- 12-megapixel wide-angle lens: This is the main rear lens. There’s optical image stabilization (OIS), and a 77-degree field of view (FOV). It’s dual-aperture, which means it automatically lets in more light for low-light shots. Apertures are f1.5 and f2.4.
- 12-megapixel telephoto lens: 2x optical zoom, OIS, 45-degree FOV, f2.4.
- 16-megapixel ultrawide-angle lens: Fixed focus, no OIS, 123-degree FOV (close to the human eye), f2.2 aperture.
- 10-megapixel front-facing camera: f1.9 aperture.
- 8-megapixel front-facing camera for depth-sensing (f2.2) or a 3D front-facing camera (see below).
- 3D rear camera: Time-of-flight sensor, aka ToF. For depth-sensing and AR, not security.
Galaxy S10 range camera guide
Galaxy S10E Galaxy S10 Galaxy S10 Plus Galaxy S10 5G
- 12-megapixel wide-angle lens (dual-aperture) Yes Yes Yes Yes
- 16-megapixel ultra wide-angle lens (fixed focus) Yes Yes Yes Yes
- 12-megapixel telephoto lens No Yes Yes Yes
- 10-megapixel front-facing camera (dual-aperture) Yes Yes Yes Yes
- 8-megapixel front-facing camera No No Yes No
- 3D depth-sensing camera (rear) No No No Yes
- 3D depth-sensing camera (front) No No No Yes
New camera tricks
When you take a selfie on the Galaxy S10 Plus: The edges around the front-facing camera light up so you know where to aim your eyes. It’s pretty clever.
Better photos with AI: Lots of phones use AI to identify photo subjects and scenes and automatically adjust the settings to get you better pictures of food, a landscape or your pets. All the S10 phones can identify 30 different scenes and adjust the settings accordingly. Samsung improves the Galaxy Note 9’s camera AI by making it easy to turn on and off in the viewfinder screen.
Shot Suggestions: Turn on this optional mode to get help lining up a photo. When it’s perfectly aligned, the camera will automatically take the shot. If you have shaky hands or take a lot of one-handed shots, that’s a good thing.
Bright Night low-light mode: Samsung says this automatically applied feature will make low-light photos crisper. Unlike the Pixel 3’s astounding Night Sight mode, this is built-in, not something you have to tap to turn on. I didn’t get a demo, but my colleagues in London did, briefly. I look forward to seeing it in action.
Video: The Galaxy S10 phones support super steady video that’s designed for action shots, like skateboarding, basketball games and so on. The phones can also shoot in HDR10 video, and both front and rear main cameras support UHD video recording.
In-screen fingerprint sensor, One UI, Bixby Routines
In-screen fingerprint reader: The first phones to use Qualcomm’s ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, this technique uses sound waves to unlock the phone. It completely replaces iris scanning as a biometric unlock option. Unfortunately, I couldn’t use my own finger during the briefing, but this is something I’ll test extensively soon. Ultrasonic sensors are supposed to be harder to trick than optical sensors, the other technology used in fingerprint unlocking.
Video: Samsung’s foldable phone will use One UI
Strangely, Samsung quietly withheld its trademark iris scanning from the S10 phones. While there’s still Google’s built-in face unlock, it isn’t secure enough for mobile payments. It’s a noteworthy change, since iris scanning has been a point of pride since the Galaxy S7. Samsung could very well be waiting for Google to fold secure face unlocking into Android, a rumored move for Android Q.
One UI over Android Pie: Samsung’s new One UI is a custom layer that runs over Google’s Android 9 Pie software. It’s already rolling out for Galaxy S9 phones, but the S10 family is the first to get One UI baked in. With it, Samsung embraces a more simplified look and feel with bigger icons that are designed to be easier to use one-handed. Note that you’ll still need to reach to the top for the notifications tray.
Bixby Routines: Opt in to the all-new Bixby Routines to set up profiles for say, driving, work, night or home. For example, a nighttime mode can save battery by turning off Wi-Fi and background apps you don’t need when you sleep. Driving mode might also turn off Wi-Fi and turn on Waze, Spotify and Do Not Disturb. In some cases the switch would happen automatically, for example, when the phone recognizes via Bluetooth that you’re in your car. The software learns your patterns for work and home, but you can manually add your own Routines.
Faster app launch: This is another form of AI that can learn what you like and adapt its behavior. It will work out which apps you typically use at certain times of day, and preload those in the background so they load faster. Later in the day, it’ll shut down those apps you typically stop using by lunchtime, for example, or bedtime. Think of it as a cycle that anticipates your needs by opening and closing apps before you do it yourself.
