Tech review: Samsung Galaxy S10e, S10 and S10+ - which should you get?

Samsung's flagship Galaxy S10 series, comprising the 5.8-inch S10e, 6.1-inch S10 and 6.4-inch S10+, will be launched on March 5, 2019.
Samsung's flagship Galaxy S10 series, comprising the 5.8-inch S10e, 6.1-inch S10 and 6.4-inch S10+, will be launched on March 5, 2019.PHOTO: SAMSUNG

Samsung's flagship Galaxy S10 series, comprising the 5.8-inch S10e, 6.1-inch S10 and 6.4-inch S10+, will be launched on Friday. So which S10 model should you get?

DESIGN & DISPLAY

Apart from the screen sizes, the three smartphones do not look very different from one another. They are thin, sleek and great to hold in the hand. If you prefer one-hand operations, the S10e, the smallest of the lot, will appeal to you.

All three feature the Infinity-O display. This term is coined by Samsung to describe the "hole-punch" design trend - a tiny hole near the right corner of the screen to accommodate a front-facing camera.

This hole-punch design not only reduces the top bezel size significantly, but it also obviates the need for a screen notch, found in the Apple iPhone X, Google Pixel 3 and many other smartphones.

As a result, you feel like you are holding a full slab of display. However, it also means the battery, network, Wi-Fi and sound icons on the top status bar are pushed towards the middle of the top part of the screen. This is more so for the S10+ because of its dual front-facing cameras.

You can hide the front-facing camera by adding a black bar on the top part of screen, which also repositions those icons to the right of the status bar. But I do not know why anyone would want to do that, as the hole-punch is really not distracting and you get an extra thick "bezel" on top.

Content looks gorgeous on this display, with vivid colours and sharp details. The viewing angles are wide. Even under bright sunlight, the display remains visible.

One thing to note is that the display of S10e does not have the curved sides of the display on the S10 and S10+. For some, like myself, this is a plus. It prevents accidental touches made by the base of my thumb from being registered when holding the phone.

  • SAMSUNG GALAXY S10e

    SPECS

    PRICE: $1,098

    PROCESSOR: Exynos 9820 (Quad-core 1.9GHz, Dual-core 2.7GHz, Dual-core 2.3GHz)

    DISPLAY: 5.8-inch Full HD+ Dynamic Amoled, 2,280 x 1,080 pixels, 438 PPI pixel density, HDR10+ certified

    OPERATING SYSTEM: Android 9.0

    CAMERA: 16MP f/2.2 ultra-wide-angle, 12MP f/1.5 - f/2.4 wide-angle (rear); 10MP f/1.9 (front)

    MEMORY: 128GB (microSD expandable up to 512GB); 6GB RAM

    BATTERY: Non-removable 3,100 mAh

    WEIGHT: 150g

    RATING

    FEATURES: 3/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 5/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 5/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

  • SAMSUNG GALAXY S10

    SPECS

    PRICE: $1,298

    PROCESSOR: Exynos 9820 (Quad-core 1.9GHz, Dual-core 2.7GHz, Dual-core 2.3GHz)

    DISPLAY: 6.1-inch Quad HD+ Dynamic Amoled, 3,040 x 1,440 pixels, 550 PPI pixel density, HDR10+ certified

    OPERATING SYSTEM: Android 9.0

    CAMERA: 16MP f/2.2 ultra-wide-angle, 12MP f/1.5 - f/2.4 wide-angle, 12MP f/2.4 telephoto (rear); 10MP f/1.9 (front)

    MEMORY: 128GB (microSD expandable up to 512GB); 8GB RAM

    BATTERY: Non-removable 3,400 mAh

    WEIGHT: 157g

    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 5/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 5/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

  • SAMSUNG GALAXY S10+

    SPECS

    PRICE: $1,398 (128GB), $1,798 (512GB), $2,198 (1TB, version tested)

    PROCESSOR: Exynos 9820 (Quad-core 1.9GHz, Dual-core 2.7GHz, Dual-core 2.3GHz)

    DISPLAY: 6.4-inch Quad HD+ Dynamci Amoled, 3,040 x 1,440 pixels, 522 PPI pixel density, HDR10+ certified

