Galaxy S10: Which model should you buy?

The buying decision for the Samsung Galaxy S10 is more complicated because of two words: Next year. Galaxy S10 5G and a foldable device are two reasons to hold off on Samsung's flagship.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Samsung outlined a trio of Galaxy S10 devices -- Galaxy S10e, Galaxy S10, and Galaxy S10 Plus -- that appeal to tech buyers who want all flavors of screen sizes and slim bezels with good price points -- plus a Galaxy S10 5G that gives you pause. Meanwhile, Samsung outlined the Galaxy Fold available in April for $1,980 to start just to complicate matters. 

Must see: Galaxy S10 deals at Samsung

The buying decision for the Samsung Galaxy S10 is more complicated because of two words: Next year. Yes, this upgrade can get you a better selfie camera without the camera cutout, but most of the lineup isn't 5G. Super wide-angle camera and AMOLED display improvements only go so far. Buying the Galaxy Fold would be cost prohibitive if you didn't get the 5G version. Why buy a luxury device that'll be on a slower network

At its Unpacked powwow in San Francisco, Samsung debuted a solid line up of Galaxy devices for its 10th anniversary, but went with its typical kitchen sink approach to innovation, products and pricing. What's unclear is whether Samsung's approach covers all the bases for consumers and businesses or makes them stretch out their current devices a bit longer.

We break down the buying decision tree for the Galaxy S10 lineup later, but first let's run down the lineup and specs as well as key selling points from the South Korean consumer electronics giant. Many of the leaks in advance of Unpacked were on target and it was clear early on that the stakes for the struggling smartphone industry were high. All of the Galaxy S10 devices run Android 9.0 (Pie). 

Also: Want a new iPhone or Android smartphone? Here's how to sell or trade | Samsung Galaxy Fold: I want a foldable phone, but no clue what to do with it worth $1,980 | TechRepublic: Samsung's Galaxy S10e, Galaxy S10, Galaxy S10 Plus and Galaxy S10 5G: What it means for IT | Samsung Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, S10e and Fold: A cheat sheet  

Galaxy S10e: This more compact model of the Galaxy lineup features a 5.8-inch screen. The device feels good in your hand, but if you run with the phablet crowd, it almost feels too small, as Samsung has trimmed the bezels and eliminated the camera notch. The S10e display doesn't have curved edges, which Samsung notes can be a benefit for enterprise app developers looking for a standard approach to devices.

The memory and storage configurations are 6GB RAM and 128GB storage or 8GB RAM and 256GB storage for this model. Keep in mind that a MicroSD card can support up to 512GB of storage. Battery is 3,100 mAh. Rear-facing cameras are 16 MP Ultra Wide/F2.2 and Dual Pixel 12 MP OIS (Wide/F1.5/F2.4), AF. The front camera is Dual Pixel 10MP AF (F1.9).

Starting price: $749. 

Galaxy S10 first look: All the models and colors up close

Galaxy S10: A 6.1-inch edge model sports an ultrawide camera, Ultrasonic Fingerprint Scanner and Infinity display. The memory and storage configurations are 6GB RAM and 128GB storage or 8GB RAM and 512GB storage. Keep in mind that a MicroSD card can support up to 512GB of storage to get you to 1 terabyte.

Samsung's move to put the Ultrasonic Fingerprint Scanner beneath the screen and eliminate the camera notch makes the screen seem bigger.

The Ultrasonic Fingerprint Scanner complements other biometric security features such as the iris scanner and facial recognition and is likely to bring back the fingerprint reader as an option. By putting the fingerprint reader under the screen it's now going to be more of a competitor to the other biometric options being force-fed by smartphone makers.

The rear cameras are 16 MP Ultra Wide/F2.2 and Dual Pixel 12 MP OIS (Wide/F1.5/F2.4), AF with another 12MP OIS (Tele/F2.4), AF. The front camera is Dual Pixel 10MP AF (F1.9).

Battery is 3,400 mAh. Starting price: $899.

Galaxy S10 Plus: This 6.4-inch edge model starts at $999 and offers more configuration options. Memory configurations are 8GB RAM with 128GB of storage or 8GB RAM with 512GB of storage. There's also a 12GB  RAM and 1TB storage option. Toss in a 512GB MicroSD card and the high-end Galaxy S10 Plus can deliver 1.5GB of storage. Battery is 4,100 mAh.

The rear cameras are 16 MP Ultra Wide/F2.2 and Dual Pixel 12 MP OIS (Wide/F1.5/F2.4), AF with another 12MP OIS (Tele/F2.4), AF. The front camera is Dual Pixel 10MP AF (F1.9) with an additional 8MP AF (Depth/F2.2) lens.

All Galaxy S10 variants have Samsung's new, cleaner One UI and support 802.11ax. Presales start Feb. 21. Enterprise editions aren't available at launch and to date Samsung hasn't been in the Android Enterprise Recommended program.

The family of devices is held together with an ultrawide camera that provides a field of vision of 123 degrees and a dynamic AMOLED screen. Samsung also improved the color accuracy and reduced blue light emissions 42 percent from the predecessor devices without a filter. The devices also give up little screen real estate to bezels and use machine learning to detect usage patterns and optimize performance. Bixby gets routines so phones can be managed better during certain times of the day. 

Larry Dignan

Another core feature is Wireless PowerShare, which enables the Galaxy S10 to offer wireless charging for other devices. When plugged in, the Galaxy S10 can be used as a charger for earbuds, smartwatches and other phones. The idea is that the Galaxy can charge other devices just enough to keep them running. For business travelers, this ability can cut down on cord bloat.

