Gone are the days when people used to throng to buy the latest Galaxy smartphone. Sure, Samsung being Samsung, it still sells tons of phones in India and around the world but isn’t the dominant force that it used to be. That notion gets a reality check with the latest Counterpoint Research release which claims that Samsung has now even lost its status as the second-largest smartphone brand in India in the last quarter of the decade. It must be humbling for a giant that ascended to the top at the start of the previous decade with the smashing success of its Galaxy S line of smartphones. And now comes the Galaxy S10 lite which is a brand new Galaxy S phone based on the previous Galaxy S10, but weirdly it comes days before the global unveiling of the Galaxy S20. But you know what? This phone could be a sleeper hit for the South Korean giant as it seeks the counter upstarts like OnePlus and Xiaomi with a more pocket friendlier version of its flagship phone from last year.
- It is the first Samsung flagship phone in years to be powered by a Qualcomm processor. The last one was the Galaxy S5 which was a long time ago. The presence of the Qualcomm chip gives an immediate marketing boost to the product as the Snapdragon 855 is perceived to be superior to the Exynos 9820 which has been powering Samsung flagship phones in 2019.
- The Qualcomm chip is technically superior to the Samsung Exynos because it is built using a 7nm manufacturing process and generally, it provides slightly better camera performance because of its ISP, better graphics because of a faster GPU and better battery life and connectivity because of a superior modem stack and thermals.
- This phone technically has the strongest camera system we’ve seen on a Samsung phone all year with its triple camera system. You get the 48-megapixel sensor which has been there on so many flagship phones, alongside the benefit of a wide-angle camera and a depth sensor. To top this off, Samsung has doubled down on video for this phone with a super steady camera system that has the sensors nestled inside a gimbal-like enclosure. This will be one of the best phones for shooting video, especially for people who use action cameras.
- With the Qualcomm chip, many enthusiasts can even have the GCam app mod on the phone as it uses a widely used 48-megapixel sensor, so generally, the image quality will be top-class on this phone. I tried a couple of shots and it came out to be true.
- Samsung has doubled down on the battery. Like the Note 10 plus, there is a 4,500mAh battery which also ships with a 25W charger with support for Samsung’s 45W charger. This isn’t just a phone with a huge battery, it is also one of the fastest charging phones around. It certainly has taken the fight to OnePlus and its warp charge tech. The battery life is also helped by the fact that the phone just drives a 1080p display unlike the 2k OLED screens in its Note 10+ and S10+ models.
- Call quality and reception on this phone with the support of WiFi calling has been superb, better than some of the other Samsung phones. That again hasn’t been a strong point of Samsung’s gadgets as they have been dependent on their own silicon which is admittedly inferior.
- Unlike Samsung’s A-series and M series of smartphones, these phones also get access to its Super AMOLED screens which are considered to be the best of the best. The one on the S10 lite has an infinity-O screen which is Samsung’s nomenclature for a hole punch notch. This is a full HD screen which makes it very crisp and vivid for content consumption.
- There are certain things about Samsung’s software that’s endearing. You get Samsung Pay which supports MST technology basically allowing you to use your debit and credit card without carrying them via your phone compatible with any point of sales (POS) machine.
- Security is a big strong point of the S10 Lite as it will be welcomed in corporate environments. It helps that this phone doesn’t have a Chinese origin which is a taboo in India and many global markets thanks to all the furore around Huawei. On top of that, Samsung’s Knox stack enables really stringent security which enables this phone to be literally like fort Knox.
- Last but not least is the fact that this phone isn’t using the ultrasonic fingerprint scanner that is used in the Galaxy Note 10+ and S10+. This is a more standard optical scanner which is rapid for biometrics and authentication which has been a problem with all 2019 Samsung phones.
At the end of the day, the problem for Samsung has been that its Galaxy smartphones haven’t captured the imagination of the market with a cool quotient that’s been there with iPhones, Pixels and OnePlus smartphones. Their pricing has also compounded the problem. At Rs 39,999, this is the price that’s more in line with the OnePlus 7T and iPhone XR. At that price, it things like IP67 water and dust resistance, wireless charging and curved screens don’t matter. People want fast performance, great cameras and a phone from a brand that they can flaunt in social circles — the Galaxy S10 Lite hits the nail on the head.