    OPERATING SYSTEM: Android 9.0

    CAMERA: 16MP f/2.2 ultra-wide-angle, 12MP f/1.5 - f/2.4 wide-angle, 12MP f/2.4 telephoto (rear); 10MP f/1.9, 8MP f/2.2 RGB Depth (front)

    MEMORY: 128GB/512GB/1TB (microSD expandable up to 512GB); 8GB/ 12GB RAM (1TB model only)

    BATTERY: Non-removable 4,100 mAh

    WEIGHT: 175g (Prism White/Black/Green), 198g (Ceramic White/Ceramic Black)

    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 5/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 5/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 4/5 [ST Tech Editor's Choice]

FINGERPRINT SENSOR

Under the display of the S10 and S10+ is an embedded ultrasonic fingerprint sensor. The display will show you where to place your finger, which is near the bottom of the screen.

After spending nearly two weeks with the S10 and S10+, I still find my fingerprint not being recognised regularly. I find that I have to position my finger or thumb in a certain orientation and with the right amount of pressure. Furthermore, it takes a split second for the screen to unlock.

This is unlike the experience I have with the S10e's capacitive fingerprint sensor, which is sited at the side power button on its right. Not only does it instantaneously unlock the screen, but it also works every time. Only issue is that left-handers may find it tricky to use. My tip is to use the left index finger to unlock the screen.

CAMERA

All S10 models have the same ultra-wide angle rear camera with a 123-degree point of view. This camera partners a wide-angle camera on the S10e. And it partners a wide-angle camera and a telephoto camera on both the S10 and S10+.

Only the S10+ has a front-facing dual-camera system with an additional RGB Depth camera.

Photos shot by all three phones under bright sunlight are sharp and detailed with fairly accurate colour reproduction. With HDR turned on, photos tend to be slightly oversaturated and vivid.

Night shots are a tad grainy, even though the auto mode uses ISO 800 sensitivity at times.

The ultra-wide angle camera offers an almost fish-eye-wide coverage. In fact, there are times when I can see my finger in the frame.

When I first started testing the camera capability, I found distortions in some of the pictures shot with the ultra-wide angle camera. I later found thatthere is an option to correct this.

For selfies, the additional RGB Depth camera in the S10+ offers a more realistic bokeh effect compared with the other two models. I can see the front of my hair being blurred in selfies shot by the other two phones, while it stays sharp for the selfies by the S10+.

PERFORMANCE

In terms of performance, the three models are relatively on a par. In the GeekBench 4 benchmark test, the S10+ scored 4,451 (single-core) and 9,465 (multi-core), while the S10 has a score of 4,517 (single-core) and 10,330 (multi-core).

The S10e came back with an impressive scoresheet of 4,499 (single-core) and 10,269 (multi-core). By comparison, the Galaxy Note 9 scored 3,760 points (single-core) and 9,094 points (multi-core) in same benchmark test.

In real-life tests, such as playing the popular survival shooter PUBG Mobile, all three phonesdelivered a seamless experience with smooth graphics. Apps launch instantly and feel wonderfully responsive.

BATTERY LIFE

The S10+ has a whopping 4,100mAh battery, while the S10 and S10e have a 3,400mAh battery and a 3,100mAh battery respectively.

Battery mileage will, of course, depend on your usage. For me, after a typical 12-hour work day with regular checking of Facebook and Instagram feeds, all three S10 models still have around 50 per cent of battery power left at the end of the day.

In a video-loop battery test, the S10 performed slightly better than the other two models by clocking 14hr 10min, while both the S10+ and S10e clocked 13hr 40min.

The S10 models are able to wirelessly charge another smartphone. You just need to turn on the Wireless PowerShare feature and place a compatible phone on the back of an S10 smartphone.

Essentially, this feature turns the S10 into a wireless charging pad when connected to a regular charger. One less charger to take when travelling.

I found that the S10+ took only 35 minutes to charge an S10e from 80 per cent to full battery power this way.

•Verdict: When I first got hold of the three S10 models, my instinct is to get the one with the biggest screen size. However, having used them for a fair amount of time, my inclination is now towards the S10e. Not only is it the cheapest model, its capacitive fingerprint sensor is more reliable. Furthermore, one-hand operation is much better on the S10e. But if you want the best of everything, the S10+ is the smartphone to get.