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Samsung Galaxy S10 review: Samsung’s smaller flagship phone braces for Galaxy S20 impact

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 The poor Galaxy S10 always suffered from middle child syndrome. Being sandwiched between the larger, more lavishly appointed Galaxy S10 Plus and the smaller, pluckier, far cheaper Galaxy S10E was never easy. In fact, I wondered more than once why it even existed, other than to suddenly look like a deal during promotional sales. 

Soon, the Galaxy S10’s reason for being will become even more precarious. Samsung is prepping to unveil its next trio of flagship Galaxy devices, thought to be called the Galaxy S20, S20 Pro (or Plus) and S20 Ultra. The name change is significant, and could represent a major shift in what it means to be a premium Galaxy phone: 5G, real camera improvements and more megapixels, a huge battery, a 120Hz screen refresh rate.

The Galaxy S10 won’t be able to compete against those specs, especially when it comes to future-proofing the phone in the rising age of blistering 5G data speeds. But for some people, the S10 could settle into the obvious choice for a high-end phone with a reasonable price, once the costs inevitably drop after the S20 goes on sale.

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The Galaxy S10 racks up the features, including three rear cameras and the ability to wirelessly charge other devices.


Angela Lang/CNET

Yet for many, 5G phones won’t be a practical option for several years. The networks are still slowly rolling out, starting with urban centers. 5G networks are on in a handful of places around the world, and even then only in intersections or smaller neighborhoods. 5G phones are on the roadmap, but 2020 is the year when more of them start coming out. The chips are still developing too, and are expected to become more efficient in the next generation or two.

So buying a 4G phone this year that you hold onto for another two or three years isn’t a terrible idea for many, especially if 5G is still years away from where you live, and it means saving a sizable chunk of change. Specs wise, the Galaxy S10 will valiantly carry you through one more cycle of phone ownership — just so long as it comes down to a price you’re willing to pay. 

The Galaxy S10 initially started at $900 (£799 and AU$1,349), only $100 cheaper than the Plus ($1,000, £899, AU$1,499) and $150 more than the S10E ($750, £669, AU$1,199). Expect price drops to settle after the Galaxy S20 goes on sale, with further seasonal discounts by store and carrier, such as buy one, get one free offers.

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