Samsung Galaxy S10e review: An unapologetic flagship
Ever since the rumours about the Galaxy S10 started surfacing, leaks about Samsung's iPhone XR killer started surfacing. And, at the Galaxy S10 event, Samsung launched the Galaxy S10e, an ‘essential’ version of the flagship handset that came sporting practically all the main features of the S10 except for a few omissions such as the lack of a third rear camera, a curved Infinity display and the lack of an in-display fingerprint scanner.
While there are a few key differences between the Galaxy S10 and the S10e, Samsung has made sure to add features which is worth its flagship status such as an ultra-crisp Infinity-O Super AMOLED display, seriously slim bezels and a side-mounted fingerprint scanner.
On paper, the Galaxy S10e comes with all the bells and whistles of a flagship device and poses a serious threat to the iPhone XR’s dominance in this segment. With price being a motivating factor for most, Samsung has also managed to price the S10e fairly and in front of the iPhone XR, its an absolute steal. But the question begs, is this the handset for you? Or will it not offer enough for you. Read on.
At first glance, the Galaxy S10e looks no different than the Galaxy S10 especially because all handsets from this series comprise of a similar design language. While this may be the case, the Galaxy S10 is the most different handset of the bunch, at least visually speaking. However, it isn’t a bad thing as for those upgrading from an upper mid-range Android handset you will be welcomed by a large handset that can be easily held with one hand.
The most obvious difference between the more expensive duo — the Galaxy S10+ and the S10 is the lack of curved sides. Where Samsung aims to cut down costs, it excels with grip. Meaning, this handset is extremely comfortable to hold. Being a smaller handset than its rather costlier siblings, the size of the Galaxy S10e makes for an interesting proposition as in a world that’s chasing large handsets, the welcome smaller form factor can be one of the primary motivating factors to pick this handset over the plethora of others in the current market.
Since this handset doesn’t come with the Infinity edge display, you now get a flat screen with slightly larger bezels when compared to the S10/S10+. Being the baby of the bunch, the S10 also features the lightest weight among the three, weighing at a mere 150g.
An interesting feature adopted by Samsung is the side mounted fingerprint sensor which also doubles as the power button. In the past, Samsung used the rear for its biometric authentication and since the S10/S10+ have ultrasonic in-display fingerprint scanners, Samsung in a bid to keep the price down to a minimum opted against this and employed it as a large button on the right. The fingerprint scanner is extremely responsive and in our humble opinion, we prefer it a lot more than the otherwise slow ultrasonic scanner on the S10. However, it has to be said that on occasions it worked too well with it unlocking the phone accidentally on numerous occasions.
The phone breathes premium in every way possible right down to the aluminium sandwiched between sheets of glass. The rear plays home to two cameras as opposed to three hence we get a much smaller camera bump. The left of the handset features the ever-responsive volume rockers and the Bixby button which can now be customized to use with other apps. While this may be a welcome feature, it is and will always be a Bixby button. If any other app is assigned to this button, in either a single click or double click, the other needs to pull up Samsung’s voice assistant.
Lastly, the bottom of the handset features the USB Type-C port, a 3.5mm audio jack, the speaker grille and a microphone. Though there’s no denotation for the same, the Galaxy S10e’s rear can be used as a reverse wireless charger. This means that you can charge another smartphone (slowly) or the Galaxy Buds earphones that launched alongside the handset.
A point to mention is that the rear is pretty slippery and if you don’t want accidental dents or scuffs, it's better to use the supplied case that comes bundled with the handset.
Being the smallest of the lot, the Galaxy S10e features a 5.8-inch Infinity-O Super AMOLED display boasting a resolution of 1080 x 2280 pixels and a 19:9 aspect ratio. Being an Infinity-O display, it comes with the punch-hole screen that’s located on the upper right corner, similar to the Galaxy S10.
Being a Samsung handset and a flagship no less, it comes with the best screen the company has to offer. The display is absolutely immersive and dynamic. It offers stellar brightness and deep blacks and there are absolutely no issues when using it outdoors. Being the most cost-friendly of the trio of devices, the Galaxy S10e features an FHD+ display as opposed to a QHD+ display found on the S10/S10+. However, unless you have a trained eye, the difference in the resolution won’t be noticeable.
To avoid the dreaded notch that’s present on practically all handsets nowadays, Samsung has used the punch-hole display which we feel is a better choice. Featuring this sort of display, Samsung has housed the front-facing camera in this cutout which makes for great use with creative wallpapers that aim to hide it. While using the screen to view content, after a while you forget about the cutout and viewing contents seem natural. Most apps available will blackout the cutout by adding a black bar on top of the screen. So, whether you like the punch-hole or not, it won’t be visible with most apps.
