Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus review

Samsung's latest flagship is not unique but splendid

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Battery life

With the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus' 4100mAh battery, the battery hits a new high for the firm’s S series of phones.

We've faced fast deteriorating battery life on the Galaxy S9 Plus last year, but the S10 Plus is said to deliver "all-day battery life or a bit more". We did find the statement to be true after more than 3 weeks of usage, but we'll update this once we've spent a few months with the phone. 

Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus' battery usage graph and Smart Power feature.

Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus' battery usage graph and Smart Power feature.

We used the Galaxy S10 Plus for music streaming, messaging, calling, social media, watching YouTube videos and a couple of PUBG Mobile sessions. After a busy day at work, the S10 Plus usually ended up with 10% to 30% battery on a single charge. 

However, I used to charge my iPhone XR with using the reverse charging feature where it did not last that long, and that's not a complain. Similarly, if you're using additional features like the always-on display, increasing the resolution from the FHD+ to QHD+ also deplete the battery faster.

Samsung has also build a smart Power Mode option that lets you switch between different power modes- High Performance, Optimised, Medium Power Saving and Maximum power saving. By default, it's set to optimised, which is what we used and found the best. Additionally, the adaptive power saving feature studies your usage pattern and saves power when it's not needed. 

The reverse charging feature we mentioned above is known as Wireless PowerShare. It's similar to the one introduced on the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, which turns your phone into a Qi wireless charging mat for phones that support the feature. It really comes handy if you're using another wireless charging phone or earbuds as you can put the S10 Plus on charge at night and place the second device on the back. 

PowerShare worked flawlessly for us during our time with the S10 Plus, enabling us to charge the Galaxy Buds in their case when we placed them on the lower third of the back of the phone. It gets even more comforting because it automatically switches the PowerShare feature when the phone's battery drops below 30%. Note that you if you're using a case, it should support wireless charging. The case that comes in the box is a safe bet in such a case. 

Samsung’s Fast Wireless charging technology should work fine with most cases though, allowing you to top up the Galaxy S10 Plus via a charging pad.

Interface and Bixby

The Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus runs the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system, Android 9 Pie, although it has a layer of Samsung's own OneUI on top.

(Image Credit: TechRadar)

(Image Credit: TechRadar)

Samsung continues to ship the phone with Microsoft apps in the UI – Office Mobile, OneDrive and LinkedIn - which can only be disabled and not uninstalled. Also, there are a few Samsung suit apps that are constant on all Samsung phones. 

While we found the icon pack slightly cartoonish as seen on many Chinese phones, it's still not ugly or cluttered. It is easy to navigate, feels smooth and allows a variety of customizations.

We chose to keep the always-on display on as it's quite useful to quickly peek in for time and notifications without unlocking the phone. But as we mentioned, it takes around 5% of battery in a day. 

The Bixby key on the left of the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus can be programmed to launch another app, or to run a Bixby ‘quick command’, as well as launching Samsung’s smart assistant.

Bixby Profiles are basically profiles for the phone so you could set one up for when you get home, get in the car or go to bed, with the ability to toggle settings such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, screen brightness and text size, notifications, ringtone volume and auto-playing a playlist.

A long press on the Bixby key will launch Boxby Voice, which allows users to give voice commands to the assistant. Anyway, that's not the only way to wake Bixby up, you can set up voice recognition to say "Hi Bixby" to call out Bixby anytime.

Samsung has improved Bixby too so you can ask the assistant a wider range of more complex queries, and it can call on other applications to aid with its responses.

The more you use Bixby the smarter and more tailored to your needs it will become, and we’ll continue to experiment with the assistant over the next few months, and update this review with how we’re getting on.

If you're not happy with Bixby, the Google Assistant is always a dependable alternative.

Music, movies and gaming

There's not a specific task that the Galaxy S10 Plus can perform admirably, but it can turn its hand to pretty much anything you throw at it. It handles gaming, music and all forms of media consumption with ease. 

As we mentioned earlier as well, the huge 6.4-inch QHD+ display is just perfect for 4K video streaming. The visuals are punchy, colorful and detailed. You shouldn't worry about the punch-hole getting in between the content as the S10 Plus promptly hides it with a black border as seen on phones with a notch.

There's only one small drawback of the curved display is that there's a noticeable blue tint along the edges. You won't notice in darker scenes, but in lighter scenes, it's clearly visible.

The Galaxy S10 Plus is superb for the most graphic greedy games like PUBG Mobile. On top of the raw power, its big size, high refresh rates, and HDR10+ support make it even better for a smooth and detailed gaming experience. I had no issues playing PUBG Mobile in terms of performance and visuals, but as I mentioned earlier, the sleek form factor makes it difficult to have the best in-game controls. 

There’s a novel cooling system in the Galaxy S10 Plus, echoing what we saw in the Note 9. Samsung is touting its vapor chamber cooling as the ideal system for long gaming sessions, and it’s not a perk you’ll get on the S10 or S10e.

After back to back PUBG Mobile sessions, the Galaxy S10 Plus did get warm, it didn’t get unbearably hot or appear to slow down due to heat issues, which means the cooling system really helps.

There are stereo speakers too, with one on the base of the handset and the other located on the front at the earpiece, delivering audio that isn’t easily muffled by your hands.

The volume on the speakers goes loud enough to fill a room with sound, but it’s not the as crisp as we experienced on the latest iPhones.

For a superior audio experience, you’re better off using headphones, and the good news here is that the Galaxy S10 Plus comes with good quality AKG headphones and a headphone jack, enabling you to plug in any corded set of headphones. You can expect high fidelity sound using a wired pair of buds. 

Specs and performance

The Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus features a powerful Exynos 9820 chipset with a minimum of 8GB RAM (12GB in the Ultimate Performance Edition) to provide plenty of grunt. 

(Image Credit: TechRadar)

(Image Credit: TechRadar)

We ran Geekbench 4 which scored 10,385- a number that is coming very close to matching the iPhone XS score of 11,481. Even if we ignore the benchmarks, the operations and multitasking on the S10 Plus is the smoothest we've seen on any Android device till now. 

Storage on the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus starts at a healthy 128GB, of which around 110GB is actually available to you out of the box. If that’s not enough space for you there’s a hybrid SIM slot that supports microSD with support up to 1TB in size. Also,  the handset comes in 512GB and 1TB variants – for an additional cost, of course. 

This is the first phone from any manufacturer with next-gen Wi-Fi 6, which allows you to seamlessly transition between Wi-Fi routers and is four times faster than the 802.11ax standard.

Calling and reception have been better than the iPhone XR. We've been using the phones side by side with the same network on both, and the Samsung Galaxy S10 has shown better results.