorrectly, and you have to wait for it to launch properly before you can give it a command, which makes the entire process kind of disappointing.

To be fair, even in this competitive scenario that we’re in right now with a bunch of virtual AI powered assistants all vying for our voices, Bixby could be a pretty great one, if only Samsung would fix its very glaring issues.
Cameras

In terms of cameras, the Galaxy S10 brings Samsung flagships to the triple camera world. Both the phones feature three cameras on the back, and instead of making the third one a 3D TOF sensor or (even worse) a monochrome sensor, Samsung chose to put in an ultra-wide angle lens there instead, which just adds quite a lot more to what this camera can do.

galaxy s10 plus cameras

The cameras here include a 12MP f/1.5-f/2.4 dual aperture lens, another 12MP f/2.4 telephoto camera, and a 16MP f/2.2 ultra-wide lens. Working together, these cameras make for some pretty impressive shots. In broad daylight, the S10 is easily one of the best camera phones out there, beat only by the Pixel 3 XL in our comparisons. The photos have ample detail, and HDR. However, they are still oversaturated, as Samsung photos usually are, and while I’m not really a fan of that, a lot of people like this.
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The ultra-wide lens here is a pretty nice addition to the camera system. It allows for some unique perspectives, especially when you’re shooting pictures of a landscape, and the AI in the phone is actually smart enough to figure out when ultra-wide might look good. It actually suggests sometimes that you switch to the ultra-wide lens, and it’s usually right.
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In low light, the S10 does struggle a bit, as most phones do, and the Pixel 3 XL easily beats it out, but once again, the S10 is easily the second best camera in low light too. We compared the S10 with the Pixel 3 XL, the iPhone XS, and the Mate 20 Pro for these tests, and the S10 was consistently better than the iPhone XS and the Mate 20 Pro.
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On the front, the Galaxy S10 Plus comes with a dual front camera. There’s a 10MP selfie camera, along with an 8MP depth sensor for portrait mode photos. The Galaxy S10, on the other hand, comes with a single 10MP selfie camera and uses AI for depth in the portrait mode. Still, portrait selfies from both the phones are equally good, with ample detail and good colors. There’s not a lot to talk about as far as the selfie-capabilities of these phones are concerned.
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As far as videos are concerned, the Galaxy S10 can shoot 4K videos at 60FPS, which is not really that big a deal even if it is a welcome feature. What is a big deal though, is that the S10 can shoot 4K HDR10+ videos, and these have some impressive colors all around. The HDR10+ recording is only available while shooting in 30FPS, though, so that’s something you should know, and it also has to be enabled. Out of the box, the S10 doesn’t record in HDR10+.

In our testing of the phone, the S10 kind of looks like the best Android phone for shooting videos (although I really want to see what the Mi 9 does in videos since it scored so high in its DxOMark tests). Even though the S10 isn’t the best at stabilisation (the Mate 20 Pro is just way better at that), it does have the best colors in videos, and was beat only by the iPhone XS Max. Still, if you’re looking for an Android phone that won’t let you down for shooting videos, the S10 is the most obvious choice I can think of.
Audio

This is again a section I usually don’t include in a review, but the S10 kind of deserves it. The phone comes with stereo-speakers, and even though the top speaker is embedded inside the really slim forehead, it gets incredibly loud. The S10 can serve as a decent music listening speaker if you want it to, and the balance between the speaker on the top and the one on the bottom is pretty great too.

Battery

Moving on to the batteries, the S10 comes with a decent-ish 3,400 mAh battery while the S10+ comes with a considerably big 4,100 mAh battery that’s a huge jump over the 3,500 mAh battery inside the Galaxy S9+.

battery s10plus image

I tested the S10+ thoroughly, and the battery life was only decent, at least for me. In casual usage, the phone lasted me over 12 hours, with a screen on time of around 3 and a half hours, which isn’t all that great. However, with heavy usage, which included playing a bunch of games, watching a ton of videos, and just overall being more active on the phone, the S10+ got a screen on time of over 5 hours, and the battery lasted around 11 and a half hours.

Note: I was using the phone on the WQHD+ resolution, which isn’t the default it comes with. You might get better battery life using it on the FullHD+ default.

battery life s10 plus

The good thing is, the phone does charge decently fast enough. It’s nowhere near the competition, but it’s not something I’ve found reason to complain about. With the included 15W adaptive fast charger, the phone took exactly 90 minutes to go from 10 to 100%, and that’s only decent. In comparison, the Mate 20 Pro, with a larger 4,200 mAh battery charges from 0 to 100% in less time. So yeah, it’s disappointing when you compare it, but it’s just fast enough to not feel slow.

Samsung’s Adaptive Fast Charging basically starts off pretty fast, charging the phone to 50% in around 30 minutes, but then it slows down, and takes another hour to completely charge the phone. That’s probably why charging the phone in emergencies doesn’t feel too bad.
Pros and Cons

Before I conclude this review, here’s a quick look at the S10’s strong suits and short comings:

Pros:

    Best looking display on a smartphone
    Headphone jack
    IP68 rating
    Amazing stereo speakers
    Versatile camera system
    Great pricing (for a $999 phone)

Cons:

    In-display scanner is finicky
    2D face unlock
    Bixby button can’t be set to other assistant apps
    15W charger

Conclusion

All things considered, the Galaxy S10 is a pretty great smartphone, and in my opinion, it’s the best Android flagship you can buy right now. It has the best display on a smartphone so far, it has a gorgeous design, cameras that are right up there with the best, great video shooting capabilities, IP68 rating, a headphone jack, performance that you’d expect from a flagship in 2019, and a much improved, more streamlined software experience.

