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Samsung Galaxy S10e UK Review: A great stepping stone

Samsung Galaxy S10e UK Review: A great stepping stone

Samsung's Galaxy S flagship line has been released three new smartphones: The Galaxy S10e, the Galaxy S10 and the Galaxy S10+.

As you might expect, the Galaxy S10e is the entry level device, a little like the iPhone XR in Apple's iPhone line-up.

Just because it's the cheapest, doesn't mean it isn't worth consideration though. At £110 cheaper than the Galaxy S10, is the Galaxy S10e actually the Galaxy S device to buy? Here are our first impressions.

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Design

  • 142.2 x 69.9 x 7.9mm, 150g
  • IP68 water and dust resistant
  • Prism Green, Prism White, Prism Black, Prism Blue, Canary Yellow

The Samsung Galaxy S10e offers a very similar design to the Galaxy S10 but there are a few key differences. Firstly, it has a dual camera on the rear rather than a triple camera, though the positioning is still horizontal and there is still a Samsung logo in the centre below.

Samsung Galaxy S10e initial review image 8

Secondly, the Galaxy S10e doesn't have an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor below the display. Instead, there is a side-mounted captive fingerprint sensor on the right-edge of the Galaxy S10e, though it blends in nicely.

Thirdly, it comes in a super bright Canary Yellow colour. Like really bright. It's actually a nice colour however, offering something a little more vibrant.

Those three differences aside though, and the Galaxy S10e is very much a part of the Galaxy S10 family. It doesn't look or feel cheaper - offering the same premium build as the S10 and S10+ with a glass rear and a solid metal frame.

Samsung Galaxy S10e initial review image 16

It is smaller and lighter than the S10 but that's not necessarily a bad thing - the weight is surprisingly lovely. It's nice and light and its size makes it perfect for smaller hands whilst still offering a big display - even if that display is flat rather than dual-edged like the other two devices.

The front is all screen with only a couple of millimetres (if that) of bezel at the top and bottom, just like the other two S10 devices. A single punch hole camera sits in the top right corner, like the Galaxy S10, and there's IP68 water and dust resistance as well.

The Galaxy S10e also features a 3.5mm headphone jack, AKG-tuned speakers and there is microSD on board too.

Display

  • 5.8-inches, Dynamic AMOLED, Full HD+
  • 19:9 aspect ratio
  • Flat display

The Samsung Galaxy S10e has the smallest display of the three Galaxy S10 devices at 5.8-inches but when we say small, 0.2-inches shy of 6-inches is hardly what you would call small. It's the same size as the Galaxy S9.

A few more differences are present in the display compared to the Galaxy S10 and S10+ though. The display is flat which takes us back to the Galaxy S7 when there was the option of a flat model and a dual-edge model.

It's not hugely noticeable and while it means the S10e doesn't have quite as dramatic a design as the other models in the Galaxy S10 line-up - it is a difference worth mentioning.

The resolution also drops from Quad HD+ as it is on the S10 and S10+ to Full HD+. This means text may not appear as crisp and sharp as the other two models, though many competitors including Huawei and OnePlus offer Full HD+ resolutions in screens larger than 5.8-inches so it's quite normal to see.

Samsung Galaxy S10e initial review image 4

Size and resolution aside however, and the Galaxy S10e still has a Dynamic AMOLED screen - Samsung's new Super AMOLED - and it also has a 19:9 aspect ratio too. Colours appeared punchy and vibrant while text seemed sharp enough, but we will test the S10e's display out properly when we have the device in for full review.

Cameras

  • Dual rear (16MP + 12MP)
  • Single front (10MP)
  • Punch hole front

The Samsung Galaxy S10e comes with a dual rear camera comprised of a 16-megapixel Ultra-Wide lens with an f/2.2 aperture and a Dual Pixel 12-megapixel wide lens with a dual aperture of f/1.5 to f/2.4. Essentially the same as the Galaxy S10 but without the third telephoto lens.

Samsung Galaxy S10e initial review image 17

What that means is the Galaxy S10e won't offer optical zoom like the S10 and S10+. It also misses out on several of features including Scene Optimiser and Shot Suggestions - the features show up in the camera settings menu but they are greyed out.

The S10e has the same punch hole front camera as the S10 though, with a Dual Pixel 10-megapixel autofocus lens on board offering an aperture of f/1.9.

Samsung Galaxy S10e initial review image 14

As we weren't able to test the camera performance of the Galaxy S10e during our time with it, we were unable to see what compromises you'd make in this department compared to the S10 and S10+ but we will be sure to analyse this during our full review.

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Hardware

  • Octa-core 8nm processor
  • 6GB/8GB RAM and 128/256GB storage
  • MicroSD support up to 512GB
  • 3100mAh battery

Where you might compromise on camera performance though, hardware specifications are a different ball game. Like the iPhone XR, the Samsung Galaxy S10e has the same octa-core 8nm processor as the Galaxy S10 and S10+, along with many of the same features.

Samsung Galaxy S10e initial review image 6

There are two variants of the Galaxy S10e - a 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage option and an 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage model. While this is a slight dip from the Galaxy S10+ and its top model offering 12GB RAM and 1TB storage, 6GB of RAM is more than enough for most users and the storage is expandable via microSD up to 512GB too.

Battery capacity takes a small dip too with the S10e featuring a 3100mAh cell compared to the S10's 3400mAh and the S10+'s 4100mAh, but wireless charging is supported and reverse charging is still supported on this model too. That means that while the S10e is the bottom of the S10 range, it still offers one of the flagship features.

Samsung Galaxy S10e initial review image 10

As mentioned, the S10e has a captive fingerprint sensor on the side of the device rather than an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor under the display but it does have the same 2D facial recognition the other two S10 devices offer.

It also features AKG-tuned speakers, a 3.5mm headphone jack and Wi-Fi 6 so most of its hardware is on par with the Galaxy S10, thought we will be sure to test out how the S10e performs in the real world when we review it.

Software

  • Android 9
  • Samsung One UI

The Samsung Galaxy S10e runs on Android at its core but with Samsung's One user experience over the top. Samsung's UI is one of the most comprehensive reworkings of Android around - many other manufacturers have stripped their skins back - and while there is a lot of bloatware, it's a great experience.

Samsung Galaxy S10e initial review image 13

The One UI has been redesigned in line with the launch of the S10 range with more colour and rounder icons - the camera and gallery icons are now red for example - but the overall look is simple, sophisticated and we like it.

We will dive deeper into the software when we review the device in full but there are a couple of new features worth mentioning briefly. All the S10 devices have AI powered performance which means they will learn how you use your device, such as the apps you use most commonly and when you use them, and deliver you those apps more conveniently.

Samsung Galaxy S10e initial review image 18

The three devices also offer Bixby Routines and there are some new camera features too, though the S10e doesn't get them which is a shame.

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First Impressions

The Samsung Galaxy S10e looks great and on first glance, it's tricky to tell it apart from the Galaxy S10. There are some telltale signs, like the flat screen and the dual camera instead of triple camera, but the S10e is still a solid, premium device.

We'll need to test its performance properly when we review the device, but based on our first impressions, the Galaxy S10e is a great stepping stone into the Galaxy S flagship range and an excellent way to get your hands on a new form factor and the latest hardware without as much of the cost.

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