Reviews

Samsung Galaxy S10+ Review

A product of years of perfecting

Published

on

This year marks one decade of Samsung Galaxy. And so, coming into 2019, the expectations were very high for the next Galaxy S. But the 10th-anniversary Galaxy is a two-part, two-phone story — one that represents the future and one that represents today.

A refined masterpiece that’s a product of years of perfecting, the new Galaxy S10+ is not mind-blowing or revolutionary. Neither is it perfect, but there’s something so satisfying about a product that’s well thought out and done right, and excellent in every aspect and angle.

There much to love about the Galaxy S10+ and I’m just gonna dive straight in.

After years of trial and error that saw them go from plastic, to leather, to glass, and then many tweaks and adjustments around curved glass, this is the moment that all these years have led up to and it’s glorious.

It’s the perfect mashup between the Galaxy S9 and the Note 9. And I like it. The design ID is still clearly Samsung: curved displays, rounded corners. I can’t quite put a finger on it — maybe it’s because the trim around the phone is more rounded and not as sharp, but whatever these changes are, they’ve made the S10+ a phone that I enjoy picking up. That, for me, is always an indicator of good design.

The official color of my review unit is called Prism White, and it has this pearlescent quality to it that changes from an iridescent blue to pink depending on the light. It’s really beautiful.

Of course the other big change is in front. After avoiding the notch trend completely for a good two years, Samsung’s finally embraced the all-screen display, laser cutting a hole (or two on the S10+) for the selfie cameras. The industry calls it a hole punch; Samsung calls it Infinity-O.

After much deliberation, I think I like this better than the notch. When watching videos, I don’t mind it as much. Maybe because it’s tucked away in one corner instead of in the middle. YouTube videos are usually 16:9 so they’ll have thick black bars on both sides. But you can punch out to fill the screen with a tiny crop.

Apps like Netflix refuse to fill beyond the area where the hole punch is. If it’s really not your cup of tea, you can go into settings and tick “Hide Front Camera” that gives the display a rather large forehead.

Samsung’s default wallpapers are purposely darker in the upper-right corner to hide the hole punch as much as possible. But I say, embrace it. We have been rocking an assortment of cheeky wallpapers that really tell you it’s there. If you want to download any of these, you can check this link. Samsung also has an “Embrace The Cutout” selection of S10 wallpapers you can buy from the Galaxy Themes Store.

It’s not all aesthetics. There’s also some functionality built in too, like when you take a selfie with the timer on, a lighted timer will travel around the cameras giving you a visual countdown, and showing you where to look.

I have many thoughts about smartphone displays, but mainly two of relevance here: One, display tech has gotten so good, that comparing displays requires a lot of nitpicking; and two, tech reviewers like me are so spoiled by the best displays, that we’re sometimes harder to please. But at the end of the day, having a good or great display isn’t what defines a smartphone.

Having said that, when it comes to the creme dela creme of display tech, it really doesn’t get better than this. Samsung’s Dynamic AMOLED panel is in a league of its own: color, vibrancy, highlights, shadows, crispness. View-ability outdoors under bright sunlight, gentleness to your eyes when it’s dark — you name it.

Underneath it is an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner. Two years ago, many had expected Samsung to be the first to introduce an under-display fingerprint scanner, but they didn’t. That honor went to Vivo, followed by the likes of Huawei and OnePlus. But if you ask me, it’s been worth the wait.

The S10’s in-display fingerprint scanner is powered by Qualcomm’s 3D Sonic technology that’s a step up from the optical scanners used in other products. Instead of using a camera under the display to take a photo and determine a match, Qualcomm’s tech uses sonic sound waves to scan your pores and make a 3D image that’s used to identify you.

With the most recent update, I’ve found this tech to be almost as fast as physical scanners, and much, much quicker than current optical type in display scanners. You just have to quickly tap and not tap and hold for a second. If that’s not your cup of tea, face unlock is very fast but it’s not as secure. In fact, I was able to unlock the phone using a video clip on my iPad. Samsung previously offered a more secure iris scan face unlock, but ditched that tech on the S10.

So, if not display, what makes or breaks a smartphone? For me, the two most important things are battery life and camera performance. In these fronts, the S10+ is a big improvement from its predecessor.

I’ve used the S10+ as my daily driver for a couple of weeks now. My use is probably heavier than the average user. I’m always on my phone, watching YouTube videos, scrolling through social media, and taking photos. And because I review other phones, oftentimes when I’m out, it’s also a portable hotspot.

That said, battery life on the S10+ has been impressive. Based on my real world use, most users will get a whole day with more than average use. It’s not as long-lasting as say the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, but it’s noticeably longer-lasting than previous Samsung phones I’ve used.

The S10+ comes with a fast charger that can get you from zero to 100 percent in just over an hour and 40 minutes. There’s also reverse wireless charging, a feature we first saw on the Mate 20 Pro last year. While it’s cool to be able to charge another phone on the back of yours, charging is a slow trickle at best and is really just designed to charge smaller accessories, like Samsung’s new wireless buds or a Qi-compatible smartwatch.

