With the Galaxy S10 series, Samsung has introduced a low-cost option in the form of the Galaxy S10e that retails for $750. That's $150 less than the starting price of the S10, and you get the same great hardware albeit with a few omissions. It's time to find out if it can steal market share away from the likes of OnePlus.
The Galaxy S10e has more features than you'll end up using
Samsung clearly knows how to make a solid flagship, but over the last two years, we've seen a lot of affordable flagships that offer top-notch hardware for several hundred dollars less. OnePlus in particular dominates this category, and the OnePlus 6T at $550 is still great value for the hardware on offer.
The small size makes the Galaxy S10e the perfect phone for one-handed use.
Samsung's take on this segment is the Galaxy S10e. The phone costs $200 more than the 6T, but even at a first glance it's easy to see that it's loaded with features. But what makes the Galaxy S10e truly stand out is its diminutive size — with a 5.8-inch screen and height of 142.2mm, it is perfect for one-handed usage.
The industry has switched to taller screens in recent years, but the S10e with its compact form factor is the ideal device if you're looking for a smaller phone with top-notch hardware. You're not missing out on any core features from the S10 or S10+ either: the S10e has the same IP68 dust and water resistance, Samsung Pay, fast wireless charging, 3.5mm jack, and a microSD slot.
Samsung flagships have always stood out for the sheer number of features they offer, and the S10e absolutely delivers on that front. There's no area where the device is found lacking, and when you compare it next to the 6T you'll see just how feature-rich it is. The 6T is missing the headphone jack and MicroSD slot, and you lose out on water resistance as well. There's no wireless charging either, and when you factor in all the omissions it's easier to understand why the device costs $200 less.
The $200 premium gives you a much better camera
If nothing else, get the Galaxy S10e for its fantastic camera. Samsung has done a great job retaining most of the features from the S10 and S10+, with the S10e featuring the same primary cameras at the front and back.
The Galaxy S10e blows the 6T out of the water when it comes to camera quality.
That means you're going to get the same great photos as you would on the more expensive flagships, and while the S10e is missing the zoom lens, it has the same wide-angle shooter at the back. In my opinion, you'll get much more utility out of that anyway.
One of the main issues with OnePlus phones is the camera quality. The 6T has the same sensor configuration as its predecessor, and while you get decent shots in daylight, the quality goes down considerably in low-light scenarios.
A close spec contest
The Galaxy S10e is powered by Qualcomm's latest 7nm Snapdragon 855 platform. It is also the first phone in the world to feature a Wi-Fi ax modem. You get 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage as standard, and the 3100mAh battery is adequate for all-day usage. Interestingly, the S10e is the first Samsung flagship in a few years to feature a fully flat display.
Both phones feature exquisite hardware — but the S10e has the absolute latest specs.
So if you're not a fan of the curved screens on the S10 and S10+, the S10e is a great alternative. The display itself is just as great, even though the resolution is slightly lower at 2280x1080. Considering the device is designed for one-handed use, there's a standard fingerprint sensor on the side, just above the power button.
The OnePlus 6T is no slouch, and last year's Snapdragon 845 platform still has plenty of grunt left. The 6.41-inch Optic AMOLED display may not be quite as vibrant as what Samsung is offering, but it is decent enough for the price tag. You also get 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage as standard, and the 3700mAh battery easily manages to provide a day's worth of use.
|Category||Samsung Galaxy S10e||OnePlus 6T|
|Operating system||Android 10
Samsung One UI
|Display||5.8-inch AMOLED, 2280x1080 (19:9)
Gorilla Glass 5
|6.41-inch Optic AMOLED, 2340x1080, (19.5:9)
Gorilla Glass 6
1 x 2.84GHz Kryo 485
3 x 2.41GHz Kryo 485
4 x 1.78GHz Kryo 485
4 x 2.80GHz Kryo 385
4 x 1.70GHz Kryo 385
|MicroSD slot||Yes (up to 512GB)
|Rear camera 1||12 MP, f/1.5-2.4
Dual Pixel PDAF
|16 MP, f/1.7
|Rear camera 2||16 MP, f/2.2
|Front camera||10 MP, f/1.9
1.22um, Dual Pixel PDAF
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi ax, Bluetooth 5.0
AptX, NFC, A-GPS
|Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5.0
AptX, NFC, A-GPS
|Water resistance||IP68||No rating|
|Security||Fingerprint sensor (side-mounted)||In-display fingerprint sensor|
|Dimensions||142.2 x 69.9 x 7.9mm
|157.5 x 74.8 x 8.2mm
|Colors||Canary Yellow, Flamingo Pink, Prism White, Prism Black, Prism Green, Prism Blue||Thunder Purple, Mirror Black, Midnight Black|
OxygenOS is the best third-party skin around
Where the OnePlus 6T comes into its own is the software. OxygenOS is the best third-party skin around, and the clean interface combined with the powerful hardware makes the 6T one of the fastest phones in the market today.
OxygenOS takes a commanding lead when it comes to software.
OnePlus has also shown over the course of 2018 that it is better at delivering software updates on time. The 6T came with Pie out of the box, and it has consistently picked up security updates and bug fixes in the last five months.
Samsung has pared back a lot of customizations with One UI, with the interface resembling Google's aesthetic in a lot of ways, but it still isn't quite as minimal as OxygenOS. Software updates continue to be an issue for Samsung, and that isn't likely to change this year.
If you prefer a cleaner interface with faster updates, the 6T is the obvious choice.
It all comes down to value
The Galaxy S10e and OnePlus 6T may not be in the same category, but they share similar fundamentals. For Samsung, the fact that it is able to deliver most of the features as the S10 and S10+ at the $750 price point suggests just how serious it is at diversifying its flagships.
If you're looking for a compact phone with the latest hardware and fantastic cameras, the S10e is absolutely worth its asking price. If you're instead looking to save some cash and don't necessarily care about all the features on offer with the S102e, the 6T is still a fantastic choice in 2019.
The best compact phone right now
Samsung's take on an affordable flagship is a few hundred dollars more than the competition, but the Galaxy S10e is well worth it. Particularly when you consider that you're getting the same primary cameras as the S10/S10+, Snapdragon 855 chipset, identical design, all encased in a compact form factor.
A few compromises
Excellent performance backed by fast updates
The OnePlus 6T does a great job combining top-tier hardware with clean software, making it one of the fastest phones around. But the camera isn't anywhere as good as that of the S10e, and it is lacking in other areas. If you need the extra features, then you'll need to shell out $200 more for the S10e.
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