Feb 20th, 2019

Samsung Unpacked 2019 has wrapped up and we’ve gotten our first official look at the new family of Galaxy S10 devices. Samsung has announced the Galaxy S10e, Galaxy S10, and Galaxy S10+. With a somewhat “budget flagship” a la iPhone XR thrown into the mix this year, the company is offering a comprehensive selection for just about anyone in the market for a premium device.

Overall, the three phones are very similar with almost identical specs. The S10e differs with a flat display while the two others use curved displays, and it also has two rear cameras instead of three. The S10+ has a second sensor on the front as well. Otherwise, the experience will be extremely similar. Even the camera sensors across all three devices are the same.

The devices are quick and smooth, as expected from a brand new flagship. Samsung’s build and design hasn’t changed much since last year so we get a smooth glass front and back with an aluminum frame. The smaller two are surprisingly light, with the S10e weighing almost nothing. Apps open quick, changing tasks is snappy and smooth, and there isn’t a stutter or lag in sight. All expected for a flagship.

The camera experience is well done, with the app opening fast and the transition between the two or three sensors being very fast (faster than some of the competition). There are an overwhelming number of modes, but the new Instagram mode with direct integration with the feed and stories is a welcome addition. The S10e features a standard and a wide angle camera, which is to me the perfect combination and better than using a zoom lens. The other two devices feature a 2x zoom, which is appreciated but a bit more zoom would have been nice.

The controversial “hole punch” displays are not all that different from a notch. As we expected, they take up a significant amount of room up top and get in the way of where things would normally be on a notchless phone. The screen around the hole punch is definitely aesthetically pleasing compared to a notches black border, but it’s useless real estate. Nonetheless, it’s a better implementation of the notch.

Overall the devices feel great but are very much more of the same from Samsung. The companies claims of a new era and massive innovation are undercut by an experience that feels much the same as any other phone. This isn’t necessarily a bash on Samsung, because making a phone stand out is hard. And the devices feel excellent, so no complaints there. However, they really don’t have many differentiating factors outside of new specs and features. Plus the price has gone significantly up, with the “budget” level S10e going for $749 and the top of the line Galaxy S10+ costing a whopping $999. The era of the $1,000 smartphone has come and gone, so expect the Note to cost significantly more!