Samsung Galaxy S10e review

We truly wanted to love the S10e a lot more than we did (Image: Express Newspapers)

Samsung Galaxy S10e • £669 (as tested)

  • FOR – Premium build • Easy to use with one hand • Rapid performance • Capable camera system • Runs One UI which is easily Samsung’s best software skin
  • AGAINST – Battery life is disappointing • Side-mounted fingerprint sensor is hit or miss • Forgoes camera zooming capabilities • Can get noticeably hot during normal usage

The Galaxy S10e is somewhat of a new venture for Samsung; never before has the South Korean tech giant introduced a smaller and cheaper handset to accompany a typical S-line release.

The S10e is an incredibly tantalising premise and, on paper, could be the Samsung phone for most people.

That is because the device comes stuffed with all the necessary features from its more premium brothers while also shedding functionality many Android users would not miss.

Galaxy S10e is an incredibly ambitious product and delivers in a number of areas, however the hardware has a few disappointing aspects that prevent it from being truly masterful.

Express.co.uk has been testing the South Korean hardware thoroughly for over a month and here is our full review.

It is worth noting this outlet will be focusing on the unique aspects of the S10e here, for our comprehensive thoughts on everything Samsung’s new flagship series brings to the table you can read our Galaxy S10+ review.

Design and display

The Galaxy S10e retains a similarly premium build to its bigger brothers; the device is made of front and rear glass panels with an aluminium chassis sandwiched in-between them.

Samsung’s handset comes with a 5.8-inch AMOLED display that offers a resolution of 1080×2280 and the density of 438-pixels-per-inch.

Just like the standard S10, the S10e has a circular hole within its display for a single front-facing camera.

The panel quality offered here is sublime; Samsung is renowned for its displays and the S10e is a treat in this regard.

The S10e’s screen is so good it habitually looks like a sticker and makes watching any video an incredibly immersive experience.

Samsung Galaxy S10e review

The panel quality by the S10e is sublime (Image: Express Newspapers)

One of the most appealing aspects about the S10e, and one of the reasons we fundamentally enjoyed using it as our main smartphone, was the fact it is so easy to use with one hand.

The 5.8-inch screen on offer feels much smaller thanks to the huge reduction of borders around it; the S10e is much easier to use in one hand than Google’s Pixel 3 that has a smaller 5.5-inch display but larger bezels around it, for instance.

Unlike other S10 models, the S10e does not come with an ultrasonic fingerprint reader underneath its display.

Instead its scanner is positioned on its aluminium frame and doubles as a power button.

While the technology on offer here worked extremely quickly for us most of the time, the sensor did seem to struggle if our fingers were ever so slightly dirty or wet.

Samsung Galaxy S10e review

The Galaxy S10e is somewhat of a new venture for Samsung (Image: Express Newspapers)

Performance

In the UK, Samsung’s S10e is powered by the firm’s new Exynos 9820 chipset; during our testing the 8-nanometre processor, combined with the phone’s 6GB of RAM, delivered incredibly quick performance across Google’s Android 9 Pie software with Samsung’s One UI skin running on top.

One of our biggest gripes with the device stems from the fact it got noticeably hot with regularity during our usage.

This was not just if we were playing some of the latest, and most graphically intensive, games on the Google Play Store either.

Instead, the S10e would get unexpectedly warm during light usage; this included using social media, messaging contacts on WhatsApp and taking advantage of the phone’s dual camera system.

Using benchmarking software AnTuTu, we saw the CPU temperature on our S10e unit rise from 36.3 degrees Celsius to 65.5 degrees Celsius in mere minutes of usage.

Such heat made Samsung’s smaller device uncomfortable to hold at times and certainly diminished from its otherwise great feel in the hand.

We tested two Galaxy S10e units before putting this review together and unexpected warmth from each was noticeable.

Samsung Galaxy S10e review

Galaxy S10e has a physical fingerprint sensor located on the side of the device (Image: Express Newspapers)

Battery

This is an area in which the S10e certainly stumbles the most.

The Samsung handset comes with a 3,100mAh cell inside that, on paper, should provide a decent amount of power on a single charge.

However, during our thorough testing with our first S10e unit we were let down time and time again by its battery; the hardware did not come close to delivering an entire day of life without forcing us to look for a power outlet.

The appalling longevity of the product was most poignant when we attended a racing event at the Silverstone Circuit; the S10e’s cell crumbled during only light usage and resulted in us having to find a charger multiple times to keep it going.

In this particular instance we were forced to charge our phone in a building on the circuit itself, meaning we were not able to take photos or video of the event in question.

Samsung Galaxy S10e review

Galaxy S10e comes with a dual camera system on its rear (Image: Express Newspapers)

On this occasion we pitted our first S10e unit against the Google Pixel 3 that has a 2,915mAh capacity and found the American offering was able to get through a day of usage without needing a recharge.

After having a terrible experience with our first S10e model with regard to battery life, Express.co.uk put a second through its paces and saw a modest improvement.

The S10e was never able to make it through an entire day of our intense usage, but its capacity was certainly not depleted as quickly.

If our second unit is anything to go by, the S10e offers tolerable battery life.

However, this area is still the phone’s biggest Achilles’ heel and certainly left us disappointed – we advise bringing a power bank if you ever plan to go a long time away from a wall outlet with the S10e.

Camera

Galaxy S10e has a capable camera system; the phone comes with the same 12-megapixel main and 16-megapixel ultra wide-angle sensor as its more premium brothers.

