Who is the Galaxy S10e for?
Chances are you’re familiar with Apple’s iPhone XR this base-level flagship handset is intended to offer most of the benefits of their more potent top-tier siblings by chopping out some of the more frivolous elements in the pursuit of driving down cost without sacrificing on core functionality.
The Galaxy S10e is Samsung’s take on this concept and as such, a direct rival to phones such as the XR and other premium devices that reside within the £500 to £800 price range of the smartphone scene.
At Samsung’s pre-MWC Unpacked event on February 20, the S10e was just one of a bevvy of new devices that the Korean company pulled the wraps off, with the larger Galaxy S10, and the Galaxy S10 Plus all making their debut, alongside the Galaxy Fold – the company’s first foldable phone.
Phones like the S10e are intended to offer the best possible performance at the lowest possible price – not an easy needle to thread. With the kind of money Samsung’s expecting users to drop across all of the S10 phones, even the humble S10e should be able to dole out a hardware and software experience that remains relevant and capable over your average two-year contract.
Even though it might not turn heads like its pricier siblings, the S10e has the makings of a sleeper hit, and as many expected with the iPhone XR, might go on to be the best seller of the whole lineup.
The appeal comes from the fact that it retains most of the features that make the standard Galaxy S10 and the superior S10 Plus so enticing, while the sacrifices that Samsung has had to make to bring the price down seem like the right ones on first impressions.
All that said, the Galaxy S10e already has some pretty strong competition. The Xiaomi Mi 9 has similarly impressive hardware and it’s even cheaper. From what we saw of it at MWC, it could outclass the Galaxy S10e when it comes to value for money.
OnePlus is also expected to launch a new OnePlus 7 smartphone in the near future. Given the company’s experience creating amazing value handsets, this could be another key rival.
Still curious about Samsung’s new semi-affordable Galaxy smartphone? Then read on for an in-depth breakdown of our experience using the Galaxy S10e for a couple of hours.
Related: Samsung S10 Review
Samsung Galaxy S10e Price and Release Date
You can pre-order the Samsung Galaxy S10e right now, with the phone shipping on March 8. It’ll cost £669 in the UK. Interestingly you’ll only be able to pick up the 6/128GB model in the UK, at launch anyway. There’s always the possibility that version will come along somewhere down the line.
Best Samsung Galaxy S10e Deals
Samsung Galaxy S10e – Design
This is the first time Samsung has released a more affordable version of its flagship series, without offering a severely depleted entry such as the “Mini” phones of old. The S10e feels every bit a flagship phone as the regular S10 and S10 Plus.
It does, of course, have to make some sacrifices to reach that lower price. Gone is the sloping, curved display, and there’s only two cameras on the back; the S10 and S10 Plus include three.
Hold it in your hand, however, and I doubt you’ll be disappointed. The metal rim feels plenty sturdy and both the front and back are glass. It’s small, too, and easily usable one-handed, without having to over-extend your thumb to reach the top portion of the screen. The S10e boasts the same IP68 rating as the other devices, meaning you needn’t fear it falling into the sink and suffering any long-term effects, and features a headphone jack too.
During my hour with the phone I was drawn to the Canary Yellow model. It’s ridiculously bright and unashamedly brash, but it’s different and certainly stands out. It makes the S10e feel more fun.
Samsung Galaxy S10e – Screen
Around the front is a 5.8-inch Super AMOLED display with a Full HD+ resolution. That’s slightly fewer pixels than the S10, or even last year’s S9. However, it isn’t something you’ll notice. This is a quality panel offering bright colours and excellent viewing angles. I’d even go as far as to say I prefer its flat style over the curved one, since it doesn’t leave you with super-thin edges to grip onto.
In the top corner of the display is a small circular cutout for the front camera – what Samsung is calling an “Infinity O” screen. Other brands, such as Honor, refer to it as a hole-punch notch.
After only an hour with the device, it’s difficult to judge whether it will prove less intrusive than the notch on an iPhone XS, for example – but I remain unconvinced that it’s any better than Samsung’s previous designs. As immersive as this screen could be, I continued to be drawn to the black spot in the corner.
While the S10 and S10 Plus both feature ultrasonic fingerprint sensors below the screen, the Galaxy S10e takes a page from Sony’s Xperia line and puts the fingerprint sensor on the side. It takes the form of a capacitive pad that’s about the length of your thumb. It’s located in a spot where my hand naturally rested when I picked up the phone. It was lightning-fast to scan my finger, too – especially compared to the S10. There’s basic 2D facial-unlocking, too, if that’s more your thing.
Samsung Galaxy S10e – Performance
It’s great to see that the S10e’s cheaper price doesn’t come way of a lower-end chipset. Instead, the S10e will be powered by the same as-yet unnamed 8nm chipset (likely the Exynos 9820) in Europe, and the Snapdragon 855 in other regions.
Supporting the above chipset will be either 6GB or 8GB of RAM and 128GB or 256GB storage. I’m not a fan of being presented with multiple RAM options by phone-makers since it implies differing performance between models – but it’s seems to be so common these days.
The S10e is home to a 3100mAh battery, plus support for Qi charging and Wireless Powershare. This fancy new tech allows you to use your phone’s battery to charge up other Qi-enabled devices such as Samsung’s new Galaxy Buds, with your S10e acting as the wireless charger.
In terms of software, the Galaxy S10e ships with the Android 9 Pie and the recently unveiled One UI. This is Samsung’s reinvention of its software, and it feels like a big improvement.
There’s a focus on being able to use apps with one hand, with many of your most frequent interactions pushed down towards the bottom of the screen. The camera UI now has a very iOS-feel to it, and there are AI-based elements too. The whole system is meant to learn your behaviour and open more frequently used apps quicker. Whether this actually work remains to be seen.
Samsung Galaxy S10e – Camera
On the rear of the S10e is an optically stabilised 12-megapixel sensor that can shift between f1/.5 and f/2.4 aperture to let more light in when required. This feature was first introduced on the Galaxy S9, making a difference when shooting in really dark environments such as bars or dimly lit restaurants. However, there’s no dedicated low-light shooting mode here (like Night Sight on the Pixel phones, for instance) and that feels like an odd omission.
This camera sensor sounds exactly like the one you’d find in the S9; it will be interesting to see whether anything has changed. The S9 took decent pictures, but not as good as those shot on the iPhone XR – the S10e is rivalling in on price.
Next to that camera is an ultra wide-angle, 16-megapixel fixed-focus camera that will likely be great for landscape shots and cramming as much as possible into your snaps. Selfies are handled by the 10-megapixel front camera.
Like the iPhone XR, the Galaxy S10e takes most of the headline features from its flashier siblings and offers them in a package that’s easier on the wallet. This isn’t a cheap phone – and it’s not trying to be – but neither is it an investment in the same vein as, say, the S10 Plus.
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