With the start of 2020, Samsung surprised us with the launch of two new ‘Lite’ models. As the names suggest, these are Lite variants of 2019 flagship smartphones. The rumors around the Galaxy S10 Lite and Galaxy Note 10 Lite have been surfacing since late 2019. But the phones finally got an unveiling at CES 2020 last month. Later in the month, Samsung launched the Galaxy S10 Lite and Galaxy Note 10 Lite in India as well.
Both devices are now on sale, and in a price segment heavily dominated by the likes of OnePlus. With a price tag of Rs 39,999, the Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite isn’t directly competing with the OnePlus 7T. But it is in the same segment range. Samsung India is selling the phone in three colors – Prism Blue, Prism Black and Prism White. Our review unit is Prism Blue, and here’s what you should know about the device before making a purchase.
Watch: Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite First Look
Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite: Display and design
In terms of the design and display, the Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite differs from the flagship Galaxy S10. For one, the Lite model offers a bigger display and is bigger in size as well. It features a flat screen with FHD+ resolution. Also, the handset is now built using ‘Glastic’ – a mix of glass and polycarbonate. That said, the handset chassis is still metal. Despite the plastic body, the phone feels a bit heavy in your hands. The back panel also attracts fingerprints easily. To protect the body though, Samsung bundles a transparent silicon case in the box.
Instead of an ugly notch, the display carries a single punch-hole camera. But this time around, it’s been positioned at the top-center. The 6.7-inch FHD+ (1080×2400 pixels) Super AMOLED Plus ‘Infinity-O’ panel offers 20:9 aspect ratio, and pixel density of 394ppi. The display brightness is more than satisfactory most of the time. But I did find it struggling a bit under direct sunlight.
Performance and UI
The Galaxy S10 Lite variant in India carries Qualcomm chipset for a change. This, in my opinion, is one of the most requested features by users planning to purchase a premium Samsung phone. Although, Samsung is opting for a slightly dated Snapdragon 855 chipset, performance is no issue. In fact, I find this new device to be smoother than the Galaxy S10.
Samsung is only offering one variant of the phone in India. It packs 8GB of RAM and 128GB internal storage. I found the phone to be more than capable of handling multitasking. In gaming too, the Galaxy S10 Lite is able to offer flagship-grade performance. There were no complaints when playing games like PUBG Mobile, Subway Surfer and The hunt for the lost treasure. PUBG performance was smooth even at high-graphic settings.
Samsung is also offering the latest Android 10-based OneUI 2.0 overlay. When Samsung moved from ‘TouchWiz‘ to OneUI, the difference was noticeable. With the OneUI 2.0, there isn’t much different from OneUI 1.0. Having said that, Samsung’s OneUI is still one of the better ones in the Android world.
I spent a bit of extra time testing the Galaxy S10 Lite’s cameras. Samsung claims it is offering ‘Pro grade’ cameras despite this being a Lite smartphone. On paper, the triple camera module offers a 48-megapixel f/2.0 primary sensor with super steady OIS. Accompanying it is a 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens, and a 5-megapixel fixed-focus macro lens. Up front, you get a 32-megapixel selfie snapper, which is similar to the one found on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite.
One of the highlights of this camera setup is ‘Super Steady OIS’. As per the company, this is a step above the standard optical image stabilization (OIS). In this case, the whole lens housing moves a little. It essentially tries to attain gimbal-like stability and allows for a wider correction angle. In my testing, the videos were up to the mark as far as stabilization is concerned. But you can only shoot videos in 16:9 and in 1080p 30fps resolution in ‘Super Steady OIS’ mode. When opting for normal videos, you can shoot at up to 4K resolution in 20:9, 16:9 and 1:1 aspect ratios.
For photography, I found Galaxy S10 Lite’s primary camera to be perfect during daylight conditions. The sensor manages to capture good amounts of details, sharpness and contrast levels. Samsung’s AI Scene Optimizer works well in most conditions. But, I do feel that it saturates images a little after processing.
My favourite bit in the camera setup has to be the 123 degree wide-angle capturing. In low-light conditions, the camera does a pretty good job for the price, especially with ‘Night mode’ switched on. The results are not excellent, but it does a decent job in retaining the colors and center sharpness. For selfies, the 32-megapixel front-facing camera in the punch-hole display does a pretty good job as well. You can check Galaxy S10 Lite camera samples below.
Face unlock, Fingerprint sensor and Battery performance
There are two aspects of the Galaxy S10 Lite that are a tad disappointing in my opinion. The first is the Face Unlock, and the other is the in-display fingerprint sensor. I may sound harsh, but neither of them are up to the standards expected in 2020.
There’s a visible improvement on the battery front. Compared to the Galaxy S10’s 3,400mAh battery, the Galaxy S10 Lite offers generous 4,500mAh unit. I was fairly impressed with the back-up time on the Galaxy S10 Lite. In fact, you can use the device for an entire day, and still have a bit of juice left for the next morning.
For charging, there’s support for 25W USB Type-C fast charging. While seeming sufficient, I feel Samsung can make further improvements to its fast charging tech. During my usage, the battery took about 75 minutes to fully charge. In just 15 minutes, the battery can be juiced up to 30 percent. It is worth noting that the Galaxy S10 Lite battery supports up to 45W fast charging. But to utilize this potential, you will need to buy a charger separately.
Verdict: Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite?
With Galaxy S10 Lite, Samsung is clearly strengthening its position in the sub-Rs 40,000 price segment. Unlike before, the company is doing by launching a brand-new device and not just slashing prices of its older generation devices. As mentioned, this is also the first time we are seeing a Lite variant of a Samsung phone featuring a Qualcomm chipset.
In my opinion, the Galaxy S10 Lite is every bit a premium flagship smartphone. Of course, there are a few trade-offs like plastic body, flat display, and lack of wireless charging. But these are not huge deal breakers. Despite OnePlus dominating this segment with its 7T series, Samsung’s new device manages to hold its own. With a price tag below Rs 40,000, the Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite is must buy device in my opinion.