Price (RRP): $1548
The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G is an extension of the Galaxy S10 family – we like to call it the S10+/+ or “the phone to buy regardless of 5G”. While it has essentially the same internals as the S10+, save the 5G modem and two TOF sensors, it does have to drive a little more tech.
We set out to explore the differences between the S10+ and the Galaxy S10 5G. We also reflect on 5G coverage and if it has improved since the late May launch at Telstra HQ (nope – it has not!)
Who buys the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G?
If you have a use case for 5G (and can get reception??) then it is one of three smartphones you can select:
However, even if 5G is not important, it is a further step up over the excellent S10+.
Spoiler alert: The Galaxy S10/+ received five-out-of-five in our review so it’s a dead giveaway that the Galaxy S10 5G should do just as well. However, lack of a MicroSD expansion slot, loss of the rear heart-rate sensor, and that you can only buy it from Tel$tra on a plan loses a few points.
Samsung Galaxy S10 5G 8/256GB
Price: Available exclusively from Telstra at $1548 ($44/66 over 36/24 months – a $432 reduction on launch price) plus a monthly 3G/4G/5G voice and data plan ranging from $50/15GB to $100/150GB. An additional $15 monthly fee for 5G access applies from July 2020.
Note: The version sold here has the Samsung Exynos 9820 SoC and 5100 sub-6GHz 5G modem that tops out at 2Gbps – if you were sitting uncomfortably on top of a Telstra tower! This unit has different performance specs and battery life (both better) than the Qualcomm SD855 version used in the US.
You may want to read our incredibly detailed S10/+ review first. This review covers the differences only. Any specifications in brackets refer to the Galaxy 10+.
It has a 6.7-inch (6.4”), 3040 x 1440, 502DPI, 19:9, Cinematic Dynamic AMOLED, making it just .1” smaller than the Note10+. In all other respects – brightness, colour gamut and performance – it is a perfect screen.
It shares the same Exynos 9820 SoC and like the S10 series has a little, not bad, SoC throttling. In a 15-minute, 100% load test, it was great for the first 12 minutes and then dropped to 71% of its peak performance. In fact, only the two 2×2.73 GHz Mongoose M4 cores dropped back – the other six cores were unaffected.
This is purely a heat management and protection issue and would not affect anyone unless they used the phone for extended periods at maximum load.
Of the 256GB it has 223GB free and no microSD expansion slot.
It is a single SIM and locked to Telstra’s 3/4/5G network although the lock does not appear to extend to the 4G/4GX or 3G network (we used an Optus MVNO sim to test that).
4G bands include 1, 2, 3,4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 28, 32, 38, 39, 40, 41 and 66. This is a world phone.
4G reception (this test is in a low signal strength area)
Using Network Cell Info, we had a 4G, band 1, rating of -51dBm that is the best result we have ever had in the test area. More than that, it found three additional towers – most phones find only one. This has an excellent 3/4G antenna and reception.
5G is N78 (3500) on Telstra. To be fair to Telstra, it is slowly rolling out 5G sub-6GHz coverage. This is not really 5G but uses the 4GX network and backhaul – you can read our updated guide to 5G here. Telstra’s 5G does not achieve 20Gbps download – theoretically, it can get 2Mbps, but practically it is well under 1Gbps download.
We tested the OPPO Reno 5G, LG V50 dual-screen 5G and the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G at the same location in Surry Hills.
All phones managed (at least once during the wildly erratic speeds achieved) 400/50Mbps download/upload which is a far cry from the 1-2Gbps demonstration at launch. All phones sat comfortably around 150-200/50Mbps – but were often as low as 80Mbps.
By comparison using 4GX Telstra, Band 13, 700Mhz, we consistently achieved over 300Mbps and at one time, 540Mbps – faster than 5G.
So, buy this phone for its excellent RF antenna.
Like the rest of the Galaxy S10 and Note10 series, it has Wi-Fi AX. It achieves -24dBm signal strength and 1.2Gbps download at 5 metres from our NETGEAR AX12 router. By comparison the Note10+ is -31dBm and 1083Mbps. This is class-leading – by far.
We repeat, buy this phone for its excellent RF antenna.
It has a 4500mAh battery that is bigger than the Note10/+ at 3400/4100.
- Your Battery Drain app (100% load, screen 100%, Wi-Fi, BT and more) takes 10 hours to drain the battery. That is amazing longevity.
- A 1080p video loop, 50% screen, aeroplane mode – 22 hours – ditto
- High use, screen-on, Wi-Fi and BT – 18 hours
- MP3 music playback (aeroplane mode, 3.5mm audio) was still going after three days – so we gave up
That is impressive. We did not test 5G use, but other reports say it is up to a day (24 hours).
Given typical use on 4G networks, you will get up to two days use.
The Samsung charger is a little different to the usual. It will do 5V/3A or 9V/2.77A (15/25W) or UBS-C PD 3.0 from 3.3-5.9V/3A and 3.3-11V/2.25A (25W).
Now, 25W is about fast charge –
- 30 minutes 33% battery
- 45 minutes 51%
- 60 minutes 67%
At this time, you would expect to fill in under two hours, but the charger drops back to 3.3/5V, 2.25A (7-10W) to top off and a full charge takes about four hours. The drop is intentional to help manage battery life and heat.
Out of curiosity, we also used a standard 5V/2A and 5V/3A charger, and it took 13 and 8 hours to fill.
These are similar times to a standard 10W Qi wireless charger. A 15W Qi charger brings that to about six hours. It also reverse Qi charges at 9W.
The Galaxy S10 5G has the same camera as the Note10+ with the addition of a 3D TOF sensor on the rear and another on the front. This allows apps to access it for things like 3D imaging, measurement, live focus, gesture control and even bokeh control. We won’t repeat the S10+ review except to add more about 3D.
3D TOF is not a camera, but separate 240 x 160 pixel send and receive sensors that work not unlike a bat’s sensor. It projects a beam of IR light and the receive sensor calculates distance etc. by the speed and amount of returned light. We are unsure of the distance or accuracy, but we measured about five metres before the TOF became grossly inaccurate. Also, ill-defined objects like large leafy trees will confuse it.
DxOMark has a full review here, and it scores 117/99 (camera and selfie) – the highest for any Google Android handset to date.
In our standard tests it, and the Samsung Note10+ (same camera setup) where the best daylight, office light and low light shots by a country mile.
GadgetGuy’s take – Galaxy S10 5G is a better Galaxy S10+
- Bigger, longer-lasting battery and 25W fast charger in the box
- Best and most versatile smartphone camera we have tested
- ToF sensors are capable of a lot more via apps in future
- Screen is bigger
- RF antennas are more sensitive (better rural reception)
- And at $1548 from Telstra for the 8/256GB version versus $1499 for the S10+ 8/128GB (also single sim) it is a winner although it lacks a microSD slot.
I would be remiss not to mention
- Under glass fingerprint scanner
- Dolby Atmos speakers, hi-res 32-bit/384kHz, and BT 5 aptX
- Samsung DeX Android on a desktop built-in
- IP68, metal frame, and Gorilla Glass 6
- Samsung’s camera AI produces idiot-proof shots
- Samsung One UI and Android 9 with Android 10 coming