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Samsung Galaxy S10e – review

Intro

With the S10 range, Samsung decided on a three device approach offering each with it’s own key selling point, whilst maintaining the core Galaxy experience.

Having had hands on with the S10 and the S10 Plus model nearer launch, I was excited to see how well the often overlooked S10e model would perform as a primary device.

Thankfully, Vodafone reached out and offered a loan device to use for two weeks to put it through testing and see for myself.

They kindly sent me a white Samsung Galaxy S10e complete with SIM card so I was able to use for all my social media use as well as watching videos and other daily tasks.


Anyone interested in getting hands on one can right now here by signing up to one of the many plans available, including unlimited data.

Design

Samsung has gone with a new design approach on the S10 range, we started with large notches, this moved onto a ‘teardrop’ camera in the middle giving you more screen, however we now have the pinhole camera for selfies giving you even more space for your content.

With little bezel to be found anywhere, Samsung have put the single 10 megapixel camera near the corner, although not right in the corner, it is an interesting idea and at least they are trying to tackle the notch situation.

This is an interesting design to go with, some will like and some will hate, the main reason to not like it is when you are watching video content, part of it is left out when you zoom to full screen, however it is far better than having a large notch or a bigger bezel to house the camera we have seen in the past.

I will cover more on the selfie camera in the main camera section of this review later on including some sample photos and videos.

The screen comes in at a reasonable sized 5.8 inches with 1080p resolution which is down from the Quad HD panel found on the other two models, however it is really hard to see the difference with normal day to day use , and at no point did I ever feel like I was on a worse screen than the other devices, plus outdoor use was great thanks to the AMOLED technology Samsung use.

You also get the added benefit of HDR10+ for better contrast and colours when watching compatable content.

As mentioned earlier in the review, Samsung went with a new design here and now have a ‘pinhole’ camera found in the top right hand corner, with this design the company was able to maximise the screen and make it near corner to corner, helping to reduce bezels and make it more about the screen.

Looking up at the top of the device you have one of the dual microphone setup which allows for stereo sound recording and also acts as noise cancelation when in voice calls, you also have the SIM card tray.

The SIM tray on the S10e allows for a Hybrid setup, either a single Nano SIM and a MicroSD card for storage, or a Dual SIM option should you have more than a single SIM card and want to use a single device for both work and personal.

Switching between these is really easy when using two SIM cards, the drop down menu gives you options for Calls, SMS and Data, each allowing you to set a default, great if you want just data from one, and calls and texts from the other.

On the bottom you have the 3.5mm headphone jack which is very welcome in a time where lots of flagship devices are removing it all together, it also means you get a great set of AKG headphones in the box which sound great, and also let you use your headphones, and charge at the same time which you cannot do on a USB-C headphone and charger port.

You get the USB-C port which is used for charging and data transfer, Samsung give you 10W fast charging when you used the supplied equipment, and this means you can boost your battery really fast, in a short space of time, great if you are always on the go.

Samsung also included wireless charging even on the S10e model, normally missed out from the smaller devices, and it also acts as a reversible wireless charger, this means you can charge your other QI compatible devices from your phone such as your Galaxy Watch Active or another smartphone.

Next to this you get the other microphone for noise cancelation as well as stereo recording and voice calls, and the speakerphone next to that, which thankfully is loud and clear so perfect for watching videos or listening to music.

Over on the left side you have the volume up and down buttons for controlling not only voice but also any multimedia you are playing back, and below this is the special Bixby key which opens the assistant with a single press.

You have ways to customize this though such as holding the Bixby key to enable dictation if you want it to enter some text for you such as in a document or a text message, if you want you can also change settings to enable a single press for one option, and a double press to do something else.

Remapping this to the Google Assistant is not available unfortunately unless you manage to find a 3rd party app to do so.

Over on the right hand side there is a power button up at the top which also has the fingerprint reader, this allows you quick access to your phone by just holding your finger on the sensor and you are into your device, you can switch this off if you like and use Face Unlock which uses the camera or use the more traditional PIN or password.

