Samsung finally managed to get rid of its (unfortunate) 'trademark' lag last year with the S9 family, and we're happy to report that it hasn't returned in One UI. Nor are there very many UI stutters - although you will find some from time to time. The problem is One UI is just slow. It's not just slower than OxygenOS (pretty much the benchmark these days when it comes to fast and snappy software atop Android), it's also slow compared to Google's software shipped on Pixels, and even other custom interfaces such as MIUI.
Now don't get us wrong here - most people probably wouldn't be able to tell. The perceived difference in speed is always under one second per action - so we're talking milliseconds here. That said, this all adds up throughout a day. We handle a lot of phones here at GSMArena towers, and for us this slowness is instantly noticeable. That eerie feeling never goes away even after a lot of time spent with the S10+. We sort of get used to it, but then handling a faster phone for even a few minutes just brings this frustration back to our minds.
So this could very well be a non-issue for you. Yet it's still, on principle, frustrating that Samsung has fixed most of the past issues people had with its software, but the fact remains that it's still not on par with the hardware. The latter is top notch as always, the former isn't cartoonish or laggy anymore, but it isn't as fast as others. And before you ask, yes we turned on the Reduce animations option from Settings > Advanced features. This helps, but not as much as we would have liked. The above assessment regarding speed, subjective as it may be, was made with that setting turned on, for what it's worth.
While certain Chinese smartphone makers or Google would probably come to mind when you think about aggressive RAM management, Samsung has decided to play this game too in order to give you some marginal, and debateable, battery life gains. Even with all of the overt settings related to this toned down, even running the phone in High Performance mode at all times, you'll still find that it aggressively kills (or at least sleeps) some background processes.
While that may be slightly understandable in Google's case (a company that has yet to discover that you can in fact fit more than 4GB of RAM in a phone), it really isn't for Sasmung. And the performance mode settings are in the Battery section, where you can pick between High Performance, Optimized, Medium battery saving, and Maximum battery saving. This strongly implies that if you enable High Performance, no aggressive battery saving strategies whatsoever would be employed.
Here's something we had to deal with multiple times each day: opening the Gmail app and instantly getting a bunch of emails that we hadn't received notifications for before. The background sync here is stifled by Samsung's software, which means that if you are logged into the same account on the S10+ and another device, the other device will get notifications much faster than the Samsung. That's simply unacceptable in this day and age, and we're only using Gmail as an example because we assume most Android phone owners use that service. The delayed notifications happen with most apps, though thankfully the big messengers seem to have been spared, which might mean that there's a hidden whitelist somewhere and these are on it.
This is not a hardware issue in the S10+ because it ships with at least 8GB of RAM, and that's still plenty for a handset. So all of this is easily fixable through a software update, although the fact that such a new release hasn't arrived yet, months after the S10+ became available, doesn't make us very optimistic with regard to it ever happening.
Smoothness is decent but negatively impacted by the perceived slowness of the entire UI, so we can't give Samsung top points here. From this incredibly subjective perspective of smoothness, we'd call the S10+ about on par with the S9+ and Note9 from last year. That's to say it's close to the champs (a brand new Google Pixel 3 or OnePlus device from 2019 or 2018), but can't match them. See a theme here? It's pretty much the same for sheer speed, and, as you're about to see, battery life as well.
Battery life has been very good overall. We never felt like the S10+ wouldn't last us an entire 12-16 hour day off the charger, when we started with the battery full. During this time we were connected primarily to Wi-Fi, with an hour or two of 4G data, Bluetooth always on (and connected to a Garmin smartwatch) and streaming music for about an hour, and with 30 minutes to an hour of navigation using GPS.
The screen on time we would have achieved by going all the way to 0% in this scenario hovered around 5-6 hours every single day, and even 7+ hours were theoretically achievable had we used the phone more. That may not put the S10+ in the number one spot, from this point of view, in our long-term reviews, but it is pretty close. Wireless charging support can also help mitigate any battery life anxiety you might have, provided you got a few wireless chargers around.
On the other hand, if we stayed away from Wi-Fi for extended periods of time throughout a day, the S10+'s battery percentage fell pretty quickly. Don't expect more than 4 hours of screen on time in such a setup and you'll be fine. But that's still nothing to scoff at, mind you.
While most Android skins (and Google's 'vanilla' interpretation of the OS) make the Battery section top-level in Settings, Samsung chose to hide it in the Device care sub-menu, which instantly "scans" your phone when you enter and offers a big button that says "Optimize now". If you want to figure out your screen on time, you then need to ignore that, hit the Battery icon, and then tap on Battery usage. This... could have been easier.
