Samsung Galaxy S10e review: Hands-on

If you always wanted a Galaxy S phone but didn’t like the high price then the Galaxy S10e is for you. It takes the winning Galaxy formula, shrinks it, flattens it, and reduces the price. Win-win, right?

We went hands-on with the Galaxy S10e at a preview event before its launched at Samsung Unpacked on 20 February. Here’s what we thought.

We also checked out the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10 Plus.

Price and availability

The Galaxy S10e starts from £669 / $749. 

It is available for pre-order now and will ship on 8 March. Unlike the S10 and S10 Plus pre-orders, you don’t get free Galaxy Buds with the S10e.

The S10e will be available practically everywhere in the UK and US. We’ve rounded up the best Galaxy S10 deals here.

E is for extra small

Even though it has a 5.8in display the Galaxy S10e can be considered pretty small thanks to the new design. It’s practically bezel-less with a 19:9 aspect ratio and a single cut out camera in the display in the top right.

You might like this, you might not, but we think it could prove better than a notch. It shifts status icons to the left but if that doesn’t bother you then the phone is easily a one-handed one for a lot of use cases.

The S10e is only 0.1mm thicker than the regular S10 but does have wider bezels around the edges of the display. It is a flat display rather than one with the curved edges of the S10 and S10 Plus. If you’ve always been put off Galaxy phones because of the edged screens, this is the phone for you.

The S10e comes in the same green, white or black as the other S10 phones, but it’s the only one you can get in a stark canary yellow.

Tiny evolution

The phone has dual cameras on the back with the same ultra-wide 16Mp and wide 12Mp with OIS from the S10 and S10 Plus, but it lacks the 12Mp telephoto lens for optical zoom. This is a good compromise though, and it’s certainly a decent camera upgrade from the S9.

Samsung has updated the camera app too. Be more user friendly, particularly in one hand, and the zoom between the wide angle and regular lens is nicely smoothed out.

The S10e does keep the gimmicky wireless power sharing feature from the other S10s. Turn it on the phone upside down and it acts like a Qi wireless charging mat. It’ll charge anything Qi, which is cool, but realistically it’ll do so very slowly.

Similarly, but more usefully, it also retains the IP68 rating, gigabit LTE speed capability and microSD expandable storage to 512GB of the other models. Not bad for the entry level model. The iPhone 5C this is not.

Power up

It’s great to see the same 8nm Exynos 9820 or Snapdragon 855 (region dependent) in the S10e – the same processor as the S10 and S10 Plus. Samsung’s choice to keep the high end processor means the S10e could prove to be a faster phone for some things than the more expensive models as it’s driving a smaller display.

You can pick from a 6GB RAM/128GB storage or 8GB RAM/256GB storage options, both expandable up to 512GB. Even the cheapest S10e is no mid-range phone, and it only looks less premium and high-spec because of the beefed up S10 and S10 Plus. Don’t be fooled, the S10e is still a very good, very powerful smartphone.

The build quality is also basically the same as the other S10 phones. A stainless steel rim with glass on the front and back keeps the S10e on a design level and it certainly does not feel cheap (it’s also not cheap, it’s just cheaper).

It also benefits from the same great updated version of Android 9 Pie, Samsung’s newly named One UI. It brings good a UX redesign, thoughtful menus and better animations – a welcome update that builds on the huge leap forward Samsung made with its version of Oreo.

Might we finally have, in the S10 range, Samsung phones whose software isn’t a massive pain to get used to? Then again given the popularity of the Galaxy phones, the public doesn’t seem to care. Maybe it’s just us enthusiasts.

Power down

So, what doesn’t the S10e have? The 5.8in AMOLED is Full HD+ not Quad HD+. It doesn’t have a heart rate sensor next to the rear cameras, and it doesn’t have an in-screen fingerprint sensor. Instead the sensor is also the power button, old Sony Xperia style, on the right edge of the phone.

Early verdict

The Galaxy S10e is a well-thought out phone. Samsung has ensured its already popular S line has a cheaper entry point, and it’s one that doesn’t compromise too much.

By leaving in the right things – same basic design, same processor, OLED display, dual cameras – it has a product that is itself a premium smartphone that sits below two more expensive ones in the S10 and S10 Plus.

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