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Samsung Galaxy S10e Review: Smaller, cheaper, but just as good

by Victor Ng
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Another year, another Galaxy S flagship from our favourite Korean manufacturer Samsung. We’re at the decade point of the Galaxy S timeline, and Samsung seems to have found the right formula to making a great smartphone – a sentiment shared by our editor-in-chief Warren who seems to be enjoying his new Samsung Galaxy S10.

As usual, every Galaxy S comes in three variants – this time, we’ll be looking at the most affordable one of the lot, the Galaxy S10e. We’ll see if it meets the high standards set by its bigger and pricier siblings.

I’ve had the chance to fiddle around with the Galaxy S10e for about two weeks and my experience with the phone has been great, for the most part. Now, we’ll need to go into this understanding that the Galaxy S10e is indeed a flagship, but one that’s had certain features stripped away to meet a more accessible price point.

At just RM2,699, the phone faces tough competition from the likes of the Huawei P30, and even the vivo Nex because they’re priced so similarly. So how does the S10e fair against the other two flagships?

The difference in size is an obvious standout; the Galaxy S10e is a compact 5.8-inch device that’ll fit more comfortably in your hands compared to its competitors. The Full HD Dynamic AMOLED screen also absolutely gorgeous and pushes crisp colours, sharp images and exceptional brightness levels as well.

Unlike its siblings, which have a curved quad HD display, the Galaxy S10e uses a more conventional flat panel; this isn’t a deal breaker for me, and it shouldn’t for you either. This helps keep the phone affordable too, mind you. However, there is that punch-hole notch design that I can understand being not being everyone’s cup of tea.

Unlike its siblings which have in-screen sensors, the Galaxy S10e’s side-mounted scanner also doubles as the power button. Its position is easy to reach and the scanner is as responsive as they come. Also good news for lefties, you can use your index finger to unlock the phone as well.

Our unit sports the shiny Prism Green finish and it looks stunning. The chrome aluminium bumpers add contrast to the phone’s otherwise simple aesthetics too.

The phone comes with AKG-tuned stereo speakers and loudspeakers with Dolby Atmos support too. Audio quality is good, but the speakers crackle at high volumes. Both speakers work coherently to produce a full stereo sound. You’ll be glad to know that a 3.5mm headphone jack is also present.

As per most flagships today, a smartphone’s camera needs to impress; otherwise face mockery from angry hordes customers (ya’ll need to stop being so serious about smartphone cameras). Thankfully, the Galaxy S10e passes the imaging test in spite of having only two lenses to work with instead of three, which the S10 and S10+ get.

It lacks a telephoto lens but gets a 12MP wide-angle camera that’s coupled with a 16MP ultra-wide sensor. There is no ToF lens to speak of but bokeh is still present – albeit in the form of simulated depth-of-field. In daylight, the Galaxy S10e performs exceptionally well – sharpness and colour are top-notch, while night time photography is also decent. The sensors pick up light fairly well and gets the job done.

It’s in low-light situations that the phone struggles a bit. It takes due diligence to get a sharp image. An all-rounder flagship like the Galaxy S10e should do better in this aspect i feel.

The ultrawide-angle lens is capable of 123-degrees field of view and it works just as it should and is a welcome feature. Moving on to the single 10MP selfie camera, its also capable of simulated bokeh and pushes sharp selfies, but it’s nothing to shout about. There is an Instagram mode within the camera app that’s linked to your Instagram account; from here you can snap a picture, edit and post it directly onto your page – pretty nifty for anyone who dabble.

Now, let’s talk specs. The Exynos 9820 chipset comes standard across the range and although it’s no Snapdragon 855 – which American versions get – the Galaxy S10e still performs well. The phone boasts snappy response times and scrolling, and transitions are smooth as silk – our experience with using the phone was effortless.

However, gaming performance was found wanting – the phone suffers from frame drops on PUBG Mobile even with the settings set at medium.

The phone comes in a 6GB + 128GB memory configuration and you’ll be glad to know that storage is expandable via microSD card of up to 512GB.

Now, here comes the biggest issue I had with the Galaxy S10e – the battery. With only a 3,100mAh capacity, regular web browsing and navigation drains about 40% of the battery life. Even with the Exynos 9820’s low power design, the Galaxy S10 will struggle with heavy usage. The phone supports 15W fast charging so at least you’ll get a full charge in almost no time.

Speaking of, the phone supports 15W Qi and PMA wireless charging, and even reverse wireless charging of up to 9W too. Kudos to Samsung for not stripping the Galaxy S10e of this feature, which we can see being an industry standard by the end of this year.

The phone is shipped with Android 9 Pie as well as Samsung One UI which I find to be one of the most intuitive systems around. One of the biggest changes introduced by One UI is the one made to the ‘ease of interaction’ feature which works well with the S10e’s smaller display. Features like the Apps Edge, pop-up view chat notifications and swipe for app trays make one-hand usage ideal.

There’s also a dedicated Bixby button on the left side of the phone, which can be customized to launch an app if you double tap it. Bixby Routines is also a new feature to come with the S10 line of phones; it learns usage patterns and change certain settings like volume level or turn on battery saving mode and saves them as routines.

Samsung have come a long way since its first Galaxy S device way back in 2010; nine years and 10 smartphones later, we may finally have the best of the lot. The smaller sibling has all the DNA that make the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+ great flagships, but cost significantly less. We say go for the Galaxy S10e if you’re in for a capable daily driver that wont burn a hole in your pocket.

Verdict

If you’re looking for a reliable flagship that won’t break the bank and is easy to use with one hand, the Samsung Galaxy S10e is a solid option. It’s a good all-rounder that comes with an intuitive UI, an impressive display and decent sound quality.

You can purchase the phone on Samsung’s official website for RM2,699.

The Good

  • Great for one-handed usage
  • Impressive screen
  • Polished features
  • Responsive fingerprint scanner
  • Reverse wireless charging

The Not so Good

  • Small battery
  • Poor low-light photography

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