Samsung Galaxy S10 vs iPhone XS

It’s an age-old battle that continues to rage on year after year, Apple versus Samsung. Naturally, we’re one of the many willing to perpetuate the feud by placing the Cupertino company’s latest flagship, the iPhone XS, directly in the firing line of Samsung’s newest top device, the Galaxy S10.

Here’s how the Samsung Galaxy S10 and the iPhone XS compare.

Samsung Galaxy S10 vs iPhone XS – Design

Looking back at the progenitors of these company’s current flagships Apple has shown greater consistency and confidence in the iPhone’s design aesthetic since its inception. While some of the earliest models sported plastic backs, the iPhone’s bodywork has almost exclusively come hewn from glass and metal.

Samsung made the jump to premium materials far later in the Galaxy S line’s life-cycle, however, that doesn’t detract from the fact that this latest S10 line is a well-conceived revision of a now established design language, even it borrows from Apple’s notebook at a base level.

iPhone XS straight blue red LED panels

The iPhone XS

Both the S10 and XS boast polished metal frames, inlaid with hardware controls. Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector sits at the base of the iPhone, serving everything from power to data and accessories – including audio; Samsung’s phone, meanwhile, opts for USB-C, just as its recent predecessors have used. What’s more, the S10 still offers a conventional 3.5mm headphone jack, making it one of the last flagships to do so.

Samsung’s sandwich of glass not only looks nicer than Apple’s offering, but it’s also nicer to hold. The curved edges of the phone’s 6.1-inch display are mirrored by the rear glass of the phone’s body too, not to mention, the S10 packs a narrower body, despite its bigger screen.

Part of the aesthetic and ergonomic lead Samsung has struck here comes as part of Apple’s use of flat cover and rear glass, the iPhone looks like more of a slab against the S10, with only slight rounding at the border between glass and metal.

samsung galaxy S10 back camera

The Galaxy S10 in Prism White

Whichever phone piques your interest, you do at least enjoy IP68 dust and water resistance, and wireless charging functionality. Although Samsung again takes the lead with support for a faster rate of charge and the new Wireless PowerShare function, which lets you charge a Qi-enabled device on the phone’s back (a trick previously pulled by the Huawei Mate 20 Pro).

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There’s also the matter of the notch. Apple’s iPhone boasts one of the largest display notches around. Of course, it’s not without merit, granting the device’s Face ID unlock functionality and face-tracking capabilities for its trend-setting Animoji and Memoji features.

The S10, meanwhile, shirks the iris recognition technology of its predecessor but in doing so, loses any form of notch altogether. The superior 93.1% screen-to-body ratio makes for a cleaner overall appearance and fills your hands with more functional screen space. Instead, Samsung has implemented one of its Infinity-O displays, with a hole-punch cut-out for the phone’s front-facing camera, kept out of the way in the corner of the display.

samsung galaxy S10 fingerprint

One of the first phones with an ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor

With only a single RGB camera at play, the S10’s face unlock isn’t anywhere near as robust as Apple’s, but to counter this the S10 is also the first consumer phone with an in-display ultrasonic sensor.

This not only reads an image of your finger, but can also detect the airflow between the ridges of your print, granting it depth information and thus making it more secure than current optical solutions.

Samsung Galaxy S10 vs iPhone XS – Specs and features

Unlike comparing Android phone to Android phone, the ruleset is a little different when Apple’s smartphones are involved. Sure, the iPhone XS falls short of the S10’s 8GB of RAM (with only 4GB onboard) but general performance is still superb.

Initial benchmarking of the Exynos 9820 chipset inside Samsung’s new flagship still places it behind that of Apple’s A12 Bionic SoC in most cases too, even if the gap is only slight.

In day-to-day use, you’ll be hard pressed to find either phone struggling. Features like vapour chamber cooling and Unity engine optimisation do give Samsung’s phone the edge when it comes to gaming though.