TechRepublic: Samsung's Galaxy S10e, Galaxy S10, Galaxy S10 Plus and Galaxy S10 5G: What it means for IT

Jason Hiner

Now by themselves, the trio of Galaxy S10 devices could fit in well with a consumer or enterprise looking to buy an Android device for a worker. Enterprises still standardize on Galaxy devices as their primary Android play. Other odds and ends:


  • HDR+ video recording capability is only available on the rear camera, not the front camera.
  • The camera leverages a Neural Processing Unit to manage advanced camera settings and optimize scenes as well as shot selection via a feature called Shot Suggestion. 


  • Galaxy S10's Ultrasonic Fingerprint Scanner applies a machine learning-based algorithm to provide anti-spoofing due to its ability to read 3D-fingerprints through ultrasonic sound waves.
  • The Ultrasonic Fingerprint Scanner reads the contours of your thumbprint for greater security than before – meaning Galaxy S10's Ultrasonic Fingerprint Scanner will only open with your physical thumbprint, not an image of it (e.g., counterfeit paper, film, etc.).

Gorilla Glass

  • S10 and S10+ have Gorilla Glass 6 on front and Gorilla Glass 5 on back. S10E has Gorilla Glass 5 on front and back.

Bixby routines and AI

  • Bixby Routines learns routines for two locations: your work and home.
  • You can make your own Bixby Routines manually.
  • AI is used to manage performance via optimizing battery, CPU and RAM as well as device temperature. AI also learns how you use your device and delivers most frequently used apps faster. 

And then there are a few more wrinkles. Enter the Galaxy S10 5G, Samsung's first 5G phone. This device will launch in the second quarter depending on carriers, and pricing hasn't been determined yet. The Galaxy S10 5G has all the features found in the rest of the family, but comes with a 6.7-inch display, a 3D Depth Camera for augmented reality applications, and a 4,500 mAH battery that's supposed to last all day. 

Larry Dignan

Now there are a few issues with this 5G thing. For starters, it's unclear how much the plans will cost. Coverage is a work in progress. And it's quite possible that the 5G revolution will come to business first.

To Samsung, that business-first issue is kind of the point. Samsung wants enterprises to pilot 5G networks, cook up apps and use cases (goodbye fixed broadband, edge computing and IoT) and wants a device in the field for pilots. Rest assured the Galaxy S10 5G won't be cheap, but it is designed for more computation to the point where it's almost a thin client. As a fallback position on connectivity it's worth noting that the entire Galaxy S10 line supports the Wi-Fi 6 standard. 

Jason Hiner

Toss in Samsung's foldable device demo and you can find reasons to hurry up and wait when it comes to your Galaxy upgrade. Perhaps you punt until the Note 10 lands. Samsung Galaxy Fold: I want a foldable phone, but no clue what to do with it

Other items to consider:


Galaxy S10, Galaxy S10 Plus and Galaxy S10e will be available in Prism White, Prism Black, Prism Blue and Flamingo Pink in carrier and Unlocked by Samsung versions in the U.S. Galaxy S10 Plus will also be available in two premium Ceramic models: Ceramic Black and Ceramic White.


AT&T, Spectrum Mobile, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon Wireless, and Xfinity Mobile will carry Galaxy S10 family with availability March 8, 2019. Amazon, Best Buy, Costco, Sam's Club, Target, Walmart, Samsung.com, and the ShopSamsung app will also the lineup.

Verizon Wireless gets the first half of 2019 exclusive on the Galaxy S10 5G. AT&T, Spectrum Mobile, Sprint, T-Mobile and Xfinity Mobile will launch the Galaxy S10 5G this summer.


Samsung said the people who preorder a Galaxy S10 or Galaxy S10 Plus by Feb. 21 will get free Galaxy Buds, which go for $129.99. There are also trade-in promotions on eligible devices.

Your buying decision tree

The moving parts and timing of Samsung's 10th anniversary Galaxy launch have complicated the buying decisions -- assuming you want to keep a device for two years. There are good reasons to upgrade now if you need a new smartphone, but there's a lot of logic to simply waiting it out. Here's a decision tree to ponder for personal and business use.

Buy the Galaxy S10e, S10 or S10 Plus if...

  • Price matters to you at the starting level and you can later add the MicroSD card for more storage.
  • You're impressed by yet another camera improvement and new display technology.
  • You think it's a pretty safe bet that this so-called 5G revolution is going to be more like improved 4G over the next two years. Another theme on this point is that you're not necessarily into streaming content on your data plan and use WiFi a ton anyway.
  • You're an enterprise with employees upgrading and you want a middle-of-the-road device at a reasonable price. Let's face it: Only CEOs are going to get the Galaxy S10 5G and even the top execs may have to make a case for the foldable contraption.

Wait for the Galaxy S10 5G and buy it in the second quarter if...

  • You believe in the 5G rollout and think it will change the way you work and live.
  • You want to be the first on your block with a 5G device.
  • You don't sweat those inevitable early adopter issues like battery life (Samsung assures us the 4,500 mAh battery will do fine).
  • You have real 5G use cases in the enterprise to try out and need what will ultimately be a standard-issue device.
  • You don't mind paying extra for yet-to-be-determined perks of 5G and a bit of future-proofing.

Wait for the Galaxy Fold in April if...

  • You really don't care about your smartphone spending. This device starts at $1,980 and it has to be a convergence device to even begin to justify the price.
  • You want to be tech elite for a few days and use new display technology to humble brag a bit.
  • You can come up with enough use cases to allow your spouse to look the other way while you buy a smartphone when you should be funding the 529 plan or paying for a nice weekend vacation to an island.

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