Hands on: Samsung Galaxy S10e Review

The Samsung Galaxy S10e is the cheaper, more colourful sibling to the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10 Plus.

First Impressions

Like the iPhone XR, the Galaxy S10e takes most of the headline features from its flashier siblings and offers them in a package that’s easier on the wallet. This isn’t a cheap phone – and it’s not trying to be – but neither is it an investment in the same vein as, say, the S10 Plus.

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £669
  • 142.2 x 69.9 x 7.9mm
  • 150g
  • 5.8-inch, 19:9 (Flat), Full HD+, Dynamic AMOLED+ screen
  • Dual Pixel 12-megapixel OIS f/1.5 - f/2.4 AF + 16-megapixel ultra-wide f/2.2 FF rear, Dual Pixel 10-megapixel f/1.9 AF front cameras
  • 6GB + 128GB or 8GB + 256GB - microSD up to 512GB (all versions)
  • 3100mAh
  • Octa-core 8nm processor

The Samsung Galaxy S10e is the cheaper, more colourful sibling to the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10 Plus. It’s like what the iPhone XR is to the iPhone XS: you get the majority of headline S10 features but in a package that’s a little more welcoming.

In fact, the S10e could end up being the best of the bunch, thanks to the fact it offers a fantastic combination of price and features.

Samsung Galaxy S10e Price and Release Date

You can pre-order the Samsung Galaxy S10e right now, with the phone shipping on March 8. It’ll cost £669 in the UK. Interestingly you’ll only be able to pick up the 6/128GB model in the UK, at launch anyway. There’s always the possibility that version will come along somewhere down the line.

You also don’t get the Galaxy Buds free if you order the S10e, as that promotion is only available for the S10 and S10 Plus.

 In the USA the Samsung Galaxy S10e starts at $749 for the 6/128GB model, with the 8/256GB version costing $100 more at $849.

In the UK it looks like all major carriers – EE, Vodafone, Three and O2 – are stocking the phone, alongside Virgin Mobile and Tesco Mobile. Check out our Samsung Galaxy S10e pre-order deals for all the latest news on pricing and the best offers. 

Samsung Galaxy S10e Pre-order Deals

Samsung Galaxy S10e Pre-order

The most affordable smartphone of the Galaxy S10 range just got even cheaper with this fantastic trade-in offer from Samsung, which gets you more money for you old phones against the price of the S10e.

Samsung Galaxy S10e – 1GB of data on iD

If you're happy to go with a smaller data allowance each month, this amazing contract from iD Mobile will grant you a super low monthly cost – giving you less stress in return for Samsung's latest smartphone.

Samsung Galaxy S10e – 30GB of data on O2

This incredible online exclusive deal can nab you a huge 30GB of data for less than £40 a month and with a relatively low upfront cost of just £90. Plus, signing up with O2 gets you plenty of added benefits such as access to O2 Priority.

Watch: Galaxy S10 vs S10+ vs S10e

Samsung Galaxy S10e – Design

This is the first time Samsung has released a more affordable version of its flagship series, without offering a severely depleted entry such as the “Mini” phones of old. The S10e feels every bit a flagship phone as the regular S10 and S10 Plus.

It does, of course, have to make some sacrifices to reach that lower price. Gone is the sloping, curved display, and there’s only two cameras on the back; the S10 and S10 Plus include three.

Hold it in your hand, however, and I doubt you’ll be disappointed. The metal rim feels plenty sturdy and both the front and back are glass. It’s small, too, and easily usable one-handed, without having to over-extend your thumb to reach the top portion of the screen. The S10e boasts the same IP68 rating as the other devices, meaning you needn’t fear it falling into the sink and suffering any long-term effects, and features a headphone jack too.

During my hour with the phone I was drawn to the Canary Yellow model. It’s ridiculously bright and unashamedly brash, but it’s different and certainly stands out. It makes the S10e feel more fun.

Samsung Galaxy S10e – Screen

Around the front is a 5.8-inch Super AMOLED display with a Full HD+ resolution. That’s slightly fewer pixels than the S10, or even last year’s S9. However, it isn’t something you’ll notice. This is a quality panel offering bright colours and excellent viewing angles. I’d even go as far as to say I prefer its flat style over the curved one, since it doesn’t leave you with super-thin edges to grip onto.

