At the beginning of 2020, the Galaxy S10 series was getting ready to go. A year earlier, it introduced the world’s first 5G phone, bringing the surprisingly popular S10e along with the usual vanilla S10 and plus phones. Before the launch of the S20 series in February, however, there was just enough time for one last hurrah.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite was announced at the beginning of February 2020 and went on sale a month later, just a few days before the official launch of the S20 models. In some ways, it was a prototype for the Galaxy S20 FE – it used older but still premium hardware and cost less than the main series models.
Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite
The Lite stood head and shoulders above most other members of the S10, and we mean that literally – with a 6.7” display (with a tall 20:9 aspect ratio at launch), it measured 162.5mm tall, 75.6mm wide and 8.1mm thick. weighed 186g. Only the Galaxy S10 5G, the aforementioned first-ever 5G phone, was slightly larger.
This sizable display was “only” FHD+, 1,080 x 2,400 pixels, which at the time seemed awkward for what was billed as a flagship. We had no idea what was coming in 2021. Anyway, it had HDR10+ support and Always-On Display mode.
Apart from the resolution, the only clue that this is not a true flagship was the older Gorilla Glass 3+ protection (the others have switched to GG6). The missing IP rating also stood out. The phone had an aluminum frame like its siblings, though it saved a few bucks with a plastic back.
While things have changed in recent years, only a select few markets got Snapdragon chipsets in 2019 and 2020 – 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 found some use in 2020, including Samsung’s first Galaxy Z Flip. However, it didn’t have the endurance of the Snapdragon 865/870.
On the S10 Lite, the chipset was paired with 6 or 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage (or 512GB in some configurations, but no 256GB option). Internal UFS 2.1 storage could be expanded using microSD cards, which replaced SIM2. The phone launched with Android 10 with One UI 2 and received Android 13 with One UI 5 a few months ago.
Since this was a “lightweight” model, Samsung seemingly cut corners by omitting the 12MP 2x telephoto lens featured on the other S10 models. However, the Lite could have had something better – a 48MP sensor that supported lossless 2x zoom.
We say “better” because it was a larger, 1/2.0″ sensor with 0.8µm pixels (1.6µm with binning), compared to the 12MP 1/2.55″ 1.4µm sensor that was used on other S10 phones. It even had OIS, although it didn’t work particularly well when we tested it. Also, some of the best technology has been left out, no Dual Pixel AF and no dual aperture. The phone could only record 4K video at 30fps, while its siblings did 4K at 60fps.
The Lite also featured a 12MP ultra-wide camera (rather than 16MP) and also had a 5MP macro camera, bringing the number to three. Like the main camera, the selfie camera had a larger, higher-resolution sensor than the main S10 phones – 32MP 1/2.8” (0.8µm) for the Lite, 10MP 1/3” (1.22µm) for the others.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite also has several firsts. It is the first Samsung phone with 45W fast charging. Sure, the Galaxy S20 Ultra matched it a month later, but the Lite was first. And the Galaxy S10 and S10+ only charged 15W, with even the larger S10 5G peaking at 25W (as did the S20 and S20+).
However, they had wireless charging, which the Lite lacked. Still, with its large 4,500mAh battery, the phone managed an impressive 110-hour battery life rating.
The second first is less positive – the Lite was the first Galaxy S phone ever to not have a 3.5mm headphone jack. None of them do today, neither the S20 nor any that came after, but the S10 Lite was the first.
The Galaxy S10 Lite was positioned as something of a flagship killer. However, the features and pricing have been carefully designed not to target Samsung’s own flagships, but instead to go after other premium phones from more affordable brands.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite was launched at €650 in early February 2020. By comparison, the vanilla S10 was $900/€900 a year earlier, and even the diminutive S10e was $750/$750. One year is a long time in tech, and the premium S10 phones got a price cut when the S10 Lite arrived. For example, a $150 cut dropped the S10 to $750 in the US and the S10e to $600, a few months before the S10 Lite hit the same market for $650.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite was launched hand in hand with the Galaxy Note10 Lite
Of course, it wasn’t the only Lite that launched in early 2020, Samsung also introduced the Galaxy Note10 Lite. But we’ll save that for another time.
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