Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite review

GSMArena team, 08 Feb 2020.

Android 10 coupled with in-house One UI 2.0

Compared to the first iteration of One UI, the second version isn't all that different design-wise. Most of the changes come with Android 10 and are under the hood. For example, now apps will ask your permission to use location on the background or you can limit them to only when using the app in the foreground. Of course, you can also deny them accessing your location as a whole.

Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite review

Another big change that came with Android 10 is the system-wide dark mode. The latter was available in the previous version of One UI too but it was limited to the system apps and menus. Now, it extends to third-party applications that support it such as Instagram, Gmail, Chrome, etc.

Lock screen, home screen, recent apps, notification shade - Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite review Lock screen, home screen, recent apps, notification shade - Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite review Lock screen, home screen, recent apps, notification shade - Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite review Lock screen, home screen, recent apps, notification shade - Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite review
Lock screen, home screen, recent apps, notification shade

The most notable change of all, however, is the gesture-based navigation. In the previous iteration of the software, Samsung offered the standard software button setup and the custom-tailored Samsung swipe-up gestures. Now you have a third choice - the default Android 10 gestures. Swipe from the bottom takes you back to the Home screen, swipe and hold summons the recent apps menu and swipe from the left or right bezel acts as a back button. Unfortunately, there's no quick switch between the current app in the foreground and the previous one.

Navigation gestures - Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite review Navigation gestures - Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite review
Navigation gestures

But in typical Samsung fashion, there's some additional customization for the gestures. You can adjust the back gesture sensitivity, which would affect how close you have to swipe from the bezel to execute the gesture. This one is particularly useful when using a case that doesn't allow you to swipe directly from the side frame.

The next on the list is the biometrics. Samsung has made a decision to switch to an optical fingerprint reader for the Lite version in favor of the ultrasonic fingerprint reader used on the previous models so far. honestly, this was way overdue as the ultrasonic fingerprint scanner technology just can't deliver a great user experience. Plus, it has all sorts of issues with screen protectors.

Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite review

In contrast, the optical fingerprint reader on the S10 Lite provides a better experience than what we've had on the S10 and Note10 family. It's both faster and more accurate but it's still let down by software.

It appears that the animations are what slows it down. We've had the same problem with the Note10 and the S10 when we reviewed them last year. Once the reader recognizes your fingertip, it would unlock the screen and then you'd have to wait for the unlocking animation to do its job along with the short delay right before the animation starts. Additionally, if you set the Always-on screen to show upon a single tap, you'd have to wait even longer for the fingerprint area outlines to appear. It can take up to a second for the area to illuminate. This issue has also been around since the first S10s and still hasn't been fixed. Not to mention that the illuminated fingerprint placeholder on the AOD is quite dim and it's hard to see it in a bright environment.

Biometrics and Always-on display options - Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite review Biometrics and Always-on display options - Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite review Biometrics and Always-on display options - Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite review Biometrics and Always-on display options - Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite review Biometrics and Always-on display options - Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite review
Biometrics and Always-on display options

Of course, you can shave off some of the unlocking time by setting the Always-on display option to always visible. The fingerprint area will always show while a double tap will light up the whole screen.

All in all, the whole unlocking experience leaves something more to be desired but we're happy to see progress in this respect even though this solution is still not on par with the competing solutions from Chinese brands.

The fingerprint reader aside, there are a couple of more useful options in the Always-on settings menu that let you choose the style of the Always-on display, schedule it or even let the phone adjust the brightness depending on the surrounding environment.

Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite review

And another minor annoyance we had with the software was the power button. If you hold the power button to restart or turn off the phone, it will instead summon Bixby and that's the default option out of the box. Luckily, Samsung gives you the option to disable summoning Bixby with the power button but we were puzzled at first.

Advanced options and gestures - Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite review Advanced options and gestures - Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite review
Advanced options and gestures

Aside from the unlocking experience and the default Bixby option, everything ran smoothly without any hiccups, hangs or freezes. And we didn't expect less too - we've got one of the most powerful chipsets from last year under the hood paired with an even more polished version of Samsung's brand new One UI so expect smooth sailing when it comes to performance convenience, customization options.

Performance

The "Lite" part in the name would lead you to believe that Samsung has cut some corners to deliver a more wallet-friendly package but performance definitely isn't one of the compromises the company had to make. The handset runs one of the best chipsets from last year even if's not the latest. In fact, we'd say that if the chip affects the price so much, we would still choose the Snapdragon 855 over the Plus version. After all, the difference is just a couple of added frames in games and benchmarks due to the higher clocked GPU in the Snapdragon 855+. Even more so, the Snapdragon 855 offers superior graphics performance compared to the Exynos 9820 chipset ticking inside the rest of the Galaxy S10 smartphones. This doesn't apply if you are based in China or the US as those markets got the Snapdragon 855-powered S10s.

Anyway, we know what to expect from the Snapdragon 855 in terms of raw performance as we've seen it in other phones as well. It employs an octa-core CPU with 1x Kryo 485 core running at 2.84GHz, 3x Kryo 485 cores at 2.42GHz and 4x Kryo 485 cores ticking at 1.78GHz. The Adreno 640 takes care of the graphically-intensive tasks.

The S10 Lite's Snapdragon 855 is also aided by 6 or 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal, expandable (via microSD) storage. The version we tested has 8GB of RAM. And here's how it fares against the competition.

GeekBench 5.1 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • OnePlus 7T
    2858
  • Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite
    2732
  • Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)
    2521
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10
    2241
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+
    2190
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10 Lite
    2027
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10 Lite
    2027

GeekBench 5.1 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S10+
    827
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10
    819
  • OnePlus 7T
    776
  • Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite
    738
  • Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)
    694
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10 Lite
    688
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10 Lite
    688

AnTuTu 8

Higher is better

  • OnePlus 7T
    485585
  • Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite
    459497
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10
    452400
  • Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)
    401208
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+
    399901
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10 Lite
    341212
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10 Lite
    341212
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 10
    256717

GFX 3.1 Car scene (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • OnePlus 7T
    48
  • Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite
    43
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+
    42
  • Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)
    33
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10 Lite
    29
  • Huawei P30 Pro
    29
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10 Lite
    29
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10
    28
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 10
    17

GFX 3.1 Car scene (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • OnePlus 7T
    41
  • Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite
    34
  • Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)
    29
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10
    28
  • Huawei P30 Pro
    27
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10 Lite
    25
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10 Lite
    25
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+
    23
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 10
    15

3DMark SSE OpenGL ES 3.1 1440p

Higher is better

  • OnePlus 7T
    6296
  • Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite
    5641
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10
    4889
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+
    4420
  • Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)
    4215
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10 Lite
    4015
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10 Lite
    4015

3DMark SSE Vulkan 1440p

Higher is better

  • OnePlus 7T
    5540
  • Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite
    4892
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10
    4862
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+
    4295
  • Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)
    4231
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10 Lite
    3706
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10 Lite
    3706

Reader comments

I can't even fathom why Samsung would bother to launch this phone in the first place. It was supposed to be the A90 5G replacement since it was called the A91 during the development process. But when comparing this phone and the A90 5G side-by-s...

  • Anonymous

S10 lite or A72?

  • Franzenius

The same happened to my speakers. And not only that, the usb-connection stopped working properly and in the end only allowing me to recharge the battery in a super-slow speed. But Samsung service shop in Göteborg Sweden did an excellent job by replac...