During the launch event of the new Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10 plus, most of the media focused on how expensive Samsung’s foldable smartphone is, or if the hole is a better solution than the notch. Except me! My interest focused on the new ultrasonic fingerprint sensor adopted by the company, a choice that I sincerely hope will reach many other manufacturers. Unfortunately, this technology is not intended for all devices, not even the most expensive Samsung devices.
It hasn’t been a secret for a long time: the Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10 plus include a fingerprint sensor on the new generation display. In fact, the technology used is ultrasonic rather than optical, a similar but completely different concept. This sensor, manufactured by Qualcomm, takes the ultrasonic technology we already saw in the rear sensor of the Honor 10, with the difference that it no longer spoils the aesthetics of the device as it can now be hidden under the screen.
How the new ultrasonic sensor of works
The way the new ultrasonic fingerprint sensor works is very different from how an optical sensor does. The new technology sends out a sound wave that scatters when you “tap” your finger. The latter is measured by the software, which creates a 3D image of the finger. Once stored, it will only compare the previously saved fingerprint with the one the device is trying to unlock.
So far everything seems very similar to the previous technology, but what makes this process more accurate is the ability of the sound waves to penetrate the subcutaneous tissue of the skin, being able to read in much more detail than an optical fingerprint scanner. This, on the other hand, illuminates the finger with an LED and acquires only a 2D image of the fingerprint. In short, no artificial reproduction of your fingerprint will unlock your smartphone.
The new fingerprint reader is certified by FIDO Alliance and this is really important. This shows that Samsung is seriously interested in next-generation authentication technology and that its sensor is able to provide greater security to users through three-dimensional fingerprint mapping. In addition, Qualcomm itself said that in addition to being much more accurate, its technology is also capable of detecting blood flow in the finger, making it virtually impossible to deceive.
But security surprises don’t stop there. Samsung also confirmed that the Galaxy S10 and S10+ sensor can hold all the keys needed to unlock mobile services enabled with Blok chain. In other words, it is capable of perfectly protecting the portfolio of integrated cryptocurrencies. This is clear proof of the security of its technology, but despite this, during the unpacked event or in its press releases, the company did not say a word about it.
…with a small disadvantage
The company is not at all in a position to guarantee the full and proper functionality of the new Galaxy S10 and S10+ ultrasonic fingerprint sensor if screen protectors manufactured by third parties are used.
Galaxy S10: Samsung warns about screen savers
“To ensure the full functionality of the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+ ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, we strongly recommend that our suppliers and resellers offer only original Samsung films as accessories. We cannot guarantee an optimal user experience with third-party films.”
Therefore, even if the protective film is in direct contact with the screen, the adhesive used creates a thin space, but often enough for the scanner not to recognize the print. Some manufacturers have “solved” the problem by creating perforated film in the area where the sensor is located, but… Why the hell are we talking about this?
Our advice is to always contact the official Samsung stores or their partners. One of them is Whitestone, one of the exclusive companies that joined the Samsung Mobile Accessory Partnership Program (SMAPP), capable of making a tempered glass film that does not conflict with the new sensor.
Not all devices will enjoy it
So, good news for all Samsung fans? Not really, because the company has not been able to satisfy everyone. In fact, those who opt for the cheapest model, the Galaxy S10e, will have to settle for the good old reader located on the side of the device. There’s not much to be surprised about, as a lower price necessarily implies compromises.
However (surprise), the Samsung device which will be sold for around EURO 2,000 does not have this technology. Like the smallest member of the new Galaxy family, the South Korean company’s first foldable device does not have an ultrasonic sensor, but has the same sensor as the Galaxy S10e.
Before you start with complaints like “I hope such an expensive phone has all the premium features of the market” (which I can also understand), you have to ask yourself why Samsung made this decision. Of course, the reason is not that I don’t have the necessary technical knowledge, because this is practically impossible, but it’s also true that it’s quite difficult right now to install a fingerprint sensor under a folding screen. Could they have placed it on the external screen? Yes, but it is also true that whenever you decide to prioritize the use of the large screen, you should waste time “scratching” the sensor from the external screen.
In my view, Samsung has done well to include the fingerprint reader on the side of the Galaxy Fold, but I’d also like to know what the readers think. As always, I hope to read your opinion in the comments at the end of the article.
Welcome back, Samsung: Galaxy S10+ camera fears no one
Despite the great variety of high-end devices that can satisfy all types of photography lovers, the Samsung Galaxy S10+ has been one of the most eagerly awaited phones this year in the photographic aspect. These days we have tested its five cameras, trying to put them in trouble in different conditions. Will it have been successful?
No matter what budget is available, in the world of Android, every manufacturer has at least one device that makes excellent captures. For example, the Google Pixel 3 has incredible software processing capabilities, the Honor View20 drives a powerful 48MP sensor, and finally, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro uses a triple camera configuration that captures impressive images no matter the situation.
On the other hand, Samsung has a great reputation in the field of photography, so we have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the new flagship of the South Korean company. Last year, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ showed great results, but now is the time to put it aside and give way to the new leader of the Galaxy line.
It’s time to renew the hardware
With the Galaxy S10, Samsung has significantly redesigned the design and layout of its sensors, opting for a horizontal triple camera layout consisting of the following configuration:
- 12 MP dual-pixel main sensor with variable aperture (f/1.5 – f/2.4);
- 12 MP telephoto lens with 2x optical zoom and f/2.4 aperture;
- 16MP wide-angle sensor with f/2.2 aperture offering a field of view of up to 123 degrees.
Hidden within the holes in the screen (discussed below) are two additional cameras, one 10MP (f/1.8) and one 8MP (f/2.2) that is primarily dedicated to depth of field detection.
