Thou shall have a normal sized and a Plus sized variant of a phone. Unwritten commandments like these have been put to the wayside in favor of more modern approach-which is to just have more phones to sell. Apple did it with the XR, which somehow didn’t really excite the audience, with a little too much compromise at least at the launch price. The biggest thorn in Apple’s side though, Samsung it seems has had a different approach. We have been playing around with the affordable flagship from Samsung for a few days now. And spoiler alert, we actually love it!
Design and build: Pint sized package
It’s great. The end. We can move on!
Which is what I would have said if I didn’t have an all seeing, all knowing editor breathing down my neck.
Let’s start with the size. For all but the most neanderthal handed folks, the Samsung Galaxy S10e is perfectly sized. It just feels like a natural extension of the palm, making it one of the easiest devices to use one handed.
As it has been for a long time now, Samsung has built its flagship phones with extremely good build quality and that certainly hasn’t changed with the S10e. It has a nice heft to it while feeling super premium all over.
For the one guy living under a rock, the S10e sports a beautiful 5.8in display that pretty much dominates the front with a neatly tucked away punch hole notch. The chin side is slightly larger than the other three sides but it’s noticeable only when you look closely.
The unassuming back features the usual horizontally stacked camera and flash module and this time, thankfully, the fingerprint sensor has been integrated into the power button.
Display: It’s a win win
As hotly contested as it may seem, having that Quad HD display on the S10e’s two elder siblings does make a difference when seen side by side, but in terms of sheer ppi, the S10e features a whopping 438 ppi which is only 110 ppi less then the S10 and only 80 ppi less than the S10+. Now, that’s pretty great considering the reduced price.
What’s more, it’s an AMOLED display just like its more expensive siblings, meaning the reduced size and less demanding resolution does wonders for the battery life.
In terms of display then, the budget S10e completely humiliates the budget offering from Apple.
Software and Performance: Samsung’s best...yet
Oh so smooth and sleek. This ain’t an ad for skin care products, but the vocabulary certainly applies to the new OS on the Samsung Galaxy S10e.
The UX is exemplary. The customisation options are immense. And above all, it’s clean. Initially, the software tries to make you use Samsung services and prompts you to make them your default options, but it learns quickly and stops nannying you around. From that point on its pretty much smooth sailing. In all honesty, the new Samsung UI is the only other Android UI that is on par if not better than the Stock Android UX.
The same goes for battery life. Having the smallest battery of the three, the e suffers a bit initially. But it quickly learns your usage patterns and optimises power accordingly to give you as much battery life as possible.
Top Tip- If you smartly use the OS, like activating the system wide dark mode and applying the brilliant Dark theme, you can eek out a whole day’s worth of charge without worrying at all about charging.
In terms of performance it features the same Exynos 9820 chip that its pricier siblings have, but it only has 6GB RAM. Jeez, could you ever imagine saying that a smartphone “only” has 6GB RAM just a couple of years ago? Anyway, the reduction in RAM compared to the other two S10’s has not really put a dent in its performance and things work just as smoothly, at least for now.
Camera: A compromise story
In the clicky department, let’s start with what the S10e has in common with its siblings. The front camera is the same one you get with the S10, but it misses out on the 8M RGB depth sensor that the S10+ receives. And on the back it features a 12MP Wide angle and 16MP Ultra Wide Camera which, both the S10 and S10+ have, but they also receive a 12MP Telephoto Camera.
What you get from the S10e in comparison to the S10+ is one less lens on both the front and back camera setups.
So, let’s make things clear before we get into the capabilities of the cameras. If the cameras are a big priority that you look for from a smartphone, then you are better off spending an extra 5K and getting yourself the Google Pixel 3. Let me make it more clear, go for the Pixel 3 if and only if the camera is a big priority.
By itself though, the S10e, is certainly capable of some extremely capable shots. Pictures are vibrant, super sharp with colour and exposure management being fantastic.
The camera app itself offers up a ton of options like pro mode, live focus, live filters, panorama, super slow-mo and for that one person who uses it (literally never seen anyone using it) AR Emoji.
Oh and the Ultra Wide angle does some real wonders for your Instagram feed, giving it a real professional look. At 123 degrees, it provides a field of view as wide as human eyes so you get the shot you really need. It also has a neat feature that fixes the fish-eye effect and it does it superbly.
The front camera as well does a pretty nifty job too. Selfies are right up there in terms of sharpness and although we wouldn’t recommend it, has one of the more natural beauty modes.
What takes the cake in the camera department though, is the sheer number of adjustments you can make with the camera. The pro mode is especially comprehensive and by far one of the easiest to use, almost encouraging you to fiddle around with the settings and up your photography game.
The S10e is certainly one of the most perfect phones we have tested in a while. It’s perfectly sized, has a beautiful display, buttery smooth software experience, really good (but not exceptional) cameras and so much more. If we were to nitpick, we would probably say that the battery life could be a bit better, but that wouldn’t stop us from grabbing one either.
If you want a reasonably priced Samsung flagship, this is a no brainer.