Samsung Galaxy S10 5G review: the most ambitious 5G effort money can buy

Say what you want about the Galaxy S10 5G, but you cannot accuse Samsung of phoning it in

5G phones
(Image credit: Samsung)

T3 Verdict

Samsung could've easily shoehorned 5G into its existing flagship phone and called it a day. In fact, that's basically what every other manufacturer has done. But the company has done something truly different and built an entirely new handset from the ground up with an expansive new AMOLED display, more cameras than ever before, new photography effects, a bigger battery, faster charging, and more. Sure, the resulting package is pretty cumbersome and unwieldy – not to mention the fact that 5G isn't widespread anywhere near enough to be a must-have feature, but despite all that, we’re love the ambition of the Galaxy S10 5G. This handset is completely future-proof – and remarkably, it's not because of the 5G.

Reasons to buy

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    Lavish AMOLED display

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    Stunning bokeh effect in Live Focus pictures and videos

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    Water resistant design

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    Future-proofed with 5G Support

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    3.5mm headphone port means a dongle-free life

Reasons to avoid

  • -

    It’s massively unwieldy

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    Camera cut-out in the display is ugly

Despite what its unimaginative name suggests, the Galaxy S10 5G is not just a Galaxy S10 with support for faster 5G networks slapped on. It’s actually an entirely-new flagship with a number of never-before-seen features.

That makes it pretty unique amongst 5G handsets, as there’s plenty of reasons why the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G could appeal to people with no interest in 5G at all.

This approach is easily the best thing about the Galaxy S10 5G, and puts it ahead of competition from the likes of OnePlus and Oppo.

As 5G is years from being a nationwide proposition – and is patchy in cities where the next-generation network has supposedly already rolled-out, it can be a very tough sell for anyone struggling to decide between two identical handsets – one on a 4G plan, and one on a pricier 5G plan. But not with the Galaxy S10 range, where those who plump for the costlier 5G model will get something truly different.

In a lot of ways, Samsung Galaxy S10 5G is like a sequel to a Hollywood blockbuster – it’s bigger, louder, and has more stuff thrown-in. It’s excessive, but in a good way.

(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung has fitted the S10 5G with its biggest screen to date – and yes, that includes the Note 9 and Galaxy S10 Plus. The front of the handset is dominated by an expansive 6.7-inch Quad HD AMOLED with dual-curves that gently wrap around the chassis. It’s an absolute behemoth. The Galaxy S10 5G is nigh impossible to use one-handed, won’t fit into the pockets on your skinny jeans, and makes you look like you’re re-enacting a Dom Jolly sketch whenever you take a call.

But for all that, it’s difficult not to fall in love with this gorgeous and impractical display whenever you’re watching video, scrolling through photos, or playing games on-the-move. It’s immersive and will immediately replace an iPad Mini or Kindle as your go-to on a long journey. 

Not content with the biggest screen alone, Samsung Galaxy S10 5G packs more cameras than any other entry in the S10 series, with four on the back and a dual-selfie set-up on the front. While the latter also appeared on the Galaxy S10 Plus, the 5G variant swaps the 8-megapixel depth sensor for an all-new 3D-depth sensing camera that offers better artificial bokeh-style blur behind the subjects. This new sensor can also bring the effect to video for the first time. It’s impressive stuff – and results in some of the best portrait-style photos we’ve seen from a smartphone. 

According to Samsung, the 3D-depth sensing camera – which also appears in the quadruple set-up on the rear – will also improve Augmented Reality apps, although that’s definitely more of the “Fun Gimmick” end of the spectrum than “Must Upgrade For This Feature”. The remaining cameras cover almost every conceivable situation you can think of, thanks to the 12MP dual-aperture camera for low-light, the 12MP telephoto for 2x optical zoom, and the 16MP ultra-wide camera to squeeze skyscrapers into your next holiday snaps.

With an excessively large 4,500mAh battery cell onboard, with support for 25W speedy wired charging over USB-C – another new addition for the 5G variant, there’s no issue with the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G not making it through the day.

Samsung Galaxy S10 5G review: Release Date, Price

Samsung Galaxy S10 5G launched with the roll-out of EE 5G – the first network to bring the speedy network technology to the UK – back in late May 2019. It was also one of a handful of handsets to launch with the Vodafone 5G network later than summer. When bought from the Samsung Store, the Galaxy S10 5G costs £1,099 SIM-free for the ‎256GB‎ storage variant.

(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung Galaxy S10 5G review: Our Final Verdict

Samsung could’ve easily just added 5G support to its existing flagship phone – just like every other manufacturer around – and hoped the promise of faster streaming on 5G would be enough to coax customers into coughing up the premium.

But to the Seoul manufacturers credit, it has built something entirely new and intimidatingly feature-packed for those who want to be at the cutting-edge of smartphone technology. Not only does that mean support for 5G networks, but also a whopping new AMOLED display, more cameras, new depth-effect in videos, a bigger battery, faster charging... the list goes on.

Sure, it’s cumbersome and unwieldy and 5G isn't widespread enough to be anything close to a must-have feature, but despite all that, we’ve fallen in love with the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G.