The Samsung Galaxy S10 has finally arrived and it’s sure to be one of the most successful phones of 2019, possibly rivaled only by Apple’s handsets.
Speaking of which, one of its most direct rivals right now is the iPhone XS. This phone is a little older, but it’s still the most recent iPhone you can buy and a truly top-tier device in its own right.
These are very different phones in a lot of ways though, as you’ll see if you read on, because we’ve compared them across all the key areas.
- Here's everything Samsung unveiled at its Galaxy Unpacked event
- Read our hands-on Samsung Galaxy S10 review
- Read our hands-on Samsung Galaxy S10e review
- Read our hands-on Samsung Galaxy S10 5G review
Samsung Galaxy S10 vs iPhone XS design
The Samsung Galaxy S10 is made up of two sheets of glass, with a metal frame sandwiched between them. The screen curves and there’s almost no bezel and not even a notch. Instead, there’s a cut-out at the top right corner for the front-facing camera.
Round the back meanwhile there are three camera lenses lined up horizontally, and the lack of a visible fingerprint scanner is no accident – it’s in the screen.
The iPhone XS on the other hand also has a glass back and a metal frame, but its screen is flat, and while there’s very little bezel there is a large notch at the top.
The back meanwhile has a dual-lens camera tucked away in the top left corner and there’s no visible fingerprint scanner here either, but that’s because the iPhone XS doesn’t have one, relying instead on Face ID (though note that the Galaxy S10 also has facial recognition).
The Samsung Galaxy S10 comes in at 149.9 x 70.4 x 7.8mm and 157g, while the iPhone XS is 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7mm and 177g, so while the Galaxy S10 is a fair bit lighter, the two phones have similar dimensions, with the main difference being that the S10 is longer.
Samsung Galaxy S10 vs iPhone XS display
There’s a reason that the Samsung Galaxy S10 is longer than the iPhone XS – it has a larger, 6.1-inch screen. This screen is curved, as noted above, and has a widescreen 19:9 aspect ratio and a QHD+ resolution.
The iPhone XS is a fair bit smaller at 5.8 inches. It has a similar 19.5:9 aspect ratio though and both phones use AMOLED, but the iPhone XS has a lower 1125 x 2436 resolution and it’s flat rather than curved. The iPhone XS also supports HDR10, while the Galaxy S10 is the first phone to support HDR10+.
We know from our time with it that the iPhone XS has a great quality screen, but in our previews, we think the S10 beats it – we’ll let you know for sure in our full review.
Either way, it stands out through its curves, larger size and lack of notch, though the camera cut-out and curvy edges won’t appeal to everyone.
Samsung Galaxy S10 vs iPhone XS camera and battery
The Samsung Galaxy S10 has a triple-lens rear camera, made up of a 12MP f/2.4 telephoto lens with optical image stabilization (OIS), a 12MP dual-pixel lens which can switch between an aperture of f/1.5 and f/2.4 (and which also has OIS), and a 16MP f/2.2 ultra-wide-angle lens, with no OIS.
The iPhone XS on the other hand has a dual-lens rear camera consisting of a 12MP f/1.8 wide-angle lens with OIS and a 12MP f/2.4 telephoto lens with OIS.
So the telephoto lens is similar in spec to the telephoto lens on the Galaxy S10, but the iPhone XS’s other lens is limited to a single aperture and the phone completely lacks a third lens.
That doesn’t necessarily mean the Samsung Galaxy S10 has the better rear camera, as it’s the quality not quantity of lenses and software that matters, so we’ll let you know how it performs once we’ve put it through a full review.
We expect good things though, even though we know the iPhone XS performs well at photography.
On the front meanwhile you get a 10MP f/1.9 camera on the Galaxy S10 and a 7MP f/2.2 one on the iPhone XS.
Moving on to the battery, there’s a 3,400mAh one in the Samsung Galaxy S10 and a 2,658mAh one in the iPhone XS. So Samsung’s is significantly bigger, but remember it also has a larger screen to power.
Both phones support fast charging and wireless charging, but the Galaxy S10 ups the ante with Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 and Wireless PowerShare (which lets the S10 itself wirelessly charge other devices).
Samsung Galaxy S10 vs iPhone XS OS and power
The Samsung Galaxy S10 has a high-end octa-core chipset – likely the Snapdragon 855 in the US and Exynos 9820 elsewhere, but Samsung hasn’t yet confirmed that.
The iPhone XS also has a high-end chipset, specifically the A12 Bionic. This is only a hexa-core chipset, but in benchmarks it typically beats the latest Snapdragon and Exynos ones.
You get 8GB of RAM in the Galaxy S10 and just 4GB in the iPhone XS, but don’t let that put you off – Apple’s phone is extremely powerful and we'll confirm the difference when we run both through benchmarks.
Storage meanwhile comes in at either 128GB or 512GB in the Samsung Galaxy S10, and 64GB, 256GB, or 512GB in the iPhone XS, but the Galaxy S10 also has a microSD card slot, which the iPhone XS doesn’t.
The biggest difference between these phones though is arguably the operating system, as while the Samsung Galaxy S10 runs Android 9 Pie, the iPhone XS of course runs iOS 12.
Samsung Galaxy S10 vs iPhone XS price
The Samsung Galaxy S10 starts at $899 / £799 (around AU$1,260) for a version with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, rising to £999 (roughly $1,290 / AU$1,800) for a version with 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage.
The iPhone XS on the other hand starts at $999 / £999 / AU$1,629 for 64GB of storage, rising to $1,149 / £1,149 / AU$1,879 for 256GB and $1,349 / £1,349 / AU$2,199 for 512GB.
So Apple’s phone starts at a higher price and with less storage and that trend continues as storage grows, though both phones are at the very high end of smartphone pricing.
The iPhone XS is more immediately available though, as it’s out now, while pre-orders open for the Samsung Galaxy S10 on February 21, with the phone arriving in stores on March 8.
While the iPhone XS and Samsung Galaxy S10 are direct competitors in terms of their place in the market, most people probably won’t really be choosing between them, given the different operating systems.
But if you are, there are a lot of factors to consider. The Galaxy S10 has a bigger, sharper, curvier screen, a punch-hole camera rather than a notch, an extra rear camera lens, a bigger battery and a lower price.
On paper the S10 might therefore have the edge, but it remains to be seen how it will stand up in practice, and the iPhone XS has a lot going for it too, including tons of power, a high-end design and a capable camera.
- Lots more phones are set to land at MWC 2019