The Galaxy S10E has the same glass and metal design with a near edge-to-edge screen courtesy Samsung’s new punch-hole Infinity-O display – as the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+. The processor inside it is also the same – which is Samsung’s own Exynos 9820 (in India). So is the software, which is Android 9 Pie-based One UI. The Galaxy S10E also packs the same dual aperture primary rear camera and 10MP primary front camera with support for 4K video recording. Fast wireless charging and reverse wireless charging are also standard, so is Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, IP68-certification and micro-SD expansion. The Galaxy S10E keeps the headphone jack too – again, same as the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+.
Unlike the Galaxy S10 (which starts at Rs 66,900) and Galaxy S10+ (which starts at Rs 73,900), the Galaxy S10 E costs just Rs 55,900.
If all of this sounds familiar, well, you’re not the only one - the Galaxy S10E is Samsung’s answer to Apple’s iPhone XR. But with a much lower price tag (the iPhone XR was launched in India at a starting price of Rs 76,900) and a much better hardware set, the Galaxy S10E seems more value for money from every perceivable angle – at least on paper. While I still reserve my final verdict for my full review (I will also be doing an in-depth Galaxy S10E Vs iPhone XR shootout), based on my brief hands-on, I can say this - the Galaxy S10E is the most exciting takeaway from Samsung’s new Galaxy S10 lot and the company should sell these things by the dozen in the days to come.
While the Galaxy S10E does cut some corners to achieve its relatively more affordable price tag, in the grand scheme of things, all its shortcomings in fact add up to become its main selling points – there's a method to this madness, if you may. Only, you’ll have to give the Galaxy S10E a fair chance to prove itself (and this will probably take time) - you’ll have to resist being bedazzled by extra shiny Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+. Unless a bigger screen and a bigger battery are your priorities, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t consider the Galaxy S10E. Let me explain why.
The Galaxy S10E uses the same glass and metal design (with a hole-punch display) as the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+ - but it has a flatter bezel (there’s also slightly more bezel than what you get in the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+). Now Samsung is really pitching its Galaxy S10 phones as the ultimate content consumption devices – the same reason why it had to punch a hole in their screens to offer more real estate. The curves on-board the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+, as glorious as they may be, serve no real-world purpose when it comes to actual content consumption – if anything, the curves come in the way of getting seamless viewing experience. There is almost always a hint of image/colour distortion where Samsung’s Infinity display melts into the frame – that is not the case with the Galaxy S10E.
The Galaxy S10E also does not get an ultrasonic in-display fingerprint scanner like the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+ - which is a blessing in disguise really. The Galaxy S10 in-display fingerprint scanner hasn’t been a very pleasurable experience for me so far. Here is what I wrote about it in my full review of the Galaxy S10+ -
“While the idea is novel – it is supposedly faster and safer than the optical solution found in the OnePlus 6T, it doesn’t require you to wake the screen, and it works with greasy/sweaty fingers as well. While most of that is true, the in-display fingerprint reader on-board the Galaxy S10+, is way slower and more finicky than what Samsung will have you believe – to the extent of being frustrating.”
The Galaxy S10E instead comes with a conventional fingerprint scanner which is embedded into the power button on the right – the positioning will take some time getting used to, but at least you get the option here.
Another area where Samsung is seemingly cutting corners is the cameras – as opposed to the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+ (which come with three rear cameras), the Galaxy S10E has two cameras on the back.
The Galaxy S10E has the same primary 12MP wide (77-degree field of view) sensor with variable f/1.5-f/2.4 aperture and dual pixel OIS camera as the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+. There’s also a 16MP ultra-wide (123-degree field of view) sensor with f/2.2 aperture and fixed focus, again same as the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+. The Galaxy S10E lacks the 12MP telephoto sensor found in the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+ - so unless you’re into shooting 2X zoom photos, you’ll probably not be missing out on much.
Elsewhere, the Galaxy S10E has the smallest screen of the lot, which is 5.8-inch (with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 as opposed to the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+ that ship with Corning Gorilla Glass 6) and the resolution is also maxed out at 1080p+ (as opposed to the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+ that ship with QHD+ resolution) - but it uses Samsung’s Dynamic AMOLED and it is HDR10+-ready as well like the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+. The Galaxy S1 and Galaxy S10+ screens are set to 1080p+ by default so unless you are a die-hard pixel-peeper, you’ll probably not notice that the Galaxy S10E has a lower resolution.
The smaller screen and lower resolution seemingly justify the Galaxy S10E’s smaller 3,100mAh battery – but more on this in our full review.
Now, here’s a full disclosure – I use an iPhone XR as my daily driver, and I haven’t felt the need to upgrade to an iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max. I expect something very similar with Samsung’s Galaxy S10E as well – only, its aggressive price makes it an even more attractive proposition over the iPhone XR. The Galaxy S10E packs almost everything that its higher-end and more expensive siblings bring to the table, and all the things that it is conservative about (in order to cut costs) also seem to work in its favour – hence, I call it, the pocket rocket. Watch this space for our full review of the Samsung Galaxy S10E in the days to come.