Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus review: the anti-iPhone

(calm music) – It's hard to believe that
it's been almost 10 years since Samsung released the
first Galaxy S smartphone, but here we are with the Galaxy S10, and it's easily the best Galaxy S yet. But if the first few Galaxy phones were close copies of the iPhone, enough so much that Apple
actually sued Samsung and won, the Galaxy S10 shows that
Samsung has evolved its flagship to offer almost everything
the iPhone doesn't. It's got a headphone
jack, expandable storage, fingerprint scanner, and almost no notch. You could practically
call it the anti-iPhone. But it does share some
things with the iPhone, like the fact that it's expensive. The S10 starts at $899, the
S10 Plus that I have here starts at $999 and goes all
the way up to 1600 bucks. That's like three basic model OnePlus 6Ts. This may be the best Galaxy S phone ever, but it's also far and
away the most expensive Galaxy S phone ever. (upbeat music) The S10's hardware is very nice.

It's exactly what you'd expect for a phone that costs this much. It's an evolution of what Samsung started four years ago with the Galaxy S6. Has aluminum sides with a polished finish, and front and rear glass. Now, on the S10 and the S10 Plus, the glass curves into the frame, which makes it feel great in your hand and more comfortable to hold, even though these are really big phones. Now, on that point, the
S10 Plus is definitely not a one hand phone, not for me at least. If I were to purchase it,
I'd probably put a case, and maybe even one of those
PopSockets on the back to make it easier to hold and use. If you do want something smaller, Samsung has a regular
S10, and then the S10e which we're going to
cover in a separate video, so stay tuned for that. Now, like I said before,
there's a headphone jack down at the bottom,
Samsung actually includes some pretty nice wired headphones
that plug right into it.

Plus, loud stereo speakers for when you're not wearing headphones. Like the last few Galaxy S models, the S10 is water resistant, has fast wired and wireless charging, and you can expand the
storage with a microSD card, though I think most people
will probably be pretty happy with the 128 gigs it comes
with in the base model. You can even use the S10 to
wirelessly charge another device like Samsung's new Galaxy Bud headphones, or Galaxy Watch Active smartwatch, but I really have found much use for that beyond just showing it off. The big annoying thing
with the S10's hardware is the same as it has been for
the last few Samsung phones. There's a hardware button
dedicated to launching Bixby. Now fortunately, Samsung
is going to let you finally reprogram it to something more useful, like say maybe launching the camera. But sadly, you can't use to
launch the Google Assistant. And this is all I'm
going to say about Bixby, because it's still bad, and you should still avoid it if possible.

Inside, the S10 is the
first phone I've used with the Snapdragon 855 processor, and performance is really fast. It's smooth and responsive, and there's no real lag anywhere. I don't think it's as blisteringly
fast as a OnePlus phone, but I've got no real
performance complaints here. I also don't have any complaints
with the battery life. I don't think the S10 Plus
is breaking any records, but it's reliable enough that I just don't have to worry about it. I've been able to get
two days between charges with light usage, and have no real trouble making it a full day with heavy usage. But it is a big phone, with a big battery, so this is the kind of battery
life that I kind of expect at this point. (upbeat music) The S10 Plus's display
does not disappoint. It's a 6.4 inch HDR10+ OLED screen, that gets super bright, and
has rich, vibrant colors and great viewing angles. The screen stretches all the way to the top and bottom of the phone, with just the tiniest
of borders around it.

Now, Samsung seems to have toned down its super aggressive saturation this year, so the normal video
mode, which is what I use this screen in, looks really pleasing, and not eye searing, like it used to. But, that isn't particularly
new or exciting. What is exciting is what's
embedded in this display. As you probably already
noticed, the S10 doesn't have a notch cut out for its
front facing camera. Instead, it has this
weird hole punch shape off to the right side. On the S10 Plus, that houses two cameras, the main camera, and second
one for depth effects and portrait mode. Is this any better than a notch which would just be in
the middle of the screen instead of off to the side? I don't really think so. In fact, I would rather have a notch since at least that has some symmetry. This hole punch design pushes the battery and network
indicators off to the left, and it just looks weird when
I'm looking at it all day long. You can choose to hide
the front cameras entirely with a uniform black bar across the top, but that's just like adding
a giant bezel to the top, and looks even worse.

Sometimes, that black bar shows up depending on which app you're using. Here's what it looks like when I read an article in Pocket, for example. None of this is the end of the world, the S10's display still looks really nice, and it's probably one of the best actual panels you can get on a phone. I'd just rather have
a notch in the middle, but I'm sure you'll let me know in the comments if you disagree. The other thing that's
embedded in the screen is the new fingerprint
scanner which has been moved from the back of the
phone up to the front. The scanner's ultrasonic,
which is a little different from the optical ones we've seen on OnePlus and other phones.

That's supposed to make
it a bit more reliable and harder to spoof. It can be hard to find, but
it's about half an inch up from the bottom, and if
you're using a lock screen it'll actually show you
where to place your finger. But it's not a big area,
and if you're not deliberate with your finger placement,
it can be easy to miss. And this scanner is definitely not as fast as traditional capacitive
ones, and I often have to try a couple of times before it will unlock. I'd just rather have a Face ID system that requires less work to use, or at the very least, and old
school fingerprint scanner on the back of the phone.

