Galaxy S10 review: Galaxy S20’s imminent arrival doesn’t mean you should abandon Samsung’s 2019 flagship

The poor Galaxy S10 always suffered from middle child syndrome. Being sandwiched between the larger, more lavishly appointed Galaxy S10 Plus and the smaller, pluckier, far cheaper Galaxy S10E was never easy. In fact, I wondered more than once why it even existed, other than to suddenly look like a deal during promotional sales. 


  • Sharp screen
  • Long battery life
  • Noteworthy camera quality
  • Wirelessly charges other devices

Don’t Like

  • In-screen fingerprint reader is hit or miss
  • Lacks the distinction of S10 Plus and S10E

Soon, the Galaxy S10’s reason for being will become even more precarious. Samsung is prepping to unveil its next trio of flagship Galaxy devices, thought to be called the Galaxy S20, S20 Pro (or Plus) and S20 Ultra. The name change is significant, and could represent a major shift in what it means to be a premium Galaxy phone: 5G, real camera improvements and more megapixels, a huge battery, a 120Hz screen refresh rate.

The Galaxy S10 won’t be able to compete against those specs, especially when it comes to future-proofing the phone in the rising age of blistering 5G data speeds. But for some people, the S10 could settle into the obvious choice for a high-end phone with a reasonable price, once the costs inevitably drop after the S20 goes on sale.


The Galaxy S10 racks up the features, including three rear cameras and the ability to wirelessly charge other devices.

Angela Lang/CNET

Yet for many, 5G phones won’t be a practical option for several years. The networks are still slowly rolling out, starting with urban centers. 5G networks are on in a handful of places around the world, and even then only in intersections or smaller neighborhoods. 5G phones are on the roadmap, but 2020 is the year when more of them start coming out. The chips are still developing too, and are expected to become more efficient in the next generation or two.

So buying a 4G phone this year that you hold onto for another two or three years isn’t a terrible idea for many, especially if 5G is still years away from where you live, and it means saving a sizable chunk of change. Specs wise, the Galaxy S10 will valiantly carry you through one more cycle of phone ownership — just so long as it comes down to a price you’re willing to pay. 

The Galaxy S10 initially started at $900 (£799 and AU$1,349), only $100 cheaper than the Plus ($1,000, £899, AU$1,499) and $150 more than the S10E ($750, £669, AU$1,199). Expect price drops to settle after the Galaxy S20 goes on sale, with further seasonal discounts by store and carrier, such as buy one, get one free offers.

The Galaxy S10 remains as terrific a phone as it was when I first reviewed it in March 2019. The screen, camera and battery life are top notch. That’s unsurprising when you consider that it’s just a pared-down version of the excellent Galaxy S10 Plus (

$800 at Amazon

), which was one of the top phones in a talent-stacked year. 

Read more: Best Samsung Galaxy S10, S10 Plus and S10E cases

There are a few main differences to be aware of between the Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus, if you’re considering the two:

  • There’s only one front-facing camera on the S10 instead of two, but it doesn’t detract much.
  • The screen is slightly smaller (6.1 inches versus 6.4 on the Plus).
  • Battery life is a tad shorter (just over 18 hours in our looping video drain test versus 21 on the Plus).
  • There’s no 1-terabyte storage option.
  • You can’t buy it with a ceramic backing as you can the 512GB and 1TB Galaxy S10 Plus.

If I liked any phones more it would be the Galaxy Note (

$750 at Amazon

) 10 for value-for-money-meets-luxury specs, and the Note 10 Plus for even more power features and specs. That said, the Galaxy S10 is going to be more of a value buy until the next Notes arrive around August.

For more details on the Galaxy S10’s individual features, read my Galaxy S10 Plus review. With a few exceptions, the core features are same as the Plus model. Keep reading below for a full specs comparison among the Galaxy S10, S10 Plus and S10E.

Galaxy S10 vs. S10E vs. S10 Plus vs. S10 5G

Samsung Galaxy S10E Samsung Galaxy S10 Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus Samsung Galaxy S10 5G
Display size, resolution 5.8-inch AMOLED; 2,280×1,080 pixels 6.1-inch AMOLED; 3,040×1,440 pixels 6.4-inch AMOLED; 3,040×1,440 pixels 6.7-inch AMOLED
Pixel density 438 ppi 550 ppi 522 ppi 505 ppi
Dimensions (inches) 5.6 x 2.8 x 0.27 in. 5.9 x 2.77 x 0.31 in. 6.20 x 2.92 x 0.31 in. 6.40 x 3.04 x 0.31 in.
Dimensions (millimeters) 142 x 70 x 7.9mm 149.9 x 70.4 x 7.8mm 157.6 x 74.1 x 7.8mm 162.6 x 77.1 x 7.94mm
Weight (ounces, grams) 5.3 oz.; 150g 5.53 oz.; 157g 6.17 oz.; 175g 6.98 oz.; 198g
Mobile software Android 9.0 with Samsung One UI Android 9.0 with Samsung One UI Android 9.0 with Samsung One UI Android 9.0 with Samsung One UI
Camera 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 16-megapixel (ultrawide-angle) 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 16-megapixel (ultrawide-angle), 12-megapixel (telephoto) 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 16-megapixel (ultrawide-angle), 12-megapixel (telephoto) 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 16-megapixel (ultrawide-angle), 12-megapixel (telephoto) 3D depth
Front-facing camera 10-megapixel 10-megapixel 10-megapixel, 8-megapixel 10-megapixel, 3D depth
Video capture 4K 4K 4K 4K
Processor Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
Storage 128GB, 256GB 128GB, 512GB 128GB, 512GB, 1TB 256GB
RAM 6GB, 8GB 8GB 8GB, 12GB 8GB
Expandable storage Up to 512GB Up to 512GB Up to 512GB No
Battery 3,100 mAh 3,400 mAh 4,100 mAh 4,500 mAh
Fingerprint sensor Power button In-screen (ultrasonic) In-screen TBA
Headphone jack Yes Yes Yes TBA
Special features Wireless PowerShare; hole-punch screen notch; water resistant (IP68); Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 Wireless PowerShare; hole-punch screen notch; water resistant (IP68); Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 Wireless PowerShare; hole-punch screen notch; water resistant (IP68); Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 Wireless PowerShare; 3D depth cameras (not for face unlock); water resistant (IP68); Fast Wireless Charging 2.0
Price off-contract (USD) $750 $900 $1,000 TBA
Price (GBP) £669 £799 £899 TBA
Price (AUD) AU$1,199 AU$1,349 AU$1,499 TBA