Over on the back there is a simple setup, a rectangle shaped area near the top that houses both the cameras as well as the Dual LED flash and laser autofocus for quick photos one after another.

The S10e has a 12 megapixel normal camera and a 16 megapixel wide angle camera which lets you get much more into your photo when you might want that bit extra, the S10 and S10+ models feature the 3rd camera and this is a telephoto one for zooming, so if you do not need a special zoom option, the S10e is a great versatile smartphone with all the camera requirements you will need.

Camera

The Samsung Galaxy range of phones have always been known for their impressive camera technology they have built in, and the S10 keeps that tradition going with some very impressive cameras.

Whilst the S10 and S10+ have three cameras on the back, a traditional, a telephoto and a wide angle, the S10 forgoes the telephoto giving it just two cameras.

Although I say ‘just two”  by no means is that a bad thing, the 12 megapixel main camera is more than suitable for anyone to use as their main mobile camera device and can capture some stunning photos with little effort, you also get the wide angle lens at 16 megapixels which is great for landscape photography, or for times to want to get that little bit more into the shot.

The only camera missing is the telephoto which gives you better zooming capabilities, but even without this you still get the Live Focus mode for portraits.

The UI is simple and what you get on most other smartphones these days.

There is a list of options across the bottom when in portrait orientation, or across the bottom when holding like a camera, and you simple swipe side to side to switch between the modes. 

Night Mode is very impressive in situations when you want to capture great night photos with plenty of light and less noise, however the quality is not quite up there with the Google Pixel camera and it’s Night Sight mode which alongside the Night Mode from Huawei still set the benchmark.

Samsung have their own playful side when it comes to AR with there My Emoji service which is their version to rival Apple and the Memoji

Unfortunately, whilst this may sound fun to do, in practice the app and experience is quite poor with the face tracking not as on point as Apple have, so your emoji person turns into a stuttering mess with any movement and just looks……well…… very odd to say the least.

It is worth a play to see how Samsung think you look like on their phone, but it is a long way from what Apple have unfortunately.

Hopefully this is something Samsung can work on in future updates as it does show some potential at least. 

Anyone wanting to get the best out of the camera and knows what they are doing should definitely use the Pro mode which gives you full control over exposure, shutter speed, and anything else you might want to play around with to get that special all important shot.

It is not all about the back cameras though, there is a very good front facing selfie camera with 10 megapixels that is also capable of recording 4K resolution video, great for anyone who loves to vlog their day or likes recording for YouTube.

As far as quality is concerned, this is one of the best selfie cameras out there in overall quality, whilst it won’t compete with the Pixel and their selfie portrait mode, the Samsung does a great job at edge detection when doing portrait selfies, and in normal shots there is a lot of detail and colour.

Video mode is another area Samsung impress at, and the video setup on the S10e allows for 4K resolution videos with a lot of detail and colour, and sound quality recorded is also crisp and clear.

The stabilisation works well and there are a few modes to play around with such as slow motion and super slow motion if you really want to slow things down, you do lose quality though in these situations.

Below are a few samples to check out. 

If the built in 128GB storage is not enough and you are not a fan of Micro SD cards, Google Photos is a handy app to use as it backs all your photos in case of that accident waiting to happen, plus gives you more storage for your other content.

Whilst Samsung may not be jumping in the group to have 40MP+ sensors in their cameras, what they do with their technology is very impressive and still are some of the best in the industry without needing the high numbers for marketing. 

My only negative point is Samsung seem to boost the colours a lot and this sometimes produces a heavy HDR like photo, anything with Green in especially looks very boosted, some do like this look, some may not so decide for yourself on the sample photos in the review.

Performance

Performance on the S10e was true flagship quality with a Snapdragon 855 processor running everything, and this is the latest process available at the time the device was in production and it great to see Samsung not skimping on the specs with the more affordable model. 

Playing a lot of mobile games these days, I often wonder how the more affordable smartphones can compare without slowing down or noticing any lag, thankfully the S10e was a true gaming champion, no delays or lagging and buttery smooth performance in all situations.

The device I had came with 6GB of RAM, this is more than enough for a mobile device even with graphic heavy gaming and lots of apps in the background.

