How the Samsung Galaxy S10 stacks up to Chinese smartphones
Great specs, but might be too expensive for Chinese consumers
The Samsung Galaxy S10 series is finally here. The four phones look stunning and pack the most advanced specs. But with so many Chinese Android handset makers pumping out flagship models right now, how does Samsung's latest compare?
In-display fingerprint scanner
One of the biggest new features in the S10 series is the in-display fingerprint sensor, which allows you to unlock the phone by pressing on the display. The feature first appeared on a Vivo prototype at the beginning of last year, and has been adopted by a number of Android devices throughout 2018 -- including the OnePlus 6T, Huawei Mate 20 Pro, and phones from both Vivo and Oppo.
But Samsung is using a different technology for the sensor than most of its competitors. While most Chinese phones use optical scanners, the S10 and S10+ use an ultrasonic scanner. An ultrasonic reader detects the 3D ridges and valleys of your fingerprint, while an optical reader captures a 2D image, which is far less secure. And it does appear to work better than the other phones with the feature, according to a hands-on article by The Verge.
Like most Android phones out there, the Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10+ have triple cameras on the back -- a 12MP telephoto camera, a 12MP wide-angle camera and a 16MP ultra wide camera. But that’s doesn’t seem to stand out particularly, since 48MP cameras have appeared on other phones -- the Honor V20 and the Mi 9. (Of course more pixels doesn’t always mean better pictures, but in some cases they can do more things.)
And the S10’s cameras may soon be left behind, once Huawei’s next flagship comes out in March: A teaser picture on Weibo suggests that the Huawei P30 Pro will have a quad-camera system.
Look and feel
Many people find the S10 looks quite stunning compared to other Android phones. We saw people say that it also feels great in the hands -- because for a big phone, it’s surprisingly light. The S10 weighs 157g and the S10+ weighs 175g -- both lighter than most of their competitors. For example, two recent smartphones with the slider design, Honor Magic 2 and Mi MIX 3, both weigh more than 200g (We’ve tried the 218g Mi MIX 3 -- it’s really heavy).
And the S10 and S10e are both lighter than Honor’s newest phone, the V20, and Xiaomi’s flagship Mi 9, which was just unveiled yesterday.
Chinese netizens said they found the S10 series quite impressive compared to Samsung’s last few models. But it still remains to be seen if can gain its foothold back in China.
Yes, the S10's HDR10+ screen is beyond anything produced by the Chinese brands, and it packs the most aggressive specs right now, but it doesn't have enough to justify the price -- especially compared to Samsung's competitors.
Many point out that the lower-end S10e doesn’t have an in-display fingerprint scanner or triple cameras. It might be unfair to pick on the lowest-end model, but the cheapest S10 costs the same as Huawei's current premium Mate 20 Pro in China. But hey, you might say that's also unfair, since the Mate 20 Pro is months old. But Xiaomi's Mi 9 is barely 24 hours older than the Galaxy S10, has the same Snapdragon 855 chipset... and costs just half the price.
“Many people would still stick with iPhone for the iOS system, but who would do that for Samsung?” says one commenter on China’s Q&A site Zhihu, who added that he’s not hopeful about Samsung’s path in China.
On the other hand, while China might be a tough sell for the S10, Samsung should have no such problems in a certain other major market. Hole-punch displays and in-display fingerprint scanners may be commonplace in China, but with Huawei and Xiaomi struggling to crack the United States, the path is clear for the Samsung Galaxy S10 to rule the Android scene over there.