The Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10+ are the world’s largest selling flagship-class Android smartphones (by volume). This year marks the 10th year of Galaxy S devices. The 10-series improves on the 9-series in every way. Most improvements are subtle – on the inside.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10+ (referred to now as GS10/+) are truly aspirational flagship phones that offer a fully-featured Android choice to Apple’s iOS iPhone. Although Huawei has recently knocked Apple of its number two spot (by volume – not profitability).
Before we review the phone – who buys flagship and why?
It would be easy to say those who have the cash to flash. In Australia most phones sell on 12-18-24-36-month Telco lease plans where you return the phone at the end – you never own it. If the phone has any damage, save fair wear and tear, you are up for repair or damage fees. Some Telcos offer upgrade options (Telstra New Phone Feeling) at extra cost to go to a later model during the lease.
Some also have interest-free buy options with a voice/data plan over 24-months, and some offer outright purchase with no carrier lock-in so you can use whichever plan suits.
The catch 22 is that must pay for the cost of the phone either up-front or over time – from $1199-2399 plus voice/data plans. Unless it is a legitimate business expense, it is horribly expensive. Telco’s love it as it tends to make it hard to leave them.
Globally flagships account for around 10% of the market share. In Australia, the figure is more like 40% (roughly 52/48% Apple/Android) and in the US that has dropped to around 3%. To quote a movie, it is the “Crazy Rich Asians’ that play the greatest part in buying prestige flagships. Then brand snobbery comes into play. What was once Apple is now Samsung or Huawei!
Any flagship device represents the best a maker can do at that time with the available technology.
It will have a camera that rates above the magic 100 on the DxOMark, the most powerful processor and things like IP68 and Qi charging. It is an aspirational purchase for those who can afford fine cars, food and luxuries. Yes, in part it is snob/prestige value (a game that Apple plays so well), or it may be that you simply want the best and can pay for it or need the extra features it offers.
Whatever way – flagships portend the future as their features flow down to lower models – today’s newspaper is tomorrow’s fish and chip wrapper.
It is time to remind you that any Android smartphone performs basic duties like making phone calls, mail, calendar, contacts, web surfing and playing audio/video content pretty well. There are some amazing smartphones under $500.
How we rate smartphones
Apart from specifications, we need to slot them into a market segment. Over the past few months, those segments have seen Apple’s XS/Max (and now G10+) set new sky-high price ceilings, foldables, and 5G. By the time you read this Huawei will have its 2019 P30 series.
Our original four categories have grown to seven, and we review against different paradigms for each category.
- Foldable $2500+
- Premium Flagship $1500-2499 (usually a flagship with more memory/storage, additional camera lens and now 5G)
- Flagship $1000-1499 (globally $1000+ account for about 10% of sales)
- Premium mid-market $800-999 (a new category not seeing much action – 10% at best, offering flagship specifications often for a run-out price)
- Mid-market $500-799 (about 25% of the market)
- Mass-market $200-499 (about 25% of the market)
- Value <$199 (about 30% of the market – good for pre-paid and children)
We develop feature/performance paradigms for each level to compare Apples with Apples (because that iOS all we can do🤣) and Android phones within various price bands.
Buy here – or you will regret it
We issue the standard warning that you must buy the genuine model with Australian firmware as it works on all Australian Carrier LTE bands and can make a 000-emergency call without a sim. These also work with Samsung and Google Pay here.
The Model number is SM-970F (S10e 8/128GB), SM-G973F (S10 8/128GB) and the SM-G975F (S10+ 8/128GB) plus colour and memory variations. The F is Australia, and /DS is dual sim unlocked.
Do not buy the Qualcomm SD855 variants (SM-G970/973/975) with 0, 8, N, U, W, FC, FZ after the base number. These are for different countries, LTE/GSM/CDMA bands and Telcos. A list of GS10e models is here, GS10 is here, and GS10+ is here.