Galaxy S10e vs. Galaxy S9: Which should you buy in 2022?

Samsung Galaxy S10e
Samsung Galaxy S10e (Image credit: Android Central)

Samsung Galaxy S10e

Samsung Galaxy S10e

The Galaxy S10e offers a flagship-like experience with top-end specs and capabilities, but does so with a smaller size and lower price than we've come to expect. It's a great option for anyone who wants a smaller or a less expensive phone, and offers outsized value for its price.

Samsung Galaxy S10e

Our pick

Super-fun ultra-wide camera
Longer runway for software updates
Improved processor, memory and base storage
No huge improvement in battery life
Screen actually lower resolution

Samsung Galaxy S9

Samsung Galaxy S9

Despite being a few generation olds, the Galaxy S9 is still an interesting proposition for less money than the Galaxy S10e. It's comparable in many ways, and only misses out on a few small things. It might be a worthwhile purchase if you're really tight on budget.

Samsung Galaxy S9

Save money

Big cost savings for similar core experience
Screen quality still competitive today
Missing ultra-wide camera and portrait mode
Only likely to receive one more major software update

The Galaxy S10e is a spiritual replacement for last year's Galaxy S9 since the Galaxy S10 has gotten bigger and more expensive. But the Galaxy S9 is still on sale at a solid discount, and that makes it an interesting option for those who want to save money. Here's what you'll get by going with the newer model, or by sticking with an older one.

Galaxy S10e vs. Galaxy S9 Price and availability

Samsung Galaxy S10e lying on a table

Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central)

In 2020, the Galaxy S10e and Galaxy S9 are not the newest Samsung phones on the block. They're still pretty solid in their own right, but they've since been replaced by newer options. As such, availability can sometimes be a little tricky.

The S10e is still fairly easy to purchase these days, but for the Galaxy S9, buying a new unit for a reasonable price is a challenge. It's not impossible if you know where to look, but big retailers like Best Buy and Amazon are sold out (unless you're OK with a renewed/refurbished model).

If you're in the market for a Galaxy S10e, you can expect to spend $600. Prices flucuate a bit for the S9, but for the most part, it can be had for around $500 or so.

Galaxy S10e vs. Galaxy S9 Where the Galaxy S10e stands out

Samsung is known for taking a cautious approach to improvements with its top-end phones, and that means the Galaxy S10e isn't dramatically improved over the Galaxy S9 in many aspects. But there are certain things you get just by buying a phone made for 2019 rather than 2018.

Spec upgrades aren't super enticing, but you'll appreciate them now and in the future.

The easiest to quantify updates come with the spec sheet, where you upgrade to a Snapdragon 855 processor, 6GB of RAM, and a base of 128GB of storage, which are all zero-downside improvements over the Galaxy S9. None of them mean a ton right now, but as the Galaxy S9 starts to get older, you'll really start to feel the crunch of the limited RAM and storage, if not also the processor. Little improvements in the processor, plus a slightly larger battery and lower-resolution screen, will also offer you just a bit better battery life too.

Another thing you may want to keep in mind when talking about the future of your phone use is the software update roadmap, where the Galaxy S10e obviously has an extra year of runway beyond the Galaxy S9. Both phones are currently running Android 10, but that's the final update the S9 will ever see. Thanks to Samsung's new three-year update policy, the Galaxy S10e is promised to get Android 11 and (hopefully) Android 12.

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CategoryGalaxy S10eGalaxy S9
Operating systemAndroid 10One UIAndroid 10One UI
Display5.8-inch AMOLED, 2280x1080 (19:9)5.8-inch AMOLED, 2960x1440 (18.5:9)
ProcessorSnapdragon 855Snapdragon 845
Rear camera 112MP Super Speed Dual PixelOIS, f/1.5 or f/2.412MP Super Speed Dual PixelOIS, f/1.5 or f/2.4
Rear camera 216MP ultra-wide, f/2.2, fixed focusn/a
Front camera10MP, f/1.9, auto focus8MP, f/1.7, auto focus
AudioStereo speakersDolby Atmos3.5mm headphoneStereo speakersDolby Atmos3.5mm headphone
ChargingQuick Charge 2.0 (15W)Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 (12W)Quick Charge 2.0 (15W)Fast Wireless Charging (9W)
Water resistanceIP68IP68
SecuritySide fingerprint sensorRear fingerprint sensor
Dimensions142.2 x 69.9 x 7.9mm150 g147.7 x 68.7 x 8.5 mm163 g

The ultra-wide camera is a treat to shoot with, and selfies took another step up too.

Bigger differences can be found in the cameras. The main rear camera is effectively unchanged from the Galaxy S9, but it's the S10e's supporting set that's interesting. You get an ultra-wide camera with a unique field of view that's just downright fun to shoot with, giving you a new perspective that you just don't get on the Galaxy S9 The front-facing camera is also has a higher resolution and will take your selfies to new levels, even though the Galaxy S9's is quite good as it is.

And whether this last point is a pro, con, or no big deal either way will depend on your personal preference: the Galaxy S10e has a flat display, rather than an "Infinity" curved display like the Galaxy S9. The flat screen reduces accidental touches with your palms, though that's less of an issue on these smaller phones anyway. But if you don't like the curves of the last few generations of Samsung phones, the Galaxy S10e will be a breath of fresh air for you.

Galaxy S10e vs. Galaxy S9 Where the Galaxy S9 is still comparable

Galaxy S9

Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central)

It may be over two years old, but the Galaxy S9 is still a modern-feeling phone that's very capable — particularly when compared to the Galaxy S10e.

The Galaxy S9's core experience is effectively the same as the new S10e.

Every part of the external hardware experience of the Galaxy S9 still feels modern. The materials quality, shape, design, fit-and-finish, and everything all down the list is comparable to the Galaxy S10e. Yes, there are differences in look, but you won't feel short-changed by the older model. The display, too, is comparable — it's an older panel, but it's actually higher resolution than the S10e and is still really good even by today's standards. Elsewhere in the hardware the headphone jack, microSD card slot, speakers, and wired charging speed are all the same.

Size-wise, the two phones are basically the same. There are subtle differences in the dimensions, and the curved screen changes the feel, but if you're looking for a "compact" phone you're going to find it with both the Galaxy S9 and S10e.

And realistically, in daily use, you aren't going to notice many differences between these two phones. With the Galaxy S9's update to Android 10, everything is basically the same on both phones. So between the size, performance, software, and core features, you would be able to swap back and forth between the two with little (if any) pain. That bodes well for you if you're thinking about picking the Galaxy S9 for its lower price. The only real downside, software-wise, is that the S9 is at the end of its update lifecycle and is unlikely to get any major update beyond Android 10.

Galaxy S10e vs. Galaxy S9 Which should you buy?

Samsung Galaxy S9

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

If you're drawn to the Galaxy S10e for both its size and its lower price, there's an interesting argument to be made that you should consider the Galaxy S9. It's roughly the same size as the Galaxy S10e, offers much of the same experience, and is less money because of its age. However, if you're comparing apples-to-apples on 128GB storage models, rather than the Galaxy S9's base 64GB, the value fades a tad — it just depends how much weight you put on internal storage.

The Galaxy S10e is simply a better phone overall than the Galaxy S9, and if you plan to keep your phone for a long time (perhaps upwards of two years), you'd be doing yourself a favor by buying the newer model. You get all of the benefits associated with the newer phone, and don't miss out on anything from the old model. You just have to pay a little extra for it.

Andrew Martonik

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.