Samsung Galaxy S10e Review

Does the 'e' stand for 'excellent'?

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Tshaka Armstrong
Sep 15, 2020
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Today we’re reviewing the Galaxy S10e.

This version, the 128 gigabyte, 6 gigabytes of ram, 3,100 mAh battery, is it worth the $900, entry-level Galaxy device price which could save you potentially hundreds off other devices in the line? The compromises are few and far between with the Galaxy S10e. Matter of fact, I’d say the “e” stands for... excellent.

I’ll tell you why.

Samsung basically reinvented the “phablet”, the big phone. Sure there were others before them, but none struck a chord with consumers like the first Galaxy Note.

After that, the race was on, but not everyone wants a phone they need two hands to operate or two paycheques to pay for, and that’s where the Galaxy S10e comes in.

Is it worth it to buy Samsung Galaxy S10e?

The Galaxy S10e is the least expensive option in Samsung’s Galaxy S line, and I’m sure the questions you’re asking yourself right off the bat is: “What are the compromises?”

Ultimately, the answer is there are few and you’re gonna get most of what Samsung has to offer in a smartphone at a price point ($749) that’s more wallet-friendly. I’m reviewing the unlocked version of Galaxy S10e which out of the box comes with a case that is actually a nice one.

It’s a minimalist design with perforations keeping it light. So if you’re rough on your phones, you may still want to pick up another case.

Samsung Galaxy S10e design

Looking at the front of the phone, you’re gonna get Gorilla Glass 5 and a 5.8 inch Dynamic AMOLED 19.9 display with 438 pixels per inch and 1200 nits of brightness.

Front view Samsung Galaxy S10e

Front of Samsung Galaxy S10e

What that means is that you’re going to get a display that’s going to be easily viewable outdoors, in the brightest of lighting conditions, details will be clear, and you’ll be about to make out everything on the screen without trying to squint or shade the phone.

S10e flat display

One of the things, which has been somewhat polarizing in Samsung’s line of phones, is the curved displays. In this case, you’ll get a flat display with a little more bezels than the other phones in the S10 lineup. But Samsung’s panels are beautiful, and there’s no sacrifice here in terms of what most people are gonna be able to see.

Front-facing camera

The S10e does have a front-facing camera with the hole punch design on the display which allows for facial recognition, where the next step up in the Galaxy line, the S10, features that and an in-display ultrasonic fingerprint reader.

You do get a fingerprint reader on the S10e, but it’s located on the right side of the phone and doubles as a power button.

Right side view Samsung Galaxy S10e

Right side of Galaxy S10e

That’s it for hardware on the right side, but moving on to the left, you’ll find rocker and Bixby button. More on that in a bit.

Left side view Samsung Galaxy S10e

Left side view of Samsung Galaxy S10e

On top of the phone, you’ll find a microphone. You’re also going to find a dual sim slot which also doubles as the Micro SD slot.

Top view of Samsung Galaxy S10e

Top of Samsung Galaxy

And at the bottom where the other microphone, USB-C charge port, and stereo speakers are located.

On the bottom, you’re also gonna get that venerable 3.5-millimetre headphone jack which in this case is a big deal for music lovers because Samsung has a digital to analog converter, or D-A-C, DAC, built into their phones, providing superior sound when listening to hi-res music over wired headphones, IEMs, or whatever you’re using.

Bottom view of Samsung Galaxy S10e

Bottom view of Samsung Galaxy S10e

Is the Samsung Galaxy S10e camera good?

Around the back of the phone, you’ll find the camera bump which houses two cameras and a flash. With the step-up in phones, you’re gonna get three cameras, but with the S10e you won’t get that third telephoto lens.

Backside view of Samsung Galaxy S10e

Back of Galaxy S10e

What that means is that you’re gonna miss out on a 2x optical zoom lens, but you’ll still get a 12-megapixel wide-angle optical image-stabilized lens and a second 16-megapixel 123-degree ultra-wide lens.

The secondary lens on the phone is going to get you those wide-angle group shots, but won’t be as good in low light as the primary lens which has an aperture that opens up to 1.5. Though this is the budget model, the cameras are competent shooters and most users should find the images they capture to be more than serviceable for their social media sharing and memory-making.

I used the phone at a party, an event I attended recently and taking pictures in low light in pro mode, I was actually quite impressed with just how well the sensor handled those nighttime shots.

A nighttime photo of people at a party from the Samsung Galaxy S10e

Of course, pro mode allows you to really adjust the photos to your liking so that you can focus on the details which are most important to you. But none of that matters if the sensors are not that good and the software isn’t up to the task to begin with.

As you can see in the photos here, they still have a great deal of detail, they aren’t too grainy, and colours are vibrant without looking blown out or washed out. Even when you blow up many of the images, the darker areas are still pretty solid without excessive graininess.