Now, the S10 does have a
face unlocking feature, but you should know that it's just using the camera to look for your image. There's no 3D mapping,
or advanced scanning. So it's not as secure as
the fingerprint scanner, or Apple's Face ID. I was actually able to unlock
it with a video of my face played on another phone, so there you go. (hip hop music) Here's the main takeaway
you should know about the S10's camera. It is perhaps the most versatile of any of the mainstream phones. That's because the S10 has
three cameras on the back, which give you different perspectives at the click of a button. There's a standard camera,
a telephoto camera, and then a brand new ultra-wide camera. It's like having a whole
camera bag full of lenses built right into the back of your phone, and it lets you capture perspectives, especially that super wide one that you just can't get with an iPhone or a Pixel.

One weird thing to note
about this, though? The S10's portrait mode
uses the main camera instead of the telephoto,
so your portrait shots are going to come out pretty wide, maybe wider than you expect. It's kind of like how the iPhone XR works, as opposed to the XS. Now, aside from the new lens, the camera performance
really hasn't changed much from last year's S9 Plus.

The S10's camera is still very good, with fast focusing, fast launching, and generally great performance
in most lighting situations. But if you didn't like the way the photos from the S9 looked, you probably aren't going
to be swayed by the S10. Personally, I find it
overexposes more than I prefer, which does make for a brighter image, but it sometimes causes things like skin tones to look unnatural. It also has a warmer look than the iPhone, and especially the Pixel,
which can make images look a bit more yellow than I like. Now, for HDR, Samsung
basically splits the difference between the iPhone and the Pixel.

It's not as moody as Google's phone, but it doesn't pull up shadows
as much as Apple's does. And that's partly because
it doesn't really need to, because it's already overexposing the shot more than Apple would. Samsung has added some new
software tricks to the camera. It has a feature that will help you compose your shots better, which is kinda cool, because
it can help you avoid crooked lines in your photos.

But, I didn't end up
using it all that much. It also does have a night mode, but unlike the Pixel,
you can't just turn it on whenever you want. You need to be in a really dark area, less than one lux of light, and be using the scene optimizer
mode for it to trigger, and even if you do all that, it still doesn't work as well as Google's Night Sight anyways Over on the video side though, the S10 is way more
impressive than the Pixel and even gives the iPhone
a run for its money. You can shoot in up to
4K, 60 frames per second with the main camera, or 4K, 30 FPS with the ultra-wide, or the telephoto. There's a new super steady
stabilization feature that makes really smooth footage, but just know that will lock you to 1080p and the main camera when you turn it on.

Finally, the stereo sound
that's recorded by the dual mics on the S10 is actually
quite good, and better than what I'm used to hearing from
most other Android phones. For the front camera, the
new 10 megapixel sensor with autofocus produces
really sharp images, and there's even a software button to get a little bit wider of a view if you're shooting a group selfie. Now, Samsung does do some pretty
aggressive noise reduction and skin smoothing,
especially in low light, but thankfully, the beauty modes are all turned off by default. Then there's the portrait
mode on the S10 Plus, it's pretty decent, but it's not perfect, just like any other
portrait mode you can get on any other phone, and
there's a couple of new effects that you'll probably use once,
and then never touch again, kinda like Apple's
portrait lighting stuff.

For many years, Samsung phones have always had super tempting
hardware that was let down by lousy software. I'm happy to say that's
not the case with the S10. Its software isn't perfect, and I definitely have some complaints, but overall, it looks nice, makes sense, and is mostly easy to use. Samsung's calling this software One UI, and it's also now available
on last year's S9 phones, which my colleague Dieter
just did a video about, so you should go check that out, but the gist is Samsung
has finally built software that works with its big phones. It has designed much
of the user experience to make it easier to use
these giant screened phones by putting a lot of the important
stuff down by your thumb, so you don't have to reach
to the top to get it. But I'd still like to
see more improvements.

I ended up using the
default three button nav bar instead of Samsung's gestures, because they're just kind of confusing. There're also still a
bunch of duplicate apps, like two email apps, two app stores, two browsers, et cetera, and so on. I wish Samsung would just
let me choose which ones to install when I'm setting up the phone. Plus, I've been using an unlocked model, so you can expect carriers
to make this even worse with their own apps.

Is anyone ready for VZ Messenger? And the main nagging question
with Samsung software is how long is it going
to take to get updates? Google's going to release Android Q sometime later this year. And you'll probably have
to wait another half a year or more before it arrives on the S10, if last year's schedule
is anything to go by.

(drum music) It's easy to dismiss the S10
as just another Galaxy phone without anything really
new or groundbreaking, and you'd really not be that wrong. After all, Samsung itself is going to release a crazy folding phone in like, two months, and
the S10 is just another slab smartphone like we've had for years. But this is the Android phone
that more people will buy than any other, and it provides
as strong an alternative to the iPhone as you can find. It really comes down
to personal preference. Are you so married to iOS and iMessage that you'll never leave? Or are you looking for something that has features that you
just can't get on the iPhone? If you're the latter, well
then the S10 is here for you.

Likewise, if you're debating
between the S10 and a Pixel, the question is how important
are software updates and night photography to you? If those things aren't
very high on your list, the S10 is better than
a Pixel in virtually every other respect, and
finally, if you're wondering whether or not the S10
Plus is worth nearly double the cost of a OnePlus 6T, your money will go
towards a better display, better speakers, waterproofing,
wireless charging, and a much better camera.

That might be enough
stuff to make it worth it, provided you actually care
about all of those things. It's been 10 years since
the first Galaxy S phone, and it's clear that Samsung
has come a long way. Now, I'm curious to
see, where's it gonna go in the next 10 years? Hey, thanks for watching. For more on the S10, the
S10 Plus, and the S10e, be sure to check out We've got way more info
in our written reviews on the site, if you really
wanna dive into these. Let me know what you
think about the S10 Plus, and what do you wanna know about the S10e? We're gonna be tackling that one next..

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