Those who’ve watched my videos over the years know I prefer a zoom lens to wide-angle, but three weeks traveling with the S10+ have changed that. This phone has three rear cameras, featuring both an ultra-wide angle and zoom lens. I love that I don’t have to pick between the two, and to be honest, when you’re traveling, nothing beats an ultra-wide.

Whether you’re shooting outdoors or indoors, the S10+ shoots beautiful photos. But it isn’t the low-light champ it used to be. If I were to nitpick, the phone has the tendency to favor highlights, so photos are sometimes unnecessarily brighter than they need to be — sometimes almost overexposed.

There’s a new AI-based Scene Optimizer that can can adjust settings based on what it thinks is best for a shot. I leave it off because the phone does a good job otherwise. But it needs to be turned on for Night Mode to work. You know the long exposure night shot that we’ve seen on many phones recently? It’s on the S10, too. But, there’s a catch.

The phone has to think the scene needs night mode and it chooses to turn on. But oftentimes, it doesn’t think night mode is warranted. It can be frustrating, and would have been nice to get a button to turn it on when you need it. Maybe Samsung can fix this in an upcoming update.

My review unit is the S10+ which means instead of one front camera, there are two. The other is mainly for measuring depth. Even though there’s a toggle that makes it seem like there’s a second wide-angle camera, this is not the case. The other just crops in closer. I don’t like selfies taken with the S10+. I think they are too soft. I don’t mind a good skin softening filter that I can turn on or off. On the S10+, it doesn’t even look like that. It looks too soft, almost blurry.

Where the S10’s cameras do a great job at is shooting video. It is the first of its kind to support HDR10+ video capture. Of course, you need a display that supports it, and that does not include the S10. Video stabilization is great, however.

There’s plenty else to like about the S10+. I really like the changes they’ve made to their UI. One UI is cleaner, simpler, and well thought-out. Dark Mode is great and it helps save battery, too. My only peeve is the way the app drawer works. You swipe up to reveal it, but have to swipe to the left to see your second page of apps.

It’s backed up with the highest of specs. Including Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 chip here in the US and Samsung’s Exynos 9820 elsewhere in Asia. There’s still a headphone jack, support for up to 1TB of external storage, and water and dust resistance. Of course it’s all not sugar plums and unicorns.

Apart my from camera complaints, I’m not a fan of the power button being so high up. And speaking of buttons, the dedicated Bixby button can finally be reassigned to something else — except Google Assistant, which is a bummer. Bixby is a con in and of itself. I’ll leave it at that.

Is the Samsung Galaxy S10+ your GadgetMatch?

If you’re looking for one of the best Android phones that you can get almost regardless of where you live, the Galaxy S10 is on top of our list. Some might argue that many of its new features have been seen before on other smartphones; that’s true, and that doesn’t look good on Samsung’s report card as an innovator.

However, in some cases, while late, Samsung has gone out and done it better. And while objectively, the Galaxy S10+ isn’t the best at anything, it’s so well balanced a smartphone, that it’s hard not to recommend. It does things right, and does things good. From where it stands at this point in the year, it’s set a high bar for the rest of the industry to follow.

Undeniably, the Galaxy S10+ deserves the GadgetMatch Seal of Approval. If you’re in the market for a new Android smartphone and are willing to shell out the US$ 1,000 asking price, then we give you our blessing.

For Samsung fans wanting to save a few hundred bucks, I’d consider the more affordable Galaxy S10e which we’ll review separately. You can also avail of a trade-in offer from your carrier. T-Mobile, for example, is offering up to US$ 390 off for qualifying phones including the Galaxy S8 and S9. That brings the price down to a more reasonable US$ 605.

If that’s still a lot to pay, check out the OnePlus 6T if you’re in the US. And if you’re elsewhere in the world, I’m also a big fan of the new Xiaomi Mi 9.

Accessories

MagSafe Battery Pack Review: Is it worth It?

$100 for a powerbank?

Published

on

Apple brought a different kind of MagSafe to the iPhone 12 series last year. And with our in-depth MagSafe explainer, Michael Josh re-envisioned a powerbank with MagSafe.

Fast forward this July 2021, Apple unveiled the real deal. But is it worth the $100 asking price?

Watch our iPhone MagSafe Battery Pack Review now!

Continue Reading

Reviews

Huawei Mate X2 Review: The Better Foldable?

Published

on

Huawei introduced a different kind of foldable approach with the Mate X way back in 2019. But this year, they’re as similar as what you get with Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold2 and Xiaomi’s Mi Mix Fold.

While the Galaxy Z Fold2 showed various improvements over the uncanny Galaxy Fold, Huawei’s Mate X2 offers better outer display ratio, more robust durable hinge mechanism, and an almost crease-less display.

But which one is better? Head over to our Huawei Mate X2 review now!

Continue Reading

Reviews

Huawei MatePad 2021 review: Midrange tablet contender

A multimedia champ

Published

on

In the age of advanced technology, there is still space for budget and mid-range devices. This is where the Huawei MatePad 2021 comes in. A simple but capable tablet that can keep up with your daily needs.

Here I am, using the device for some time now and I can actually say, man, this is good! At first, I was doubtful about the capabilities of the MatePad given that it does not have Google services. But to my surprise, this device can stand on its own and deliver great performance when you need it to. But of course, it has its own setbacks.

Design

The new MatePad is a simple but clean design. The weight of the device is so light, it’s not a hassle to hold around all day. I advise you to place a case over that tablet. Its weight can definitely fool you and it has an occasional slipping from time to time. The device is easy to hold in landscape orientation, it feels good on the hands too.

Unfortunately, when you hold it in a portrait orientation, it suddenly feels too slim, but bearable. Its curved corners help with the grip and the screen follows that curved corners too, giving it a modern look. Its midnight grey colorway is definitely a great color, but I hope they add more colors to their lineup.

Camera

The single shooter camera at the back is nothing special. I understand how a number of tablets do not really prioritize it. The quality of the rear camera is acceptable given that there’s good lighting in your area.

The front-facing camera is not good at all. However, given its price and the fact that it’s a tablet, you shouldn’t expect much from it anyway.

Display

I love the screen size. It has curved corners and is well optimized with the apps. The IPS display is 2000×1000. Great quality, but there are better screens out there. For a mid-range device, the display is highly acceptable.

Having a 10.4-inch screen, multitasking is a breeze. With this, you can use two apps and still have a sizeable screen for content. eBook mode is like the ultra power saving mode on Samsung galaxy phones. Your screen will turn black and white which not only saves you from eye strain, it also saves the battery of the device  — which is amazing!

Audio

The Histen 6.0 3D stereo provided with the MatePad is superb for its price. The quad-speaker setup of this device surely gives it a huge boost and is rare in the mid-range market.

Music streaming was such an amazing experience, it gave me all smiles while testing it out. Even at maximum volume, the audio wasn’t bad at all, the clarity of the music and the instruments still sound superb and this is a huge plus to the device.

Multimedia goodness

The MatePad was pretty good when it came to multimedia consumption, you can download Netflix, HBO Go, and Spotify, just to name a few! The apps were perfectly optimized and the display surely keeps the experience enjoyable. Watching Netflix, HBO Go and YouTube content was fun. I have not experienced any issue regarding the apps itself as it fits perfectly to the size of the display.

Downloading apps can be a new experience when using a Huawei Device. They have their own Huawei AppGallery that may or may not offer you all of the apps you want. For downloading the apps like Netflix, HBO Go and many more, you will be redirected to an APK site. Once in the APK site there will be a download link for you to click and wait for the app to be downloaded. After the process, you’ll find your app ready to set up and use on a daily.

We also have to mention that the MatePad is supported by the M-Pencil. This means you can have more than one mode of entertainment for your device. Take down notes or draw the MatePad is surely lucky to have a stylus fitted for its capabilities.

Gaming

Gaming in this device is, what can I say? — AMAZING! Great graphics and playing games in the highest settings is no problem for this tablet. Personally, playing games like Mobile Legends is perfect for tablets. Playing PUBG Mobile on this device was quite an experience.

Don’t worry about your device when it comes to gaming, it’s a piece of cake for this one! A little bit of advice, Huawei encourages you to turn off Bluetooth when playing games, the reason is unknown but they’re preventing lag given the notification.

Battery Life

The MatePad holds a 7,250mAh battery, making it a long-lasting device. I played five games in Mobile Legends and the device still stands at 100 percent battery life! You can watch season one of Brooklyn Nine-nine and still have a few more left in the tank. believe me, I’ve tried it myself.

Problems

The MatePad surely is a surprising and powerful device, but it seems that this tablet is being held back at some point.

The device lags when using its gestures, from closing apps to left and right swipes, the tablet finds itself lagging and buggy. One huge problem that they need to fix is the App Gallery, now, don’t get me wrong, it works.

The thing is, when you download apps, it takes you to another site and then you download the APK file. YouTube app is nowhere to be found and it’s kind of a bummer. Users will be stuck with a website version turned to an app. The YouTube “app”  is buggy and is a pain to use.

Limited apps are available, and lets face it the apps there are not the ones we use on a daily. There are a few apps loaded but not installed and it’s not a pretty sight. It looks like uninstalled bloatware craving for your attention. My advice to anyone who’s going to buy this is that pick some of the provided apps and then remove the remaining apps.

Downloading apps can be a pain too if you’re not familiar with the current Huawei System.

Should you buy the Huawei MatePad?

My answer is a yes, even though they lack Google support and it has a few laggy moments. The MatePad is surely a bang-for-your-buck device. Whatever your current tablet can do, the MatePad can do it too, maybe even better.

The MatePad 2021 retails for PhP 18,990 / SG$ 498

Continue Reading

Trending