Samsung recently unveiled its flagship phones for 2019, the Galaxy S10 series. Now that the sheen of the announcement has worn off a bit, it's time to look more closely at just what's been updated this year. New Atlas compares the specs and features of the Galaxy S10e, S10 and S10+ to last year's Galaxy S9 and S9+.
First up, the most obviously thing is that this year there are three Galaxy models. The Galaxy S9 and S10 are comparable in specs, as are the S9+ and S10+, while the S10e sits all by itself. This is Samsung trying to add an entry-level phone in the style of the iPhone XR, but interestingly, in some ways it's an upgrade over last year's models, while in others it falls short.
While the S10 and S10+ are roughly the same size as the S9 and S9+ respectively, Samsung has managed to substantially slim down the new phones. Befitting its place as an entry-level device, the S10e is the smallest of the bunch by a decent margin.
Thinning the phones down also means the S10s have shed a little weight, with the S10e again coming in as the lightest. The only exception is the special ceramic model of the S10+, which is over 20 grams heavier than its regular counterpart thanks to a shiny new shell.
Samsung has wrapped this year's phones in a new kind of iridescent finish it calls "Prism" colors, available in black, white or blue. Then there's a Flamingo Pink option, if that's more your style. And if you're going for the ceramic model of the Galaxy S10+, you have your choice of black or white.
The older phones aren't without their own charm though. Along with the muted blacks and grays, there's a nice splash of blue or purple.
All five of these phones are made with glass front and back, ringed in aluminum. The only exception is, again, that special edition of the S10+, which has a ceramic backing.
All five phones have been given an IP68 rating for water resistance. That means they are dust-proof, and can survive being submerged underwater to a depth of 1.5 m (4.9 ft) for up to 30 minutes. While it's nice to have peace of mind that any accidental spills won't kill your phone, it's probably still not a good idea to take it swimming with you.
Samsung has cranked up the screen sizes this year. The entry-level S10e has the same size display as the S9 did, while the S10 sports a screen almost as big as last year's plus model. For the S10+, the company is stretching out to a roomy 6.4 inches.
The new Galaxy models have some of the slimmest bezels we've seen on a phone yet. The S10 takes top honors for cramming more screen and less edge onto the front, with the S10+ not far behind. The S10e is closer to the ratio of last year's lineup, but even that is still sleek and modern-looking.
The main reason for these gains is the new "hole punch" camera. Rather than housing the lens in a black bar across the top (or a "notch" like some of Samsung's competitors), it now sits inside a small black dot in the top-right corner of the screen.
With the increase in screen size comes a tiny bump in resolution – both the S10 and S10+ have an extra 80 pixels vertically to work with, compared to last year's phones. With that though comes a slight drop in pixel density. All of this, however, is undetectable to even the most trained of eyes.
Despite having the same size screen as the S9, the S10e has had a fairly big dip in resolution. It's still no slouch though, surpassing 2K.
All five Galaxies are built with Active Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode (AMOLED) displays, as are most current phones. But there's a slight difference.
For the last few years, Samsung has been calling its phone screens "Super AMOLED", but for the S10 series the company has wheeled out a new buzzword: "Dynamic AMOLED." The change is mostly marketing speak, but Samsung justifies it by saying the new screens can natively support HDR10+ content, and features dynamic tone mapping. The latter means that a video processor analyzes each image and adjusts the display on the fly, to potentially improve the level of high dynamic range present.
For this year's phones, Samsung has dropped the iris scanner, but the new Galaxies can still be unlocked with a quick scan of a user's face or fingers. The fingerprint sensor is no longer on the back of the device – the S10 and S10+ sport an ultrasonic scanner embedded in the lower section of the screen. The S10e has a capacitive fingerprint sensor on the side of the phone.
The Galaxy S10s are powered by Qualcomm's latest chipset, the Snapdragon 855 with eight cores, while the S9s are using last year's model. According to Samsung, the CPU in the S10 series is up to 29 percent faster than the S9, while the GPU is up to 37 percent faster.
Last year, 6 GB of RAM was a luxury only available in the S9+, but this year that's the bottom tier. All three new models offer an 8 GB option, while the S10+ beefs things right up to 12 GB, which is basically unheard of in phones.
