The Galaxy S10's sleek design helped it stand out against the 2019 competition.
Samsung sold more Galaxy S10 models in the quarter after its launch compared to the previous generation. According to Counterpoint Research, the firm sold 16 million S10 series units from March to May of 2019 — 12% more than the Galaxy S9 series the year before. This makes sense given that the S9 series didn’t do a huge amount to set itself apart from its predecessor.
The Galaxy S10 Plus was the most popular model in the range. It added a bigger 6.4-inch screen and a more substantial 4,000mAh battery. It also added a selfie depth sensor which expanded the punch-hole that took up more of the display than that found on the standard Galaxy S10.
The Galaxy S10 doesn’t look too out of place in 2021. It’s got a glass sandwich layout, a punch-hole display, and curved edges. However, if you pay attention to the details you’ll notice some key differences between this and more recent devices.
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Firstly, the punch hole is larger than the Galaxy S21’s and is positioned in the corner as opposed to the middle. This doesn’t function any differently, but it doesn’t look as refined as the less intrusive, current implementations.
What’s also different is the use of glass on the back along with curved edges. These are features that Samsung has started to phase out on its sub-premium devices in favor of polycarbonate rear housings and flat front glass. Case in point is the Galaxy S21, which uses both of these.
The use of a 6.1-inch Quad HD Dynamic AMOLED 60Hz display is both better and worse than Samsung’s most recent offering. It’s nowhere near as smooth as the 120Hz panel used in the Galaxy S21. However, it’s a lot sharper than the S21’s Full HD panel. Arguably, the overall user experience of the Galaxy S21’s screen is better as the sharpness drop is barely noticeable and Samsung shipped the S10 in Full HD mode anyway.
There are some great benefits of being a slightly older device. This was the last Samsung Galaxy S series with a 3.5mm headphone port. It also has microSD expansion which was dropped for the Galaxy S21 series. This versatility is hard to find in a 2021 flagship and so for those who value these legacy features, the Galaxy S10 is a great option.
The Galaxy S10 strikes a balance between modern performance and legacy features.
The Galaxy S10’s performance is more than acceptable thanks to its 8GB RAM and Snapdragon 855 chipset (or Exynos 9820 in selected regions). I tested a few games as well as switching through my most used social media apps and the device handled it without a hitch. There’s 128GB or 512GB of storage depending on the SKU that you opt for. This is in-line with the current offerings but benefits from the aforementioned expandable storage.
I found the Galaxy S10’s battery to be one of the obvious areas that we’ve seen improvement over the last couple of years. The 3,400mAh cell is comparatively small to the 4,000mAh unit found in the Galaxy S21 and so battery life naturally takes a hit. I managed just under a full day of usage — a below-average figure for modern smartphones. Thankfully, you get a charger in the box where you don’t with the Galaxy S21, though the device only charges at 15W as opposed to the latest generation’s 25W.
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The Galaxy S10 scores a nice balance between modern performance and legacy features which makes it a rather unique option in 2021. Standout qualities include the stunning display, great build quality and design, as well as solid performance even for a two-year-old device.