As far as competition is concerned, the Galaxy S10 easily beats almost every other phone out there. It beats the Mate 20 Pro in terms of display, design, and build quality, it beats the iPhone in terms of price, and cameras, and it beats the Pixel 3 XL in almost every single thing other than the camera. Samsung has even knocked it out of the park with its software, which has historically been the company’s achilles heel as far as smartphones are concerned. One UI is probably the best custom Android skin after Oxygen OS, and that’s a huge deal. Samsung’s flagship smartphones have always been one of the best looking Android devices out there, and the recently launched Galaxy S10 and S10+ are no exceptions. In fact, in many ways they build upon the successes of their predecessors, and improve upon many of their drawbacks. I’ve been using the Galaxy S10+ as my daily driver for well over a week now, so if you’re wondering what these phones are like, keep reading to get our detailed S10, and S10 Plus review.

Note: For the most part, everything I say in this review applies to both the S10 and the S10+. For places where this doesn’t hold true, I’ll be specifically mentioning it.
Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus Specs:

Before we take a look at the phones themselves, and their real-world performance, here’s a quick rundown of the specs these flagships are packing inside their glass and metal chassis.
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entries
Search:
     Galaxy S10    Galaxy S10 Plus
Display    6.1-inch WQHD+ SuperAMOLED (1440x3040)    6.4-inch WQHD+ SuperAMOLED (1440x3040)
Processor    Exynos 9820    Exynos 9820
RAM    8GB    8GB/12GB
Storage    128GB/512GB    128GB/512GB/1TB
Battery    3,400 mAh    4,100 mAh
Operating System    One UI based on Android 9 Pie    One UI based on Android 9 Pie
Connectivity    Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax (2.4/5GHz); Bluetooth® v 5.0     Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax (2.4/5GHz); Bluetooth® v 5.0
Price    Starts at Rs. 66,900    Starts at Rs. 73,900
Showing 1 to 8 of 8 entries
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Alright, now that we have the specs out of the way, let’s move on.
Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus: What’s In the Box

First things first, the unboxing experience of the Galaxy S10 is pretty much exactly as it was with past Galaxy flagships, and you find quite a bit of stuff inside the box:

    The Galaxy S10 or S10 Plus (depending on what you bought)
    A clear case (of surprisingly good quality)
    AKG tuned earphones (with braided cables, yay!)
    A USB Type-A to USB-C cable
    15W Adaptive Fast Charger
    Leaflets and manuals that you won’t read (or at least I didn’t)

A couple of things stood out to me in the Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus box. First, the included clear case is of a really good quality, which is awesome because I didn’t mind putting it on my phone at all. Second, the included earphones have a braided cable, which is great, and not something you’d find in most other smartphones.
Design and Build

The Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus (hereafter referred to as the Galaxy S10, or S10, unless stated otherwise) are possibly the most gorgeous phones I’ve set my eyes on. Samsung went all out on the S10, and basically left no stone unturned.

galaxy s10 rear design

The phones come in a beautiful glass and metal sandwich design, with a gorgeous curved display up front, and a curved back; both of which blend perfectly into the metal chassis. Holding these in your hand is a remarkably comfortable experience, which is all the more appreciable if you’re trying out the larger, Galaxy S10 Plus, which somehow, feels really great in the hand for a phone of its size.

The S10 uses Gorilla Glass on both the front and the back, so you don’t really need the pre-installed scratch guard, and the included back cover, but I’d suggest you use them still. The back here is protected with Gorilla Glass 5, while the front has the latest Gorilla Glass 6 to protect it from scratches and impact. As much as I love Corning for making our phones more resilient against scratches, my naked OnePlus 5 had a terrible amount of scratches on it — a fate I’d rather not repeat with my Galaxy S10.

galaxy s10plus rear 2

Of course, since this is a Samsung flagship, it has IP68 rating, so you can pretty much spill anything on it, and it won’t just die on you; although I do have to tell you, taking it swimming might not be the best idea. The phone comes with all the usual buttons and ports you’d want, and one button you probably don’t want, but you can make good use of it (I’ll tell you that later). There’s a power button, which, on the S10 Plus is way too high up for my liking, there are the volume rockers, the USB-C port, the headphone jack (yes, that still survived), and there’s the Bixby button, which… well, let’s just say I can live without it.

galaxy s10 plus buttons
Display

For a phone that’s basically a hole-in-one (pun-intended), the Display is still the show stopper here. It’s a gorgeous WQHD+ SuperAMOLED display which, measured diagonally, is 6.1-inches on the S10, and 6.4-inches on the S10+, and it’s pretty much what you expect from a Samsung display. This has to be the best display I’ve seen on a smartphone so far, and even though it has all of Samsung’s quirks, like the oversaturated colors, it manages to pull it off in such great style that you won’t be able to look at another phone without feeling like those displays just aren’t as good.

