Galaxy S10 5G Hands-On: Now This Is Big

Samsung’s $1,299 Galaxy S10 5G isn’t just an S10 with a 5G-ready modem inside. The device is a big deal in other ways — literally.

The S10 5G’s 6.7-inch AMOLED panel is massive. This is not a phone you can use one-handed, unless you’re Hagrid the half-giant. Forget about fitting it in a woman’s jean pocket. Not happening. I tried to slip it in my skirt pocket and it stuck out comically. But if you like huge screens, there's a lot to like about this supersized handset, which could very well wind up one of the year's best smartphones when all is said and done.

Updated May 17 1:10 p.m. ET: The Galaxy S10 5G is available to buy now through Verizon. We tested the device on Verizon's 5G network in Chicago, and found it actually topped 1 Gbps speeds in some areas. We've updated this hands-on with battery life impressions and performance benchmarks.

Galaxy S10 5G Specs

Display (Resolution)6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED (Quad HD+)
Rear CamerasFour cameras: 16 MP ultra-wide (ƒ/2.2); 12 MP wide (ƒ/1.5, ƒ/2.4); 12 MP telephoto (ƒ/2.4); hQVGA 3D depth sensor
Front CamerasDual: 10 MP wide (ƒ/1.9); hQVGA 3D depth sensor
CPUQualcomm Snapdragon 855 (North American); Exynos 9820 (International)
microSDYes, up to 512GB
Battery4,500 mAh
ColorsCrown Silver, Majestic Black
Size6.4 x 3.0 x 0.3 inches
Weight6.98 ounces

Beautiful display, cool camera tricks

But the Infinity O display is truly gorgeous. The S10 5G has two front-facing cameras, making for a slightly more obvious, oval-shaped hole-punch in the otherwise edge-to-edge screen.

The S10+ also has two cameras, but the 5G model’s secondary depth-sensing lens has a time-of-flight sensor for better portrait selfies and more accurate facial recognition. Samsung added a fourth lens to the rear camera system with the same 3D capabilities, which enables a new video portrait effect.

MORE: Galaxy S10 Plus Review: The Ultimate Android Phone Is Here

Live Focus Video is a new menu option in the S10 5G’s camera, and it makes your video clips look like DSLR photos come to life.

You have to adjust the level of blur before shooting, and you can’t make any adjustments after pressing the record button. That requires a level of foresight that I don’t usually have when taking quick videos, but I expect to see more artistic folks than I make excellent use of this new feature.

What about 5G?

The 5G part of Samsung’s 5G phone is a little more difficult to quantify, as wireless carriers haven’t yet flipped the switches on their next-gen mobile networks yet. But in our early testing on Verizon's 5G network in Chicago, we found the Galaxy S10 5G topped 1 Gbps in certain areas, and averaged 700 Mbps as a whole. That's not exactly what was promised, but it's a whole lot better than Motorola's 5G Moto Mod fared during similar tests in March.

We downloaded an entire season of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina from Netflix in one minute. An LTE Galaxy S10 we tested in the same exact spot took 10 minutes and 29 seconds to download a single episode in that season. The gains from 5G are obvious. However, 5G connectivity is spotty and not exactly reliable. We had to reboot the S10 5G several times to get it to latch onto any network at two points in our testing.

Samsung showed off what the S10 5G is capable of with a demo of a baseball game at Mobile World Congress. As the game streamed on the top half of an S10 5G’s display, I was able to change my viewpoint of the action in the stadium on the lower half of the screen. I even got up close to a player and rotated around him as he batted.

The demo made excellent use of the S10 5G’s massive screen. And 5G connectivity will clearly be a game-changer. 

But Verizon's network isn't entirely reliable, at least in our early testing, and rollout even in the major metropolitan areas where 5G has launched will take some time to become widespread enough to make the S10 5G a must-have. For $1,399, that's a lot of money for connectivity that is only lightning fast sometimes.

Performance and battery life

Interestingly, the Galaxy S10 5G isn't the top dog — in terms of performance, anyway — of the S10 lineup. That would be the S10 Plus with 12GB of RAM and 1TB of storage. Still, the 8GB/256GB S10 5G ranks among the years' most powerful handsets, as benchmarks illustrated.

The S10 5G achieved a multicore Geekbench 4 score of 10,684, and delivered 5,563 in 3DMark's Sling Shot Open GL ES 3.1 graphics test. With respect to the former result, that's well shy of the 11,227 points the 12GB OnePlus 7 Pro delivered. However, the 3DMark result is very close to the latest OnePlus handset's 5,587 score.

While using the S10 5G to conduct various 5G speed tests in Chicago, we weren't surprised to find the device snappy to use. What was more impressive was how long the battery lasted as we were downloading games, apps, entire seasons of TV shows and gauging the network's overall performance. After 2 hours of excessive use, the S10 5G still had 59% of its 4,500-mAh battery remaining.

That's very encouraging for early adopters, who may have feared a significant power drain from those powerful new 5G radios. And when it comes time to charge the S10 5G back up, users will be pleased to note the device supports Samsung's new 25-watt wired charging system.

For further details and our final impressions, be sure to stay tuned for our full Galaxy S10 5G review in the coming days.

Credit: Tom's Guide