Galaxy S10 iPhone XS
Dimensions 149.9 x 70.4 x 7.8mm 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7mm
Weight 157g 177g
Display 6.1-inch, 19:9 (Edge), Wide Quad HD+, Dynamic AMOLED+ 5.8-inch, 19.5:9 (Flat), 1125 x 2436, AMOLED
Rear camera Dual Pixel 12-megapixel OIS f/1.5 – f/2.4 AF
16-megapixel ultra-wide f/2.2 FF
12-megapixel telephoto OIS f/2.4 AF
12-megapixel OIS f/1.8 AF
12-megapixel telephoto OIS f/2.4 AF
Front camera Dual Pixel 10-megapixel f/1.9 AF 7-megapixel f/2.2 AF
Memory 8GB + 128GB
8GB + 512GB
– microSD up to 512GB (all versions)
4GB + 64GB
4GB + 128GB
4GB + 512GB
– no microSD up to 512GB (all versions)
Battery 3400mAh 2658mAh
Charging Wireless PowerShare
Fast Wireless Charging 2.0
7.5W Qi Wireless Charging
Security In-display ultrasonic fingerprint sensor
2D face recognition
Face ID face recognition
Processor 8nm octa-core Exynos 9820 7nm hexa-core Apple A12 Bionic
Network Up to 7 CA, LTE Cat.20 LTE Cat.16

Storage-wise, the S10 offers greater flexibility too. While the iPhone is available in three storage SKUs and the S10 only comes in two, Apple’s device is characteristically non-expandable, meaning you pay considerably more to get the same storage capacity from Apple as you do from Samsung. The S10’s microSD expandability (up to 512GB) is a far more cost-effective way to add storage to your smartphone as needed.

There’s also the matter of connectivity. While both phones pack Bluetooth 5.0 and neither is equipped to connect to the next generation of 5G networks, the Samsung’s Cat.20 LTE modem and Wi-Fi 6 support means it still out-paces the iPhone in terms of both sheer data speeds and reliability.

Samsung Galaxy S10 vs iPhone XS – Camera

Last year Apple made the right choice by granting both versions of the iPhone XS – the standard model and the XS Max – the same excellent camera arrangement. Comparatively, Samsung dropped the ball by nixing the secondary rear sensor of the Galaxy S9 Plus, meaning the base S9 was left with a paltry pair of snappers – one on each side; woefully few for a flagship phone in 2018.

With the S10 line, things feel far more balanced, with both the S10 and S10 Plus sharing the same triple-sensor main camera arrangement. The 12-megapixel primary sensor has dual-pixel autofocus, OIS (optical image stabilisation) and an aperture that can switch between f/1.5 and f/2.4 . This is flanked by a 16-megapixel f/2.2 aperture super-wide-angle, fixed-focus sensor, while the third is a 12-megapixel, 77-degree telephoto autofocus sensor with an f/2.4 aperture and OIS, granting it lossless zoom.

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The camera surrounded by screen on the front of the S10, meanwhile, is a 10-megapixel effort with a fixed f/1.9 aperture and, again, dual-pixel autofocus. The XS’ front camera comes in at a lower resolution (7-megapixels) and with a narrower aperture, which makes for weaker performance, especially in low light.

In truth, low light shooting has always been a struggle for Apple smartphones and there’s little doubt in our minds that in side-by-side testing the XS will fall short of the mark when compared to the S10.

While it also boasts lossless zoom and dual OIS on each of its 12-megapixel rear sensors, the iPhone’s only real trump card is video capture, offering the best-looking footage in the business. Samsung hopes to rival this with its phone’s Super Smooth Video functionality, but we’ll have to dive a little deeper to see if the S10 can steal the XS’ video crown.

Samsung Galaxy S10 vs iPhone XS – Price and availability

Apple’s latest iPhone XS launched at the end of September 2018 with a starting price of £999 for the 64GB model, £1,149 for the 256GB and a sizeable £1,349 for the top 512GB model. Samsung’s Galaxy S10 isn’t that much more affordable, based on its SIM-free pricing, starting at £799 for the 128GB SKU and reaching £999 for the top 512GB model.

That said, even if you opt for the pricier S10, you’re still paying the same as the base iPhone XS to get a phone with the same amount of storage as the highest capacity option. The Samsung Galaxy S10 has been on pre-order since February 20 and will be available to buy in-store and online on March 8 2019.

Early verdict

While there are clear reasons to choose the iPhone XS over the Galaxy S10 for specific users, generally speaking, your money goes so much further if you opt for Samsung’s new top flagship.

Choose it for its nicer display or the superior camera setup, the larger, more intelligent battery, the faster networking performance or even just because of the headphone jack. Whatever your reasoning, the Samsung Galaxy S10 looks like the better buy between these two for most people.