The notch was perhaps the worst design inspiration Apple bequeathed upon the the smartphone sector.
The cutout makes no sense from a technical standpoint because, well, there is still a bezel there and I can still see the camera and all your tech while I’m watching YouTube.
I loathe the notch.
So when it came time for Samsung Galaxy S10 rumours to start surfacing I was concerned that the firm had bowed to industry pressure and designed its next handset around a notch.
As we now know, Samsung didn’t do that. Instead it made sacrifices where it could and left a tiny hole-punch in the top right of the display so that you have a display that stretches from edge to edge.
But I’m running ahead. Let’s dissect the Galaxy S10+ as a whole rather than just based on it’s notchless design.
The S10+ offers a substantial upgrade in terms of performance. The chipset for the S10+ is the Exynos 9820 which is paired with 8GB of RAM and a Mali-G76 MP12 GPU.
Comparing it to the Galaxy S9 (we don’t have the S9+ for an apples to apples comparison) we achieved the following scores in GeekBench 4.
While not a direct comparison, this test does reveal that you are getting a substantial upgrade over last year’s base model.
While numbers are good for comparison on paper, what does the S10+ feel like to use?
In a word – snappy.
Apps open in milliseconds, gaming is smoother than I have ever seen it and multi-tasking is a breeze thanks to the 8GB of memory inside the S10+.
In terms of gaming, this thing is a beast. We’re currently playing F1 Mobile Racing and the device has never become overly warm or suffered from frame rate dips during game play. Hearthstone is as smooth as it is when played on a PC and more basic games such as Fruit Ninja don’t even test the handset.
Overall there are no hiccups in the S10+’s performance and we doubt anything will change that in terms of apps in the near future.
The S10+ houses a massive 4 100 mAh battery which just goes and goes and goes. Charging takes just over an hour (when using fast charging with the included adapter) and we’ve been enjoying 18 hours of active use from the S10+.
This involves us making calls, sending text messages, browsing social media and watching videos for one to two hours. In reality we’ve only needed to charge the handset up 24 hours after taking it off of the power.
With this in mind we pushed the handset to its limits by continuously watching Velvet Buzzsaw on Netflix. We downloaded the film and we watched it for 10 hours with headphones plugged in.
You could likely push the handset to 12 hours with a lower display brightness and by turning a number of features off (WiFi, mobile data, etc) but battery life will really come down to how you use the handset.
Overall the battery in the S10+ is robust and should serve you well.
At the back of the handset you will find two 12MP and one 16MP snappers. One of the lenses is wide, the other ultrawide and the third is a telephoto lens.
The result of this arrangement is the ability to get three different angles from the same position using the zoom options you have. It’s easier to explain it in the gallery below, but keep in mind the heavy compression that our site uses.
As you can see we managed to get three different versions of the same shot simply by tapping which level of zoom we wanted to use.
How about video? Well, you can now record 4K HDR video at 60fps. While 4K 60fps was possible in the S9, it was sans HDR.
Sadly, when recording at 4K 60fps you lose optical image stabilisation, you can record at 4K 30fps and get optical image stabilisation, however.
Upfront you’ll find a 10MP and 8MP wide angle snapper which can also record 4K or 1080p video at 30fps.
Super Slow Mo is also back but you can only record video at HD (1280 x 720) resolutions. We’ve embedded a video we recorded using the feature below but, again, keep compression in mind.
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The camera settings are vast and we feel like the S10+ would make for a good backup for content creators in a pinch.
Software and updates
As you know Samsung opted to put the fingerprint scanner within the display thanks to ultrasonic tech and it works rather well.
There has been a software update in the time we’ve been using the handset which improved the scanning of our fingerprint.
Since that update we’ve found the biometric scanning to be fantastic and on par with physical scanners such as the one in the S9.
In fact, there have been a number of small updates being delivered throughout our review period which have tweaked performance, fixed security risks and much more.
We bring this up because Samsung has been terrible when it comes to updating its devices in the past and this version of Samsung where updates are delivered regularly is one we’re a fan of.
You will of course still find Samsung apps littered throughout the handset when you power it on for the first time but these can be uninstalled or quietened through options.
You can also change what pressing the Bixby button does which is a fantastic move on Samsung’s part, even if it is a few generations late.
The Samsung Galaxy S10+ is a powerhouse of a device but the price is immense for what you get.
At R21 999 for our 128GB S10+ we hesitate at the thought of recommending the handset outright.
The fact of the matter is that this is too much for a smartphone. Yes, your fingerprint scanner is now below the display, yes you get three cameras at the back, yes the performance is fantastic, but do you need it?
That’s the question you’ll need to answer before purchasing this handset.
That having been said, the S10+ is fantastic in every single way. It’s a massive improvement from last year’s S9 and the display with its hole-punch design is spectacular to gawk at.
If you are a person who uses premium smartphones then the S10+ is about as premium as you can get without opting for Apple’s notch sporting options.
Putting our concerns about the pricing to one side for a moment the S10+ is a remarkable device that you will fall in love with the more you use it.