By early 2020, the Galaxy S10 series was preparing to be discontinued. A year ago, it introduced the world’s first 5G phone and launched the surprisingly popular S10e model alongside the usual S10 Vanilla and Plus phones. However, there was plenty of time for one last hurrah before the S20 series launched in February.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite was announced in early February 2020 and went on sale a month later, just days before the official launch of the S20 model. In a way, it was a prototype for the Galaxy S20 FE. Although older, it still used premium hardware and cost less than the main series models.
Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite
The Lite was superior to most other S10 offerings and literally stood at 162.5mm tall by 75.6mm wide by 8.1mm thick with a 6.7-inch display (20:9 aspect ratio). Weight 186g. Only the aforementioned Galaxy S10 5G, the first 5G phone, was slightly larger.
Its oversized display was “only” an FHD+ resolution of 1,080 x 2,400px and seemed to disagree with being classified as a flagship at the time. Little did we know what was to come in 2021. Anyway, there was HDR10+ support and Always-On display mode.
Aside from the resolution, the only clue that this isn’t a true flagship was the old Gorilla Glass 3+ protection (others have moved to GG6). Well, the lack of IP rating was also noticeable. The phone had an aluminum frame like its siblings, but I saved a few bucks by using a plastic back.
Things have changed in the meantime, but in 2019 and 2020, Snapdragon chipsets were only available in select markets. Samsung used Exynos everywhere else. However, the Galaxy S10 Lite was launched exclusively with the Snapdragon 855.
It was a year old at the time, but it was a very capable chipset that saw some use in 2020, including Samsung’s first Galaxy Z Flip. But it didn’t have the staying power the Snapdragon 865/870 had.
On the S10 Lite, the chipset tied for up to 6GB or 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage (or 512GB in some configurations, no 256GB option). Internal UFS 2.1 storage is expandable with a microSD card replacing the SIM2. The phone was launched with Android 10 with One UI 2 and got Android 13 with One UI 5 a few months ago.
Since this was a “lite” model, Samsung seemingly omitted the procedure by skipping the 12MP 2x telephoto camera featured on other S10 models. However, the Lite could have been better with a 48MP sensor with lossless 2x zoom.
I say “better” because the 1/2.0” sensor with 0.8µm pixels (1.6µm with binning) is bigger compared to the 12MP 1/2.55” 1.4µm sensor used in the other S10 phones. There was also OIS, but when I tested it, it didn’t work particularly well. It also omits some of the fancier tech, with Dual Pixel AF and no dual aperture. The phone can record 4K video at 30fps, while its sibling recorded 4K at 60fps.
The Lite also had a 12MP ultra-wide camera (rather than 16MP) and featured a 5MP macro camera that could count up to three. Like the main camera, the selfie camera is larger and has a higher resolution sensor than the main S10 phone.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite also has some firsts to its name. It is the first Samsung phone to feature 45W fast charging. Sure, the Galaxy S20 Ultra was matched a month later, but the Lite came out on top. And while the Galaxy S10 and S10+ only charged 15W, the larger S10 5G also clocked in at 25W (as well as the S20 and S20+).
However, the Lite has wireless charging capabilities that it lacks. Still, with a massive 4,500mAh battery, the phone scored an impressive 110-hour endurance rating.
The other first is less positive. The Lite was the first Galaxy S phone without a 3.5mm headphone jack. The S20 model was the same, and the model after that was the same, but the S10 Lite came first.
The Galaxy S10 Lite is positioned as a flagship killer of sorts. However, the features and pricing were carefully designed so that they did not target Samsung’s own flagships and instead went after other premium phones from cheaper brands.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite launched in early February 2020 at €650. For comparison, the vanilla S10 was $900/€900 a year ago and the smaller S10e was also $750/€750. A year is a long time in tech and the premium S10 phones went through price cuts until the release of the S10 Lite. For example, the $150 cut brought the S10 down to $750 and the S10e to $600 in the US. This was a few months before the S10 Lite launched in the same market for $650.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite was launched alongside the Galaxy Note10 Lite.
Of course, this wasn’t the only Lite released in early 2020, Samsung also launched the Galaxy Note10 Lite. But we save it for another time.