galaxy s10 plus display image

Speaking of saturated colors, Samsung does include a ‘Natural’ screen mode on the phone, pushes the saturation down a bit, for anyone wanting a more natural feel on their phones, but I still stuck to the Vivid setting, because it just looks absolutely stunning; but that’s mostly just personal preference, and it’s great that Samsung is giving users the choice.

galaxy s10 plus display image 2

I can’t round up the display segment here without talking about the punch-hole, now can I? So here it is. Yeah, the S10 has a punch hole design, that Samsung likes to call ‘Infinity-O’, and personally I prefer this over the notches (even the teardrop ones). Now I know, people have issues with it because of symmetry and what not, and that’s fine. Like I said, it’s a personal preference, and I just feel like it gives me a better experience than I’ve had with notched phones.

galaxy s10 plus punch hole image
Biometrics

Normally, I’d move to the performance or the cameras on a review, but the Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus come with ultrasonic in-display fingerprint scanner, which, unlike the optical in-display fingerprint scanners you’d find on most phones, can work even without needing the display to turn on. That’s pretty awesome because you basically don’t need to use the power button any more. Just touch your finger on the screen and it unlocks.

galaxy s10 plus fingerprint scanner image

Plus, it works if the phone is wet, or if your fingers are wet, and it also works with oily fingers so you can unlock your phone while stuffing yourself with fries, as I quite often find myself doing.

galaxy s10 plus fingerprint unlock wet

The only problem with the fingerprint scanner here though, is that it’s kind of slow, and kind of inconsistent. It’s not the best experience, unlocking the phone with the in-display fingerprint scanner, and you can’t be quite sure that it will unlock just because you touched it. It’s also very moody. Sometimes it opens with just a tap, other times you have to press your finger quite firmly for the phone to unlock, so it’s obviously not something you’ll enjoy using. I didn’t.

There’s also Face Unlock here, and it’s considerably faster than the fingerprint scanner. In fact, sometimes it opens so quickly it seems like the phone wasn’t even locked. However, this is a simple 2D face unlock system, unlike the 3D system you’d find on something like the Mate 20 Pro, or the iPhone XS line up. It doesn’t have an IR sensor either, so it doesn’t work in pitch darkness. However, it’s still surprisingly good at detecting faces in very low light. There’s an opt-out feature that makes the screen brighter to unlock the phone in dark conditions, and that sort of works, but it’s very uncomfortable in pitch darkness because the screen is just so bright it hurts your eyes.

face recognition s10

There was another weird thing that happened with my Galaxy S10 unit, where, for some reason, it was unlocking with Devinder’s face as well. It stopped doing that later, so I’m not sure how it was getting the false positives, but it was and that’s just really weird. Some other reviews have mentioned the phone unlocking with photos too, but that didn’t happen on my unit at least, so I can’t confirm if that actually happens.

So yeah, the biometrics on the S10 aren’t the best of the lot, but there’s a silver lining, Samsung can easily fix at least the face unlock with a software upgrade, and I really hope they do.
Performance

In terms of performance, the S10 comes with the Exynos 9820 in India, and it’s Samsung’s top-of-the-line flagship processor built in the 8nm process, so amazing performance and better battery life is pretty much guaranteed on the phone. However, the S10s retailing in the US pack in the 7nm Snapdragon 855, and while that 1nm might not a big deal, what is a big deal is the fact that the cores on these processors are clocked considerably differently.

The Snapdragon 855 inside the Galaxy S10 comes in a tri-cluster architecture, with 2 extreme performance cores clocked at 2.84GHz, two high performance cores clocked at 2.41GHz, and four high efficiency cores clocked at 1.78GHz.

On the other hand, the Exynos 9820 comes in a tri-cluster architecture too, with 2 extreme performance custom cores clocked at 2.73GHz, two high performance Cortex A75 cores clocked at 2.31GHz, and four high efficiency Cortex A55 cores clocked at 1.95GHz.

Clearly, when it comes to extremely demanding tasks (like benchmarks, and tasks like video editing), the Snapdragon 855 should be able to perform better than the Exynos 9820, and that’s evident in benchmarks.

Note: we don’t have a Snadragon 855 unit with us, so these are benchmarks taken from reliable sources.

In AnTuTu, the Snapdragon 855 powered Galaxy S10 scored 359,817 points, while the Exynos 9820 powered S10 scored just 331,245 points.

To be fair, a score of 331,245 is nothing short of awesome, but it’s a little concerning that the scores differ this much simply because of the choice of processor here.

Anyway, moving away from synthetic benchmarks, the Galaxy S10 is nothing short of amazing when it comes to performance. In all my time using the phone, I’ve not noticed any lags or stuttering whatsoever. The phone is a flagship, and it performs like one. Multi-tasking is a breeze, and I even found myself using the floating apps feature quite often and the phone still doesn’t break a sweat handling Instagram, Spotify, Gmail, and Messages at the same time. It’s just a brilliant device when it comes to performance, and it has not once let me down.

s10 plus normal usage

Performance in games is extremely impressive as well. Playing PUBG Mobile on the Galaxy S10 is a wonderful experience. The gorgeous display, paired with top of the line specs make up for an experience unlike any other.

galaxy s10 plus pubg
User Interface

As far as real world performance is concerned, the Galaxy S10 is mind-blowing, and it doesn’t feel bogged down at all.

