Samsung Galaxy S10 review

Samsung Galaxy S10: to Infinity-O and beyond

A Samsung Galaxy S10 with the screen on, resting against some wood
Image credit: TechRadar

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Samsung Galaxy S10: camera

  • Triple-lens camera
  • 12MP wide, 16MP ultrawide, and 12MP telephoto

Samsung wants you to take photos at any angle, so the Galaxy S10 has a triple-lens camera on back with a 12MP regular lens, 12MP optically zoomed telephoto lens, and a brand new 16MP ultra-wide lens.

We found that the Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus have the same cameras – on the back at least. Here's our mix of shots during of month and a half of testing:

We've taken a hard look at the Galaxy S10 camera and how its photos compare to those of the class-leading Pixel 3, then determined how good the ultra-wide photos look. Our conclusion? Samsung's camera comes close, but Google's post-processing software still engineers a better photo. 

The main S10 camera exhibit punchy, Instagram-ready colors and looks better than the muted photos out of an iPhone in most cases. It's one of the best camera phones out now. However, its HDR prowess can, at times, blow out bright backgrounds during daytime shots. And lowlight, while good enough, does have serious noise reduction to reduce grain. That only leads to a lot of skin smoothing, as if you put on beauty mode when you didn't.  

The good news is that we found the Galaxy S10 camera to be more versatile and fun in some ways. Take for instance, the ultra-wide camera's 123-degree field of view. It serves the purpose of not having to back up to get everything in a shot, something you won't get on the Pixel 3.

A Samsung Galaxy S10 from the back, in someone's hand

Image Credit: TechRadar

The ultra-wide camera isn't always sharp (there's no OIS on this lens like there is on the other rear lenses) and you'll have to watch out for unnatural fisheye look at the edges. Anyone unfortunate to be on the edges of a group photo can exhibit 'fat face.' But when it works, you're really glad you have this option. Just pack everyone into the center of group shots, and leave the scenery on the edges. Ultra-wide photos do work really well for landscape shots, when people aren't the main subject.

What we got the most use out of is the new Live Focus filter option. Specifically, the Color Point filter allows you to go beyond simple bokeh by making the background black-and-white, while keeping your subject in the foreground in color. The camera doesn't always get the snap right, but keep pressing the shutter button and it'll adjust and figure out how to separate the monochrome background from the color foreground eventually.

A Samsung Galaxy S10 camera sample of someone drinking a beer

Image credit: TechRadar

On the front, we have a single 10MP camera. If you upgrade to the S10 Plus, you’ll also get an 8MP camera meant for enhancing depth in portrait photos. In our tests, the difference are minor. Samsung's S10 single front-facing camera relied heavily on software to blur the edges around our hair. The S10 Plus dual-selfie cam did better.

Scene optimizer gains 10 new categories, with Samsung’s camera AI now able to tell the difference between a cat and dog to fine tune things like white balance. Shot Suggestions is a new feature that uses the neural processor engine to nudge you to properly level your shots or frame subjects better.

The viewfinder on a Samsung Galaxy S10

On the video side, the software has been upgraded to record offer Digital Video Stabilization. Samsung says that this is meant to make all of your Ultra HD video as smooth as an action cam. Shots fired, GoPro Hero7 Black.

There's also HDR10+ video recording, which is significant because last year's S9 didn't offer HDR recording at all (when other phones from Sony had this feature). It pulls in a wider amount of contrast, though the HEVC (smaller files) codec turns off when you enable Samsung's lab-labeled HDR10+ feature in the settings. It worked well for us, but expect higher file sizes and maybe a few hiccups, as it appears to be experimental.

Matt Swider
With contributions from