Why you can trust ZDNet
ZDNet independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission.Our process
'ZDNet Recommends': What exactly does it mean?
ZDNet's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.
When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNet nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.
ZDNet's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.
Reviewers were handed Prism White Galaxy S10 Plus unlocked models and retail units will be shipping to customers later this week. While I buy a lot of phones and the S10 Plus is fantastic, I'll be holding off to see what Samsung offers in the Note 10 later this year. The S10 Plus is clearly one of the best smartphones available today and you will see it appearing in my 10 best smartphones list shortly.
While the Note series is optimized for the S Pen, the Galaxy S series also offers what businesses need in a smartphone. The three pillars for enterprise users that the Galaxy S10 Plus is built upon include:
Mobile Productivity: The S10 Plus has a professional grade camera with an embedded neural processing unit, flaw correction, and an ultra-wide lens that matches the human eye. Super steady video, achieved through additional software enhancements, is provided to help you capture subjects on the go. 4K video capture is also supported on both the front and rear cameras. The Dynamic Super AMOLED Infinity-O display is Samsung's best ever with 42 percent blue light reduction so will cause less strain on workers. The Samsung One UI has also been optimized for efficient use of your valuable time.
Trusted Security: Knox continues to be the backbone of the Samsung security system. The new ultrasonic fingerprint sensor offers the best level of security and is easy to use so mobile workers will use it and keep your data secure. Secure folder, SD card encryption, and multiple app login support is all provided so you can keep your work and personal lives separated and secure.
Intelligent Performance: Some improvements here include Wireless PowerShare, faster app launch (I notice it already after just two days of use), Bixby Routines designed to automate workflows and processes you perform on a regular basis so that your phone works for you rather than you working for it, adaptive battery capability so that apps are smartly managed to make sure you get the longest battery life possible, and intelligent Wi-Fi that will ensure your connection is valid and secure.
After inserting my personal T-Mobile SIM card and walking through the setup, the first thing I noticed was the method to unlock the phone. While many complained of the iris scanner, I find it pretty quick and seamless on my Note 9. However, Samsung didn't just get rid of the iris scanner and go with the rear capacitive fingerprint scanner; it implemented Qualcomm's ultrasonic fingerprint scanner that is found under the glass. Unlike the optical fingerprint scanner provided by OnePlus and others, the ultrasonic scanner measures the varying depths of your fingerprint -- which should result in a more secure phone.
While the phone is more secure with this method of biometric authentication, I'm seeing something like 80 percent reliability. About once out of every five attempts, my fingerprint is not recognized and I have to try again. I reposition my fingerprint a bit and the phone unlocks. One nice thing I do like is that I can reach over and unlock the S10 Plus when the display is off and it is resting on a wireless charging. The phone unlocks and then jumps right to the home screen so I can use it. I've retrained it a couple of times since the winter weather dries out my hands and I think this has helped it improve its performance.
We have seen spies fooling optical fingerprint scanners in the movies, but unless a thief builds a 3D model of your finger with exact dimensions of each ridge and valley, your Galaxy S10 Plus should remain safe and secure.
The next big thing on the S10 Plus is the Infinity-O Super AMOLED screen and ZDNet's Jason Cipriani points out some reasons why it is special. Samsung never offered us a notch on the S or Note line, but the Infinity-O display provides a "hole punch" for the front-facing cameras. It's tucked away in the upper right and the only nagging thing I notice is the shift to the left for some of my status icons. Some apps go around the opening while others add in a virtual bar aligned with the bottom of the cameras. You can also turn on such a virtual "top" in the software settings.
While Samsung's display is lovely, I have also seen more inadvertent screen presses on the S10 Plus than on my Note 9. The Note 9 is wider than the S10 Plus so maybe the narrower device is causing my fingers to wrap around the edges and touch the display when I hold it. The curved displays look great, but screen protectors are hard to form to the display and every one I have tried collects pocket lint around the edges after a few weeks of use. The curved edges also create a vulnerability when you drop your phone. I would love to see Samsung go back to using flat displays.
Another camera is found on the back and the front of the S10 Plus so we have five cameras available. The new one on the back offers an ultra-wide perspective of 123 degrees, which is what Samsung says is equivalent to what the human eye can see. The software lets you easily switch between the three cameras with a tap or a simple pinch and zoom on the viewfinder.
Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus: review pics and sample output
Over the past couple of weeks, I have enjoyed having the wide angle lens available. It has allowed me to capture photos of landscapes, parties, and more with limited space to move for a better view. I'll be comparing the five cameras on the S10 Plus with the LG V40's five cameras soon, with plans to add in some thoughts on the wide angle Moment lens performance.
Check out my Flickr gallery for full resolution samples of output from the three rear cameras. The software is easier to use on the S10 Plus and I have enjoyed capturing super slow motion video of trains, snow falling, and more. When compared to results from the Google Pixel 3XL, Google still beats out Samsung in typical auto-mode quick capture scenarios. Samsung leads in macro shots though and to date I have not found any phone that can match Samsung for close up photography.
Galaxy S10 first look: All the models and colors up close
You will still find a couple of rarities on the S10 Plus, thankfully, including a 3.5mm headset jack at the bottom and a microSD card slot. A USB-C port is also on the bottom for charging up your phone. The power button is on the right with the Bixby and volume buttons on the left. The Bixby button can be reprogrammed with options to customize a single and double press of the button. Make sure to first check out Bixby Quick Commands before you give up on Bixby.
