We started this review with the notion that the Galaxy S10 Lite is more of a flagship device than a mid-range one because the current price of the handset matches the S10+'s price tag of around €650. Also, it falls perfectly into the "flagship killer" category where OnePlus, Xiaomi and Realme reign. But as we went along with our testing and assessment, we understood why Samsung has put the "Lite" in the name.
Let's start with the most obvious alternative to the S10 Lite and that's the S10+. And the S10+ puts things into perspective. It has the same generation SoC (Exynos 9820 vs Snapdragon 855), a curved screen and far better camera experience. But if you don't care as much about the camera or the IP rating, the Galaxy S10 Lite provides a handful of tangible advantages over the S10+ such as the larger screen (a flat one at that in case the curved design is a turn-off), the longer battery life, the faster 25W fast charging, and the faster and more accurate under-display fingerprint reader.
Another viable option from Samsung's camp is the Note10 Lite that came out with the S10 Lite. And to our surprise, the Note10 Lite makes a compelling point not to get the S10 Lite. It has a telephoto camera, better overall camera performance, similar battery life, a 3.5 mm audio jack and an S-Pen. Sure, the chipset falls short in terms of future-proofing in 2020 but it's more than enough for day-to-day productivity. It's a full-fledged Note on the cheap while the S10 Lite's edge is the slightly brighter screen that supports HDR10+ and delivers better gaming performance.
Moving away from the Korean manufacturer's portfolio, we can't miss mentioning the OnePlus 7T. An excellent all-rounder that's not only cheaper than its Korean contender but it's also slightly faster, delivers good battery life, fast charging and far superior camera performance and versatility. Oh, and don't forget the smooth 90Hz OLED that 7T has to offer while surpassing the S10 Lite's display in terms of peak brightness at the same resolution.
And while we are in this strange "affordable flagship" category, Xiaomi's recently introduced Mi Note 10 springs to mind. It's as Samsung took Xiaomi's approach with the Mi Note 10 and flipped it at 180-degrees. While Samsung's competitor has the flagship SoC behind the wheel and an excellent OLED display, the Mi Note 10 settles for a mid-range chipset but offers flagship-grade camera versatility and quality. The display and battery life are in the same category as well so it's really up to you which aspect of these phones you prefer the most. The choice between Xiaomi's MIUI and Samsung's One UI 2.0 is going to play a deciding role too.
Looking at the Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite as an isolated phone, it's an easy recommendation. It has a flagship SoC, fairly capable camera setup, good screen, long battery life and impressive fast charging. It checks all the boxes for a flagship device while asking a little less than a new top-tier phone would.
But this is never the case in a competitive environment such as the smartphone market. The existence of the OnePlus 7T and the Galaxy S10+, which is a year-old device now and can be found at an attractive price, make the case for the Galaxy S10 Lite a hard one. The camera performance is somewhat disappointing compared to most of the contenders, it lacks the 3.5 mm audio jack and its screen is not necessarily the best on the market. Sure, it's extra-large, but there are cheaper phones with high-refresh-rate OLED screens with similar or even better image quality. Take the Realme X2 Pro, for example.
The fingerprint reader performance is also something to look out for with the S10 Lite - while improved compared to all other Samsung flagships, it's still a bit behind the competition. The lack of stereo loudspeakers might put off some potential buyers browsing the market in the €650 territory.
All in all, the Galaxy S10 Lite acts like a flagship device with a high starting price tag but fails to deliver in some key areas in which the "flagship killers" have it all. Overall, it's a great phone but it's not particularly competitive at its launch price and at this particular point in time.