Samsung Galaxy S10 vs Galaxy S9: should you upgrade your Galaxy handset?

Image credit: TechRadar

Samsung has announced the newest batch of Galaxy S smartphones, the S10 range, led by the titular flagship device. 

The Samsung Galaxy S10 is - at least on paper - an improvement on the Galaxy S9, and the middle child of the S10 Plus and S10e – and, unless you’ve got money to burn or can only consider the ‘affordable’ device of the trio, it’s probably the handset you’ll be looking at buying.

But with each new generation of smartphones, you have to ask yourself the question “should I make this upgrade?” Older phones aren’t always worse, and sometimes a technical upgrade between devices doesn’t justify the increased cost.

To help you out, we’ll run through all the features of the new Samsung Galaxy S10 and its predecessor, the Samsung Galaxy S9, in order to help you decide whether an upgrade is worthwhile or not.

Samsung Galaxy S10 vs Galaxy S9 design and display

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The difference in body size between the S9 and S10 devices is pretty small – the former was 147.7 x 68.7 x 8.5mm in size, and the latter is barely bigger at 149.9 x 70.4 x 7.8mm. While the Samsung Galaxy S10 is slightly bigger, it’s nothing like the difference between the S10 and Galaxy S10 Plus, for example.

Despite the similar dimensions the Galaxy S10’s screen is actually bigger, at 6.1 inches instead of the S9’s 5.8-inch display. Both use AMOLED screens, so there won’t be a huge variation in quality between the two, but a bigger screen will still be useful when it comes to watching videos or taking pictures.

One noteworthy change between the handsets is that the S10 is marginally lighter than the Samsung Galaxy S9, at 157g instead of 163g, despite having a bigger battery, a wider display and more features. This is a great change for anyone who likes their devices as light as a feather.

Samsung Galaxy S10 vs Galaxy S9 camera

The Galaxy S9 prided itself on its single-lens 12MP camera – instead of cluttering up the rear of the device with as many cameras as possible, like other phones do, it used a single lens that could change apertures in order to adapt to the context and type of picture that needed to be taken. In our review we found the quality of pictures taken with the device was surprisingly high.

Samsung decided to ditch this novel approach with the Galaxy S10 however, as it has a tri-lens rear setup which consists of a 16MP ultra-wide lens and two 12MP lenses, one of which has a variable aperture, just like the lens on the S9. This trio of lenses may improve the pictures taken with the device, but it’s a shame to see Samsung abandon its attempts to make single-lens digital cameras work.

In terms of front-facing selfie cams, the Samsung Galaxy S10 is a small step up at 10MP instead of 8MP – it’s not a huge increase, but keen selfie-takers may notice a difference.

Samsung Galaxy S10 vs Galaxy S9 battery

A photo of the current samsung galaxy flagship handset.

Image credit: TechRadar (Image credit: Samsung Galaxy)

We were a little disappointed by the Galaxy S9’s battery, as at 3,000mAh it was exactly the same size as the Galaxy S8’s, although system optimization meant the S9 lasted a little longer despite having the same sized battery. 

Thankfully the Galaxy S10 does have a bigger battery, with a 3,400mAh power pack that will likely last a lot longer than the Galaxy S9. It’s also likely Samsung will have further optimized the operating system, so the difference in battery life could be noticeable.

Both devices facilitate wireless charging, but the Samsung Galaxy S10 also allows for wireless power sharing between similar handsets, which may or may not be useful depending on how many friends you have that use an S10.

Samsung Galaxy S10 vs Galaxy S9 specs

Since the Samsung Galaxy S9 had a different chipset in different regions, and the Galaxy S10 hasn’t even had its chipset(s) confirmed, it’s hard to say for sure if the S10 will be a significant step up or just a slight upgrade.

What we do know is that the Galaxy S9 had 4GB of RAM yet the S10 will have 8GB, and instead of coming in 64GB, 128GB and 256GB internal memory sizes like the S9, the Samsung Galaxy S10 is available in the bigger sizes of 128GB and 512GB, so the device is an upgrade in terms of memory.

Samsung Galaxy S10 vs Galaxy S9 price

At launch the Samsung Galaxy S9 cost $719.99 / £739 / AU$1,199 for the 4GB/64GB size, however of course you can get it a lot cheaper now. We’ve got a Galaxy S9 deals page which you can use to find all the cheapest contracts and SIM-free handsets, if the S9 is something you’d consider buying.

Compared to that the 8GB/128GB Galaxy S10 is quite a step up, setting you back $899 / £799 (which roughly translates to AU$1,300). 

The Samsung Galaxy S10 has quite a few improvements over the Galaxy S9 including its bigger battery, extra cameras and wider screen. However, whether you’re willing to pay an extra $180 / £60 / AU$100 for the cheapest version of the phone depends on whether you think these features justify the increased price.

 Samsung Galaxy S10 vs Galaxy S9 verdict

The Samsung Galaxy S10 is a step up in all ways from the Galaxy S9 – it has better camera capability, a bigger battery, and a wider screen. Samsung wouldn't put out a worse device, after all!

However the S10 is also quite a step up from the S9 in terms of price, and it's worth considering whether these extra features are worth the cost. If all the new features appeal to you it's definitely worth it. But if you're only looking for a bigger battery on the same device, or better camera capability on its own, you may want to wait for the S10 to reduce in price when it's on sale.

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist.