At the UK iteration of Samsung’s Unpacked 2019, there were a couple of notable absentees from the lineup after the keynote ended. One of those was the massive Samsung Galaxy S10 5G.
The oversized handset was a little bit of a surprise in some regards, though the generally expected 5G-connected Samsung Galaxy S10 is a slightly souped-up device with a larger display yet with some specs that aren’t quite on to par with the Samsung Galaxy S10+ 1TB edition.
It feels like an odd device as it was announced at Unpacked 2019 but then wasn’t available to all media or event attendees. That said, Samsung did confirm that handsets would be available for hands-on sessions at MWC. So, is the device a worthwhile wait?
Design & Hardware
If you’ve seen the Samsung Galaxy S10 already, then you really could be forgiven for asking what the cosmetic differences were between that and the S10 5G. In reality, there is very, very little.
The display takes a slight bump up over the Galaxy S10+ and we get an extra camera at the back for a slightly larger visor but overall there is very little to distinguish the handsets from far away besides the 5G logo embossed to the back glass.
It’s worth noting that the 6.7-inch display is the biggest in the entire S10 lineup too, which means this is a serious piece of oversized hardware when viewed alongside the Galaxy S10 and S10+.
Even despite this extra size, I didn’t find the handset uncomfortable to hold or use. Sure UI elements might be a stretch but overall it’s usable in my use-case at least. If you do have smaller hands, I would suggest maybe working out if the Galaxy S10+ is too big for you. If so, then I would suggest that the Galaxy S10 5G might not be the handset for you to purchase.
Everything else at the front is a by-the-numbers affair, with that dual hold punch camera cutout in the exact same position as the S10+. It isn’t exactly the same in shape though as it is slightly wider thanks to a sensor found in-between the two lenses.
Now the rear of the device boasts that extra camera, so the elongated camera visor will be instantly noticeable to those versed in all things Samsung. Anyone who isn’t exactly tech-savvy might not be so vigilant but the visor does stretch well to given the larger overall device size.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G also boasts the largest battery in the entire S10 lineup too. Measuring in at 4,500mAh. The 25W charger in the box is said to take it from 0 to 100% in around 55 minutes. That is seriously impressive but naturally, we were unable to test this given MWC booth conditions.
This is one device though that due to the extra size might have benefitted from the addition of the S Pen in my opinion. Hopefully, this does mean that the Note 10 (or whatever it ends up being named) may have a very similar size and shape. That would be absolutely fantastic if this taster session was anything to go by.
Software & Performance
Android Pie runs just as it does on the smaller Galaxy S10 and S10+ with literally no lag or slowdowns even given the placement under intense (and often hot) lighting. I have no concerns over the day-to-day performance of the Galaxy S10 5G as it will no doubt be a superb long-lasting device.
What I was unable to see were the 5G speeds. 5G has been at the very core of MWC 2019 and long before the event even started. All devices tethered to desks at the Samsung showcase stand were connected to 4G+ networks according to the devices.
5G it seems may be the future but in the here and now, we can’t seem to see a handset that is showing us the true benefits of this new and improved data connection method.
The extra Time-of-Flight cameras in the front and back of the S10 5G are said to help improve the overall AR experience of the device but it’s unclear — to me at least — how it does. It does allow for something I was more interested in, in the form of background blur or false bokeh for video recording.
You may have seen the effect on other devices from other brands, so this is nothing entirely new but it will be interesting to see how it works in further detail. I was able to get a demo of it in action and I must admit that it was spotty at best.
I can forgive this given the not-so-perfect setting but will be less forgiving if it’s terrible in the real world. Overall the camera will likely provide the exact same experience as the Galaxy S10 and S10+ even given this extra camera hardware.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G seems like a really weird device. I say that mainly as it feels like a sort of semi-Note or possibly what the S10+ should have been in some regards. The fact that it boasts that 5G logo on the rear panel and a couple of extra camera tricks thanks to additional hardware is nice and all but it really doesn’t do a great deal more than the S10+.
5G might be one of the most talked about new technologies at MWC but when you’re not able to experience it in action properly for yourself it’s difficult to see how this device is really a worthwhile upgrade over the standard S10 lineup.
I won’t judge 5G harshly because the infrastructure is in its infancy, but at the moment my gut says if you are itching to buy an S10, simply get one of the soon-to-be-available models unless a massive display or having a first-generation 5G device is integral to you. It also helps that we still don’t have solid release details for this handset.