Part of that is due to the switch from Experience UI to One UI. This new UI is just miles ahead of the older Experience UI that we were used to on Samsung’s previous gen flagships.

Not only is it lighter than Experience UI was, it also feels more refined, and it makes changes to the UI that allow for easier one handed usage as well. It still brings a bunch of interesting features, and it also brings bloatware. However, you can remove that bloatware if you want to. There are still the usual things like Edge Panels, a Game Launcher, a screen recorder for games (that you can use for other apps as well), and a bunch of cool features.

one ui bloatware

One of the biggest issues I have here, is that Samsung saves screenshots in the DCIM folder, and then they keep getting synced to Google Photos and that’s just annoying. However, we figured out a way to make the phone save the screenshots in a different folder and you can check out our how-to on that if you’re interested.
Bixby

Bixby is still here, not that I was expecting it go away. I was hoping that it’d go away though, because it’s basically unusable. It’s the Siri of the Android world, and just like previous S-series flagships, it still has its very own button on the side which you will eventually press by accident and come face to face with Bixby.

However, to Samsung’s credit, the company does allow the button to be remapped. To my disappointment though, you can’t remove Bixby from the button completely. So, Samsung offers two settings for the Bixby button: a single press, and a double press. You can choose to assign the single press or double press to another app, but at least one of the two presses will be assigned to Bixby at all times. Plus, you can’t set another assistant app to launch by pressing the button. Samsung has specifically black-listed those. Along with all of that, long pressing the Bixby button will always launch Bixby no matter what.

remap bixby key

It’s very obvious that Samsung wants us to use Bixby for our daily tasks on this phone, and so I did give it a shot. To my surprise, Bixby is a very capable virtual assistant thanks to its incredibly deep links with almost every system app and setting. It can take selfies for you, it can enable and disable alarms, lock your phone, and do so much more. Plus, Bixby Routines just make these tasks a lot easier. The only problem is, Bixby barely ever gets it right when you talk to it. It hears things incorrectly, and you have to wait for it to launch properly before you can give it a command, which makes the entire process kind of disappointing.

To be fair, even in this competitive scenario that we’re in right now with a bunch of virtual AI powered assistants all vying for our voices, Bixby could be a pretty great one, if only Samsung would fix its very glaring issues.
Cameras

In terms of cameras, the Galaxy S10 brings Samsung flagships to the triple camera world. Both the phones feature three cameras on the back, and instead of making the third one a 3D TOF sensor or (even worse) a monochrome sensor, Samsung chose to put in an ultra-wide angle lens there instead, which just adds quite a lot more to what this camera can do.

galaxy s10 plus cameras

The cameras here include a 12MP f/1.5-f/2.4 dual aperture lens, another 12MP f/2.4 telephoto camera, and a 16MP f/2.2 ultra-wide lens. Working together, these cameras make for some pretty impressive shots. In broad daylight, the S10 is easily one of the best camera phones out there, beat only by the Pixel 3 XL in our comparisons. The photos have ample detail, and HDR. However, they are still oversaturated, as Samsung photos usually are, and while I’m not really a fan of that, a lot of people like this.
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The ultra-wide lens here is a pretty nice addition to the camera system. It allows for some unique perspectives, especially when you’re shooting pictures of a landscape, and the AI in the phone is actually smart enough to figure out when ultra-wide might look good. It actually suggests sometimes that you switch to the ultra-wide lens, and it’s usually right.
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In low light, the S10 does struggle a bit, as most phones do, and the Pixel 3 XL easily beats it out, but once again, the S10 is easily the second best camera in low light too. We compared the S10 with the Pixel 3 XL, the iPhone XS, and the Mate 20 Pro for these tests, and the S10 was consistently better than the iPhone XS and the Mate 20 Pro.
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On the front, the Galaxy S10 Plus comes with a dual front camera. There’s a 10MP selfie camera, along with an 8MP depth sensor for portrait mode photos. The Galaxy S10, on the other hand, comes with a single 10MP selfie camera and uses AI for depth in the portrait mode. Still, portrait selfies from both the phones are equally good, with ample detail and good colors. There’s not a lot to talk about as far as the selfie-capabilities of these phones are concerned.
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As far as videos are concerned, the Galaxy S10 can shoot 4K videos at 60FPS, which is not really that big a deal even if it is a welcome feature. What is a big deal though, is that the S10 can shoot 4K HDR10+ videos, and these have some impressive colors all around. The HDR10+ recording is only available while shooting in 30FPS, though, so that’s something you should know, and it also has to be enabled. Out of the box, the S10 doesn’t record in HDR10+.

In our testing of the phone, the S10 kind of looks like the best Android phone for shooting videos (although I really want to see what the Mi 9 does in videos since it scored so high in its DxOMark tests). Even though the S10 isn’t the best at stabilisation (the Mate 20 Pro is just way better at that), it does have the best colors in videos, and was beat only by the iPhone XS Max. Still, if you’re looking for an Android phone that won’t let you down for shooting videos, the S10 is the most obvious choice I can think of.
Audio

This is again a section I usually don’t include in a review, but the S10 kind of deserves it. The phone comes with stereo-speakers, and even though the top speaker is embedded inside the really slim forehead, it gets incredibly loud. The S10 can serve as a decent music listening speaker if you want it to, and the balance between the speaker on the top and the one on the bottom is pretty great too.