When it comes to battery, the large 3100mAh non removable cell does a great job getting you through the day, with some clever software for managing your apps and background performance the S10e will easily last a day, even with lots of multimedia use and phone calls which normally chews through that battery power.

Storage comes in at a large 128GB built in, plus you have the option of adding a Micro SD card if you needed any more thanks to the Hybrid SIM slot, this will be plenty for nearly everyone who buys this phone, and if not, you can always add expandable or cloud storage.

It was great to see Samsung treat the S10e with the flagship respect it deserved and didn’t start cutting back on specs to get to the lower price point they were asking.

Software

Gone are the days when you used a new Samsung phone you had the horrible TouchWiz experience which was among one of the most hated in the mobile review industry with it’s annoying beeps, boops and interface being just horrible.

The company came out with a huge refresh recently called OneUI and this makes it much easier to handle larger screen phones by putting the content across the bottom of the screen, with any headings up top, finally allowing one handed use on large phones.

This new software also brings with is the all important Dark Mode that many people have been waiting to use, especially as this can be easier on the eyers for some people, and much better in battery life thanks to the AMOLED displays Samsung use in their phones..

Whilst we might be waiting a little while for Android Q to roll out, at least the security updates are monthly which will be pleasing to see.

The reason the Android software takes its time is because Samsung like to add a lot of customisation including their own built apps and access to Bixby, the virtual assistant built by Samsung.

Speaking of Bixby, it is still there and won’t be going away anytime soon, you may want to check it out and see if you like as it does have some good advantages such as setting a key phrase to run a set of instructions.

Whilst Bixby is integrated well into the S10e, you may find a better experience is using Google Assistant as it is much more user friendly and less frustrating, even if it can’t control all of the system like Bixby can.

The S10e has a flat screen instead of a curved one, you still get the edge features where you slide in from the right hand side to get the customisable Edge screen.

This allows you to add some quick apps to a grid for faster access on any screen, a good idea often overlooked by many but something I didn’t really use.

For anyone wanting to track your health on your phone, Samsung Health does a great job of tracking your steps and workouts with little setup or effort needed, you can also use this service to have friendly competitions with friends or family also using the Health app, handy to keep you on your toes and counting those steps.

Samsung also have their Digital Wellbeing in the settings which keeps a track of how many notifications, unlocks, and time spent on apps you use so can help you curb your phone use if you are a little over the top without noticing it.

Conclusion

I have used many Samsung phone’s in the past, normally I tend to sway more towards the larger screen models, mainly as these are great for watching video content on, have a larger and better battery life, and often can have better specifications than smaller phones.

However in the case of the new S10 range,I often found I was liking the S10e more than the standard, and even Plus model.

Whilst it lacks the telephoto lens that both other S10 devices have, and also lacks the in screen fingerprint reader, I didn’t actually mind as I prefer having a wide angle solution instead of zooming anyway, and having a side mounted fingerprint reader meant I could use a glass screen protector to keep the display looking perfect (something you can’t do on the S10 or S10+ as it stops the fingerprint reader from working)

Comparing the S10e to the larger S10 model in handset price, if you don’t mind not having the telephoto camera and don’t mind the side fingerprint reader, you can save a fair bit of money as the S10e costs £569 Vs the £799 the S10 will set you back, a nice £230 saving.

Battery performance was great, the fingerprint reader worked actually better than the in screen one found on the more expensive models, the camera lived to to the usual high standards a Samsung phone will expect, and the whole experience actually felt flagship, yet at a more affordable price.

It is a shame the S10e may be overlooked by many people as a cheap alternative to a flagship phone to save money, this is far from the case and the S10e is a flagship of it’s own.

I would have no hesitation in recommending the Samsung Galaxy S10e to anyone who wanted a more affordable smartphone and did not mind not having a 3rd camera for zooming.


Samsung Galaxy S10e

Design - 90%
Camera - 91%
Battery - 90%
Software - 90%
Performance - 92%

91%

A smaller version of the S10 that does not compromise on specs to get at the lower price. Maybe the best value of all three S10 devices.

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