Samsung Galaxy S10e quick review: The best of Samsung in a smaller phone
Compact smartphones aren't dead yet. Despite the move towards big phones with large displays by reducing the bezels, we still get the occasional compact phone every now and then for consumers who want to be able to use a smartphone with just one hand. Samsung has long been a company that believes in large screen phones, and it even created a new One UI software keeping big phones in mind. Which is why the Galaxy S10e is so interesting. It is Samsung's compact flagship that comes at a great time.
The Galaxy S10e is Samsung's affordable flagship in the new S10 series. In fact, it is Samsung's most affordable flagship in a while and there are a few reasons for that. It gets the "essential" features of the Galaxy S10 series without making a lot of compromises. The S10e brings a smaller display, a smaller battery, dual cameras instead of triple cameras, no in-display fingerprint sensor and a flat FHD+ display instead of a curved QHD+ display as compared to its big brothers. But at a price of Rs 55,900, these tradeoffs might be worth it. We at India Today Tech just received the Galaxy S10e for review, which will be out soon, but here's a quick hand-on and first impressions for now.
The Galaxy S10e is delightfully small phone and it comes as a breath of fresh air after using large phones pretty much all the time now. I recently reviewed the Galaxy S10+ and switching to the S10e felt hilarious, in a good way. You can feel its compactness the moment you take it out of the box. It feels great to hold a phone this size, knowing that you can grip it with ease and won't drop it easily. The petite S10e is also really lightweight at just 150 grams.
The difference in design between the Galaxy S10e and S10+ is noticeable. Apart from the obvious size difference, there are some aesthetical changes as well. The most obvious one is that the Galaxy S10e gets a flat display instead of a curved edge display, which does make it look less premium compared to the S10 and S10+. On the back, the Galaxy S10e gets a 3D curved glass with support for wireless charging as well as the new Wireless PowerShare reverse wireless charging feature.
There is a solid curved metal frame in between the two glasses that makes the device feel durable. The volume and Bixby buttons are placed on the left side. On the right you get a flat power button that sits flush with the frame because it also doubles up as a fingerprint sensor. As much as I love the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor on the Galaxy S10+, the side fingerprint sensor on the Galaxy S10e makes a lot of sense. Because of its small size, your finger naturally comes into contact with the power button on the side, making it easy and snappy to unlock the device.
A handy little feature that can be enabled in Setting is Fingerprint Gesture, which lets you swipe down the side fingerprint sensor to pull down the notification and quick settings panel. The bottom of the frame sees a 3.5mm headphone jack and a single speaker grille on either sides of a Type-C port.
The Galaxy S10e sports a 5.8-inch FHD+ (2280x1440) Dynamic AMOLED display. The screen gets a circular cutout on the top right corner much like the Galaxy S10. The hole houses a single selfie camera and doesn't look too intrusive on first glance, which is largely because the default Samsung wallpapers do a good job at masking the hole. On a white background, the hole is much more noticeable on the S10e because of its smaller form factor. It was easier to ignore the cutout on the S10+ because you get a lot of display.
The Galaxy S10e lacks the QHD+ resolution of the Galaxy S10 and S10+, but you won't feel its absence much. The 1080p resolution looks sharp and the display is vivid with vibrant colours and good viewing angles. This is based on a brief interaction with the device and I will have more to say about the quality of the display and brightness levels in an in-depth review.
In order to keep the price down, Samsung had to naturally make some more compromises, like offering a dual camera setup instead of a triple camera system on the S10 and S10+. So the S10e misses out on the 12MP telephoto lens, which means the camera relies on digital zoom that may offer lower quality zoom shots. The camera system does retain the 12MP wide-angle lens with Dual Aperture (f/1.5-2.4) and 16MP ultra wide-angle f/2.2 sensor as the Galaxy S10 and S10+. This suggests you should get similar photos on the S10e as you would on the S10, but we can only know for sure after spending more time with the cameras.
I did capture a few photos outdoors in daylight and the clarity and colours looked as good as on the Galaxy S10+. Photos offer a lot of detail and dynamic range that make them look rich and lively. The 10MP f/1.9 selfie camera also captures really good detail in good lighting, but there is a lot of smoothing that happens with the beauty mode enabled by default. I will have more to say about the cameras after testing them in a variety of conditions and scenarios in a full review.
Fortunately, Samsung has not downgraded the core hardware of the Galaxy S10e. The phone gets the same Exynos 9820 chipset as the S10 and S10+. You also get 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage, both of which feel sufficient. Right out of the box, the Galaxy S10e feels snappy and smooth. Opening apps and browsing through the UI felt fast and fluid with no lag or stutter.
The Galaxy S10e also runs on One UI with a redesigned UI for easy one-handed use easy, but that's hardly an issue on the S10e. Still, you will see most action and function keys move towards the bottom half of the screen while the top half is reserved for headers and as lot of blank space. One UI also brings redesigned app icons that are larger than before, and they look noticeably chunky on the S10e small display. And then we have a system-wide Night Mode, which blacks out the background.
The Galaxy S10e houses a 3,100mAh battery, which is 300mAh smaller than the S10 and 1,000mAh smaller than the S10+. But for a compact phone that doesn't support QHD+ resolution, the battery size should be good enough to last a full day. Of course, we can only know for sure after putting the battery life to the test.
Samsung's compact Galaxy S10e is clearly a phone aimed to reach a wider audience. It has the best pricing among the three Galaxy S10 phones and the downgrades in design and hardware do not feel substantial based on my initial impressions of it. Stay tuned to our full review where we will have more to say on the S10e's display, performance and battery life.