Battery

Moving on to the batteries, the S10 comes with a decent-ish 3,400 mAh battery while the S10+ comes with a considerably big 4,100 mAh battery that’s a huge jump over the 3,500 mAh battery inside the Galaxy S9+.

battery s10plus image

I tested the S10+ thoroughly, and the battery life was only decent, at least for me. In casual usage, the phone lasted me over 12 hours, with a screen on time of around 3 and a half hours, which isn’t all that great. However, with heavy usage, which included playing a bunch of games, watching a ton of videos, and just overall being more active on the phone, the S10+ got a screen on time of over 5 hours, and the battery lasted around 11 and a half hours.

Note: I was using the phone on the WQHD+ resolution, which isn’t the default it comes with. You might get better battery life using it on the FullHD+ default.

battery life s10 plus

The good thing is, the phone does charge decently fast enough. It’s nowhere near the competition, but it’s not something I’ve found reason to complain about. With the included 15W adaptive fast charger, the phone took exactly 90 minutes to go from 10 to 100%, and that’s only decent. In comparison, the Mate 20 Pro, with a larger 4,200 mAh battery charges from 0 to 100% in less time. So yeah, it’s disappointing when you compare it, but it’s just fast enough to not feel slow.

Samsung’s Adaptive Fast Charging basically starts off pretty fast, charging the phone to 50% in around 30 minutes, but then it slows down, and takes another hour to completely charge the phone. That’s probably why charging the phone in emergencies doesn’t feel too bad.
Pros and Cons

Before I conclude this review, here’s a quick look at the S10’s strong suits and short comings:

Pros:

    Best looking display on a smartphone
    Headphone jack
    IP68 rating
    Amazing stereo speakers
    Versatile camera system
    Great pricing (for a $999 phone)

Cons:

    In-display scanner is finicky
    2D face unlock
    Bixby button can’t be set to other assistant apps
    15W charger

Conclusion

All things considered, the Galaxy S10 is a pretty great smartphone, and in my opinion, it’s the best Android flagship you can buy right now. It has the best display on a smartphone so far, it has a gorgeous design, cameras that are right up there with the best, great video shooting capabilities, IP68 rating, a headphone jack, performance that you’d expect from a flagship in 2019, and a much improved, more streamlined software experience.

As far as competition is concerned, the Galaxy S10 easily beats almost every other phone out there. It beats the Mate 20 Pro in terms of display, design, and build quality, it beats the iPhone in terms of price, and cameras, and it beats the Pixel 3 XL in almost every single thing other than the camera. Samsung has even knocked it out of the park with its software, which has historically been the company’s achilles heel as far as smartphones are concerned. One UI is probably the best custom Android skin after Oxygen OS, and that’s a huge deal. Samsung’s flagship smartphones have always been one of the best looking Android devices out there, and the recently launched Galaxy S10 and S10+ are no exceptions. In fact, in many ways they build upon the successes of their predecessors, and improve upon many of their drawbacks. I’ve been using the Galaxy S10+ as my daily driver for well over a week now, so if you’re wondering what these phones are like, keep reading to get our detailed S10, and S10 Plus review.

Note: For the most part, everything I say in this review applies to both the S10 and the S10+. For places where this doesn’t hold true, I’ll be specifically mentioning it.
Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus Specs:

Before we take a look at the phones themselves, and their real-world performance, here’s a quick rundown of the specs these flagships are packing inside their glass and metal chassis.
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     Galaxy S10    Galaxy S10 Plus
Display    6.1-inch WQHD+ SuperAMOLED (1440x3040)    6.4-inch WQHD+ SuperAMOLED (1440x3040)
Processor    Exynos 9820    Exynos 9820
RAM    8GB    8GB/12GB
Storage    128GB/512GB    128GB/512GB/1TB
Battery    3,400 mAh    4,100 mAh
Operating System    One UI based on Android 9 Pie    One UI based on Android 9 Pie
Connectivity    Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax (2.4/5GHz); Bluetooth® v 5.0     Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax (2.4/5GHz); Bluetooth® v 5.0
Price    Starts at Rs. 66,900    Starts at Rs. 73,900
Showing 1 to 8 of 8 entries
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Alright, now that we have the specs out of the way, let’s move on.
Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus: What’s In the Box

First things first, the unboxing experience of the Galaxy S10 is pretty much exactly as it was with past Galaxy flagships, and you find quite a bit of stuff inside the box:

    The Galaxy S10 or S10 Plus (depending on what you bought)
    A clear case (of surprisingly good quality)
    AKG tuned earphones (with braided cables, yay!)
    A USB Type-A to USB-C cable
    15W Adaptive Fast Charger
    Leaflets and manuals that you won’t read (or at least I didn’t)

A couple of things stood out to me in the Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus box. First, the included clear case is of a really good quality, which is awesome because I didn’t mind putting it on my phone at all. Second, the included earphones have a braided cable, which is great, and not something you’d find in most other smartphones.
Design and Build

The Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus (hereafter referred to as the Galaxy S10, or S10, unless stated otherwise) are possibly the most gorgeous phones I’ve set my eyes on. Samsung went all out on the S10, and basically left no stone unturned.

galaxy s10 rear design

The phones come in a beautiful glass and metal sandwich design, with a gorgeous curved display up front, and a curved back; both of which blend perfectly into the metal chassis. Holding these in your hand is a remarkably comfortable experience, which is all the more appreciable if you’re trying out the larger, Galaxy S10 Plus, which somehow, feels really great in the hand for a phone of its size.

