Review: Samsung Galaxy S10e
The phone market offers a confusing mix phones between the leading manufacturers– the confusions extends to the the portfolio of single phone makers. Samsung offers a wide variety of devices from high-end Galaxy Note 10 Plus to the Galaxy Fold, to mid-tier phones like the Galaxy S10e, to the lower end A10e.
Sometimes people just want a smartphone that handles the basics very well without the overt exuberance and price tag associated with a flagship phone. Samsung made the S10e for those people.
Samsung S10e Pros and Cons
- Beautiful screen.
- Good camera for value phone in the product family.
- Wireless power sharing.
- Multiple bio-metric login options including fingerprint and facial recognition.
- Great form factor
- Fingerprint sensor in odd spot and difficult to use depending on case choice.
- Just OK photos in low-light conditions.
- Missing features from high-end S10 models include in-screen fingerprint sensor, telephoto lens and the curved screen.
Samsung Galaxy S10e overview
The powerful Snapdragon 855 chipset drives the S10e experience, just like its big Samsung siblings. I owned a Cadillac ATS and an SRX. Both rumbled down the road with a 3.6L V6 under the hood. The ATS was the lighter of the two, so the V6 tricked out the power profile in a way that just seemed keeping up on the heavier SRX. The smaller, lighter Samsung also seems to get a boost from the specs under the hood that just seem like table stakes for its bigger brethren that require more lift.
The S10E packs a lot of features into a smallish package (smallish for today’s phones). It doesn’t rock 5G or a huge camera array, but it does crank out hours Instagram and WhatsApp moments, captures photos good enough for any baby birth, Bat Mitzvah or wedding–and it also takes phone calls, plays music and streams media. Just what you want in a phone.
Before we go into more detail, this review is being published just after the release of the S20 line of phones with their big batteries, new camera arrays, and 120Hz screens–not to mention various software upgrades for photo editing and other features.
Does the S20 line negative interest in the S10e. Not for the immediate future. The S10e will drop in price which makes it even more attractive. And as a review, we attempt to suggest the value in the design that may eventually apply to another design, like an S20e, that will focus on practical phone users over top-of the-line features that may appeal to many, but for which high-priced model limit access.
What we like about the Samsung Galaxy S10e
The title says it all. Practicality. The S10e form factor fits normal-sized hands. It delivers a camera that doesn’t require a degree in cinematography. Size, camera, and a good display all wrapped around a fast processor.
The most visible features is the 5.8″ dynamic AMOLED HD display. Near edge-to-edge, and even better when in a case. Yes, displays will continue to get better, but for all practical purposes, on a phone of this size, how much smaller do pixels really need to get–how much better does color really need to be?
The F1.5, F2.4 camera lens leveraged Samsung’s software investment to adjust for day or night, fixes flaws in photos, and performs the other magic expected of phone cameras these days.
The 128GB of storage can be complement with up to a 512GB microSD card for almost limitless photography, and probably enough space for a minor blockbuster shot on the camera. For those who want a device to complement their video consumption needs, there is no plane ride on the planet that would span the number of movies that could be downloaded on a 512GB SD card.
Overall the S10e is just a nice phone.
What the S10e could do better
The value of Samsung’s bundled apps forms the core question about any Samsung. The software bloat that once infected the PC market has trickled down to mobile devices. The S10e, for instance, includes standard Google voice recognition and Samsung Bixby.
I know Samsung is trying to establish an intelligent assistant brand across its devices. My Samsung TV also includes Bixby. But with my Apple alternative profiles all in Google, I never find a need for Bixby. But if you do need it, the S10e include a button for easy access (which can be remapped should you want to do something else with that button).
Beyond that, and these are just nits, the S10e’s camera could do a bit better in low-light situations, but if you shoot a lot of low-light, then that should become a feature driver and this phone would not make the cut.
The only physical design flaw comes from the fingerprint reader. It sits on the side of the phone vertically, and seems to have an issue recognizing figures because it isn’t where one typically places a finger in an orientation that matches the recognition model. This becomes even more difficult with cases that cover the edges of that spot.
So in the end, little things. Nothing to detract from the basic premise of this phone being a great choice for people trying to make a balanced choice.
I’m comfortable with the S10e. My usual phone, the one I paid for and continue to pay for every month, the iPhone 8 Plus, feels large and a bit sluggish compared to the S10e. Sure, I’m not comparing the latest technologies to each other, but the S10e begs the question of just how much phone do we need in day-to-day situations. I already own an iPad Pro, so I don’t NEED the Galaxy Note 10 SmartPen features. I’m not a photographer outside of personal family fair on trips, and the dual cameras o the S10e compares more than favorably to the iPhone 8 Plus with 12/16 megapixels over the iPhone’s 12/12 configuration.
The big difference between any iPhone and any Samsung phone remains the ecosystem established and maintained by Apple, which no other company can match. With any Android phone I miss hand offs between devices, AirDrop, an investment in music in the Cloud not easily transferred and a host of other service features that keep Apple people from falling off the tree.
If those integrated services don’t matter, and you just want a good phone at a good price to stay connected, take photos, work apps and play content, then the S10e is a no regrets choice.
I tested the UAG Plasma Series S10e case and the Lifeproof NËXT case for Galaxy S10e. Both worked well. The Plasma added less weight along with an edgier design. The NËXT (pictured below), however, felt more protective and delivered a design that seemed to complement the phone better. The fully clear case with a “clear lake” blue bumper makes it feel more contemporary.
For more on how to choose a phone case, see our extensive buyer’s guide here.
Basic Galaxy S10e Specs
- Prism White
- Prism Black
- Prism Green
- Prism Blue
- Canary Yellow
- Prism Silver
- Cardinal Red