Samsung Galaxy S10e is the cheapest smartphone in Samsung’s new Galaxy S10 series which also includes the Galaxy S10 and the Galaxy S10+ (Review). The phone has been priced at Rs 55,990 making it an affordable premium flagship. But despite its similarities, it is quite different from the other flagships in the market.
On that note, what’s the one thing that’s common between most Android flagship smartphones in 2019? The answer is huge displays! Be it the Huawei P30 Pro or the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, the Samsung Galaxy S10+ or even the Pixel 3 XL from Google. All bring with them monster displays fitted on even bigger frames.
While that may not be a problem for most users, there still exists a substantial audience that’s looking for a device which promises manageable single-handed usage without compromising on high-end specs and features that make a device true flagship smartphone. And for such users, Samsung has the Galaxy S10e — where the “e” stands for “essentials”.
The Galaxy S10e is a device which despite making a few compromises, brings with it the excesses that you’d expect from a modern day flagship. But even the compromises feel worthwhile as the tradeoff sees Samsung reward buyers with essential benefits.
While it’s true that the S10e doesn’t get many of the big ticket features that you get with its elder sibling — the seemingly expansive 6.4-inch QHD display is missing, and so are its curved edges. We also don’t get the much-hyped triple camera set-up at the back or for that matter Samsung S10+’s under-display ultrasonic fingerprint reader.
Samsung Galaxy S10e
But what we do get in return is a far more compact and manageable form factor, and more crucially a much more affordable price tag. When we compare the Galaxy S10e to other flagships in the market, the S10e appears to look like a bargain — something you can’t say for other smallish screen flagships in the market like the Google Pixel 3 or the iPhone XR which were launched at much higher price points.
For a device that has been launched at Rs 55,900, the Galaxy S10e is so much more than just a stripped down version of the Samsung Galaxy S10 lineup. Despite its comparatively affordable price, it still brings with it quite capable cameras, a beautiful design and overall performance to take on the might of the best in the market.
But there still exist chinks in its armour. Things one should know about before making an informed buying decision. Read our Samsung Galaxy S10e review to find out more.
Flagship at a relatively affordable price
Premium design in a compact form factor
Cameras that perform great in daylight
Side mounted fingerprint scanner
Average battery life
Below par low light camera performance
No QHD+ display
Samsung Galaxy S10e Review: Design and display
The very first thing you’d notice when you lay your eyes on the Galaxy S10e is just how premium it looks in its compact form factor. While that may not sound like a big thing, the fact is that for a phone which comes with a smallish frame it is quite easy for it to be discounted as a “miniature”. However, that’s not the case with the S10e. Despite its compact design, it ends up looking as much a part of the elite crowd as its elder sibling Galaxy S10+ does.
Much of this is down to the fact that the device brings with it a wireless charge supporting glass back that curves at the edges to meet the S10e’s metallic frame. While the glass back with its cutouts for the phone’s dual camera setup adds a touch of premium to it, the metallic frame makes it feel solid while at the same time helping to make the phone appealing to look at.
Unlike the Galaxy S10+ which brings with it an under-display fingerprint scanner, the S10e’s conventional fingerprint scanner finds home on the right side of the frame. The scanner also doubles up as the phone’s power button. On the left, there’s space for the Bixby button — which can be customised from within the settings app to fire other apps too. The volume rocker is placed just above the Bixby button.
Rest of the cutouts — except for the SIM tray — find a place on the bottom of the phone where we see the Galaxy S10e’s USB-Type C port as well as a speaker grille and a 3.5mm jack for outputting audio.
Samsung Galaxy S10e
Moving to the front, there’s a beautiful 5.8-inch Full HD+ AMOLED display with a 19:9 aspect ratio. While the Galaxy S10e doesn’t get the QHD+ resolution of the Galaxy S10+, or for the matter its edge display, it still manages to look and perform as well. While the display in itself is well calibrated and comes up with punchy colours, Samsung’s also equipped the phone with HDR 10 to ensure videos, text and pictures look great on the device.