The S10 uses Gorilla Glass on both the front and the back, so you don’t really need the pre-installed scratch guard, and the included back cover, but I’d suggest you use them still. The back here is protected with Gorilla Glass 5, while the front has the latest Gorilla Glass 6 to protect it from scratches and impact. As much as I love Corning for making our phones more resilient against scratches, my naked OnePlus 5 had a terrible amount of scratches on it — a fate I’d rather not repeat with my Galaxy S10.

galaxy s10plus rear 2

Of course, since this is a Samsung flagship, it has IP68 rating, so you can pretty much spill anything on it, and it won’t just die on you; although I do have to tell you, taking it swimming might not be the best idea. The phone comes with all the usual buttons and ports you’d want, and one button you probably don’t want, but you can make good use of it (I’ll tell you that later). There’s a power button, which, on the S10 Plus is way too high up for my liking, there are the volume rockers, the USB-C port, the headphone jack (yes, that still survived), and there’s the Bixby button, which… well, let’s just say I can live without it.

galaxy s10 plus buttons
Display

For a phone that’s basically a hole-in-one (pun-intended), the Display is still the show stopper here. It’s a gorgeous WQHD+ SuperAMOLED display which, measured diagonally, is 6.1-inches on the S10, and 6.4-inches on the S10+, and it’s pretty much what you expect from a Samsung display. This has to be the best display I’ve seen on a smartphone so far, and even though it has all of Samsung’s quirks, like the oversaturated colors, it manages to pull it off in such great style that you won’t be able to look at another phone without feeling like those displays just aren’t as good.

galaxy s10 plus display image

Speaking of saturated colors, Samsung does include a ‘Natural’ screen mode on the phone, pushes the saturation down a bit, for anyone wanting a more natural feel on their phones, but I still stuck to the Vivid setting, because it just looks absolutely stunning; but that’s mostly just personal preference, and it’s great that Samsung is giving users the choice.

galaxy s10 plus display image 2

I can’t round up the display segment here without talking about the punch-hole, now can I? So here it is. Yeah, the S10 has a punch hole design, that Samsung likes to call ‘Infinity-O’, and personally I prefer this over the notches (even the teardrop ones). Now I know, people have issues with it because of symmetry and what not, and that’s fine. Like I said, it’s a personal preference, and I just feel like it gives me a better experience than I’ve had with notched phones.

galaxy s10 plus punch hole image
Biometrics

Normally, I’d move to the performance or the cameras on a review, but the Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus come with ultrasonic in-display fingerprint scanner, which, unlike the optical in-display fingerprint scanners you’d find on most phones, can work even without needing the display to turn on. That’s pretty awesome because you basically don’t need to use the power button any more. Just touch your finger on the screen and it unlocks.

galaxy s10 plus fingerprint scanner image

Plus, it works if the phone is wet, or if your fingers are wet, and it also works with oily fingers so you can unlock your phone while stuffing yourself with fries, as I quite often find myself doing.

galaxy s10 plus fingerprint unlock wet

The only problem with the fingerprint scanner here though, is that it’s kind of slow, and kind of inconsistent. It’s not the best experience, unlocking the phone with the in-display fingerprint scanner, and you can’t be quite sure that it will unlock just because you touched it. It’s also very moody. Sometimes it opens with just a tap, other times you have to press your finger quite firmly for the phone to unlock, so it’s obviously not something you’ll enjoy using. I didn’t.

There’s also Face Unlock here, and it’s considerably faster than the fingerprint scanner. In fact, sometimes it opens so quickly it seems like the phone wasn’t even locked. However, this is a simple 2D face unlock system, unlike the 3D system you’d find on something like the Mate 20 Pro, or the iPhone XS line up. It doesn’t have an IR sensor either, so it doesn’t work in pitch darkness. However, it’s still surprisingly good at detecting faces in very low light. There’s an opt-out feature that makes the screen brighter to unlock the phone in dark conditions, and that sort of works, but it’s very uncomfortable in pitch darkness because the screen is just so bright it hurts your eyes.

face recognition s10

There was another weird thing that happened with my Galaxy S10 unit, where, for some reason, it was unlocking with Devinder’s face as well. It stopped doing that later, so I’m not sure how it was getting the false positives, but it was and that’s just really weird. Some other reviews have mentioned the phone unlocking with photos too, but that didn’t happen on my unit at least, so I can’t confirm if that actually happens.

