The first hands-on review for the Samsung Galaxy S10 labeled it “more pragmatic than dynamic”. This isn’t necessarily a put down. It is a statement about Samsung’s overarching premise for its S10 range and what they want people to do with their technology. This article wants to set the S10 Plus against the competition – to be specific the Huawei Mate 20 and the iPhone XS Max.
Tech Radar’s hands on review talked about Samsung’s S10 Plus endeavours as “the phone that disrupts the sameness of the last few generations of Samsung handsets.” The S10 range (and the Galaxy Fold to some extent) articulate and highlight Samsung’s focus for the next 10 years of Samsung mobile technology by being utilitarian and disruptive at the same time.
However, we want to find out how this ‘game changing’ Samsung S10 and S10 plus will fare alongside the flagship elite. The Huawei Mate 20 and iPhone XS Max have become 2018/19 staples within the phablet ecosystem. Therefore, by comparing the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus against this old guard, we can really see which one comes out on top!
Let’s Compare – The Basics
In the design stakes
Samsung has competition with Apple. However, there has been a recent push by the South Korean giant to provide users with a more aesthetically pleasing design statement.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus is no different. It has a beautifully minimal bezel on the front of the handset that glides around the edge of the entire display unibody mount. On the reverse of the handset, the camera is a bold statement that provides a somewhat period design focus when you place it alongside the 2018 Apple XS Max or Huawei Mate 20 Pro.
This is further enhanced by the ceramic black or white finish that really provides a wholesome dynamic to the handset – even more so when you think about how this handset feels when being held.
In the display stakes
Samsung has hit the jackpot with the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus. The entire S10 range utilises the company’s Infinity-O Dynamic AMOLED display technology. Furthermore, in the continuing design ‘notch’ wars, Samsung has opted to follow in Honor’s somewhat pioneering approach by deploying a “hole punch” which some argue is way more design/user-friendly than a ‘notch’.
The “hole punch” also helps to enliven the screen space by creating an illusion of greater screen space (thanks to the bezel-less display as well). The water drop notch that Apple deploys and the notch that Huawei Mate 20 Pro utilises take up more screen space than the Samsung's approach. This helps to make the display space for the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus more purposeful than the competition.
That said, in the resolution stakes, the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus has a resolution of 3040 X 1440 AMOLED whilst the Huawei Mate 20 Pro has a resolution of 3120 x 1440 OLED. The difference here is quality – BOE, the Chinese company, doesn’t have the same heritage as Samsung and this is the quality sticking point from a technical standpoint. HDR10+ is the game changer here – and Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus’s superior colour and contrasting abilities will mean it could prove to be the best display of 2019!
Size wise, the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus has a 6.4-inch screen that thanks to the bezel-less design is edge-to-edge in some regards. This gives it a screen-to-body-ratio of 93.1%! The Apple XS Max does come in at the deep end with a 6.5-inch display running Samsung’s OLED with Super Retina tech with 2677 x 1242 resolution. Apple is behind the Huawei/Samsung curve on resolution. The AMOLED Infinity Display tech is why Samsung can get a better notch design too. In this segment, Huawei beats the lot – but on a resolution technicality – whilst Apple is behind the leaders, Samsung’s HDR10+ tech could prove to be a long-term game-changer!
In the camera stakes
The Galaxy S10 Plus has a beautifully designed rear triple lens camera array which incorporates a 12MP regular lens, a new 16MP ultra-wide lens along with a 12MP telephoto lens that cumulatively speaking provides a camera that brings real purpose to smartphone photography. It also has a “hole punch” front facing camera. Dual-lens setup of a 10MP depth lens and a 8MP regular lens in collaboration provides better portraiture that bring depth, texture and meaning to smartphone selfie photography. All told, the camera is a strong contender.
However, the Huawei Mate Pro 20 has a similar setup to the Galaxy S10 Plus. That being the case, the sensors are not as pronounced which gives the Samsung an edge. In the Apple XS Max, the dual 12MP wide angle and telephoto combo provides a powerfully accurate camera with dual optical image stabilisation thanks to the A12 processor. However, it still doesn’t match Huawei's or Samsung's (but if you consider the lifecycle fairness, Apple is the ‘oldest’ handset in this review).
Samsung’s rear triple camera lens combo and better sensor technology means it can beat Huawei hands down and thrash Apple. However, long-term use will only decide if this theoretical fact will be borne out in real-world smartphone photography examples.