And while we’re talking about features on the back of the phone, we also have to mention the new wireless power share functionality which allows you to charge Qi, or chi, however, you wanna pronounce it, compatible devices as long as you have a minimum 30% charge on your phone, and the resolve to not have you FOMO act up as you drain one device to help power the other.


What version of Android does Samsung Galaxy S10e use?

Samsung outfits the Galaxy S10e with the same software you’ll find on pricier models, their One UI, or user interface.

I’ve rocked with Samsung devices for years and their software has definitely improved over the generations and iterations allowing you to do more without it getting in the way, for the most part. There are still some hiccups with voice recognition and Google assistant if you prefer it over Bixby.

Voice assistant with Galaxy S10e

One of my issues with Samsung’s user experience has always been that their voice assistant battling for dominance with Google assistant over who is going to be your AI assistant makes the experience inconsistent.

If Google is your huckleberry, when you invoke it, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

The experience isn’t as consistent as it is on other devices which don’t have their own voice assistant like Samsung does in Bixby.

Just something to keep in mind which may be noteworthy if you’re like me, and you use voice assistants to send text messages hands-free, launch a playlist while driving, and a whole host of other things you can do with it.

Other than that, One UI is a joy to use.

Galaxy S10e customisation and features

The level of customization you get means that you can make your phone, your phone. You can control the colour on almost everything, from the icons to the folders.

And speaking of icons, I’ve never been a huge fan of the stock icons, so I always change my out, and there are plenty of free and paid options for that on the Galaxy store.

You can change out the theme as well as other aspects of the phone’s graphic appearance. Samsung even has quite a few free wallpapers to hide that front-facing hole-punch camera if it bothers you.


Once in the settings, just go into the themes menu then select the wallpapers tab at the bottom and look for the content category labelled, “Embrace the Cutout Wallpapers for your Galaxy S10”.

Samsung Galaxy S10e wallpapers

There are several free options, including the Mickey Mouse wallpaper I’m using, and some paid options which will cost you $1.

Getting back to the themes menu, you have two options here.

You can either tap on the themes tab at the bottom to get turnkey themes to change every aspect of your phone’s appearance all at once or tap on each individual tab to change the wallpapers, icons, and AOD, or that Always On Display.

Facial and fingerprint unlock on Galaxy S10e

Getting into the phone to access all this content is a breeze with both face unlock and the side-mounted fingerprint reader. With face unlock, I did experience some instances where I had to enter a passcode in dark lighting conditions.

Samsung attempts to account for this by providing a feature in the face unlock menu where you can have the screen brighten when you raise the device to unlock it. Other items of note in Samsung’s One UI are Kids Home, Windows Link, Focus Mode, and Bixby Routines.

What is Kids Home?

Kids Home lets you set up the phone so that when you hand it to a child. They’ll only be able to access age-appropriate content and not hand back a phone which they’ve been randomly pressing buttons and icons and settings that’ll have you wondering why things are missing from your home screen and why your phone is stuck in some funky mode.

Kids Home is colourful, bright, and very inviting, and definitely a fun digital sandbox for little ones to explore a safe digital world.

What is Windows Link?

Windows Link allows you to connect your text messaging and certain content sharing between your phone and your Windows PC.

You’ll have to download certain software to make this happen, but once you do you’ll be able to receive and respond to text messages right from your laptop or desktop Windows machine. You’ll be able to share photos and open browser tabs between your devices as well.

What is Focus Mode?

Focus Mode allows you to quiet the distractions in your life by setting a timer and blocking any apps of your choice or all of them. It’s a mode that helps you disconnect from the digital noise to connect, theoretically, with things which aren’t your phone. That and more can be found in the digital well-being and parental controls menu.

The menu is what it sounds like. It features phone options to help you keep a healthy balance in your digital device use and screen time.

How good is the Samsung Galaxy S10e battery life?

I’ve hammered this phone’s 3,100mAh battery with a mix of email, text messaging, social media monitoring, photo and video capture, photo editing, commute music streaming, and driving navigation; taking my phone off its wireless charging pad at 3:30 am with 23% battery left by 9:00 pm on one of my heaviest use days.

The battery usage app recorded roughly 4 1/2 hours of screen on time that day. I’ve been using larger phones with longer battery life as my daily drivers so I almost caught a case of FOMO when I saw my battery that low, but to be honest, considering how I used my phone that day, 17 1/2 hours of solid use is nothing to sneeze at, at all.

Is the Samsung Galaxy S10e good?

While some folk may want all of the bells and whistles, you might be the guy or gal looking for just enough features to get by while not forking over a week’s worth of pay for the privilege.

If that’s you, Samsung may have just what you’re looking for in their Galaxy S10e.

Tshaka Armstrong
Written by
Tshaka Armstrong

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