So yeah, the biometrics on the S10 aren’t the best of the lot, but there’s a silver lining, Samsung can easily fix at least the face unlock with a software upgrade, and I really hope they do.
Performance

In terms of performance, the S10 comes with the Exynos 9820 in India, and it’s Samsung’s top-of-the-line flagship processor built in the 8nm process, so amazing performance and better battery life is pretty much guaranteed on the phone. However, the S10s retailing in the US pack in the 7nm Snapdragon 855, and while that 1nm might not a big deal, what is a big deal is the fact that the cores on these processors are clocked considerably differently.

The Snapdragon 855 inside the Galaxy S10 comes in a tri-cluster architecture, with 2 extreme performance cores clocked at 2.84GHz, two high performance cores clocked at 2.41GHz, and four high efficiency cores clocked at 1.78GHz.

On the other hand, the Exynos 9820 comes in a tri-cluster architecture too, with 2 extreme performance custom cores clocked at 2.73GHz, two high performance Cortex A75 cores clocked at 2.31GHz, and four high efficiency Cortex A55 cores clocked at 1.95GHz.

Clearly, when it comes to extremely demanding tasks (like benchmarks, and tasks like video editing), the Snapdragon 855 should be able to perform better than the Exynos 9820, and that’s evident in benchmarks.

Note: we don’t have a Snadragon 855 unit with us, so these are benchmarks taken from reliable sources.

In AnTuTu, the Snapdragon 855 powered Galaxy S10 scored 359,817 points, while the Exynos 9820 powered S10 scored just 331,245 points.

To be fair, a score of 331,245 is nothing short of awesome, but it’s a little concerning that the scores differ this much simply because of the choice of processor here.

Anyway, moving away from synthetic benchmarks, the Galaxy S10 is nothing short of amazing when it comes to performance. In all my time using the phone, I’ve not noticed any lags or stuttering whatsoever. The phone is a flagship, and it performs like one. Multi-tasking is a breeze, and I even found myself using the floating apps feature quite often and the phone still doesn’t break a sweat handling Instagram, Spotify, Gmail, and Messages at the same time. It’s just a brilliant device when it comes to performance, and it has not once let me down.

s10 plus normal usage

Performance in games is extremely impressive as well. Playing PUBG Mobile on the Galaxy S10 is a wonderful experience. The gorgeous display, paired with top of the line specs make up for an experience unlike any other.

galaxy s10 plus pubg
User Interface

As far as real world performance is concerned, the Galaxy S10 is mind-blowing, and it doesn’t feel bogged down at all.

Part of that is due to the switch from Experience UI to One UI. This new UI is just miles ahead of the older Experience UI that we were used to on Samsung’s previous gen flagships.

Not only is it lighter than Experience UI was, it also feels more refined, and it makes changes to the UI that allow for easier one handed usage as well. It still brings a bunch of interesting features, and it also brings bloatware. However, you can remove that bloatware if you want to. There are still the usual things like Edge Panels, a Game Launcher, a screen recorder for games (that you can use for other apps as well), and a bunch of cool features.

one ui bloatware

One of the biggest issues I have here, is that Samsung saves screenshots in the DCIM folder, and then they keep getting synced to Google Photos and that’s just annoying. However, we figured out a way to make the phone save the screenshots in a different folder and you can check out our how-to on that if you’re interested.
Bixby

Bixby is still here, not that I was expecting it go away. I was hoping that it’d go away though, because it’s basically unusable. It’s the Siri of the Android world, and just like previous S-series flagships, it still has its very own button on the side which you will eventually press by accident and come face to face with Bixby.

However, to Samsung’s credit, the company does allow the button to be remapped. To my disappointment though, you can’t remove Bixby from the button completely. So, Samsung offers two settings for the Bixby button: a single press, and a double press. You can choose to assign the single press or double press to another app, but at least one of the two presses will be assigned to Bixby at all times. Plus, you can’t set another assistant app to launch by pressing the button. Samsung has specifically black-listed those. Along with all of that, long pressing the Bixby button will always launch Bixby no matter what.

remap bixby key

It’s very obvious that Samsung wants us to use Bixby for our daily tasks on this phone, and so I did give it a shot. To my surprise, Bixby is a very capable virtual assistant thanks to its incredibly deep links with almost every system app and setting. It can take selfies for you, it can enable and disable alarms, lock your phone, and do so much more. Plus, Bixby Routines just make these tasks a lot easier. The only problem is, Bixby barely ever gets it right when you talk to it. It hears things incorrectly, and you have to wait for it to launch properly before you can give it a command, which makes the entire process kind of disappointing.

To be fair, even in this competitive scenario that we’re in right now with a bunch of virtual AI powered assistants all vying for our voices, Bixby could be a pretty great one, if only Samsung would fix its very glaring issues.
Cameras

In terms of cameras, the Galaxy S10 brings Samsung flagships to the triple camera world. Both the phones feature three cameras on the back, and instead of making the third one a 3D TOF sensor or (even worse) a monochrome sensor, Samsung chose to put in an ultra-wide angle lens there instead, which just adds quite a lot more to what this camera can do.