IA could not be missing
Although Samsung did not make much of an allusion to the term IA during his unpacked event on February 20, this does not mean that his camera does not benefit from the help of this technology. After all, the new SoC Exynos 9820 under the hood has its own NPU (Neural Processing Unit) that supports image processing software, which now allows for much improved photographic quality. Only after the first shot, the difference with the S9+ and the latest Galaxy Note 9 is more than obvious.
Using the dedicated processor and artificial intelligence through the software, the Galaxy S10+’s camera can recognize up to 30 different situations, automatically adjusting the camera’s parameters to always provide a shot that fits the situation. Unlike other smartphones (LG and Huawei, for example), I realized that Samsung’s AI is much less aggressive and I preferred to leave the function active, although the manufacturer offers the possibility of turning it off with a touch without having to search through the different setup menus.
SENSATIONAL SHOTS, BUT IN THE DARK…
But let’s cut to the chase: you’re probably wondering “what do the photos taken with the Galaxy S10+ look like? They look great in almost every situation, scene and place. The strengths of the South Korean company’s flagships are present again this time: the camera is incredibly quick to shoot, the dynamic range and colors are excellent and you can always get brilliant photos.
I have also noticed how HDR processing has been strengthened, which helps in many situations, especially when shooting at dusk, with the light on the face. However, when the sun goes down, the photographic quality of the Galaxy S10+ is behind Google Pixel 3 and 3XL and Huawei Mate 20 Pro. Night shots are still good and usable, but Samsung’s software is not able to produce the incredible photos of its direct competitors.
In addition, the S10+ has no dedicated mode for night captures. The Bright Night mode we talked about can be activated from the configuration of the camera application. This feature, once activated, will try to bring more light to your shots in low light conditions.
Finally, there’s also a Starbust mode that automatically applies a “star effect” to each light detected by the camera in night shots, making it a little more Christmassy.
Ultra-Wide-Angle Fun of Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10 plus
But let’s move on to the funniest part of this camera: the new wide-angle lens. Yes, I know, it’s not something new to see this kind of sensor on a smartphone, but it’s the first time Samsung has decided to use it on one of its flagship devices. The company’s new strategy is clear: test the new features first in the mid-range and, when mature, place them in the top category.
A strategy that is definitely working, as this third sensor with a field of view of 123 degrees is wonderful. As you can see from the LG V40 ThinQ, Samsung’s wide-angle lens also offers a fun new shooting option that simulates the human eye’s field of vision. During the month I tried the V40 I had a great time with this mode and more than once repeated the phrase “how much I wish my S9+ could take pictures like this”. At that time I didn’t waste time trying the new Rhino shield lenses, but this is another interesting story I leave for later in this article.
Samsung has focused a lot on this new sensor and this is evident by the fact that it has decided to install it throughout the new line of the Galaxy S10, even in the smallest and cheapest variant, the Galaxy S10e, which has only given up the telephoto lens, a much more dispensable feature.
Effects lovers won’t be disappointed: in Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus
The company has not missed the opportunity to entertain its users by enriching the camera application with portrait mode and new Live Focus effects. You can choose between Blur, Spin, Zoom and Color Point. My favorite is the second, which allows you to photograph the main subject in color, blurring the black-and-white background. The effect worked very well on some occasions and I was pleasantly satisfied. The same feature is also available for the front camera for selfie lovers, who can enjoy changing the various parameters even after the capture.
And speaking of selfies, the two front cameras also offer the option of shooting in normal or wide-angle mode. I really liked the quality of the selfies captured by the S10+ and I have to say that, thanks to the second sensor, this smartphone does a great job of blurring the background. However, there have been times (especially using Live Focus mode) when the image seemed a little too elaborate compared to other smartphones in the same category.
Instagram mode Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10 plus
As a big Instagram fan and with the amount of hours I spend on this social network, it’s normal that I was thrilled when Samsung announced his collaboration with Instagram on the unpacked stage.
This mode allows you to use the Galaxy S10 camera application to take and edit the photo with the same tools found in the Instagram Stories: filters, stickers, text, hashtag, etc. are all present and, this way, you no longer have to open the official Zuckerberg application. That sounded revolutionary, but then it turns out that the camera application simply performs the automatic Snap> Share with> Instagram Stories process. Nothing exceptional in short: the result of this association is a simple function of auto-sharing.
As I pointed out during my first impressions after 48 hours, my test device did not have such a mode, but fortunately I received the long-awaited update. Samsung assured me that all Galaxy S10s released on March 8th will enjoy the new firmware version.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Samsung’s public relations team for answering my questions in an incredibly timely manner, but above all because in this way I can also reassure our readers as well as potential buyers, not forgetting those who have already pre-ordered the new device from the South Korean company, thus avoiding unpleasant surprises.
HDR10+ and Super Stable mode for large videos
When it comes to video recording, one of the best new features of the Galaxy S10+ is the Super Stable mode with which Samsung promises an improvement for activities like skiing and cycling, but also for walking or running. With stabilization off, we’ll experience slight tremors, but if it’s on, everything will be much more stable.
Please note that when recording with Super Stable mode on, an enlarged image is displayed. This is because this mode uses the wide-angle lens of the Galaxy S10+ and not the main lens.
Another special feature of this camera is the ability to record video in 4K HDR10+. The latest technology currently used only by Amazon Prime Video and which allows you to optimize contrast and colors in any type of scene. In comparison to the previous standard HDR10. Of course, to enjoy this content you will need a compatible device.
Super Slow Motion mode, while offering the ability to record up to 960 fps at 720p resolution. It has improved further, especially in terms of color and dynamic range. However, the main improvement is the recording time, which increased to 0.4 seconds compared to 0.2 seconds and up to 0.8 seconds in 480 fps mode.