Samsung Galaxy S10e review

GSMArena team, 19 March 2019.

The competition

Competition in the mid-range might be tough, but the high-end segment has its difficulties too. And the Galaxy S10e doesn't make it easier for some as well. We can even say it's a rare beast to some extent - it's one of the few compact flagships and it doesn't break the bank too. To be honest, it was quite hard for us to think of adequate competitors, aside from the iPhone XR, which is the main rival here.

However, the Galaxy S10e fills a couple of niches - it's a decently-priced compact flagship with the essential high-end features at hand. Almost all of its competitors are more expensive but let's start with the most obvious one.

Samsung Galaxy S10e review

Samsung's answer to the "budget" iPhone XR is definitely the Galaxy S10e. Of course, the iPhone XR is a tad more expensive than the S10e in the US but asks considerably more in Europe or other parts of the world. But if you've reached a point where you have to decide between the iPhone XR and the Galaxy S10e, you probably don't have a single clue on how big your phone should be. Both handsets look similar, but once you hold them in your hand, the Galaxy S10e just feels tiny. Mostly because of the skinny bezels. It's just way easier to handle.

Battery life on the XR is about the same and raw performance is measurably higher, but that's all. The S10e impresses with one the best in class AMOLED displays, it has a pretty good ultra-wide camera, while the iPhone XR relies on one unit, and the Galaxy S10e still offers the option to unlock it with a fingerprint. And when you weigh in the factor of ever-declining Android prices, the gap between the Galaxy S10e and the iPhone XR will just grow bigger over time. One would argue that if the iPhone XR is in your price range, the Galaxy S10 is actually the better choice.

Apple iPhone XR Samsung Galaxy S10
Apple iPhone XR Samsung Galaxy S10

But if you are strictly in the Android camp, or more specifically, in Samsung's party tent, you should consider the Galaxy S10. The price difference is around 100 (or slightly more depending on your region), but you get the fancy in-display ultrasonic fingerprint reader, a third telephoto camera and a bigger and curvier display.

Samsung Galaxy S10e review

For a little less, Xiaomi has two offers that can go under the "affordable flagship" label - the recently released Xiaomi Mi 9 and last year's crowd favorite - the Pocophone F1. The Mi 9, despite being bigger in size and considerably less expensive, is closer to the Galaxy S10e than you'd think - a premium build, great AMOLED screen, long battery life, heavily-customized UI and powerful up to date hardware.

Xiaomi Mi 9 Xiaomi Pocophone F1 Google Pixel 3
Xiaomi Mi 9 Xiaomi Pocophone F1 Google Pixel 3

And as for the Pocophone F1, it's the definition of "affordable flagship." Although still rocking a Snapdragon 845, it can do almost everything the S10e can but lacks the sharp AMOLED screen and the excellent camera experience. But for the less pretentious users, the Pocophone F1 will save you a couple of hundred dollars.

Samsung Galaxy S10e review

If you are one of the old-school users looking for something new, and compactness is on the top of your list, you should also consider the Pixel 3 - a powerful stock Android alternative to the Galaxy S10e and depending on the current Google promotions, it can be less expensive or slightly above the Galaxy S10e. There's also a big "if" with availability - Pixel availability is notoriously limited. But if all is good and you are willing to go with the Pixel, you should consider the bare bones Android experience and the single-camera module. That doesn't mean it can't do awesome shots, though.

Verdict

Surely, there are better value propositions from flagship phones, but the Galaxy S10e packs the latest and greatest and it's easy to handle with one hand. It has one of the best screens in the industry combined with a stellar camera experience, tons of cool software and hardware features and it's still rocking that beloved 3.5mm audio jack. It's one of the most feature-complete flagship devices out there, but there are a couple of things you'd have to deal with.

For example, the One UI might not be to everyone's taste - it's heavily-customized, and the navigation has changed a lot since the last Samsung UX iterations, and the high fingerprint reader placement requires too much of a thumb stretch. Even for a phone with this size, unlocking the handset using the side-mounted scanner feels like a chore.

Samsung Galaxy S10e review

Speaking of displacement, the punch-hole camera is an OCD-inducing design choice. Also, we still think that the hole is better off in the left corner, like the Honor View 20. We are still unsure how screen cutouts are any better than a notch, but we guess we are a step closer to full-screen design with sensors and cameras under the display.

And what's with the ancient fast charging Samsung? Every other phone maker offers a more advanced fast charging system, regardless of whether proprietary or not.

Samsung Galaxy S10e review

So this phone is not without its shortcomings. But do we recommend the Galaxy S10e? In a heartbeat. We see it becoming one of the best value high-end smartphones shortly, once the price starts to drop. As long as you don't care about those over-the-top fancy features like the in-display fingerprint reader, the Galaxy S10e could be your trusty sidekick for years ahead.

Pros

  • One of the few compact flagships out there.
  • Impeccable build quality, premium materials, great colors.
  • Outstanding display.
  • Stellar camera experience with a few minor exceptions.
  • Decent battery life, better than the Galaxy S10

Cons

  • Fingerprint reader is placed inconveniently high.
  • The ultra-wide angle camera needs autofocus.
  • The camera Night mode is lackluster.
  • Samsung's fast charging tech is not competitive in speed.

Reader comments

  • Anonymous

My advice, from practical and 2 years of use ... (I own a similar, S7) - and I have owned a ZX from Sony. The most important real-life use differences (S7/OIS and ZX/EIS) : - EIS (Sony) just don't make sharp pictures - the OIS (Samsung) does! ...

  • George 1987

Sony xz2 compact or s10e ? Wich phone has better camera?

  • Alex

You are wrong, the green ones are shared. Every pixel has 1 blue subpixel 1 red subpixel and a shared green subpixel with the adjacent pixel.