Samsung launches it’s 10th Generation Galaxy S-series model, prices range from the Galaxy S10e 128GB at S$1078 to the Galaxy S10+ 128GB at S$1398, and the S10+ 1TB at S$2198. As Samsung celebrates 10 years of Galaxy innovations, I take this opportunity to trace back my journey with Samsung Galaxy S-series, and revisited some of my articles I wrote on my blog.
Dec 2010: Samsung Galaxy S (GT-I9000)
I bought the Galaxy S in early December 2010, and shared my experience on this blog article. It was my first Android phone, switching from Nokia E73 Symbian OS.
Obviously, it was not the last Galaxy phone I would own.
Aug 2011: Samsung Galaxy S II (GT-I9100)
I reviewed the S2, and after I returned it, I went to buy one myself. Now, as I read what I wrote back then, it reminded me how much technology had evolved. Back then, the Galaxy S II carried so much innovative features that it was simply the best Android phone.
Dec 2011: Samsung Galaxy Note (GT-N7000)
Samsung announced the inaugural Galaxy Note and passed me a unit for a review. It certainly started a trend of large screen devices with pen tablet, a form factor that after 8 years, Samsung remains the market leader. Looking back, would we have known how far the Galaxy Note could evolve? Read my comparison article with Galaxy S II at this link.
June 2012: Samsung Galaxy S III (GT-N9300)
When Galaxy S3 launched, I sold off my S2 and upgraded. Well, based on what I wrote back then, the S3 had a lot of new features, many of which still remains till this day, like the “Smart Stay” feature, “Palm Swipe” screen capture. Even the overall design was curvier, the front screen edges were also slightly rounded – a precursor to the Galaxy Edge, no doubt.
April 2013: Samsung Galaxy S4 LTE
Samsung launched the Galaxy S4 at Gardens by the Bay and I was invited, carrying a review unit of the HTC One – a hint of things to come.
Weeks later, I received the review unit for a hands-on trial.
By that time, Samsung Galaxy series had already dominated the Android market and people had high expectations with every new model release. Through a series of review posts, the S4 indeed outperformed S3. Given the number of articles I wrote on S4 alone, I must have had quite a good impression of the S4.
But by this time, competition picked up furiously, and I was swung over to HTC, after they did one simple thing: HTC gave me the Butterfly S. Obviously, the phone must be something for me to dump my current phone. In fact, my next phone was the HTC One M8. It remained one of my favourite phones, and I still keep it.
Looking back, one of the main reasons for me moving on from Samsung Galaxy is price-value. Also, the software and hardware innovation had plateaued.
Even though I switch out of Samsung, my wife remained a Samsung Galaxy user for several years more (until 2018)
March 2015: Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 edge
It appears I skipped reviewing the Galaxy S5, though I still covered the other Galaxy devices like the Galaxy S4 Zoom (Oct 2013), Galaxy Gear Watch (Nov 2013), Galaxy Note 3 (Dec 2013), Galaxy Note 4 (Oct 2014), Galaxy Note Edge (Jan 2015). I guess the Galaxy S5 could not keep up the interest.
Then Galaxy S6 came in to pick up the momentum, and for the first time, Samsung threw in several variants within the same S-series. There was the standard S6 and the S6 edge with various built-in storage options because the microSD card slot was removed (the S6 edge+ would be announced several months later with the Galaxy Note 5). For this announcement, I was invited to their Samsung Singapore office together with a handful of media and bloggers, and revealed the products over a classroom setting. The S6 design was not surprising, as it was copied from the Note 4 and Note Edge, and is the first S-series without removable battery.
March 2016: Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge
I had the privilege to unbox the Galaxy S7 edge days before the official retail sale, and found that the sides of the phone became even narrower and more seamless compared to S6 edge. MicroSD slot was re-introduced back. The non-edge variant was available. It felt great on hand, but not practical. The phone must stay in protective casing forever. Other than design and software tweaks, there was no compelling reason to upgrade from S6.