Having said that, although the cap of FullHD+ resolution isn’t a deal breaker, we would have preferred if Samsung could have installed a higher resolution panel on the phone. On that note, an under-display fingerprint scanner too could have been a good addition as the side-mounted fingerprint scanner can be a bit of a nuisance at times. During our review, we often found the scanner getting activated even when we were trying to get a good grip on the phone.
Another thing to note about the display of the Galaxy S10e is that it only brings with it a single camera at the front, and as such the punch-hole on display is quite smaller compared to the Galaxy S10+ which helps improve the experience of watching videos on the phone.
When comparing it to the Galaxy S10+ — or the countless big display phones out there in the market — another thing that stands out is how comfortable the phone is to use because of its form factor and light-weight design. The Galaxy S10e weighs just 150 grams and as such is a breeze to hold even for long durations. However, despite its lightweight, the phone has pleasant heft to it which makes it feel quite solid and reassuring to hold.
Samsung Galaxy S10e
Samsung Galaxy S10e Review: Performance and specifications
Under the hood, the Galaxy S10e brings pretty much the same configuration as the pricier Galaxy S10+. While Samsung retains the Exynos 9820 chipset, the paired RAM with it gets a slight cut as the Galaxy S10e only brings with it 6GB of LPDDR RAM.
While on paper it may look like a downgrade, but for all intents and purposes, the S10e’s 6GB RAM-based configuration performs as well as the S10+ smartphone’s 8GB configuration. Apps run smooth, and scrolling through pages on the phone’s home screen felt like a breeze.
During our time with the phone, we encountered no snags as the device performed as per expectations. Be it playing massive duty games or browsing the internet on a lightweight browser, the experience was always snappy. And a lot of credit for this goes to Samsung’s latest Android 9 Pie-based One UI which has been optimised for improved performance without compromising on the battery life of the phone. There’s very little bloatware in the UI, and the Galaxy S10e as such comes pre-installed with only the essentials apps that you’d want from your phone.
Because of how optimised it is, One UI also helps the Galaxy S10e tackle graphics intensive games quite well. Games like PUBG, Fortnite and even Asphalt 9 ran like a charm at high graphics with no lag. But unlike on the Galaxy S10+, the experience wasn’t as great as we did encounter some heating issues with the S10e at times.
But overall, the gaming experience on the phone was quite pleasing. The S10e’s 8nm process based octa-core chipset — Exynos 9820 — also performed quite well on benchmarks. On Antutu it scored rather high 330537. On Geekbench 4, the phone scored 4331 on single-core test, while getting a multi-core rating of 10041.
Samsung Galaxy S10e
Samsung Galaxy S10e Review: Cameras
Apart from the display, the other area that Samsung has cut corners to meet the Galaxy S10e’s Rs. 55,900 price tag is the camera. Despite the primary lenses on the S10e being the same as the ones seen on the pricier siblings, there are marked differences.
The Galaxy S10e comes with two cameras on the back — a 12-megapixel primary sensor with a variable f/1.5 or f/2.4 aperture, sitting beside a 16-megapixel ultrawide lens with a 123-degree field of view. The third 12-megapixel telephoto lens found on the S10+ has been given a miss here to keep costs in check.
However, that doesn’t affect the Galaxy S10e much as the primary wide-angle lens used for clicking most shots — including the bokeh shots — on the S10+ is retained on the device. Thankfully, the ultra-wide lens — which has been a part of most of Samsung’s Galaxy S10 related marketing material — has also not been given a miss.
Much like on the Galaxy S10+, this ultra-wide lens adds an all-new way to look at frames and click pictures fitting in more space than you would be able to use a standard smartphone camera. The ability to switch to this lens came in quite handy as it gave us the ability to include a broader expanse in my frame by merely tapping a button inside the camera application — instead of moving my position to accommodate the extra detail that we wanted to include in the frame.
The performance of the ultra-wide angle lens, as well as the primary wide-angle camera, are on par with the S10+ cameras. Images clicked using both the lenses come out with rich colour and accurate detail. Although the hardware on offer plays a part in this, much of it is down to the phone’s camera app and the options it offers.
The phone’s fast shutter speed paired with the HDR optimisations mean pictures come out blur-free and packing a significant amount of detail with vibrant and accurate colours — or at least in daylight. The S10e comes with a bunch of modes, including an AI-based scene optimiser — including 10 new categories — as well as Super Slow motion, Hyperlapse, Panorama, and Live Focus mode.
