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Galaxy S10 review: Don't abandon Samsung's 2019 flagship just yet

The Galaxy S10 is still a terrific phone, even after it's been outclassed by the next generation. For some, it'll be a smarter buy now than it was in 2019.

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Jessica Dolcourt is a passionate content strategist and veteran leader of CNET coverage. As Senior Director of Commerce & Content Operations, she leads a number of teams, including Commerce, How-To and Performance Optimization. Her CNET career began in 2006, testing desktop and mobile software for Download.com and CNET, including the first iPhone and Android apps and operating systems. She continued to review, report on and write a wide range of commentary and analysis on all things phones, with an emphasis on iPhone and Samsung. Jessica was one of the first people in the world to test, review and report on foldable phones and 5G wireless speeds. Jessica began leading CNET's How-To section for tips and FAQs in 2019, guiding coverage of topics ranging from personal finance to phones and home. She holds an MA with Distinction from the University of Warwick (UK).
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Jessica Dolcourt
3 min read

The poor Galaxy S10 always suffered from middle-child syndrome. Being sandwiched between the larger, more lavishly appointed Galaxy S10 Plus and the smaller, pluckier, far cheaper Galaxy S10E was never easy. In fact, I wondered more than once why it even existed, other than to suddenly look like a deal during promotional sales. 


  • Sharp screen
  • Long battery life
  • Noteworthy camera quality
  • Wirelessly charges other devices

Don't like

  • In-screen fingerprint reader is hit or miss
  • Lacks the distinction of S10 Plus and S10E

And now, the Galaxy S10's reason for being has become even more precarious. Samsung  has since released the Galaxy S20, S20 Plus, Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra (not to mention the Galaxy Z Fold 2).

The name change is significant, representing a major shift in what it means to be a premium Galaxy phone: 5G , real camera improvements and more megapixels, a huge battery, a 120Hz screen refresh rate.

The Galaxy S10 can't compete against those specs, especially when it comes to future-proofing the phone in the rising age of blistering 5G data speeds. But for some people, the S10 could settle into the obvious choice for a high-end phone with a reasonable price, especially when the price inevitably drops even further.


The Galaxy S10 racks up the features, including three rear cameras and the ability to wirelessly charge other devices.

Angela Lang/CNET

Yet for many, 5G phones won't be a practical option for several years. Buying a 4G phone this year that you hold onto for another two or three years isn't a terrible idea for many, especially if 5G still hasn't arrived where you live, and it means saving a sizable chunk of change. Specs wise, the Galaxy S10 will valiantly carry you through one more cycle of phone ownership -- just so long as it comes down to a price you're willing to pay. 

The Galaxy S10 initially started at $900 (£799 and AU$1,349), only $100 cheaper than the Plus ($1,000, £899, AU$1,499) and $150 more than the S10E ($750, £669, AU$1,199). Expect price drops to settle even further now that the Note 20 is here, with further seasonal discounts by store and carrier, such as buy one, get one free offers.

Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, S10E: Every camera lens and curve

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The Galaxy S10 remains as terrific a phone as it was when I first reviewed it in March 2019. The screen, camera and battery life are top notch. That's unsurprising when you consider that it's just a pared-down version of the excellent Galaxy S10 Plus , which was one of the top phones in a talent-stacked year. 

Read more: Best Samsung Galaxy S10, S10 Plus and S10E cases

There are a few main differences to be aware of between the Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus, if you're considering the two:

  • There's only one front-facing camera on the S10 instead of two, but it doesn't detract much.
  • The screen is slightly smaller (6.1 inches versus 6.4 on the Plus).
  • Battery life is a tad shorter (just over 18 hours in our looping video drain test versus 21 on the Plus).
  • There's no 1-terabyte storage option.
  • You can't buy it with a ceramic backing as you can the 512GB and 1TB Galaxy S10 Plus.

For more Samsung Galaxy comparisons, check out these CNET articles:

Best hidden Galaxy S10 features you need to know now

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If I liked any phones more it would be the Galaxy Note 10 for value-for-money-meets-luxury specs, and the Note 10 Plus for even more power features and specs.

For more details on the Galaxy S10's individual features, read my Galaxy S10 Plus review. With a few exceptions, the core features are the same as the Plus model. Keep reading below for a full specs comparison among the Galaxy S10, S10 Plus and S10E.

Galaxy S10 vs. S10E vs. S10 Plus

Samsung Galaxy S10ESamsung Galaxy S10Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus
Display size, resolution 5.8-inch AMOLED; 2,280x1,080 pixels6.1-inch AMOLED; 3,040x1,440 pixels6.4-inch AMOLED; 3,040x1,440 pixels
Pixel density 438 ppi550 ppi522 ppi
Dimensions (inches) 5.6 x 2.8 x 0.27 in.5.9 x 2.77 x 0.31 in.6.20 x 2.92 x 0.31 in.
Dimensions (millimeters) 142 x 70 x 7.9mm149.9 x 70.4 x 7.8mm157.6 x 74.1 x 7.8mm
Weight (ounces, grams) 5.3 oz.; 150g5.53 oz.; 157g6.17 oz.; 175g
Mobile software Android 9.0 with Samsung One UIAndroid 9.0 with Samsung One UIAndroid 9.0 with Samsung One UI
Camera 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 16-megapixel (ultrawide-angle)12-megapixel (wide-angle), 16-megapixel (ultrawide-angle), 12-megapixel (telephoto)12-megapixel (wide-angle), 16-megapixel (ultrawide-angle), 12-megapixel (telephoto)
Front-facing camera 10-megapixel 10-megapixel10-megapixel, 8-megapixel
Video capture 4K4K4K
Processor Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
Storage 128GB, 256GB128GB, 512GB128GB, 512GB, 1TB
Expandable storage Up to 512GBUp to 512GBUp to 512GB
Battery 3,100 mAh3,400 mAh4,100 mAh
Fingerprint sensor Power buttonIn-screen (ultrasonic)In-screen
Headphone jack YesYesYes
Special features Wireless PowerShare; hole-punch screen notch; water resistant (IP68); Fast Wireless Charging 2.0Wireless PowerShare; hole-punch screen notch; water resistant (IP68); Fast Wireless Charging 2.0Wireless PowerShare; hole-punch screen notch; water resistant (IP68); Fast Wireless Charging 2.0
Price off-contract (USD) $750$900$1,000
Price (GBP) £669£799£899
Price (AUD) AU$1,199AU$1,349AU$1,499

First published Jan. 30.


Samsung Galaxy S10

Score Breakdown

Design 9Features 8.5Performance 9Camera 8.5Battery 10