The smartphones in the Galaxy S10 family are equipped with Samsung's first Dynamic AMOLED displays. It's like the Super AMOLEDs of yesteryear, but with an emphasis on HDR - these Galaxies are the first smartphones to support HDR10+ (the '+' is what counts here). But most importantly, these panels are much better now.
The S10 has a smaller 6.1-inch panel than the 6.4-inch one in the Plus, but the resolution and aspect ratio are the same - 1440x3040px resolution in a 19:9 aspect. The same number of pixels on a smaller screen equals higher density - 550ppi on the S10 vs. 526 on the Plus. Math.
The smaller screen on the S10 is marginally brighter than the one on the Plus - we measured 396nits of maximum brightness on our S10 vs. the 385nits on the bigger brother. That's when setting the brightness manually - when left in auto, it can go as high as 820nits under direct light. It's one of the highest readings we've got in modern times.
As we mentioned in the S10+ review, let's clarify again why our results differ from the numbers Samsung quotes (up to 1200nits). We carry out our brightness testing at a 75% average picture level (APL), which means that our white test pattern takes up 75% of the physical size of the screen as we consider this a rather real-life level.
Due to the nature of the technology, an AMOLED screen would be able to push its brightness progressively higher as the area that needs to be lit up in white gets smaller. So whenever an AMOLED max screen brightness measurement is concerned, there always needs to be a clarification about the size the test pattern takes.
We can only imagine Samsung's claim for 1200nits maximum brightness may very well be true, it would just be measured under different conditions (with a smaller APL). We played around just to see what happens and we got a 1010-nit reading with a 10% APL.
Also, we can't exclude the option that Samsung may be driving their screen to this brightness level only when certain conditions are met - such as when playing HDR video.
|Display test||100% brightness|
|Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2|
Predictably, the Galaxy S10 aced our sunlight legibility test, posting contrast readings in line with the best in class. The iPhone XS, however, remains unbeaten on top of this chart.
The handling of colors that's been more or less unchanged for generations of Galaxies has been overhauled. The menu now gives you two settings - Vivid and the default Natural. Natural is tuned for the sRGB color space where we measured an average DeltaE of 1.7 and a maximum of 3.4 - slightly better performance than on the S10+. The whites remain accurate to within a DeltaE of 2.
The Vivid mode comes with a significantly punchier output which we didn't find to be accurate to any particular color space. Previously, the Basic mode was tuned for sRGB, AMOLED Photo was accurate to the AdobeRGB color space, and AMOLED Cinema was the go-to mode for DCI-P3 content. On the S10 and S10+ you don't get that differentiation.
When in Vivid mode, you get a slider for adjusting the color temperature in a five-step range from cool to warm, with the default in between. There is an additional set of RGB sliders under the advanced button below. We didn't find the sliders to improve accuracy, though we won't judge if you like a particular look you can achieve with them.
As for HDR10+, let's try for a simple explanation. Think of it like this - even an HDR panel may end up having a narrower dynamic range than you may want within a single movie. HDR10 content comes with static metadata that specifies how to allocate that available dynamic range from the moment you start the playback. If your display's dynamic range is 16 arbitrary units, and your movie spans 20 units, you'd lose 4 when playing back because the dynamic range was preallocated for the best average for this movie. Imagine that you could allocate on the fly the 16 units of DR based on the dynamic range needed to display each individual frame instead of setting it in the beginning. That's roughly what the '+' in HDR10+ does. Basically, HDR10+ uses a similar principle for employing dynamic metadata to Dolby Vision, only minus the royalty fees.
There's the tiny caveat that as of now, HDR10+ content is realistically only available on Amazon Prime Video, and devices that support it are few. Those include, you guessed it, some Samsung TVs, some TVs by Panasonic and Philips, and these Galaxy S10s here.
The Galaxy S10 has a 3,400mAh battery capacity - not an insignificant 700mAh difference compared to the Plus. It's still a lot if you look at competitors like the iPhone XS (2,658mAh) and the Pixel 3 (2,915mAh).
We measured a little over 10 hours in our Wi-Fi web browsing test, and a few minutes short of 13 hours in video playback - each figure around 2 hours short of the S10+'s. Similarly, the S10 couldn't quite reach the Plus's 24-hour voice call result and called it quits at 21:19h. The overall Endurance rating works out to 79 hours (91h on the S10+).
Our battery tests were automated thanks to SmartViser, using its viSer App. The endurance rating above denotes how long a single battery charge will last you if you use the Samsung Galaxy S10 for an hour each of telephony, web browsing, and video playback daily. We've established this usage pattern so that our battery results are comparable across devices in the most common day-to-day tasks. The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you're interested in the nitty-gritty. You can check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we've tested will compare under your own typical use.
The S10's scores compare favorably to the ones we got out of the two phones above - virtually identical longevity in web browsing, and a 15-20 percent advantage in video playback.
Filling up that battery once it's been depleted happens with Samsung's Adaptive Fast Charger that's been around unchanged since the S-series only had flat-screened phones - the Galaxy S5 times. It's rated at 9V/1.67A and 5V/2A, so 15W is the maximum it'll output. It turns out things aren't as grim as expected though and a 30-minute charging session from flat will get you to 48%, while a full charge takes 1:31h. The Pixel 3 and its 18W Power Delivery charger are actually a slower combo, with 45% at the 30-minute mark and 1:42h for a full charge. Meanwhile, the iPhone XS and its ancient 5V/1A adapter can only do 22% in 30 minutes.
The Galaxy S10 can also be charged wirelessly, and it supports Samsung's Fast Wireless Charging 2.0, which is Qi-based as before. We didn't have such a charger to test with, but the previous generation 9W Samsung Fast Chargers yielded something along the lines of 20% for 30 minutes and 3 hours for a full charge.
Not only can the S10 be charged wirelessly, but it can also charge other devices - the feature is called Wireless PowerShare. It has a toggle to enable it in the quick toggles area, and it'll turn off if there's nothing to be charged within a certain amount of time. Perhaps the best bit is that you can be charging your S10 with a cable and it can simultaneously charge a second device wirelessly. We can see this being handy for filling up two devices overnight when traveling light and carrying a single adaptor and cable.
The Galaxy S10 has a stereo speaker setup that's made up of the main bottom-firing loudspeaker and the earpiece, which is on the front, as earpieces tend to be. When holding the phone in landscape, each speaker handles the respective channel, while in portrait they're assigned the channel they had last time they were in landscape. Of course, the dedicated bottom speaker is boomier, there's no escaping that.
Surprisingly, we got more decibels out of the S10 than what measured on the S10+ - we don't have a higher mark than Excellent though, so both get that. And as the bigger phone, the S10 sounds equally great.
|Speakerphone test||Voice, dB||Ringing ||Overall score|
Somewhat surprisingly, the Samsung Galaxy S10 didn't quite manage to match its Plus sibling when it comes to audio output. The vanilla flagship is still an excellent performer, mind you, it's just not the chart topping beast that its sibling is.
The clarity of the output is top notch with an active external amplifier and the only damage caused by headphones is a very minor increase in stereo crosstalk. Loudness was also well above average in both cases, adding up to really solid showing. In fact the differences between the S10 and S10+ will only matter to select few audiophiles armed with very high-impedance headphones - everyone else should be perfectly happy with either of them.
|Test||Frequency response||Noise level||Dynamic range||THD||IMD + Noise||Stereo crosstalk|
|+0.05, -0.04||-92.6||93.5||0.0026||0.072||-58.7||+0.02, -0.16||-92.1||92.0||0.0017||0.013||-85.6|
You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.