Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite vs Galaxy S10: What's the difference?

Same name, but very different handsets

Samsung is set to unveil its Galaxy S20 smartphone this week, but if you don't have flagship cash to spend, then maybe the Galaxy S10 Lite will be more compelling.

Just released in the UK last week, the Galaxy S10 Lite is a trimmed-down edition that opts for some (but not all) lower-end components and has a cheaper price tag to boot. How big of a difference is it, really, and is it worth the savings given the changes?

Here's a look at how the Galaxy S10 Lite compares to the standard Galaxy S10.

Design: Glass or plastic?

You might be wondering: why doesn't the Galaxy S10 Lite look all that much like the Galaxy S10? And the answer is… honestly, we have no clue. While there are similarities, the Galaxy S10 Lite hardly seems like a direct descendent (or sibling even) of the standard model.

The Galaxy S10, of course, has the punch hole in the upper right corner of the display, while the S10 Lite puts it at center-top, like the Galaxy Note 10. The S10 Lite seems to have less bezel around the screen too, and it's a flat panel, unlike the curved S10 screen.

And on the back, the S10 Lite gets a big vertical camera bump on the upper left corner on a plastic back, while the S10 had a horizontal one set on glass. These are very different phones!

Screen: Larger, but lower-res

Continuing the trend of significant differences, the Galaxy S10 Lite's screen is actually larger – it's 6.7in as opposed to the S10's 6.1in screen.

It is lower-resolution, however: the Super AMOLED Plus Infinity-O screen is 1080p resolution, while the Galaxy S10 goes sharper at QHD+. Bigger might not be better in this case, but at least bigger is… bigger.

Camera: A different trio

Beyond the difference in how the back triple-camera setup looks on both phones, there are key differences in the types of cameras you'll find here.

The Galaxy S10 has a great setup with a 12MP main wide-angle camera, a 12MP 2x zoom telephoto lens, and a stellar 16MP ultra-wide shooter. The S10 Lite, on the other hand, opts for a 48MP main wide-angle camera, a 12MP ultra-wide shooter, and a 5MP macro lens.

Our experience with Samsung's recent mid-range phones suggests that the 48MP camera will be pretty good, albeit likely not on par with the GS10's 12MP equivalent. The addition of "Super Steady OIS" could help make a difference, though. And the macro lens is totally different, designed for super close-up shots. Will it make for a more versatile trio?

Performance: Pretty close

Here's one area in which Samsung didn't do much trimming. The Galaxy S10 has the speedy Exynos 9820 flagship processor in the UK, while the Galaxy S10 Lite uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chip that was used for the standard S10 in other parts of the world.

In fact, the Snapdragon 855 puts up better benchmark scores, although it's not a dramatic difference. The base GS10 Lite edition has 6GB RAM as opposed to 8GB on the Galaxy S10, although there is a pricier 8GB RAM version of the GS10 Lite as well.

Battery and perks: More capacity, no wireless

Samsung has shown a curious tendency to put larger, longer-lasting batteries in its cheaper mid-range phones, and that's true here too. While the 3,400mAh battery of the Galaxy S10 typically provided a solid full day's usage, the larger 4,500mAh cell of the Galaxy S10 Lite is sure to give you more hours to play with.

Thanks to the plastic backing, however, the Galaxy S10 Lite doesn't have any kind of wireless charging capabilities, while the main S10 has both wireless and reverse wireless charging included–the latter letting you top up another wirelessly-chargeable phone on the back.

Both ship with 128GB of internal storage and offer microSD support for expandable storage, so it's all even there. Samsung also offers a version of the standard S10 with 512GB of internal storage if you want a lot more onboard space to work with.

The Galaxy S10 Lite curiously loses the 3.5mm headphone port that's still included on the Galaxy S10, plus the Lite version has no water resistance rating (the S10 is IP68).

Verdict: A tough sell?

The Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite is definitely an appealing option, finding the middle ground between full-bodied flagship and glossy mid-ranger… but the timing is very curious.

It just released at a price of £579, which is a fair bit less than the £799 starting price of the year-old Galaxy S10. However, a quick glance at Amazon shows that the Galaxy S10 can be purchased for £595 or potentially less right now, and the impending Galaxy S20 announcement means that the S10 price is likely to sink further very soon.

We haven't issued a verdict on the Galaxy S10 Lite just yet, but based on our experience with the standard S10 and the spec and feature differences here, we would absolutely pay another £15-20 to get the flagship Galaxy S10 over its tweaked, trimmed-down Lite edition.

Right now, the value difference doesn't really add up – but if the Galaxy S10 Lite quickly drops in price and puts more distance between it and the Galaxy S10, then it might prove to be an appealing option in the months to come. Keep an eye out.