Phone

Looking for a compact flagship? The Galaxy S10e is still a great choice!

Small, compact phones are no longer in fashion. It feels like it was ages ago that Samsung was laughed at for entertaining the idea of a large-screen phone by launching the first Galaxy Note. These days, 6-inch displays on smartphones are pretty common and are considered the new normal. That’s partly because you can now have big displays in fairly compact dimensions thanks to the all-screen designs manufacturers are pushing, and a compact smartphone is more or less a thing of the past.

That holds true whether you’re looking at a budget phone or a flagship device, but there are many out there who aren’t keen on the idea of having to live with a big smartphone that they can’t easily use with one hand. Flagship devices in particular ask customers to make a difficult choice: Do they want a phone that’s small and compact, or do they want all the bells and whistles that you expect from a premium product? While that choice is becoming harder and harder to make, those who want the best of both worlds still have an excellent option.

That option is the Galaxy S10e. It’s interesting how the smallest of the three Galaxy S10 models Samsung launched last year has been ignored and received so little attention over the past year. The Galaxy S10e was a breath of fresh air for a lot of reasons, and we were quite vocal about how we loved the device despite all of its faults. And more than a year later, it’s still got a lot going for it.

Not perfect, but the Galaxy S10e is still a fantastic phone

First, let’s address the shortcomings of the phone. As the S10e launched more than a year ago, Samsung’s software update policy dictates it will only be getting one major Android upgrade in the future, following which it will be relegated to security updates. Then there’s the fact that it has a small battery and not-so-fast charging by today’s standards. The former is a disadvantage that every compact smartphone suffers from and isn’t exclusive to the S10e, but it’s still worth pointing out.

For shutterbugs, the biggest disadvantage is that it doesn’t have a telephoto camera on the back. You can’t tap a button and zoom in on things as you can on the Galaxy S10, S10+, and pretty much every Galaxy flagship launched since then. It’s another one of those negatives that are a result of the phone’s compact dimensions, and it may be an issue for those who love taking pictures and want a versatile camera setup on their smartphone.

However, there’s a lot the Galaxy S10e gets right. It has a beautiful Super AMOLED display. Its performance is still top-notch no matter if you buy the Exynos or Snapdragon variant (depending on your market). It’s got an excellent main camera that can go toe to toe with the main camera on the Galaxy S20 and S20+, along with an ultra-wide camera with a higher megapixel count than the ultra-wide camera on the S20 series. You also get staple Galaxy flagship features on the S10e, such as IP68 water resistance, microSD expansion, wireless charging, and also reverse wireless charging.

The Galaxy S10e also has something that’s gone missing on recent top-of-the-line Galaxy smartphones: A headphone jack. Despite the popularity of wireless audio, a headphone jack is still a make-or-break feature for many. And the Galaxy S10e has one, in addition to fantastic stereo speakers. That’s not all: The Galaxy S10e has a traditional capacitive fingerprint sensor that’s fast and accurate, much more so than the in-display fingerprint sensors on its bigger cousins.

Finally, with the Galaxy S10e now more than a year old, prices have dropped by a few hundred bucks. In the US, you can get one for as low as $599 with a trade-in deal; if you don’t mind getting a used but ‘like new’ unit, you can find it selling for less than $400 on Amazon. In the UK, Samsung’s official website is selling it for £499. You may see a slightly higher price tag depending on which country you’re in, but if those big and unwieldy flagships aren’t up your alley, the Galaxy S10e is a phone you should seriously consider.

Galaxy S10e review

  • Model: SM-G970F
  • Dimensions: Bar: 142.2 x 69.9 x 7.9 mm
  • Display: 5.8 inch / 147.32 mm Dynamic AMOLED Display
  • CPU: Exynos 9820
  • Camera: 12MP
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