Samsung Galaxy S10e Review: Every Bit A Flagship For Less

Samsung Galaxy S10e - Same Sleek Design And Build Quality

It has been quite a few generations since Samsung built its Galaxy phones from plastic, and at this point there is no going back. These days, metal and glass are the norm. It is fair to say that phones bearing the 'Galaxy' badge are some of best constructed handsets on the market, in term of the look, feel, and overall build quality. Samsung is also fairly generous in the color choices it provides—the Galaxy S10e comes in Prism Blue (reviewed here), Prism White, Prism Black, Prism Green, and Canary Yellow.

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The Prism Blue color option is a lighter shade of blue with a hint of teal in certain lighting. It is also highly reflective, to the point where you could use it as a mirror in a pinch to check your teeth for stray food when dining out. Of course, glossy and reflective finishes are typically prone to fingerprint smudges. The Galaxy S10e does not avoid that trait, though in our time testing it, we did not find ourselves having to wipe it down very often.

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In the hand, the Galaxy S10e feels just like a smaller version of the Galaxy S10, because that's essentially what it is, for the most part. It measures 5.60 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches (142.2 x 69.9 x 7.9mm) and weighs 5.29 ounces (150 grams). If you're constantly checking Twitter and Facebook throughout the day, or snapping pictures non-stop, hand-fatigue is not a concern—the Galaxy S10e is lightweight and manageable, even for smaller hands.

As with the other Galaxy S10 phones, there is a slightly raised camera bump on the back of the Galaxy S10e, with the same metal trim around the camera assembly. There is no wobble when laying it flat on its back. And like the other models, the Galaxy S10e is IP68 water resistant.

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Curved edges and rounded corners lend a familiar feel to the Galaxy S10e. Samsung sticks to the same Galaxy S10 design script for the Galaxy S10e, which features a volume rocker and Bixby button on the left side edge, a power/screen lock button on the right side, a mic port and combo microSD card / SIM tray up top, and USB-C, 3.5mm audio jack, and speaker grill on the bottom.

The S10e's 5.8" Dynamic AMOLED Display - A Brilliant Screen

For anyone who prefers a smaller handset, the Galaxy S10e fits the bill, comparatively anyway. It has a 5.8-inch Full HD+ (2280x1080) Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O display. This is the same type of screen as the other Galaxy S10 phones, only it's flat all the way across, and so it lacks the curved edges that its bigger siblings have. However, users still have access to the Edge screen features.

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The AMOLED display is bright and vibrant. At full blast, it sparkles at around 540 lux. as recorded with our light meter. Subjectively, we have long felt that Samsung's Galaxy phones feature the best displays in their class, and the Galaxy S10 line only reinforces that opinion. It's not just our eyes, either. Objectively, the regular Galaxy S10 earned an A+ rating from DisplayMate, one of the definitive sources for panel testing.

Granted, the Galaxy S10e has a lower pixel density at 438ppi versus 550ppi, and that can affect sharpness. However, images and videos don't seem to suffer from this, not to our naked eyeballs. It also retains the same HDR10+ certification as the other Galaxy S10 models. HDR10+ is similar to Dolby Vision, and can employ dynamic scene metadata to boost color fidelity.

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From watching movies on Netflix to scrolling through high resolution photos and playing games, the screen on the Galaxy S10e proved adept. Images are bright and vivid. The one con, if you want to call it that, is the punch-hole apparatus in the upper-right corner, to house the front-facing camera. It is small and we found it to be unobtrusive, even when watching videos, but it's there.

Security and Unlocking the Galaxy S10e

One thing you do not get with the Galaxy S10e is an in-display fingerprint reader. How much this matters to you depends in large part on your preference. HotHardware editor-in-chief Dave Altavilla, for example, noted in his review of the Galaxy S10+ that he prefers the placement of a fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone, as it feels more natural to him. You might feel the same way. Even if you don't, however, Dave also noted that the under-glass, ultra-sonic fingerprint scanner on the Galaxy S10+ was a bit quirky, "sometimes rejecting thumbprints repeatedly."

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That said, we found the face unlock feature to work relatively well on the Galaxy S10e, though not quite as fast as the Apple's iPhone XS Max. In addition, there is an electrostatic fingerprint reader embedded in the power button on the right bezel. It is a bit finicky to set up, but once configured, we found it to work quickly and reliably. Incidentally, Samsung says the fingerprint reader also works well with the kinds of gloves worn by medical professionals and first responders. In testing, though, I was not able to get the phone to unlock while wearing a pair of blue colored medical gloves, so your mileage may vary.

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