I have reviewed many phones, but I do not own them. But because I can get hands-on with many phones, I know what works and what doesn’t. I last left Samsung at the S3, moved on to other smartphone models, enjoyed the brand at their peak, before they fall from grace. HTC, LG, ASUS, to name a few.
This month, I paid with my cold hard cash and owned the Galaxy S10. I blogged in my previous article that I think the S10 is the most “complete” Galaxy phone in years. Here is why I think the smartphone works for me through and through.
Here is a list of features that make Galaxy S10 one of the most comprehensive phones to own.
More compact than S10+. I decided to forgo the dual front camera for a more handy phone. The only painful trade-off is the battery life. I didn’t go for S10e because I would like the 2x optical lens for better telephoto quality.
Repositioned side buttons. Due to the smaller size, the buttons are positioned higher up. I find that I have not accidentally pressed the Bixby button ever since I started using the Galaxy S10. In contrast, I often tapped the Bixby button when I reviewed the Galaxy S10+.
Triple rear camera system covers ultra wide angle to telephoto, making mobile photography extremely versatile.
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. Update: S10 does not support Motion Panorama, only from S7 to S9..
PowerShare makes wireless charging convenient in times of need. But it also comes with a fun advantage.
Cool Accessories like LED Cover can be powered up without separate battery.
Once the LED cover is attached, the phone will auto detect and install an app to customise the interaction. You can manually turn on mood lighting or LED icons for up to 10 minutes, during which NFC will not work. When off, the other 2 setting modes will kick in: mood lighting activates for a few seconds when phone turns over, and LED shows countdown when taking a photo with camera timer. Both modes only work when light control is “Off”.
3.5mm audio jack: thank you for retaining it, so that audiophiles like myself can enjoy our premium headphones with the smartphone.
Stereo speakers: since HTC, I was hoping my favourite brand phones have it. Samsung has it, so it gets the tick.
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.
Smart Pop-up View: this feature is available in few brands, but Samsung latest UI allows the notification to automatically generate a floating icon. When tapped, it will pop-up into a floating window so I can interact with the app without leaving the current screen. It is extremely useful for me.
Bixby Routines. When Sony Xperia created a similar feature, I thought it was very empowering and intelligent, but lacks the use cases. Samsung Bixby Routines allows so many combinations.
The above routines are all triggered daily. I usually turn off AOD, but when I charge the phone during the day, I would turn on AOD so I can see the time and missed notifications. And when the phone is being charged between a specific period at night, my phone will be in silent non-vibrate mode so it would not vibrate in the middle of the night. The “Save Battery At Night” routine is created in case I forgot to charge so the phone would turn off Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Mobile Data. I can also enable auto-rotate when specific apps are being run, so I kept it off at most of the times. For driving, it would enable AOD, turn up media volume to hear the notifications read aloud.
The feature is not limited to automated routines. I can also create an icon widget where I can manually trigger a routine when I tap on it.
Easy Switch Dual SIM. Under the notification panel, I can conveniently change the primary SIM for calls, messages and data.
Audio Output. At the same notification panel, I can easily toggle the audio source if I have multiple supported devices connected. This helps a lot in switching the output. Samsung Galaxy series are also the only smartphones that support dual audio, which is, play sound to 2 different Bluetooth devices.
Micro SD slot. When most smartphones including Xiaomi, OPPO and OnePlus shy away from expandable storage, Samsung stuck to it. Kudos. (Huawei only supports proprietary nano SD cards).
What Are Lacking
As I use it, I do find a few inconveniences. The biggest issue is battery: it drains quite fast for my type of usage. Luckily, I work in office so I have no problem charging the phone frequently.
The other concern is the Bluetooth audio codec quality. For years I have found that Samsung’s Bluetooth audio codec is not as clean as other brands. We know that SBC codec is the lowest-grade, but many wireless earphones running on SBC can equally offer clean audio. Not on Samsung Galaxy smartphones. I can hear compression defects, so headphones like Jabra Elite 85h that sounded great on Huawei P20 Pro turned out not so clean.
A lot of the features I described above are unique to Samsung Galaxy smartphones, giving me strong reasons to finally return to my “roots”, embracing the brand of the very first Android smartphone I got 8 years ago. It is a good feeling to own a Samsung, thanks to the competitive resale market, I pay just almost half the retail price of S$1298.