Samsung has launched the Samsung Galaxy S10 range of 2019 devices, its latest and greatest smartphones aiming to take on the world and everything else.

While the Galaxy S9 looked incredibly similar to the Galaxy S8, the Galaxy S10 sees a new design arrive. So how does the Galaxy S10 compare to the Galaxy S9 and S8 handsets, and importantly, should you upgrade?

Prices compared

Starting with the prices of these handsets to get them out of the way, the Galaxy S10 is the newest and the most costly, with the Galaxy S10+ asking the most at £899. But Samsung, aware of increasing pressures on price, also offers the Galaxy S10e, which at £699, is a lot more affordable. You'll discover the hardware compromises that model takes to hit that price below - but it's a much more affordable entry-point to the family.

Both the Galaxy S9 and S8 are available at cheaper prices if you're willing to shop around with the Galaxy S9 currently costing about £619 from Samsung direct. The Galaxy S8 will set you back £449, essentially half price for this 2017 phone. In all instances, the plus models will cost you more.

Now let's dive into all the important differences.

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Design

  • S10e: 142.2 x 69.9 x 7.9mm, 150g
  • S10: 149.9 x 70.4 x 7.8mm, 157g
  • S10+: 157.6 x 74.1 x 7.8mm, 175g
  • S9: 147.7 x 68.7 x 8.5mm, 163g
  • S9+: 158.1 x 73.8 x 8.5mm, 189g
  • S8: 148.9 x 68.1 x 8mm, 155g
  • S8+: 159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1mm, 173g 

All of the Samsung Galaxy S smartphones being compared here have a glass front and back, curving into that central metal core and all are lovingly constructed for a premium result. They are also all IP68 rated for protection against dust and water, they all have 3.5mm headphone jacks and they all have USB Type-C.

So what's different in the design of S10, S9 and S8 devices?

Well, the Galaxy S10 says goodbye to the bezels at the top and bottom of the display, offering a full screen (aside from a couple of millimetres) with a punch hole front camera in the top right corner. Both the S9 models and the S8 models feature slim bezels at the top and bottom of the screen with the front camera and other sensors placed within the top bezel.

On the rear, the S10 and S10+ have a triple camera system, arranged horizontally. There is no fingerprint sensor as it is now under the display for these two devices. The Galaxy S10e meanwhile has a side-mounted fingerprint sensor and a dual rear camera, also arranged horizontally like the Galaxy Note 9.

The Galaxy S9 models have a fingerprint sensor below the rear camera, while the S8 models have it on the right of the camera lens. The S9, S8 and S8+ all have single-lens rear cameras, while the S9+ has a dual rear camera, arranged vertically.

In terms of size and weight, the Galaxy S10e is the smallest and lightest of the Galaxy S models, but has the same size display as the Galaxy S9 and S8. The Galaxy S8+ is the largest, while the S9+ is the heaviest. The S10 and S10+ models offer a similar footprint to their predecessors but they both offer larger displays in that frame.  

Display

  • S10e: 5.8-inch flat, Dynamic AMOLED, Full HD+, 19:9
  • S10: 6.1-inch curved, Dynamic AMOLED, Quad HD+, 19:9
  • S10+: 6.4-inch curved, Dynamic AMOLED, Quad HD+, 19:9
  • S8 & S9: 5.8-inch curved, Super AMOLED, Quad HD+, 18.5:9
  • S8+ & S9+: 6.2-inch curved, Super AMOLED, Quad HD+, 18.9:5

When Samsung unveiled the Infinity Display on the Galaxy S8 it was something novel. Sporting an 18.5:9 aspect, it was one of the first devices to make this change and Samsung stuck to it for the Galaxy S9 devices. Things change for the Galaxy S10 though, with the three devices moving to an Infinity-O display and bumping the aspect ratio up to 19:9.

The sizes remained the same between the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S9 too, with the smaller models getting a 5.8-inch display and the larger models featuring a 6.2-inch screen. This again changes for the Galaxy S10 models with the S10e offering a 5.8-inch screen like the S8 and S9, the S10 moving to a 6.1-inch screen and the Galaxy S10+ moving to a 6.4-inch screen.

The Galaxy S8 and S9 ranges both offer Super AMOLED screens, with HDR and a Quad HD+ resolution. The Galaxy S9 offers improvements on the S8 despite the same specs though - it is brighter and performs better. The Galaxy S10 devices move to Dynamic AMOLED to allow for the punch hole camera and the S10 and S10+ models both offer HDR 10+. They stick with the same Quad HD+ resolution though.

The Galaxy S10 and S10+ are the most capable with Samsung achieving greater balance on these displays than the previous generation in the S9 models. The punch hole for the camera also doesn't really intrude on the experience - we'd rather have a punch hole than a notch and it's great to see Samsung shrinking that top bezel.

The Galaxy S10e drops the resolution to Full HD+ and it doesn't offer HDR 10+ - although there's no HDR10+ available yet, so that perhaps doesn't matter.