On Security stakes
The use of fingerprint vs face unlock is further conditioned by the trio of handsets which use different methods of security unlock approaches. The Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus introduces the world to a more trusted example of in-screen fingerprint sensor technologies – OnePlus 6T got to market first but the Samsung example seems more robust under, albeit short-term scrutiny.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus uses a new Ultrasonic fingerprint sensor that is designed and developed by Qualcomm. It is an all-weather scanning technology that uses 3D modelling to better identify your finger’s dynamics which makes faking access all but impossible (theoretically). However, Apple’s Face Unlock technology has won praise from fans and reviewers alike.
Huawei Mate 20 Pro uses an under-display scanner made by Chinese chipset maker Gudix (the same one used by OnePlus). It was buggy at launch and updates haven’t quite ironed out these issues. Hence why some believe Samsung has opted for another form of in-screen scanning technology – one that uses soundwaves over pressure sensors to correctly identify touch/gestures.
On the fingerprint front, Samsung wins. But Apple’s Face Unlock technology is tantalisingly good. We could say this one is a draw!
On the specs stakes
The Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus is a top-line flagship that really pushes out the boat destroying the competition. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 – especially in the ceramic white/black models (some variants could use the Exynos chipset in some territories) – is the chipset of choice.
The iPhone XS Max has the A12 Bionic next-generation neural engine chipset. Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro comes packed with the Kirin 980 Chipset.
In terms of power, the Samsung’s Qualcomm does match the Kirin and beats the A12 but the A12 does have a better smart AI technology that Qualcomm lacks.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus comes with 512GB or 1Tb of internal storage and you can add 500GB of MicroSD storage which means a total memory capacity of 1.5TB (who needs taht much anyway?!).
When you put all three rivals alongside, the iPhone XS Max comes with 512GB with absolutely no additional storage. The Huawei Mate 20 Pro comes with 128GB but can be upgraded.
In terms of specs, the RAM differentiation sets iOS and Android models apart. This sees the Apple iPhone XS Max come with 4GB of RAM whilst Huawei and Samsung have both preloaded their devices with 8GB of RAM.
This means, in summing up, the Huawei and Samsung specs beat Apple, no questions asked. However, the storage differentiation between Huawei and Samsung mean there is only one real winner – the RAM, the Snapdragon 855 chipset and the 1.5TB storage potential means the Samsung leaves competition in the dust!
The battery and software stakes
The 2019 flagship elite have serious battery and OS question marks. We known that the Huawei Mate Pro 20 has a 4,200mAh battery whilst the iPhone XS Max has a mediocre 2,658mAh one. However, Samsung dropped a surprise with a 4,100mAh battery in the S10 Plus. This means the Huawei battery is more powerful – however the smart assist software in Apple and Samsung devices can help monitor/maintain software/hardware usage in ways Huawei haven’t yet managed. This means, Samsung has the battery edge.
In the OS stakes the iOS simplicity does have an edge. If you’re an Apple fan or an Android fan, then the choice is less difficult. However, Apple’s mobile OS has always been intuitive for new users. That being the case, the One UI ‘skin’ on Android used by Samsung and others has helped to make Android experience easier. The S10 Plus comes with Samsung’s new One UI over Android Pie which does help users with a focus on health and wellbeing. That being the case, the new EMUI interface on the Huawei Mate 20 Pro is likewise focussing on wellbeing.
The Big Verdict
Within the product lifecycle, Apple’s iPhone XS Max comes with a disadvantage of being the eldest flagship in this comparison. Samsung’s newly released Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus is a flagship destroying 2018 handsets that bring together great design, a functional camera, utilitarian storage, strong security and purposeful battery/OS deployments. These individual assigned specs work together in a way that some of the reviews we alluded to in the beginning highlighted, that Samsung latest handsets are practical and disruptive all at the same time. Huawei does pip the S10 Plus but the pedigree of Samsung means a great deal whilst Apple’s 2019 handset will be the real competitor to Samsung’s Galaxy S10 Plus.
The wireless charging and Power Share feature (phone to phone charging) along with new Wi-Fi 6 accessibility means there is game-changing technology buried within the handset, but the biggest flaw of the handset isn’t technological, it’s the price! However, if price is the correlating reason for not buying the phone this connects into Samsung’s wider thinking – if you can’t afford the S10 Plus, buy an S10 or an S10e. Once you exclude price, the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus is peerless for now.