For gamers: The S10 phones are optimized to use the Unity gaming engine and Dolby Atmos for tuning sounds. The S10 Plus has a vapor chamber cooling system to dissipate heat during intense gameplay.
Stiff competition ahead
From the cheapest Galaxy S10E to the most advanced Galaxy S10 5G, Samsung’s phones for 2019 face challengers every step of the way. On the least pricey end of the spectrum, Galaxy S10E will contend with less expensive flagships such as the iPhone XR and the OnePlus 6T (and eventually the future OnePlus 7).
The Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus are so close in price, I suspect they’ll almost compete with each other, and then with every other $1,000-ish phone or 4G flagship model, from the forthcoming LG G8 and Huawei’s next P30 and Mate phones, to whatever follows the iPhone XS and XS Max.
Then, there’s 5G. While it initially won’t be a massive seller (thanks in part to the expense), every phone maker and carrier will fight to gain a foothold in 5G as the first networks light up in the coming months, promising exponentially faster download speeds with virtually no lag connecting to the network. Samsung itself is planning multiple phones for carriers all over the world.
Samsung’s foldable phone also makes its debut. Again, high prices and limited runs are expected to make foldable phones from Samsung and other brands a cross between a beta product for developers, a status symbol for bleeding-edge adopters, and a good old-fashioned spectacle for everyone else. All eyes will be on it, which means that phones like the Galaxy S10 Plus and even the S10 5G could look ho-hum by comparison.
Together, the Galaxy S10E, S10 and Galaxy S10 Plus will shoulder the heavy burden of fending off competitors and holding people’s interest until 5G and foldable phones become much more vital to the mainstream.
Galaxy S10 specs: S10E to S10 5G
Samsung Galaxy S10E Samsung Galaxy S10 Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus Samsung Galaxy S10 5G
- Display size, resolution 5.8-inch AMOLED; 2,280×1,080 pixels 6.1-inch AMOLED; 3,040×1,440 pixels 6.4-inch AMOLED; 3,040×1,440 pixels 6.7-inch AMOLED
- Pixel density 438ppi 550ppi 522ppi 505ppi
- Dimensions (inches) 5.59 x 2.75 x 0.27 in 5.9 x 2.77 x 0.31 in 6.20 x 2.92 x 0.31 in 6.40 x 3.04 x 0.31 in
- Dimensions (millimeters) 142 x 69.9 x 7.9 mm 149.9 x 70.4 x 7.8 mm 157.6 x 74.1 x 7.8 mm 162.6 x 77.1 x 7.94 mm
- Weight (ounces, grams) 5.29 oz.; 150 g 5.53 oz.; 157 g 6.17 oz.; 175 g 6.98 oz.; 198 g
- Mobile software Android 9.0 with Samsung One UI Android 9.0 with Samsung One UI Android 9.0 with Samsung One UI Android 9.0 with Samsung One UI
- Camera 16-megapixel, 12-megapixel 16-megapixel (ultra wide-angle), 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 12-megapixel (telephoto) 16-megapixel (ultra wide-angle), 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 12-megapixel (telephoto) 16-megapixel (ultra wide-angle), 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 12-megapixel (telephoto), 3D depth (HQVGA)
- Front-facing camera 10-megapixel 10-megapixel 10-megapixel, 8-megapixel 10-megapixel, 3D depth (HQVGA)
- Video capture 4K 4K 4K 4K
- Processor Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
- Storage 128GB, 256GB 128GB, 512GB 512GB, 1TB 256GB
- RAM 6GB, 8GB 8GB 8GB, 12GB 8GB
- Expandable storage Up to 512GB Up to 512GB Up to 512GB No
- Battery 3,100 mAh 3,400 mAh 4,100 mAh 4,500 mAh
- Fingerprint sensor Power button In-screen In-screen TBA
- Connector USB-C USB-C USB-C USB-C
- Headphone jack Yes Yes Yes TBA
- Special features Wireless PowerShare; hole punch screen notch; water resistant (IP68); Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 Wireless PowerShare; hole punch screen notch; water resistant (IP68); Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 Wireless PowerShare; hole punch screen notch; water resistant (IP68); Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 Wireless PowerShare; 3D depth cameras (not for face unlock); water resistant (IP68); Fast Wireless Charging 2.0
- Base price off-contract (USD, GBP) $750, £669, $AU$1,199 $900, £799, AU$1,349 $1,000, £899, AU$1,499 TBA