Is the S10 for you?

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Above: The new S10+ includes a medium telephoto lens, wideangle lens and an ultrawideangle lens. Photo courtesy Samsung.

BitDepth#1191 for April 04, 2019

Two weeks ago, Samsung announced the availability of the S10, now a line of devices which includes the smaller and lowest priced S10e, S10 and the top of the line, S10+.

For most Samsung users, the first question is always going to be about the value of upgrading.

If you have an S9, there is value in the new devices, but if you’re using an S7 or S8, the upgrade positives are significantly greater.

In a casual comparison with the S8+ the new S10+ is just a bit narrower and noticeably taller.

On straight numbers, the S8+ measures 6.28 x 2.89 x 0.32 inches compared to the S10+ at 6.20 x 2.92 x 0.31.

That thickness difference is imperceptible and will disappear the second you put it into a protective case.

The 4,100 Mah battery in the larger device offers market leading battery life and ends the search for outlets in most normal use.

Comparing the screens on an S8+ and S10+ is possibly the best sales pitch for moving up. The new screen is simply beautiful and the faster processor drives games and video flawlessly.

Comparing the screens on an S8+ and S10+ is possibly the best sales pitch for moving up. The new screen is simply beautiful and the faster processor drives games and video flawlessly.

Samsung has hung most of its promotion for the new S series on its improvements to image capture and those changes are most evident in the S10+, which offers five cameras for the photographically inclined.

The big additions to the three that Samsung has been using in its devices recently are a new wide-angle optic on the rear of the phone and a second front facing depth camera that enables new focus effects for selfie addicts.

Samsung continues to make odd choices in their handling of the capabilities of these new devices, particularly for professional users trying to press them to serious use.

Samsung continues to make odd choices in their handling of the capabilities of these new devices, particularly for professional users trying to press them to serious use.

It’s ultimately disappointing, because the hardware is unquestionably powerful, but trying to use it professionally is a bit like trying to taste chocolate through cellophane.

In Photo mode, you can access all the functions save one, shooting RAW captures, and I am still confounded by the way that Samsung’s engineers have implemented the 58mm short telephoto lens on the device ().

In Pro mode, you can capture RAW files, but the S10 doesn’t allow access to the wide-angle lens, which is more than a little annoying.

It isn’t all bad news in the Camera app.

You can now choose which modes are available. Never planning to put bunny ears on your head? You can choose not to show the AR Emoji mode.

Many settings are sensibly contextual, depending on the mode you select for photography. You won’t see an option for RAW capture mode in Photo mode, for instance, though it would have been dimmed  in previous version of the app.

New to both modes is a new ratio option, which switches between full capture, 3:4, 9:16 and for Instagram purists, 1:1. Rather surprisingly, ratios are available in Photo, Pro and Selfie modes, which suggests that there’s more Samsung could be doing to make more features accessible in all modes.

The other big feature upgrade is the new Ultrasonic Fingerprint Sensor, which moves fingerprint recognition from the back of the device, where it would inevitably lead to skin oils smearing on the face of the camera.

The new sensor is on the lower middle face of the S10’s Infinity screen, which bleeds right to the metal edge of the phone with no border.

The twin camera lenses have been moved to the top right, where clever screen art designers have been doing interesting things with their presence.

I don’t find the two dark holes on the screen particularly distracting, but there’s a display setting on the device that adds a black bar at the top to mask their presence. That wasn’t a particularly great solution for me.

Black bar mode.

Getting the sensor to work takes longer than it does with the dedicated pad, which captures fingerprint data in just two passes. I needed to press my finger down at least ten times at different angles to capture enough information for the 3D map of my finger’s whorls.

It’s possible that my fingertips, which have failed scans at US border control because they are prone to dry cracking, may have given the ultrasonic sensor uncommon problems

Once that’s done, it works flawlessly.

Should you consider the upgrade?

The S10+ is a cutting edge device, matching excellent image capture with a brilliant, colour-true screen. It visibly surpasses the capabilities of the S7 and S8, and will make S9 users look twice.

Photographers will appreciate the new wide-angle lens and like me, will be confused about why they can’t use it in Pro mode. #FixitSamsung.