The fast wired charging isn't really fast by today's standards, Samsung is lagging in this respect a lot compared to its competitors. 15W isn't bad, but when even mid-rangers from some Chinese companies support 18W or 20W, an update is clearly due. Unfortunately the S10+ will never see that, and that's quite a pity for a phone that is priced like it was when it launched. Its charging time of about one hour and 40 minutes when turned off and around two hours or slightly more while using it isn't bad, but it could have been better had the company upped the wattage.
The Galaxy S10+ has three rear cameras, so everyone should be happy. The main wide-angle shooter has been perfected over the past few years to the point where it now delivers amazing images no matter the shooting conditions. The telephoto option from last year is joined by a new ultra-wide angle camera, which comes in very handy when you need to fit more into your shot. That said, when using it, shapes will get distorted around the edges, even with the Ultra wide shape correction setting enabled.
Still, the company needs to be praised for including that option, as you now get a lot of flexibility when it comes to framing your shots. Samsung's camera science doesn't produce images that are as heavily over-processed as before, but the pictures you take with the S10+ still aren't what anyone would call 100% true-to-life. Accuracy is sacrificed, yes, but we feel like Samsung has achieved a great middle ground now where the enhancements its algorithms apply are actually useful and provide you with shots that look better than real life, while not going too far.
The images have an ever so slight level of sharpening applied to them, and oftentimes the colors are punchier than what your eyes saw in the moment, and this is especially true for the sky, bodies of water, and greenery. The levels of detail are outstanding, dynamic range is excellent, but Samsung does hate noise more than some of its competitors, so expect heavy noise reduction at all times.
This is true for all three shooters in bright lighting conditions, but the obvious champ, quality-wise, when you go pixel-peeping, is the main sensor, unsurprisingly. The ultra-wide and telephoto are nothing to be disappointed about either.
When the light goes down, the main camera still shows you good levels of detail, again with pretty aggressive noise reduction (though some noise does start to creep in) and good dynamic range. You can use the 2x telephoto lens at night down to a certain level of ambient light, when the phone will automatically switch to a crop of the main sensor. If you use the ultra-wide at night, know that it's unsurprisingly not on par, quality-wise, with the main unit, but if you need the different perspective, go for it.
After a long time, Samsung has recently added a manually selectable Night mode, and let's just say the wait was definitely worth it. This instantly hit the Night mode podium in our books, joining Google's and Huawei's implementations. There are of course marginal differences between the three, but overall they're all great.
Samsung's lifts up the shadows but it also manages to prevent light sources from blowing out, avoiding halos. Colors are realistic (as much as they can be given Samsung's propensity to oversaturate just a little bit), and some sharpening is still going on as well. Night mode is even available for the ultra-wide camera, though not the tele. Results with the ultra-wide are similar, but not as good. It's basically the same story as for every other type of shot - if you want maximum quality, you use the main sensor. The other two are there to give you different framing/perspective options, and for some captures you may feel that's more important than the small loss of quality.
The S10+ has a selfie camera accompanied by a depth sensor that makes portrait mode shots have great subject separation and a good looking background blur. Normal selfie pictures come out amazing in good lighting conditions. They're sharp (not surprising as this is a Samsung phone after all) and detailed, and the colors are 'enhanced' as usual but not so much that you'll feel your face looks off. Additionally, there are beautification settings to play with if you want to 'improve' your look even further, but we chose to turn all of those off. Maybe we simply aren't the target market for those features?
Selfies taken in low-light quickly become mushy as the ambient levels go down, so you'll want to avoid barely lit scenes. Such quality degradation is par for the course in selfie snappers on smartphones, but maybe we were expecting it to happen less given the stellar night-time performance of the rear cameras. If there's still some light around you the selfies will be decent, but under a certain level your face will get incredibly soft looking.
That can be mitigated somewhat by using the screen as a flash of sorts. Here are some comparison shots, showing selfies captured with flash off, as opposed to flash on. The screen flash helps to actually make your face visible in extremely low-light conditions, but the quality itself doesn't change by a huge amount.
The camera app is easy to use, fast and bug-free, but it is filled with a lot of different things, including Bixby Vision and AR emoji and a lot of shooting modes, so it could be overwhelming for people used to more minimalist UIs. The main logic of swiping between modes, that every other smartphone maker under the sun seems to employ now, is there, so from that point of view you'll feel right at home.
Overall, the S10+'s rear cameras have always reliably delivered great images, we never felt any anxiety regarding how any shot would turn out, regardless of lighting conditions (with Night mode used when appropriate). Selfies are more of a mixed bag, great in bright light and less so when the ambient light levels go down, but they're still mostly passable in all conditions, and the depth sensor helps to create very nice looking portrait shots.