March 2017: Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+
By now, the Samsung Unpacked Live Event has become a regular affair and Samsung Singapore brought the media together for a live screening of the launch followed by hands-on. Due to the time difference, the event was held at 11pm. The S8 series made the curved edges as a default design, but the edges were more angular. For the first time, the home button was removed. It also added features that was first announced on the Galaxy Note7, but because it was recalled, the S8 series took over the baton for these “new” features. After testing the market for different size options, the S8 series came with a larger S8+. Prices of the phones started creeping up and had breached the S$1100 price point.
The S8 design was further refined to be less edgy than the S7, but the rear design remained unchanged, including the out-of-place fingerprint sensor.
March 2018: Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+
The Galaxy S9 was announced with the same design formula, but at least the finally got the fingerprint sensor right, and introduced dual rear cameras. The dual aperture was taken from the Galaxy Note8.
Samsung also added a lot of features that weren’t exactly new, as they were available from the competitors, like AR Emoji (iPhone), Super Slow-Motion (Sony Xperia), Stereo Speakers (HTC), Live Focus (Huawei). Still, these features kept the S9 current to prevent further consumer churn to other brands.
Feb 2019: Samsung Galaxy S10e, S10 and S10+ Review Summary
After the Galaxy S3, I never felt the desire to go back to owning Samsung smartphones. Over the years of reviewing, Samsung Galaxy series remains a fantastic smartphone with excellent camera performance and image quality. The hardware functions are generous – NFC, heart-rate sensor, water resistant, wireless charging, desktop mode – the display quality is among the best, its OS has improved while retaining the Samsung UI style. It remains the most popular smartphone series, and there are plenty of after-market accessories for the phones.
I wonder if it was just perceived milestone significance or did Samsung did it right for its 10th anniversary model. The Galaxy S10 series seem to have all the ticks and delivered my favourite features from competitors, such that there is no need to look to other brands to fill the feature void.
- Triple rear camera covers ultra wide angle to telephoto
- Dual aperture: optically speaking, having variable aperture is useful in photography, even though the effect on smartphone camera lens is negligible
- Panorama with video: Samsung is the only smartphone that you can capture a panorama still image with an accompanying video of the sweep footage
- Super Slow-motion 960fps video: very useful for bullet time effect
- AR Emoji: gimmick, but fun to have.
- In-display fingerprint sensor for the geeks (personally I don’t fancy that, as I prefer the face unlock, but fingerprint sensor is still required for more secure transactions)
- Infinity-O “hole punch” display satisfies the screen-to-body ratio fanatics (again, I’m not a fan, but it’s the in thing)
- PowerShare wireless charging, which is another gimmick, but who’s to complain in case of emergency?
- Display technology: you have to admit, Samsung has the best smartphone display
- Signature Design: after so many years of moulding the display edges, the S10 seems to achieve a good balance or curved without too excessive. The included plastic casing helps to keep the fingers away from the edges for accidental touches.
- 3.5mm audio jack: thank you for retaining it, giving me one good reason to stay away from Huawei.
- Stereo speakers: since HTC, I was hoping my favourite brand phones have it. Samsung has it.
- Water resistant: it’s a good feature even though I would never use it for a dive, so that I could give the phone a rinse once a while.
- Galaxy accessories ecosystem: there are so many cool accessories that work best with Samsung devices, I often feel left out. Case in point: I love the Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro and Gear IconX, and fortunately they work with any Android phones. The Gear 360 however, is only compatible with Samsung devices.
- Samsung Pay: it’s like Google Pay, but has cool reward programs.
- Pop-up Floating Window: this feature is around in various brands, but Samsung latest UI allows the notification to automatically generate a pop-up window, so that I can interact with the app without leaving the current screen.
- Benchmarks: Samsung Galaxy S10+ scores top on various benchmarks like Antutu, DisplayMate, DXO.
After Galaxy S4, my review experiences with Samsung Galaxy phones have not been wildly enthusiastic. They are generally good phones, reliable, adequately featured, but I never had the urge to continue using them beyond the review period. The Samsung Galaxy S10+, which I reviewed, makes me feel good about using the phone at lengths. Although the price remains high, it is ironically reasonable compared to what iPhones and other flagship models from Huawei, LG, Oppo are charging.
It has been a pleasure and a privilege to experience all the Samsung Galaxy phones. I hope that Samsung can move on to take bolder steps to a new decade of mobile computing. May the S11 be radically different and lead the next wave of smartphones.