Hardware and specs 

  • S10e: Qualcomm SD855/Exynos 9820, 6/8GB RAM, 128/256GB, 3100mAh
  • S10: Qualcomm SD855/Exynos 9820, 8GB RAM, 128/512GB, 3400mAh
  • S10+: Qualcomm SD855/Exynos 9820, 8/12GB RAM, 128/512GB/1TB, 4100mAh
  • S9: Qualcomm SD845/Exynos 9810, 4GB RAM, 64GB, 3000mAh
  • S9+: Qualcomm SD845/Exynos 9810, 6GB RAM, 64GB, 3500mAh
  • S8: Qualcomm SD835/Exynos 8895, 4GB RAM, 64GB, 3000mAh
  • S8+: Qualcomm SD835/Exynos 8895, 4GB RAM, 64GB, 3500mAh

On the hardware front the Galaxy S10 devices all have an octa-core 8nm or 7nm processor, which is either the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 or the Exynos 9820 - depending on where you buy the phone.

The new hardware platforms will be better in some areas than the previous generation, especially moving from a 10nm chip to an 8nm chip. Graphical abilities are boosted too, along with AI handling, although it's an incremental step over the previous generation. In real terms, those with the Galaxy S8 will notice that there's a little more snap in the Galaxy S10; but software also plays a huge part in the experience.

All the Samsung Galaxy S devices being compared here offer microSD support. The S10 devices increase not only the RAM but the storage capacities too, with the bottom models starting at double the storage of the S9 and S8 devices, so relatively, you get a little more for your money on day one.

When it comes to the battery, the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S8 have a 3000mAh capacity, while the Plus models offer 3500mAh. The Galaxy S10e has around the same at 3100mAh, while the S10 bumps its capacity up to 3400mAh and the S10+ has a 4100mAh capacity. The Galaxy S10+ isn't hugely different in endurance to the Galaxy S9+ in real use - but in all cases the plus models outlast the smaller models.

The Galaxy S10e is still a little unknown - we need to fully test it.

All benefit from fast charging, both wired and wireless. The Galaxy S10 models also offer reverse wireless charging too though, charging up to two Qi compatible devices with just touch.

The Galaxy S9 have AKG-tuned speakers and Dolby Atmos and they are substantially better than the Galaxy S8, which sounds weak by comparison. These speakers are also on the Galaxy S10 models so if you're a gamer, then S9 or S10 is the way to go.

Cameras 

  • S10e: Dual rear (16MP+12MP), single front (10MP)
  • S10: Triple rear (16MP+12MP+12MP), single front (10MP)
  • S10+: Triple rear (16MP+12MP+12MP), dual front (10MP+8MP)
  • S9: Single rear (12MP), single front (8MP)
  • S9+: Dual rear (12MP+12MP), single front (8MP)
  • S8/S8+: Single rear (12MP), single front (8MP)

When it comes to the camera we start to see the real differences. While Samsung doesn't ramp up megapixels, it offers innovation instead. This started on the Galaxy S9 in the form of a dual aperture function, which makes its way to the S10 devices too.

The dual aperture function gives a low light f/1.5 aperture and a f/2.4 aperture in the same lens, meaning it can change the physical properties to suit the conditions. It's also a stacked sensor, with DRAM integrated, meaning it's able to process data much faster. The S9 and S10 camera experience and performance is very much the same in reality.

The Galaxy S10 and S10+ add a third ultra-wide camera. There are also a couple of new features including enhanced stabilisation for video and a shot suggestion function that allows for better composed images. The S10 models also offer a scene optimiser, using AI to pick the best settings for your photo.

The Galaxy S10e meanwhile, ditches the telephoto lens and offers the 16-megapixel ultra-wide lens from the S10 and S10+, coupled with the Dual Pixel 12-megapixel lens from the S9.

The Galaxy S10 devices also up the front camera resolution - not that it makes much of a difference - while the S10+ offers a secondary 8-megapixel lens on the front to provide more depth data, which the other models don't have.

The Galaxy S8 has a great camera but doesn't have the dual aperture or slow-mo of the newer phones, lacking the full range of features you now get on the S10. The big difference, in reality, is the wide-angle lens, which apart from some functions, is the biggest real difference.

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Conclusions

The Samsung Galaxy S9 didn't add a huge amount to the Galaxy S8, but it came from a strong position. The Galaxy S8 was one of the best phones of 2017 and that striking design and display stayed in place for 2018. The Galaxy S10 devices meanwhile, change the design and deliver an even more striking display and look.

The big change from the Galaxy S8 to the S9 was in the dual aperture camera that promised to give you an enhanced low light shooting experience, as well as delivering that 960fps video capture - and it's the former that was the more exciting.

The Galaxy S10 makes further changes to the camera, whilst also offering more storage, more RAM, the latest processors and battery improvements. If you're considering stepping up from the Galaxy S8, you'll see a big difference in the Galaxy S10.

Is the Galaxy S10 exciting? Yes, it is. The phones represent a bigger change than the S8 to the S9 offered, especially in terms of design. The Galaxy S10 feels like it's more innovative and a bigger step forward, but when it comes to performance, there's not a huge step-up from the Galaxy S9 models. Should you upgrade? If you have an S8 then you'll certainly have a better experience with the S10. If you've only just got yourself a Galaxy S9, then don't worry: you're not missing out on a huge amount.