- I’ve been using the SamsungGalaxy S10e for the past few weeks.
- It’s one of my favourite phones I’ve used in months, and it’s tempting me away from my iPhone.
- I love the design, the display, the camera, and – surprisingly enough – the interface.
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For the past five years, I’ve been aboard the iPhone train.
I switched from Android to iPhone shortly after graduating from college, purchasing a gold iPhone 5S that served me well for about 2.5 years. I later upgraded to an iPhone 6S, and these days I’m using an iPhone X.
Lately, however, I’ve been experiencing a bit of iPhone fatigue. Sure, there’s still a lot to love about iPhones and Apple products as a whole. But sometime last year – perhaps around the time I had a rough experience with the Apple repair process – I started to feel like I was ready to at least look around for a device outside the Apple ecosystem.
Still, I haven’t been able to find “the one” – the device that would make me give up iMessage, FaceTime, the App Store, regular updates, beautiful, high-end design, and the various other iPhone perks I’ve come to love and depend on.
But for the past few weeks, I’ve been trying out the Samsung Galaxy S10e, one of several new smartphones Samsung debuted in February. It’s not Samsung’s flagship device, but rather a smaller, more affordable alternative that loses some features – features that, honestly, aren’t that big a deal.
Since I started testing it, I’ve discovered that the Galaxy S10e is one of just a few Android devices that could convince me it’s time to make the switch. Here’s why.
1. The display.
If you pay any attention to the world of smartphones, you probably already know that Samsung makes the best displays in the business, so it’s not much of a surprise that the display on one of Samsung’s new phones is excellent.
What is a bit surprising is that even though the Galaxy S10e is the cheaper variation of Samsung’s new devices, it still has a beautiful, high-resolution OLED display. The S10e does have a slightly lower resolution display than its more expensive sibling phones, the S10 and the S10 Plus, but most people won’t notice a difference.
In fact, during my time using it, I was continually impressed by how bright, clear, and crisp the screen is.
2. The design.
At the most basic level, the S10e is a rectangular slab of glass like every other smartphone out there right now (with the exception of Samsung’s own, foldable Galaxy Fold phone, of course).
But the device has a few selling points that make it special. For one, the power button has a fingerprint sensor cleverly built into it, and it’s so subtle you may not even notice it. (It begs the question: why haven’t we been doing this on every single phone all these years?)
Another thing I like about the S10e is the metallic finish, which gives the phone a more premium feel. While the comparable iPhone XR is also made of glass, the harsh, primary colours don’t exactly give the phone a luxe vibe. They seem intended to look less expensive, so that everyone in the world knows you didn’t shell out for the pricey gold iPhone XS. Samsung doesn’t do that, and I appreciate it.
What’s really special about the S10e, however, is how Samsung designed around the selfie camera. Every time I look at the phone, I’m wowed that Samsung really did it – they designed a nearly all-screen smartphone. The punch-hole cut-out is clever, useful, and almost unnoticeable.
I can’t say it enough: the screen design is incredible.
3. The size and weight.
When you compare apples to apples (or apples to Apple, as the case may be), the Galaxy S10e isn’t that much smaller than some of its competitors.
It’s almost exactly the same length, width, and weight as the Pixel 3, and nearly identical dimensions as the iPhone X. It is, however, significantly lighter than that iPhone – 150 grams vs. 177 grams.
However, when holding it in your hand, it looks and feels slim and light. While it’s made out of glass, it didn’t feel fragile, and I wasn’t nervous tossing it in my bag like I am with the heavier, more premium-feeling iPhone.
4. The camera.
These days, it’s hard to find a smartphone that doesn’t have a great camera. Compared to a few years ago, the differences between the cameras on top-of-the-line phones is pretty negligible – that applies to the Galaxy S10e, too.
What impressed me most was how sharp the images were and how bright the colours looked. I use an iPhone X as my regular phone right now, and I found myself opting for the the S10e instead when I wanted to snap a nice photo. I visited my local botanic garden recently on a very overcast evening, and was wowed by what I was able to capture with the S10e, despite the low light.
Here’s proof in the form of an unedited photo of the garden’s tulip display:
If I have one complaint about the camera, it’s that the selfie camera still smooths out my skin too much. While I love that Samsung is trying to do me a solid by making my skin look gorgeous and glowing in photos, sometimes it feels like a bit much. I want to look good, but I still want to look like I have human skin.
5. The user interface.
Let me say this up front: I don’t think the UI is perfect on the Galaxy S10e, but it’s better than it’s ever been.
The current iteration of Samsung’s smartphone interface, known as One UI, is what I’d consider the closest thing Samsung has ever gotten to stock Android. It’s cleaner, it’s easier to use, and it’s better looking than Samsung’s previous interpretations of Android.
It’s also much more intuitive than I remember, and flows a bit better – swiping is more seamless and intuitive, and there’s seemingly less reliance on having to click an actual back button to get from point A to point B.
Plus, something Samsung has started doing recently is giving you the option to not download some of its proprietary apps, which I really appreciate.
Essentially, the S10e feels more like Apple’s iOS, which is a good thing (I know, I know – Android fans will hate this). But iOS is incredibly intuitive, and in the past, moving over to Android has felt like a step backwards for me. These days, the gap is shrinking.
6. The price.
The fact that the Galaxy S10e costs $US750 is almost a little shocking to me after using it for few weeks.
Yes, of course, $US750 is still a lot of money. But compared to where we’re setting the bar these days – $US1,000! $US1,100! $US1,980! – we’ve somehow been conditioned into thinking $US750 for a device with a limited shelf-life is affordable.
Regardless, I’m grateful to Samsung for pricing the S10e where it did, and for doing that without sacrificing on quality. Sure, there are a few things it can’t do compared to the standard Galaxy S10 – an infinity display, telephoto camera, and other less noticeable things – but I’d consider those missing features as perks, not necessities. (The S10e even has reverse wireless charging just like the flagship S10, although it’s incredibly difficult to find – you have to turn it on in the Android notifications shade, but its not searchable in the phone’s settings.)
For $US750, you’re still getting a premium device that feels more advanced than most other phones, including those that cost more money.
What I still don’t like.
My complaints about the S10e are minor, but I do have a few.
One thing that immediately disappointed me about the S10e was that Samsung is not offering what is easily the best colour of the device – Prism Green – to US customers. The colour is so gorgeous and so unusual that I would have bought that phone immediately if I could have.
I also still don’t appreciate the presence of Samsung’s Bixby voice agent, whose usefulness is still unproven, years later. There is a physical Bixby button on the left side of the device that I never even bothered to set up, rendering an entire button on a phone with few buttons completely useless.
Bixby maintains a presence when you swipe toward the left, too. On the Pixel phone, this gesture would bring up a left-hand screen that’s sort of like your personalised Google homepage, complete with headlines, sports scores, a weather report, and anything on your calendar, plus the option to start a Google search. Samsung’s version is Bixby Home, which currently displays a collection of information I don’t want, like sponsored apps, GIFs from Giphy, and some truly hideous wallpaper recommendations. While Bixby Home is customisable, and you can get some of the widgets you want, it’s simply not as good as Google’s version.
Still, my complaints about the Galaxy S10e are minor. At the end of the day, it’s an excellent device that continues to tempt me away from my iPhone.
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