Unfortunately, Samsung’s cheapest S10 model comes without a dedicated telephoto lens.

This meant in situations where we took snaps while zoomed in, there was a noticeable dip in quality.

Overall, the South Korean phone takes great shots in most scenarios though, but certainly suffers in low light.

Samsung Galaxy S10e review

Galaxy S10e has a capable camera system (Image: Express Newspapers)

Since we initially reviewed the S10+, a dedicated night camera mode has been added to Samsung’s flagship series via a software update.

However, this remains leaps and bounds behind Google’s Night Sight for the Pixel 3 or Huawei’s similar software for the P30 Pro.

The Galaxy S10e also comes with a 10-megapixel selfie sensor that suffered from the same problems as its rear counterparts; during daylight hours the phone was able to capture great shots but in low-light situations photos were marred with noticeable smoothing, noise and less detail overall.

Below you can find a variety of shots we took using the S10e’s dual camera system.

Samsung Galaxy S10e review

Samsung Galaxy S10e camera sample (Image: Express Newspapers)

Samsung Galaxy S10e review

Samsung Galaxy S10e camera sample (Image: Express Newspapers)

Samsung Galaxy S10e review

Samsung Galaxy S10e camera sample (Image: Express Newspapers)

Samsung Galaxy S10e review

Samsung Galaxy S10e camera sample (Image: Express Newspapers)

Samsung Galaxy S10e review

Samsung Galaxy S10e camera sample (Image: Express Newspapers)

Samsung Galaxy S10e review

Samsung Galaxy S10e camera sample (Image: Express Newspapers)

Samsung Galaxy S10e review

Samsung Galaxy S10e camera sample (Image: Express Newspapers)

Samsung Galaxy S10e review

Samsung Galaxy S10e camera sample (Image: Express Newspapers)

Samsung Galaxy S10e review

Samsung Galaxy S10e camera sample (Image: Express Newspapers)

Samsung Galaxy S10e review

Samsung Galaxy S10e camera sample with night mode turned off (Image: Express Newspapers)

Samsung Galaxy S10e review

Samsung Galaxy S10e camera sample with night mode turned on (Image: Express Newspapers)

Price

Galaxy S10e is priced at £669 and comes in a single model with 128GB of storage and 6GB of RAM.

That cost makes the Samsung handset more expensive than the likes of the OnePlus 7 Pro, Google Pixel 3a and numerous options from Huawei and Honor.

Galaxy S10e is certainly not the best value phone around, especially when put beside its closest competition.

However, the hardware still stands as one of the few premium handsets on the market that is easy to use with one hand and will surely still be appealing to those that can overlook its merely passable battery life.

Samsung Galaxy S10e review

Galaxy S10 does indeed come with a headphone jack on its bottom (Image: Express Newspapers)

Verdict

The Galaxy S10e is a tantalising concept; put some of the greatest features from the more premium S10 and S10+ in a device that is cheaper and incredibly easy to use with one hand.

We truly wanted to love the handset a lot more than we did.

Samsung’s hardware delivers in a number of areas; its camera is great in most conditions, it offers one of the best displays on a smartphone and boasts a premium build.

However, the handset is not one we can recommend for those that need great battery life – meaning Samsung’s cheapest S10 ultimately fails to be the Android for most people.

Those that can disregard this phone’s biggest problem will be pleased with it in all other aspects, but for everyone else we recommend you skip the S10e and take a look at its deluge of competition instead.

Samsung Galaxy S10e review

Galaxy S10e review (Image: DX)

Galaxy S10e deals

For those that want to pick up an S10e, Vodafone is offering a number of deals that vary in price and internet allowance.

One of the cheapest plans on offer comes with 5GB of data in addition to unlimited minutes and texts for £44 per month.

This plan requires an upfront fee of £29 to be paid, bringing the total cost over a two-year period to £1,085.

• Galaxy S10e on a two-year Vodafone contract with 5GB of data in addition to unlimited minutes and texts – £44 per month with an upfront cost of £29 GET THE DEAL HERE

Vodafone is also offering a number of other tariffs with increased data.

One in particular grants customers 20GB of internet and also comes with unlimited minutes and texts.

Android fans will have to pay £49 per month for this plan and an upfront cost of £29.

Overall, the total of the tariff over a two-year period equates to £1,205.

• Galaxy S10e on a two-year Vodafone contract with 20GB of data in addition to unlimited minutes and texts – £49 per month with an upfront cost of £29 GET THE DEAL HERE

Vodafone is also selling its new “Unlimited” contracts that, as the name suggests, delivers infinite amounts of internet at varying speeds.

The network’s mid-tier Unlimited package delivers speeds claimed to be capable of streaming online video and easily displaying social media content.

Expectedly, this plan also comes with unlimited minutes and texts.

This particular Unlimited tariff costs £55 per month and requires an upfront charge of £29 to be paid; the total price of this plan over two years is £1,349.

• Galaxy S10e on a two-year Vodafone Unlimited contract with unlimited data in addition to unlimited minutes and texts – £55 per month with an upfront cost of £29 GET THE DEAL HERE

Finally, Vodafone’s Unlimited Max plan that comes with its fastest internet speeds comes in at £59 per month with an upfront charge of £29.

Once again, this comes with endless amounts of internet in addition to unlimited minutes and texts.

• Galaxy S10e on a two-year Vodafone Unlimited Max contract with unlimited data in addition to unlimited minutes and texts – £59 per month with an upfront cost of £29 GET THE DEAL HERE

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