hands on review of the newest phone

hands on review of the newest phone

Samsung’s Galaxy S10 smartphones have so much going for them.

They’re better at taking photos, they’re more able to recognise you, they’re more powerful, slimmer, lighter, and keep their music cred.

And as well as having a good personality, they’re attractive. Their look is instantly striking, and they wear vibrant colours and materials.

So why does it feel like buying an S10 might be like “settling” for a sensible option, or ignoring the bright, shiny new partner for something more staid and reliable?

Perhaps Samsung is to blame. While the S10 looks like a big step up, we’ve also been shown tantalising glimpses of a folding, bending, flexible-screened option, with six cameras, new software, and enough power to build an empire while sitting on the bus.

The Samsung Galaxy Fold, in short, is an attention-grabbing enchantress.

To buy a regular smartphone, albeit one that makes healthy advances, feels a little like being promised a hoverboard and receiving a motorised skateboard instead.

But if you can overlook the promise of something more futuristic — should your FOMO allow it — there’s plenty to appreciate in the S10 range.

And Samsung has created a very wide range of smartphones this year. It’s tricky to keep up with the number of handsets announced at once.

Near the top of the line there’s the Galaxy S10+, a fully loaded smartphone worthy of an anniversary release.

MORE: Samsung launches flexible Galaxy Fold

It features three cameras on its rear panel, including an ultra-wide lens, a wide lens, and a telephoto lens.

It might sound like overkill but this trio will likely prove handy for everything from wide-angle family selfies to making it look like you were closer to the stage than your enthusiasm allowed.

Other photographic enhancements include video stabilisation and artificial intelligence that recognises up to 30 scenes, though we haven’t been able to test these yet.

The S10+ also impresses with what Samsung calls an Ultrasonic Fingerprint Sensor. It’s a scanner built into the screen that registers fingerprints based on sound waves.

While it seems highly technical, it’s easy to use in practice and, in our brief test, unlocked the handset reliably, immediately, and with a pleasing rippled-water animation.

The 6.4-inch screen on the S10+ is also an obvious enhancement, as it’s brighter than before and pushes closer to the top and bottom edges of the phone.

In a potential blow to Apple, it also eschews the large “notch” at the top of the display in favour of a smaller, more discreet “punch hole” for the two cameras that provide security and portrait-style selfies.

And if you opt for Samsung’s very top model S10+, you’ll get an unprecedented one terabyte worth of storage, a record-breaking 12GB RAM to run apps quickly, and a ceramic exterior designed to withstand scratches.

This facade is only available in black and white, and only with the top model, but it’s attractive up close.

The handset also retains important features from past phones. There’s enough water resistance to let this phone survive unexpected dunkings, and it keeps its standard headphone jack.

Of course, you’ll also get a large bill with this phone. It’s set to become the most expensive smartphone in Australia, beating the top model iPhone by $30.

At double the storage, with greater camera options, and with advances like an invisible fingerprint sensor, it might well be worth the $2399.

But, wait, because there are more to consider.

Samsung will also release a 5G version of this phone and it’s more advanced again. While it wasn’t available for closer inspection at the San Francisco launch, the S10 5G will feature a larger, 6.7-inch screen, a bigger battery, and more cameras.

It will add a Time of Flight camera on the back of this phone, bringing its tally to four rear lenses, and another on the front, leaving it with six cameras in total. The new style of camera is designed to more precisely measure depth and produce DSLR-like images.

No price has been released for the S10 5G as yet, though it will arrive in the first half of the year and, yes, it will be more expensive than the record-setting S10+.

The plain Galaxy S10 doesn’t match the power of its bigger brothers, at up to 512GB storage and 8GB RAM, and with just one selfie camera, but it will also cost less at $1699.

And the budget-conscious S10e, at $1199, will deliver a smaller 5.8-inch screen, two rear cameras, and 128GB storage for those who still want an upgrade while paying half the price.

Buyers of all four phones will have to get past the thought there’s another phone around the corner, however, and one with flexible corners at that. The promise of the Galaxy Fold could loom large in your decision process.

In short, if you’re in the market for a smartphone this year, you have lots of homework ahead of you.

Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson travelled to San Francisco as a guest of Samsung.

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