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Samsung Galaxy S10+ First Look – Biggest Leap Since The S6

“This feels more like a Note than a Galaxy S phone”, I thought to myself as I pick the Galaxy S10+ up for the very first time.

Samsung’s latest flagship phone lineup was “unpacked” a fortnight ago and go on sale everywhere this Friday (March 8). Apart from the established duo lineup of Galaxy S10 and S10+, the Korean tech giant has also introduced a more affordable option for the first time in the shape of the S10e, which many sees as a direct response to Apple’s popular iPhone XR. The trio has been receiving nothing but wholesale admirations ever since they are out in the open. The Galaxy S10 lineup is a huge leap forward from its predecessors in features and innovations, compared to the rather lacklustre effort poured into the S9.

There are much separating the three devices and its no surprise that the S10+ gets the best and most complete set of features. While at its core it shares several DNA with the S10 – 19:9 Quad HD+ Curved Dynamic AMOLED display with a hole-punch cutout at the top right corner, 8GB RAM, Exynos 9820 chipset and triple rear cameras among others – the S10+ gains the advantage of a bigger form factor that naturally comes with a bigger display and bigger battery, as well as an additional camera up front. This is the version to get if you want the absolute best that Samsung can offer.

The S10+ looks largely the same as its predecessor but unless my eyes are playing tricks on me, the form factor is a little more squared up compared to the S9’s more curvy body, giving a more industrious Galaxy Note look and feel – minus the S Pen of course. You probably don’t need me to tell you how premium it feels on hand. Samsung has never drop the game since the Galaxy S6 days. I was pleasantly surprised that the device feels lighter on hand than it looks. My iPhone X which has a smaller footprint on the other hand weighs heavier.

As with every iteration of a new Galaxy S (and Note) device, Samsung moved things around on the rear. On the S10+ – and the S10 as well – there’s the new triple camera setup lined horizontally alongside the flash model and hear-rate sensor, and that’s it. The use of an in-display fingerprint scanner (more on that later) has eliminated the headache of where to put the scanner, something that Samsung has fumbled with in the not-too-distant past. The rear looks all the better and cleaner because of that.

The rest of the exterior components offers no surprises, unless we’re talking about the continuous existence of the headphone jack which is a pleasant surprise to those who refuse to go all wireless still. Samsung also continues to make Bixby easily accessible via its dedicated hardware button but they are also making it remappable for people to add more functionalities to it beyond just a single use of summoning the virtual assistance. That said, I was puzzled by the position of the power/lock key which is placed high up at the side. It is practically impossible for users with tiny hands (like yours truly) to reach it with their fingers without doing some cumbersome phone juggling. The Note 9 and S9 have no such issue, which further makes it seems all the more perplexing.

The most exciting part of the S10+ is no doubt its display upfront. It again justifies Samsung’s glowing reputation of constantly making the best displays year after year and to call it the best-ever display on any current smartphone is not an overstatement. Samsung has set the screen resolution to full HD+ by default and you would need to dive into the display settings to turn it to the highest WQHD+ resolution to enjoy the best display experience. Doing so might be more power-consuming however.

The display is vastly different from the previous years’. It not only has that top-right cutout to house its front camera along with a depth sensor, but also incorporates an ultrasonic fingerprint reader under the screen. The tech behind this is different from the other in-display fingerprint readers we have seen from other phones. Instead of shining a bright light onto your finger in order to have your fingerprint able to be picked up by the system like what most phones do, the S10+ actually make use of very high-frequency ultrasonic sound to map out the details of your finger and get a 3D image (instead of 2D in the conventional and optical method) of it.

It is much more secure and it allows users to unlock the phone even while the screen is off. In practice, it works seamlessly. I found that the best and quickest way to unlock is to give the sensor a quick and firm tap of the finger. How about doing it with a wet finger – fingerprint scanner’s biggest obstacle – you ask? Not a problem on this phone thanks to the new tech it uses.

However, it has lead to some concern regarding its incompatibility with a regular screen/glass protector. While there is some valid cause for concern, Samsung has taken a proactive step in addressing the issue by including a pre-installed screen protector in every retail unit of the S10+ and S10. You can see it here on our review unit. The screen protector has cutouts for both the fingerprint reader as well as the hole-punch cutout.

The other much hyped-out feature is Wireless PowerShare, Samsung’s new reverse-charging technology. Activating it is as simple as turning it on from the swipe-down settings panel. We do not have the Galaxy Buds to try it on so we slapped an iPhone X on the back of the S10+. It works just fine. 

All the S10 phones comes running Android 9 Pie and Samsung’s new One UI. If this is your first experience with One UI, it is a much cleaner, leaner software system which also generally looks nicer compared to TouchWiz.

There’s much more to talk about the S10+, things like how its new triple rear cameras perform and how good is the overall experience of using this phone. That would be in the full review. In the meantime, first impressions for this phone are solid. The S10+ rejuvenates the Galaxy S line after a period of slump with a new refreshed design, new technologies and new innovations. It’s the biggest leap for Samsung in their smartphone department since the Galaxy S6.

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