Galaxy S10 Lite: A quintessential Samsung phone

Mala Bhargava | Updated on February 17, 2020

Snapdragon 855, good performance, a luscious screen, big battery: what’s not to like?

Samsung is finally doing what it should have done all along. Leave no gap untapped and give a market ready to be loyal to the brand a choice of high-quality products at reasonable prices. Specially when other phone makers have shown they can do it. Well, perhaps it’s better late than never and perhaps not, but Samsung has recently launched two ‘Lite’ phones: the Note 10 Lite (reviewed earlier), and the S10 Lite. Both are quintessential Samsung smartphones and there’s little reason to not like them. They also offer an alternative to those who don’t want to buy a OnePlus phone, and feel more loyal to Samsung, which has after all been in the country for decades.

If the S10 Lite isn’t quite in flagship territory like the main S10 line, it does a pretty good job of looking it. It doesn’t have a glass back, considered an absolute must on a premium phone, but whatever plastic material it uses, apparently mixed with glass, looks just great. We received a beautiful ‘Prism Blue’ one and found that looking at the back of the phone was always a pleasure — except for the unfortunate fact of finger smudges showing up on it even with the slightest touch. The other colours are Prism White and Prism Black. On the back, you have all that beautiful colour, the Samsung logo, a bit of barely visible text, and the square arrangement of cameras that is coming up with all new Samsung phones these days.

This is a large phone. It’s probably just as well it isn’t glass-backed and heavier. The screen is a 6.7-inch one, which means it’s both tall and broad. At the same time it’s slim and quite nice to hold except for those who really are looking for something a bit smaller — every fraction of an inch seems to count with how these devices feel, somehow. The S10 Lite is also quite light given its size and the inclusion of a 4,500mAh battery. Incidentally, it also supports 45W fast charging though the charger in the box is 25W and the battery life holds up very nicely. Light users will be able to pull it through for two days, though why you would want a large phone only to use it lightly doesn’t make sense.

Strong processor

The stand-out feature of the S10 Lite is that it runs on a Snapdragon 855 — last year’s flagship processor and still no slouch when it comes to powering a premium phone. Samsung uses its own Exynos processors on almost all its phones, so this is unusual. The 855 pairs just with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage plus a memory card slot. The configuration is strong enough to ensure pretty smooth performance for both basic and intensive tasks. There’s no hiccups, hesitations, or stutters that we came across. Samsung’s refined OneUI 2.0 works on top of Android 10 and in general, all is well.

Also read: Galaxy Note 10 Lite review: Best of an iconic phone for less

One of the more important reasons to opt for this device is its brilliant screen — typical for Samsung — which manages to bring brightness and colour depth to displays even when not at the highest possible resolution. The front camera is inside a small dot in the top centre of the screen and that’s much easier to make one’s peace with than the notches that have thankfully exited the smartphone scene. The bezels around the screen are minimal, making it a treat to watch stuff on, in all that rich colour. It’s a 6.7-inch SUPER AMOLED screen with a 2,400 x 1,080 pixels resolution and support for HDR10+. Somewhat diminishing the experience for watching something on the screen is the fact that the sound comes from just one side with the one speaker. If you happen to place it next to something that covers it, the sound is immediately muffled. It doesn’t have a headphone jack, which still bothers some and probably always will.

Along with the glass and metal being excluded at this price point, there’s also no wireless charging, water and dust resistance. This won’t be such an issue for every tone however.

For the main part, Samsung has so far stuck to a 12MP primary camera, but for the S10 Lite, they’ve changed that by using a 48MP primary with f/2.0 aperture. Megapixels still don’t necessarily make for better images, but this device is pixel binning as other phone cameras have been doing lately. Daylight photos with this lens are very nice with natural colours, shadows and highlights and wonderful dynamic range — a strength with Samsung cameras. There’s a 12MP ultrawide lens which seems to have a little less distortion at the sides than usual.

Finally there’s a 5MP macro lens. You can take ‘Live Focus’ shots to get that background blur, which you can further customise with some of the effects in the camera. For example, you can make the blur take on a spinning look. You can do the same with shooting videos of people — there’s a separate video tab for that in the camera app. The selfie camera is a 32MP one, is pretty good and has its wide-angle mode and live focus. A recent addition of Samsung’s for its cameras is the ‘Super Steady’ mode, which stabilises video capture and reduces the hand-shake effect on photos.

Versus OnePlus

There's an inevitable comparison with the Oneplus 7t, which is in the same segment though it has two variants at ₹37,999 and ₹39,999, the latter with 256GB storage. The Oneplus phones do have a few advantages: a 90Hz refresh rate screen, UFS 3.0 storage, a more recent processor and faster charging. It also comes with the simpler interface. The phones are also made of glass and metal in all manner of interesting finishes.

The S10 Lite has a nicer looking screen, and a more feature-filled interface. Its cameras also, for the most part, do a better job with clarity, dynamic range, heights and stability. On the other hand, there are fewer modes than on the OnePlus camera, which has a telephoto lens.

Price: ₹39,999

Pros: An expanse of vivid display; big battery with good battery life; consistent smooth performance; a well-managed interface and tuning up; good cameras

Cons: Perhaps it should have been a little cheaper to compete head on; some will miss the headphone jack; single speaker only

Published on February 17, 2020

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