Samsung Galaxy S10+ Review: 10th Generation Android Greatness

Samsung Galaxy S10+ One UI, User Experience And Camera Performance

The software setup of the new Samsung Galaxy S10+ has also been completely revamped, now with Samsung's One UI skinned over Android 9 Pie. One UI is perhaps Samsung's lightest skinning of Android yet. Fortunately, the company didn't try to reinvent the wheel on every feature, letting more of Google's Android OS command the show.

galaxy s10 home screen galaxy s10 quick settings
galaxy s10 galaxy buds galaxy s10 wireless power share

We'd still offer that we'd appreciate it if Samsung's One UI would get out of the way a little more often (voice-to-text by Google only please), and sorry we're still not really into using Bixby, but for the most part this is one of Samsung's better software setups to be sure. If you're used to Samsung mobile devices in general, One UI will feel like a clean, mostly-efficient experience. Where Samsung does offer valuable utility are in areas like its Galaxy Buds interface, where you can control tonal quality via a well-equipped EQ, engage Ambient Sound mode or even track down where you last left your Galaxy Buds. And yeah, wireless PowerShare just works and is flippin cool.

galaxy s10 main camera
galaxy s10 camera super steady

galaxy s10 portrait settings

Samsung's new camera software is also a very well-equipped tool for mobile shutterbugs. There are tons of shot modes to pore through and a very powerful Pro mode as well. Standard Auto mode with auto HDR, however, is where most users will likely live and Samsung's AI-powered camera software doesn't disappoint. The camera NPU (Neural Processing Unit) does a good job of scene recognition, though in the above guitars and amp shot, you can see the the small pinwheel in the top right doesn't show an icon. There are 30 scene detection modes that will automatically correct for things like saturation, balance and contrast but this wasn't one of them. This feature worked in most other shots we were taking, however, and in virtually all of the samples you'll see below. Auto mode also comes with a reticle that you can see in the guitar shot as well. It estimates what should be an ideal shot composition based on the scene. Line-up the reticle with the solid white circle and you should have good shot composition and framing.

There are also three lens settings for the Galaxy S10 and S10+ now, Ultra-Wide Angle, Wide Angle, and Zoom (Telephoto), which are represented by the vertical tree icon strip you can see in the shot above. The camera will also switch to the correct lens mode, based on a simple pinch and zoom gestures on the display as well. Results of these various modes can be seen below. Video modes are also greatly enhanced with the Galaxy S10 series and not only does the device shoot 4K 60fps video now, but there's also a Super Steady mode that shoots at 1080p, which we found to be rather impressive. Again, samples below for your pixel peering pleasure...

Samsung Galaxy S10+ Camera Shot Sample Gallery

75 foot tree fallen super wide angle galaxy s10 plus
75 Foot White Pine - not otherwise completely capturable without a super wide angle lens.

dads standard dads wide
Galaxy S10+ Standard Wide Shot and Ultra-Wide Angle Shot taken in identical location.

out house ultra wide angle out house wide angle
out house ultra telephoto
From Top To Bottom: Ultra-Wide, Wide And Zoom - Shot from the same location

canal hdr shot
Cap Cod Canal On A Dark Day With The Sun Struggling Through
canal bridge telephoto canal bridge wide
Telephoto Zoom And Wide Angle Shot

Samsung's Ultra-Wide Angle lens on board the Galaxy S10 series is downright impressive and a real game-changer. We've seen wide-angle shooters make it into smartphones before but nothing with the kind of field of view that the Galaxy S10 and S10+'s 123-degree 16MP Ultra Wide camera can capture. It literally can make the difference between getting a full frame shot at a respectable distance, or not. Large family group photos where everyone squeezes in on top of each other are now a thing of the past too. Basically, whatever your eye can naturally see in its field of view, the Galaxy S10's camera can capture. Standard 12MP Wide (77-degree) shots are capture with Samsung's Dual Aperture, Dual Pixel engine with Optical Image Stabilization, while Telephoto shots just have OIS and autofocus. 

yogi standard shot yogi standard live focus
yogi low light standard shot yogi color point live focus

indoor plant shot portrait flower shot
flower live focus
flower color point live focus

Standard shots, as well as portrait mode shots, are produced with crisp, bright fidelity whether in lower, indoor light settings or in bright light outdoor. The top two shots of Yogi above are taken with hall chandelier lighting turn on, while the bottom left corner shot is with just ambient light coming through adjacent windows. The Color Point Portrait mode of the Galaxy S10 series is one of our favorites (Yogi on the stairs and the small flower on the table); it adds another level of dramatic effect to the standard portrait mode shooting we're all now getting used to. Although, we have an internal debate going as to whether the color capture in the foreground shot composition in these stills is supposed to look like that, or if it's a bleed through error of sorts. From some of our Pixel 3 Color Pop shots, you can see there can be decidedly more color separation with this technology, though we don't currently have exact A/B subject comparisons to show you. Regardless, as you can see in the right side bright Hydrangea flower shot, Samsung's standard Portrait mode also performs admirably, snapping some great looking shots with crispy foreground subjects and nicely blurred background bokeh effect.

galaxy s10 plus bright night shot

The only letdown for us with the Galaxy S10's camera array is its auto Night mode shooting, which you can't manually engage but the camera just detects in a scene. This feature does a reasonably good job in ultra-low light settings but it's not Pixel Night Sight quality yet for sure. Maybe there's still promise of better performance in a future firmware update, however.

michael arch angel statue window shot

On the other hand, the Galaxy S10+'s ability to balance challenging mixed light shots is impressive. If you've been tracking our smartphone reviews, you'll know this is a shot composition we use often. It presents a challenging low indoor lighting environment, in combination with the light of a window close in its background blasting through. The Galaxy S10+ delivers well here, maintaining contrast of the outside environment through the window, while adequately lighting the indoor subjects with good color reproduction and minimal noise.

On a side note, in general, we really like the vibrant color reproduction of the Galaxy S10+. This again is a subjective area and some might find the phone renders colors too heavily saturated. We actually prefer how the Samsung Galaxy S10+ captures in terms of color fidelity. Truth told, though the Google's Pixel 2 and Pixel 3 series are the high watermark for smartphone cameras, we've always found the shots they produced to be a little drab at times. You may find the Galaxy S10 series is a little too bright and over-saturated for your taste, but we think most mainstream users will appreciate the bit of extra pop this phone camera delivers. 

Finally, video shots with the Samsung Galaxy S10+ are simply fantastic. Samsung's Super Steady mode shoots at 1080p 30fps and is impressive in terms of image stabilization, as you'll note in the clip of the knuckleheads above. 4K60 shooting is also impressive with accurate, fast auto-focus and good image stabilization. We wish Samsung would bring out a Super Steady 4K60 mode, but hey we're the types to want our cake and to eat it too. Either way, bravo for Samsung here again. In addition to previous innovations like Super Slow-Mo mode, Super Steady mode is something that we see a lot of mainstream users latching on to, to capture great footage on the fly without the need for a semi-pro gimbal or what have you.

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