Storage options have seen a generous bump, too. The 64 GB option has been dropped, with 128 GB the new normal. The previous top option of 256 GB is now only available on the S10e, while the S10 and S10+ have jumped to 512 GB. The S10+ is now the first major flagship phone with a roomy 1 TB of storage space.
If you do run out of space, the storage on all five phones can be expanded with a MicroSD card. The difference between last year's and this year's models is that the new phones can now support cards up to 512 GB.
The S10e's battery has a slightly bigger capacity than the base model S9, while the S10 is a decent step up. The S10+ however has one of the beefiest batteries we've seen in any flagship phone – are you noticing a pattern here?
All five phones can be fast-charged out of the box.
All five phones can be wirelessly charged, with the purchase of a separate wireless charging pad. The S10 series has a nifty new feature Samsung calls Wireless PowerShare, which lets you charge other devices like phones and watches by placing them on top of your new Galaxy.
All five phones have USB-C ports for charging, and are one of the last refuges for the 3.5 mm headphone jack. Of course, you can use Bluetooth headphones if you like, but it's nice to still have the old-school option.
The front cameras on the S9 series were nothing to scoff at, but the S10 series can take selfies that are 2-megapixels sharper. The S10+ adds a second, 8-MP camera to the front for better bokeh effects.
Having a single rear camera is quickly going out of style. Last year, the dual camera was a luxury only for the S9+, which paired up wide-angle and telephoto lenses.
But all three new phones have at least two cameras. On the S10 and S10+, last year's wide-angle/telephoto combo is joined by a third camera – a 16-MP ultra-wide angle lens, with a 123-degree field of vision. The S10e meanwhile drops the telephoto lens.
To make the most of a range of lighting conditions, the wide-angle camera on all five phones has dual aperture modes. In f/1.5 mode, the lens opens wider to let more light in, capturing clearer shots in the dark. The f/2.4 mode is for snapping clear shots in bright daylight.
In terms of what the cameras can do, not a whole lot has really changed between generations. All five cameras can snap stills with High Dynamic Range (HDR), and shoot video in several resolutions up to 4K. To keep that smooth, the Galaxies all use Optical Image Stabilization.
Slow-mo by default can shoot at up to 240 frames per second, while the Super slow-mo mode introduced last year can slow right down to 960 fps. On the other end of the spectrum, you can speed up time with Hyperlapse mode.
Augmented reality is gaining ground, so of course the AR Emoji modes are back. These let users make cartoonish versions of their own faces to send as stickers or gifs in messaging apps, or turn themselves into Disney characters.
In fact basically the only mode that's different between phones is Live Focus, which allows users to adjust the level of background blur in selfies. It's available on every phone bar the S9, but it functions differently – on the S9+ and S10+ it works stereoscopically thanks to the dual selfie cams. On the S10e and S10, which only have single front cameras, the effect is mimicked in software.
The Galaxy S10 series comes preloaded with the latest version of the usual operating system, Android 9 Pie. The S9 and S9+ still run the previous version out of the box, but they are due to receive an update very soon.
As expected, all five phones are fitted with Samsung's assistant, Bixby.
The Galaxy S10 series was released earlier this month, while the S9 phones have just celebrated their first birthday.
There's an absolutely huge spread of prices here, with almost US$1,000 separating the lowest and highest devices.
Prices start at US$620 for the 64 GB model of the Galaxy S9, or you can double that storage space for an extra 30 bucks. The next lowest is a tie between the 256-GB model S9, or the 64-GB S9+, followed closely by the 128-GB S10e.
After that, the 256-GB S10e, the 256-GB S9+ and the 128-GB S10 are all within 50 dollars of each other. Of those, your best value-for-money is probably the S10, unless you really need the extra storage space.
And then, you're looking at upwards of a grand after that. The S10+ may look enticing with its excessive 1 TB storage, but the price tag is utterly eye-watering – and honestly, we can't really imagine a scenario where you'd need that much storage, especially with MicroSD expansion. Of the premium options, the 128-GB Galaxy S10+ looks like the best option – but of course, that's up to you, in the end.
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