The Prism color schemes are gorgeous with the white review unit showing off an iridescent look similar to an abalone shell or pearl in various lighting conditions. It's pretty stunning in person and I'm sure smartphone fans will enjoy the color options. US buyers can choose from Prism White, Prism Black, Prism Blue, and Flamingo Pink.
One new feature we have only seen from Huawei so far is the ability to charge up other accessories and phones with the S10 Plus itself. Wireless PowerShare may end up being one of my favorite features, especially with the new sleek Galaxy Buds in hand. I used this feature twice to top off the Galaxy Buds, but did not yet use it for other devices.
A surprising feature of the S10 Plus that I did not expect to discover is the extremely long battery life. It has been lasting longer than the Galaxy Note 9 and I honestly never worry about charging the device during the day as it gets me through long days, even with camera usage, music listening, and more.
Galaxy S10 Plus Specifications
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 octa-core
Display: 6.4 inch, 2960 x 1440 pixels resolution Super AMOLED 19:9 ratio (522 ppi)
Operating system: Android 9.0 Pie with One UI
RAM: 8GB LPDDR4 (12GB option for ceramic model)
Storage: 128/512GB or 1TB (ceramic) internal with microSD expansion card slot
Cameras: 16 megapixel ultra-wide (123 degrees) f/2.2, 12 megapixel rear f/1.5 and f/2.4 super speed dual pixel OIS camera, and 12 megapixel telephoto f/2.4 OIS cameras. 10 megapixel f/1.9 dual pixel and 8 megapixel f/2.2 front-facing cameras
The S10 Plus is just a hair wider, bit thinner, and 14 grams lighter than the S9 Plus from last year.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus launches with Android 9 Pie and has the new Samsung One UI installed. This is my first experience with this UI and I can't wait to get the update on my Note 9. It's great to see Samsung pushing actionable parts down towards the bottom of the display when you first open up various settings as it makes it easier to use with one hand.
Thankfully, Samsung still includes its own email, calendar, contacts, image gallery, and web browser software -- all of which offer more than the stock Google apps. While other Android vendors move to purely stock Google apps, these Samsung applications offer significantly more value, especially for enterprise users. These apps have all been updated too, and I am loving my work's Outlook 365 email in Samsung's email app.
I turned on some of the intelligence in the camera app, powered by the integrated NPU, including the shot suggestions, flaw detection, and scene optimizer. Samsung provides optimization for more than 30 scenes, which is more than we have seen from Huawei and others trying to add intelligence to the camera experience.
Bixby Routines have also been added in the S10 Plus, but Samsung said it takes about three to five days of use before the phone starts suggesting these routines and helping you set them up for your daily life. I'm still working through these routines and will have another post detailing their functionality a bit later.
There is also a Night mode that gives your phone a dark theme and I have that set for later at night to make it a bit better on my eyes. Improved blue light filtration is also present on the S10 Plus.
Some other Android phones and iPhones drive me crazy because they do not let you take advantage of resolution density with big icons and lots of spacing around those icons. I quickly switched to a 5x6 home screen grid and 5x5 apps screen grid to optimize how much I can see on the display at once.
Google's Digital Wellbeing apps also present on the Galaxy S10 Plus, which is something I have only seen on a Pixel 3 XL before. This utility gives you data on screen and app usage times and more to help you manage your life, or lack of it.
I am more productive using Samsung devices because of the way I can have incoming messages appear in pop-up windows so I can respond to conversations and then get right back into the work I was conducting. The edge panels are also useful for accessing regular apps quickly and easily. Compared to my use of the iPhone XS, Samsung devices help me be more efficient with my time and is something to consider for businesses.
Price and availability
The Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus are priced higher than last year's S9 and S9 Plus, with the addition of a S10e at a lower starting price. The S10e starts at $749.99 and has a few differences to justify the price where it competes with the iPhone XR.
The Galaxy S10 starts at $899.99 for 128GB and goes up to $1,149.99 for the 512GB model. The S10 Plus starts at $999.99 for the 8GB/128GB model and goes up to $1,599.99 for the 1TB ceramic model. You can also get the ceramic one with 512GB of internal storage for $1,249.99, which is still $200 less than the iPhone XS Max with the potential for much more storage thanks to the microSD card slot.
Pre-orders are still open with the S10 Plus arriving in the hands of buyers this Friday, 8 March. If you are interested in a Galaxy S10, get in on the pre-order phase the next few days as the offer for a free pair of Samsung Galaxy Buds ($129.99 retail value) ends on 7 March. I've been using the Buds for a couple of days and they are a solid option with six-hour battery life, outstanding fit and finish, and a compact wireless charging case.
Daily usage and experiences
The unique front-facing camera hole isn't really bugging me; the display is gorgeous; the fingerprint scanner has been working about 80 percent of the time without repeated attempts; the various cameras perform well; the device has superb fit and finish; the Prism White is stunning; and I am thoroughly enjoying Samsung One UI. It's clearly the best Samsung phone released, typical for the newest releases, and will please millions of folks who buy it this month.
As I mentioned earlier, battery life is amazing. I also performed my typical reception comparison on my daily train commute, where the train passes through weak cellular signal areas, and the S10 Plus has proven to have the best RF readings of any phone I have tested so far. Calls sounded great and in typical fashion, Samsung is a leader in download speeds and cellular performance.
The Galaxy S10 Plus and S10 will sell in the millions. The fingerprint scanner, can get better with regular usage, and inadvertent screen activations bug me, but otherwise the phone is about perfect. The size is excellent and you won't find a longer lasting phone in this size and configuration.