Like the Galaxy S10, the S10e comes with Samsung’s latest skin — One UI that’s baked into Google’s Android 9 Pie OS. The One UI is pretty intuitive and but not as lightweight as say a stock Android OS. On the Galaxy S10e, you can easily navigate through the UI and it has a fair amount of customisation options giving you the freedom to tweak certain aspects of the OS.
Being a flagship, you once again get the always-on display that allows you to easily glance at the clock or notifications without waking up the screen. While this may be a great feature, it does tend to drain the battery a bit. So, it’s better to watch out for this before keeping it activated.
With One UI, you get a better-designed interface and more importantly a more useful user experience. Samsung has also thrown in their own gestures in place of the on-screen buttons that are handy to use.
Samsung has also thrown in its own apps in addition to similar Google-made apps. This can be a bit irksome for those who want just one app for their tasks. For those who are not fans of the bright appearance of the handset; this can be changed in the display setting to Night mode that gives the entire UI a darker appearance. Personally, we found the darker theme quite appealing and we stuck to it over the brighter UI.
The Samsung Galaxy S10e boasts an Exynos 9820 chipset that’s similar to the Galaxy S10 and S10+; so, there’s no skimping here on Samsung’s part as they have added all the same internal hardware in all three models. In for review, was the Galaxy S10e with 6GB RAM with 128GB storage and this is the only variant available in India.
While running tests we observed that in the multi-core test on Geekbench, it scored 10139, this is much better than most Android handsets available in the market. And in the process making it the fastest Android handset we have tested.
When it comes to real-world usage, the S10e is a very capable player and manages to perform stutter-free no matter what we throw at it. Due to the high RAM allocation, it holds a high number of apps in its memory and can be pulled up instantly without the loss of any information. Swapping one app for another performed flawlessly and there was no stalling whatsoever.
The 6GB/128GB version should be quite sufficient for most; however, if storage constraints are an issue, then you can easily add a microSD card which should serve the purpose. If you do want further internal storage, then you would have to opt for the S10 which offers up to 512GB of storage.
During gameplay on apps such as Asphalt 9, the handset performs flawlessly even with settings turned to the max. The only issue we faced was a rapid battery drain and slight thermal issues with the phone getting a bit heated.
Other than this, the Galaxy S10e is a mini beast that’s worth its flagship status.
The only possible downside on the Galaxy S10e is the lack of a third camera. Here, Samsung adds a standard 12MP wide-angle sensor and a 16MP ultra-wide sensor. You guessed it. There’s no 12MP telephoto lens either.
In decent lighting conditions, the Galaxy S10e performs steadfastly with details being highlighted and a lot of dynamic range. Colours look perfect with no oversaturation being noticed like Samsung Galaxy S series of the past produced. This is a welcome change and makes images look a lot more natural.
With Samsung using a 16MP wide-angle lens, we see a lot of people using it to get much more in the frame. However, we did observe a strange anomaly that if you’re too close to a subject, it tended to get a bit distorted. To avoid this, use the ultra-wide lens when you’re at a fair distance from the subject. With that being said, we see that most people using the wide-angle lens for most photography purposes. In low-light photography, the Galaxy S10e tends to struggle a bit as there is a lack of detail present and some image grain which is rather disappointing in comparison to a Pixel.
For selfies, Samsung uses a 10MP sensor that uses software to zoom out a bit. Colours appear natural and being a top-tier handset, you get images that are pretty great but nowhere in the vicinity of an iPhone XS. Having just a single front-facing camera, it makes use of software to blur out the background during Live Focus (portrait shots). However, the software doesn't do as good a job as compared to a dedicated depth sensor.
On the Galaxy S10e, you get a 3100mAh battery, the smallest capacity battery found on any of the S10 models. However, it has been optimised well and it managed to last an entire workday without running out of juice. It also comes with a 15W fast charger which means you can top up the battery in a jiffy. It may not be the fastest charger in the market but it certainly gets the job done.
An interesting feature shared across all Galaxy S10 devices is the Wireless PowerShare. This is Samsung’s reverse wireless charging solution that allows you to charge another smartphone or accessory such as the Galaxy Buds or Apple’s newly released AirPods which come with the wireless charging case.
However, it must be said that it is pretty slow to charge a smartphone but it can add a valuable amount of juice that can be potentially quite useful till you reach a dedicated charger.
The Galaxy S10e is priced at Rs 55,900 and it is by far our favourite Galaxy S10 of the lot. This is mainly due to its diminutive form factor which scores the maximum brownie points. Featuring a price that pales in comparison to the iPhone XR and having a much better feature set, we get a phone that’s a beast when it comes to performance and a screen that’s an absolute pleasure to view.
If you are shopping for a new handset and don’t need anything extravagant like an in-display fingerprint scanner and a triple camera setup, then the Galaxy S10e is your best bet.