Samsung Galaxy S10e camera sample
The latter is the phone’s portrait mode which comes with an option to adjust the level of blur of the background. Further, Samsung has added three new modes within the Live Focus mode that can help users add spin, zoom, or remove colour in the out-of-focus areas of the picture.
In our time testing it, the Live Focus mode generally clicked nice portrait shots. However, they weren’t as good as we’ve previously seen on Pixel 3 where the blur effect separation from the object in focus was handled quite brilliantly by Google’s software.
Samsung Galaxy S10e
While all of these add depth to the photography experience on the device, there are shortcomings that you would otherwise expect an industry leader like Samsung to have sorted out by now.
Even though pictures clicked in natural or well-lit situations leave little to complain about, it’s the low light performance of both device that sees it fall behind the competition. Despite its AI chops, the lack of a standalone night-mode that performs on the lines of the one found on the Google Pixel 3 or the Huawei P30 Pro is felt every single time when you pick up the phone to capture a photo in the dark.
Such pictures usually came out with a lot of noise and slightly faded colours. However, this issue may be rectified in the future as Samsung claims that it is already working on a night mode like a solution for its devices to improve the low light performance of the S10 range of phones.
On the front, the phone gets a 10-megapixel lens with an f/1.9 aperture that performs quite well. As opposed to the two cameras on the S10+, the single lens of the S10e is tasked with the duty of clicking portrait, as well as, regular shots. For the most part, the camera performs well as it captures sharp details and reproduces colours well.
However, it does tend to over smoothen images a bit if the beauty mode is enabled. In low-light, the performance deteriorates as the front camera often ends up clicking noisy and grainy pictures.
Samsung Galaxy S10e Review: Battery
Because of its compact form factor, the Samsung S10e also gets a smaller battery than its elder siblings. As opposed to the S10+ and its beefy 4100mAh battery, the S10e only gets 3100mAh pack. But considering that it has to power a much smaller 1080p display, does the smaller sized result in reduced battery life?
Sadly, the answer is yes.
While the Galaxy S10+ has arguably one of the better performing flagships in terms of battery life, the S10e at best, is above average. Although the performance is not bad and we usually got a day’s worth of use on a full charge, things were better on the S10+ which easily gave us more run-time with its bigger battery.
But still, a day’s worth of moderate use and slightly less, when subjected to gaming and other power-hungry tasks, isn’t something too bad.
It’s also noteworthy that Samsung’s One UI comes with some aggressive battery optimisation modes that can be used to increase the battery life of the S10e further.
Apart from this, the phone also brings with it Wireless Powershare capabilities which not only allow it to be charged wirelessly but also charge other Qi wireless supporting devices without any wires. Apart from this, the phone’s 3100mAh battery also supports 15W fast charging — which in the coming days will go up to 25W with a supported charger.
Samsung Galaxy S10e
Samsung Galaxy S10e Review: Rating
Samsung Galaxy S10e Review: Verdict
The Samsung Galaxy S10e is a case of small victories. Much like its elder siblings, the phone excels in pretty much all that it does. It looks great, feels premium and performs like a charm when put to the sword of graphics-intensive games and apps. Our only gripe with it is that if you’re a fan of low-light photography, the camera performance does leave little to complain about.
However, the Galaxy S10e’s biggest victory is its price.
Samsung Galaxy S10e
At Rs. 55,900 it is the most affordable flagship level smartphone you can get your hands on right now. The price point also makes it an enticing proposition for buyers looking at premium midrange flagships such as a OnePlus device for their next daily driver. Despite the corners that have been cut in making the Galaxy S10e, this device because of its price alone could end up making it the most successful flagship from Samsung this year.
However, this price would be of little consequence to you if you’re here looking for a premium Android flagship with a compact form factor. In that case, your search ends here as the competition in this bracket is quite limited.
The Google Pixel 3 despite its vastly superior camera performance and a similarly convenient form factor does not prove to be a worthy competitor to the Galaxy S10e. The only real competition that the Galaxy S10e faces in the compact form factor segment is the iPhone XR.