galaxy s10 plus cameras

The cameras here include a 12MP f/1.5-f/2.4 dual aperture lens, another 12MP f/2.4 telephoto camera, and a 16MP f/2.2 ultra-wide lens. Working together, these cameras make for some pretty impressive shots. In broad daylight, the S10 is easily one of the best camera phones out there, beat only by the Pixel 3 XL in our comparisons. The photos have ample detail, and HDR. However, they are still oversaturated, as Samsung photos usually are, and while I’m not really a fan of that, a lot of people like this.
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The ultra-wide lens here is a pretty nice addition to the camera system. It allows for some unique perspectives, especially when you’re shooting pictures of a landscape, and the AI in the phone is actually smart enough to figure out when ultra-wide might look good. It actually suggests sometimes that you switch to the ultra-wide lens, and it’s usually right.
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In low light, the S10 does struggle a bit, as most phones do, and the Pixel 3 XL easily beats it out, but once again, the S10 is easily the second best camera in low light too. We compared the S10 with the Pixel 3 XL, the iPhone XS, and the Mate 20 Pro for these tests, and the S10 was consistently better than the iPhone XS and the Mate 20 Pro.
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On the front, the Galaxy S10 Plus comes with a dual front camera. There’s a 10MP selfie camera, along with an 8MP depth sensor for portrait mode photos. The Galaxy S10, on the other hand, comes with a single 10MP selfie camera and uses AI for depth in the portrait mode. Still, portrait selfies from both the phones are equally good, with ample detail and good colors. There’s not a lot to talk about as far as the selfie-capabilities of these phones are concerned.
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As far as videos are concerned, the Galaxy S10 can shoot 4K videos at 60FPS, which is not really that big a deal even if it is a welcome feature. What is a big deal though, is that the S10 can shoot 4K HDR10+ videos, and these have some impressive colors all around. The HDR10+ recording is only available while shooting in 30FPS, though, so that’s something you should know, and it also has to be enabled. Out of the box, the S10 doesn’t record in HDR10+.

In our testing of the phone, the S10 kind of looks like the best Android phone for shooting videos (although I really want to see what the Mi 9 does in videos since it scored so high in its DxOMark tests). Even though the S10 isn’t the best at stabilisation (the Mate 20 Pro is just way better at that), it does have the best colors in videos, and was beat only by the iPhone XS Max. Still, if you’re looking for an Android phone that won’t let you down for shooting videos, the S10 is the most obvious choice I can think of.
Audio

This is again a section I usually don’t include in a review, but the S10 kind of deserves it. The phone comes with stereo-speakers, and even though the top speaker is embedded inside the really slim forehead, it gets incredibly loud. The S10 can serve as a decent music listening speaker if you want it to, and the balance between the speaker on the top and the one on the bottom is pretty great too.

Battery

Moving on to the batteries, the S10 comes with a decent-ish 3,400 mAh battery while the S10+ comes with a considerably big 4,100 mAh battery that’s a huge jump over the 3,500 mAh battery inside the Galaxy S9+.

battery s10plus image

I tested the S10+ thoroughly, and the battery life was only decent, at least for me. In casual usage, the phone lasted me over 12 hours, with a screen on time of around 3 and a half hours, which isn’t all that great. However, with heavy usage, which included playing a bunch of games, watching a ton of videos, and just overall being more active on the phone, the S10+ got a screen on time of over 5 hours, and the battery lasted around 11 and a half hours.

Note: I was using the phone on the WQHD+ resolution, which isn’t the default it comes with. You might get better battery life using it on the FullHD+ default.

battery life s10 plus

The good thing is, the phone does charge decently fast enough. It’s nowhere near the competition, but it’s not something I’ve found reason to complain about. With the included 15W adaptive fast charger, the phone took exactly 90 minutes to go from 10 to 100%, and that’s only decent. In comparison, the Mate 20 Pro, with a larger 4,200 mAh battery charges from 0 to 100% in less time. So yeah, it’s disappointing when you compare it, but it’s just fast enough to not feel slow.

Samsung’s Adaptive Fast Charging basically starts off pretty fast, charging the phone to 50% in around 30 minutes, but then it slows down, and takes another hour to completely charge the phone. That’s probably why charging the phone in emergencies doesn’t feel too bad.
Pros and Cons

Before I conclude this review, here’s a quick look at the S10’s strong suits and short comings:

Pros:

    Best looking display on a smartphone
    Headphone jack
    IP68 rating
    Amazing stereo speakers
    Versatile camera system
    Great pricing (for a $999 phone)

Cons:

    In-display scanner is finicky
    2D face unlock
    Bixby button can’t be set to other assistant apps
    15W charger

Conclusion

All things considered, the Galaxy S10 is a pretty great smartphone, and in my opinion, it’s the best Android flagship you can buy right now. It has the best display on a smartphone so far, it has a gorgeous design, cameras that are right up there with the best, great video shooting capabilities, IP68 rating, a headphone jack, performance that you’d expect from a flagship in 2019, and a much improved, more streamlined software experience.

As far as competition is concerned, the Galaxy S10 easily beats almost every other phone out there. It beats the Mate 20 Pro in terms of display, design, and build quality, it beats the iPhone in terms of price, and cameras, and it beats the Pixel 3 XL in almost every single thing other than the camera. Samsung has even knocked it out of the park with its software, which has historically been the company’s achilles heel as far as smartphones are concerned. One UI is probably the best custom Android skin after Oxygen OS, and that’s a huge deal.

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