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Samsung Galaxy S10E vs. iPhone XR: two budget flagships compared

Samsung Galaxy S10E vs. iPhone XR: two budget flagships compared


Parsing the cheaper options

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Photo by James Bareham (left) Amelia Holowaty Krales (right)

Along with the new $899 Samsung Galaxy S10 and $999 Galaxy S10 Plus, Samsung is introducing a slightly more budget-friendly phone: the Galaxy S10E. While not the most surprising thing ever, following the release of Apple’s popular iPhone XR in late 2018, it’s encouraging that Samsung isn’t entirely pushing high-end smartphones out of reach.

Both the Galaxy S10E and iPhone XR start at $749, which is probably no coincidence on Samsung’s part. (That’s actually a higher starting price than the $720 Galaxy S9 last year, which had a higher-res curved screen.) But whether you’re focused on the design, or the specs inside, both of these phones have most of the selling points of their more expensive counterparts. Of course, there are plenty of compromises made to achieve a lower price in both cases, but they might not matter to you — even as a phone enthusiast.

We haven’t reviewed the Galaxy S10E quite yet, but if you’ve got $749 burning a hole in your pocket today and are stuck between Samsung and Apple, here’s what we can tell you today: on specs alone, the Galaxy S10E looks like a contender. But as always, your choice of operating system will probably trump specs.

The Galaxy S10E runs Android 9 Pie — specifically a version with Samsung’s polished One UI on top. If you’re switching from iOS, or haven’t used a Samsung phone before, it’d take some getting used to, but The Verge’s Dieter Bohn is already calling it “the best software [Samsung] ever put on a smartphone.” The iPhone XR runs the latest iOS 12, which unlike Samsung’s software, isn’t a radical redesign of what was already available. Previous or current iPhone users will easily find their way around, and those new to iOS should get on alright.

As you’ll see below, the Galaxy S10E and iPhone XR each have the latest processors found in their more expensive counterparts. To achieve a lower price point, cuts have been made to screen resolution, RAM, internal storage, and other features, though you’ll have a largely similar experience thanks to a fast processor that can hang with the leading phones.

Samsung Galaxy S10E vs. Apple iPhone XR

CategorySamsung Galaxy S10EApple iPhone XR
Starting price$749$749
OSAndroid 9 Pie (One UI)iOS 12
Display5.8-inch Full HD+ (2,280 x 1,080) AMOLED 6.1-inch HD (1,792 x 828) LCD
Dimensions (mm)69.9 x 142.2 x 7.9mm75.7 x 150.9 x 8.3mm
Battery capacity3,100mAh2,945mAh
ProcessorUS: Snapdragon 855A12 Bionic
RAM6, 8GB depending on configuration3GB
Storage128, 256GB (microSD support allows up to 512GB)64, 128, 256GB
PortsUSB-C charging port, 3.5mm headphone jackLightning charging port
Rear cameras12MP (variable F/1.5-2.4, OIS, auto focus) wide angle, 16MP (F/2.2, fixed focus) ultra wide12MP (F/1.8, OIS, auto focus) wide-angle
Front cameras10MP (F/1.9, auto focus, 80 degree)7MP (F/2.2)
BiometricsSide-mounted fingerprint sensor, face unlockFace ID unlock
Wireless chargingYes, also has 4.5W reverse wireless chargingYes