Should you buy a Galaxy S10 5G if you don't live in a 5G area?
Best answer: You shouldn't buy a Galaxy S10 5G if you don't live in an area with current 5G service or the immediate epectation of 5G service. 5G network rollouts are going to be slow, and there's no reason to overpay for a Galaxy S10 5G when it won't give you any notable benefits beyond the Galaxy S10+.
- For the 5G future: Samsung Galaxy S10 5G ($1300 at Verizon)
- A better value: Samsung Galaxy S10+ ($850 at Samsung)
Only buy a Galaxy S10 5G if you have 5G coverage
The Galaxy S10 5G has a single major benefit over other Samsung phones: its 5G capabilities. You can buy the Galaxy S10 5G from Verizon, Sprint, or T-Mobile, and each carrier has different coverage maps for their 5G networks. The first thing you need to do when considering the S10 5G is to find out which carrier has coverage where you live and visit. If the carriers don't have coverage for you, you shouldn't buy the Galaxy S10 5G.
It may seem appealing to buy a Galaxy S10 5G with the expectation of having 5G coverage in the future, but that thought process doesn't really make sense when you consider the added cost. At over $300 more than the Galaxy S10+ (and most other flagship phones), you're paying hundreds extra for capabiltiies you just can't use. There's also a good chance that by the time you get 5G coverage, your S10 5G will be several months older and you're going to be eyeing an upgrade anyway.
Even when your carrier of choice does technically expand its 5G network to you, you may find that the actual footprint and consistency of the network is not what you had hoped — it's going to take a very long time for 5G networks to reach the same sort of ubiquity we've become accustomed to with 4G.
The Galaxy S10+ is a better value
The Galaxy S10 5G is a solid phone, and gives you access to the future of 5G networks (once you find them), but at $1,300 nobody would consider it a good value for what you get. Thankfully you don't have to spend that much to get a big, capable Samsung phone — you can just buy a Galaxy S10+ instead.
The Galaxy S10+ is now well under $1,000 and is effectively the same as the S10 5G minus the 5G capabilities. You still get the same great hardware, internal specs, and core camera features. iI's just a little smaller, which may actually be an upside for many people.
If you don't have access to a 5G network where you live, it's a much better choice to buy a Galaxy S10+. And even if you do have a carrier with 5G in your area, you may find you'd rather save the money and get it anyway — it's a great phone and a much better value.
For the 5G future
Only buy it if you have 5G coverage today.
If you live in a place with 5G coverage from Verizon, Sprint, or T-Mobile, the Galaxy S10 5G could be worth consdiering. But if you don't have 5G now, don't buy the S10 5G expecting to have the coverage — it's not worth the extra cost.
A better value
A better phone for most people, but without 5G.
The Galaxy S10+ is nearly identical to the S10 5G in terms of capabilities, but it's over $300 less. It's a little smaller and you don't have the opportunity to use 5G, but you also don't end up paying for something you can't use if you don't have 5G coverage anyway.
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Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.