tech

Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite first impressions: Playing a safe game?

Although there’s no notch in the Galaxy S10 Lite, users will have to get used to the punch-hole cutout that houses the front-facing camera.

The Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite costs Rs 39,999 in India.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite costs Rs 39,999 in India. (HT Media)

Samsung seems to be playing a clever game with its Galaxy S10 Lite smartphone. Priced at 39,999, the handset is not just safely placed in a segment that has very few competitors such as Oppo Reno 2 and Asus ROG Phone II as the notable ones but is also giving those a chance who always wanted a 'flagship' smartphone but at an affordable price tag.

So, the Galaxy S10 Lite has got everyone asking the same set of questions. What's the point of launching a Galaxy S10 Lite just before the next-gen flagship smartphone, what happens if it clashes with the Galaxy A series and does this make the Samsung Galaxy S10e or S10 redundant? That's a lot to talk about and we will be answering all of them in our review. But for now, we got our hands on the smartphone for some time and this is what we think about it.

 

Holding the smartphone for the first time makes you realise how light this device is despite being 186 grams on paper, which is usual for modern smartphones. You also have a 4,500mAh battery and a massive triple rear camera setup but then the bulk is not felt. And then you have curved sides at the back which really makes the device easy to hold. Unfortunately, we continuously found ourselves adjusting our hands to get a tight grip but were not able to get one.

That said, the smartphone's Prism Blue variant, which we received for review, may look stunning to some and just another glossy smartphone to others. Yes, the back panel is glossy and a huge smudge magnet. So you will end up wiping the handset with a cloth almost all the time to maintain the look. Also, Samsung has used a plastic back panel in Galaxy S10 Lite, which is clearly a cost-cutting measure. However, the rear camera setup doesn't look as bad as we imagined it would be from the renders.

Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite is powered by last year's flagship processor, Qualcomm Snapdragon 855.
Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite is powered by last year's flagship processor, Qualcomm Snapdragon 855. (HT Media)

We got a hint about this rectangular rear camera design from the Galaxy M30s last year but this is definitely more refined and better looking. It looks different but doesn't make you feel awkward every time since it is easy to get used to.

Fortunately, there's a dual colour tone play happening in Galaxy S10 Lite Prism Blue variant. Running on the sides is a metal chassis that is a slightly different shade of Blue and adds to the overall look.

Samsung has time and again nailed it when it comes to saturated screens and the 6.7-inch Super AMOLED Plus FHD+ 'Infinity-O' panel on the Galaxy S10 Lite is no less. The 'Plus' doesn't mean a mind-boggling change but a slight improvement in the AMOLED screen. End-users won't notice the difference until unless placed side-to-side.

You get everything from punchy colours to deep blacks and it's really good to look at. Yes, you will find AMOLED screens in smartphones that are priced way less but you can always trust Samsung to deliver the latest grade of AMOLED panels even in the 'Lite' version of its last year's flagship smartphone. The on-screen fingerprint scanner is a cherry on the top.

Although there's no notch in the Galaxy S10 Lite, users will have to get used to the punch-hole cutout that houses the front-facing camera. While browsing on the phone, there are certain points when the cut out does distract you but you can camouflage it by turning on the dark mode. In most cases such as streaming Netflix, playing PUBG or CoD, or even while switching between apps, with a screen so bright and saturated, the level of immersive-ness should be enough to ignore the cutout.

The Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite gets 8GB RAM onboard with 128GB inbuilt storage.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite gets 8GB RAM onboard with 128GB inbuilt storage. (HT Media)

Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite is powered by last year's flagship processor, Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, which also powered the US version of the Galaxy S10 and the Note 10 flagships. So if you talk about the performance, this device should be topping the list, at least theoretically. There's also 8GB RAM onboard with 128GB inbuilt storage, which can be expanded up to 1TB. The SIM slot is a hybrid one so either you can have two SIM cards installed at a time or a single SIM card with a microSD card. Since the processor is powerful, its gaming performance should also be at par. Gamers here get a bit of an edge with the 'Game Booster' feature that has a different interface and lets you focus on your game instead of notifications.

The camera is one of the highlights of the Galaxy S10 Lite. You get three cameras at the back including a 48-megapixel f/2 primary sensor, 12-megapixel f/2.2 wide-angle (123-degree) sensor and a 5-megapixel f/2.4 aperture macro sensor. We clicked a few shots and found the interface fairly straight-forward with all the key features shown up front for easy access.

We also noticed that the camera clicks a second after you press the shutter button. This could be bothersome for a few people, considering they expect the best from a smartphone that is coming from the 'flagship' series.

The Galaxy S10 Lite is backed by an ample 4,500mAh battery.
The Galaxy S10 Lite is backed by an ample 4,500mAh battery. (HT Media)

Inside the punch-hole, you have a 32-megapixel sensor with f/2.2 aperture. In our limited time with the smartphone, we found it fairly good in terms of capturing details. The Live Photos (Portrait) mode does a decent job of blurring the background. But in tricky situations, it could go dicey. We can't jump to conclusions yet. Samsung is also making a big deal out of the OIS feature it has but we will talk more about it in the upcoming review.

The Galaxy S10 Lite is backed by an ample 4,500mAh battery, which as Samsung promises, can run for up to 15 hours on LTE usage or up to 47 hours on 4G LTE talk time. There's also fast charging tech that claims to deliver a day's worth of juice in 30 minutes of charging. While this looks promising, we are yet to test the battery life in real life for a better understanding. We will talk more about it in the review so stay tuned.