In the top corner of the display is a small circular cutout for the front camera – what Samsung is calling an “Infinity O” screen. Other brands, such as Honor, refer to it as a hole-punch notch.

Related: Best Android phoneSamsung Galaxy S10e

After only an hour with the device, it’s difficult to judge whether it will prove less intrusive than the notch on an iPhone XS, for example – but I remain unconvinced that it’s any better than Samsung’s previous designs. As immersive as this screen could be, I continued to be drawn to the black spot in the corner.

While the S10 and S10 Plus both feature ultrasonic fingerprint sensors below the screen, the Galaxy S10e takes a page from Sony’s Xperia line and puts the fingerprint sensor on the side. It takes the form of a capacitive pad that’s about the length of your thumb. It’s located in a spot where my hand naturally rested when I picked up the phone. It was lightning-fast to scan my finger, too – especially compared to the S10. There’s basic 2D facial-unlocking, too, if that’s more your thing.

Related: MWC 2019

Samsung Galaxy S10e – Performance

It’s great to see that the S10e’s cheaper price doesn’t come way of a lower-end chipset. Instead, the S10e will be powered by the same as-yet unnamed 8nm chipset (likely the Exynos 9820) in Europe, and the Snapdragon 855 in other regions.

Supporting the above chipset will be either 6GB or 8GB of RAM and 128GB or 256GB storage. I’m not a fan of being presented with multiple RAM options by phone-makers since it implies differing performance between models – but it’s seems to be so common these days.

The S10e is home to a 3100mAh battery, plus support for Qi charging and Wireless Powershare. This fancy new tech allows you to use your phone’s battery to charge up other Qi-enabled devices such as Samsung’s new Galaxy Buds, with your S10e acting as the wireless charger.

In terms of software, the Galaxy S10e ships with the Android 9 Pie and the recently unveiled One UI. This is Samsung’s reinvention of its software, and it feels like a big improvement.

There’s a focus on being able to use apps with one hand, with many of your most frequent interactions pushed down towards the bottom of the screen. The camera UI now has a very iOS-feel to it, and there are AI-based elements too. The whole system is meant to learn your behaviour and open more frequently used apps quicker. Whether this actually work remains to be seen.

Related: Best camera phoneSamsung Galaxy S10e camera

Samsung Galaxy S10e – Camera

On the rear of the S10e is an optically stabilised 12-megapixel sensor that can shift between f1/.5 and f/2.4 aperture to let more light in when required. This feature was first introduced on the Galaxy S9, making a difference when shooting in really dark environments such as bars or dimly lit restaurants. However, there’s no dedicated low-light shooting mode here (like Night Sight on the Pixel phones, for instance) and that feels like an odd omission.

This camera sensor sounds exactly like the one you’d find in the S9; it will be interesting to see whether anything has changed. The S9 took decent pictures, but not as good as those shot on the iPhone XR or Google Pixel 3 – two phones the S10e is rivalling in on price.

Next to that camera is an ultra wide-angle, 16-megapixel fixed-focus camera that will likely be great for landscape shots and cramming as much as possible into your snaps. Selfies are handled by the 10-megapixel front camera.

Samsung Galaxy S10e Pre-order Deals

Samsung Galaxy S10e Pre-order

The most affordable smartphone of the Galaxy S10 range just got even cheaper with this fantastic trade-in offer from Samsung, which gets you more money for you old phones against the price of the S10e.

Samsung Galaxy S10e – 1GB of data on iD

If you're happy to go with a smaller data allowance each month, this amazing contract from iD Mobile will grant you a super low monthly cost – giving you less stress in return for Samsung's latest smartphone.

Samsung Galaxy S10e – 30GB of data on O2

This incredible online exclusive deal can nab you a huge 30GB of data for less than £40 a month and with a relatively low upfront cost of just £90. Plus, signing up with O2 gets you plenty of added benefits such as access to O2 Priority.

Like the iPhone XR, the Galaxy S10e takes most of the headline features from its flashier siblings and offers them in a package that’s easier on the wallet. This isn’t a cheap phone – and it’s not trying to be – but neither is it an investment in the same vein as, say, the S10 Plus.

A ’hands on review’ is our first impression of a product only - it is not a full test and verdict. Our writer must have spent some time with the product to describe an early sense of what it’s like to use. We call these ‘hands on reviews’ to make them visible in search. However these are always unscored and don’t give recommendations. Read more about our reviews policy.