The Samsung Galaxy S10e versus the Apple iPhone XR: Battle of the Budget Flagships

Behind the gushing praise for the S10 and S10 plus and the wows blaring towards the Galaxy Fold, Samsung also unveiled what they have referred to as a more economical flagship device – the Samsung Galaxy S10e. This is a nod to Apple’s endeavour in recent years from the SE era to last year’s Apple iPhone XR device which introduced users to high-end technology with a ‘somewhat’ reduced price tag.

The low-end of the premium flagship marketplace is considered a sweet spot between the mid-level and the high-end market in which price conscious consumers who are incredibly brand/device loyal can find the right fit for their own smartphone needs.

This is what Samsung is betting on when it unveiled the Samsung Galaxy S10e. We should start off by stating clearly that £669 for the 128GB version really isn’t budget in any way, shape or form. A handset that costs half of the UK’s average monthly salary is perhaps not quite the right handset for that prised moniker. However, budget has been deployed in a somewhat false context – this isn’t about the smartphone budget range which has been hosed down thanks to Chinese white label handsets flooding Amazon, Carphone Warehouse and eBay alike.

This is about a new segment, the so-called budget flagship marketplace – the entry-level flagship experience.

Let’s Compare the S10e with the Apple iPhone XR

Let’s start off with price. Samsung has unveiled the Samsung Galaxy S10e with 128GB storage with a special offer of free pair of Samsung’s Galaxy Buds wireless earphones for £669. Apple’s iPhone XR will set you back £749 for a 64GB version with wired EarPod lighting connector headphones. That’s a saving of £80 with free wireless headphones and double the storage (plus MicroSD allowances as well) over the rival Apple XR.

Again, this isn’t budget – a budget handset on average costs around £89-189 in the UK. This is about flagship entry-level handsets – they include the basic touches that make the flagship devices great with a “somewhat” accessible price tag. However, this is still a big chunk of change. So, we need to find out more about the specs before we even consider shelling out on these handsets.

How do the specifications stack up?

The design is minimalist. The S10, S10 Plus and S10e all have slim bezel design layouts. However, the budget flagship has a more pronounced bezel design. This is similar to the Apple iPhone XR which also has a well-defined bezel that stops the display from having an edge-to-edge experience.

There is a big design difference over the ‘notches’. The Apple iPhone XR has a traditional notch at the top centre of the display. However, the Samsung Galaxy S10e has followed the same style design principles of its elder siblings by co-opting the “hole punch” design which allows a greater area of screen availability for users to enjoy.

The S10e has a Premium AMOLED Screen

The Samsung Galaxy S10e has a Dynamic AMOLED HDR10+ display powered by its 2280 x 1080 resolution display technology. The screen size is 5.8-inches. This outshines from the iPhone XR which has a 6.1-inch display but is powered by LCD display technology running at 1792 x 828 resolutions. This makes it a marked difference in terms of visual excellence.

The S10e has a bigger battery than the S9

The S10e has a powerful 3,100mAh battery (which is larger than the Galaxy S9) whereas the Apple iPhone XR trails with a 2,945mAh battery.

Variable processors for the UK market again

Samsung has opted for the Snapdragon chipset – well if you’re lucky enough to be in the USA or China otherwise EMEA (including the UK) residents will, off the shelves, get Samsung’s own Exynos chipset. However, the aged (in relation) A12 Bionic chipset in the Apple iPhone XR whilst technically slower is more intuitive when it comes to system management settings.

You can't futureproof your S10e by picking higher RAM

The RAM on offer from the Samsung Galaxy S10e is a dependable 6GB which easily suppresses the 3GB on offer from Apple’s iPhone XR, but this might put some off that they can't choose a higher RAM version. This shouldn't however, as 6GB RAM will be perfectly serviceable until the next upgrades come out.

Expandable to over 1TB

The same can be said about the storage situation as the Apple iPhone XR starts with 64GB whilst the Samsung Galaxy S10e kicks off at 128GB of storage. However, Samsung allows users to use MicroSD storage up to 512GB whereas Apple doesn’t like its users using MicroSD storage.


Both offer solid rear camera setups. The difference really surrounds the lens technologies used by the cameras. For example, Samsung’s Galaxy S10e utilises a 12MP variable F/1.5-2.4 OIS autofocus wide angle lens paired with a 16MP F/2.2 fixed focus ultra-wide lens. This provides the S10e with a greater depth experience over the Apple. The Apple iPhone XR has a humble 12MP F/1.8 OIS auto-focus and wide-angle lens array. The depth of the Samsung allows for greater capacity for smartphone photography overall.


The biometric security dynamics of the Samsung Galaxy S10e are less of a game changer than the rest of the S10 family. However, without the ‘in-screen’ fingerprint sensors the S10e has decided to utilise a side-mounted fingerprint sensor and iris scanner. Apple’s iPhone XR has gone full Face ID unlock and ditched the fingerprint tech altogether.

The Samsung has a higher IP rating

Waterproofing is another issue that highlights the legacy of the iPhone XR as its IP67 standard is pipped by Samsung’s usage of IP68 standards. This is a nod to the differentiated lifecycle.

Reverse charging

Both allow for wireless charging. However, Samsung is less ‘picky’ about charge stations and also allows for a 4.5W reverse-charging wireless function that can help charge your free Galaxy Buds earphones along with your mates iPhone!

An Improved UI with a focus on wellbeing

Android 9.0 on Samsung’s Galaxy S10e is improved through Samsung’s latest UI developments – the One UI technology. The improved battery management software and overall wellbeing settings give it an edge. However, Apple’s legendary iOS (current version 12) is the standard bearer for easy-to-use intuitive smartphone OS experiences.

A verdict, of sorts…

Samsung’s Galaxy S10e is a phenomenal “flagship budget” handset. It does beat Apple’s iPhone XR. However, a caveat is required. The XR was released in September 2018 whilst the Samsung was released in February 2019 – that near six-month gap really gives a tech company an advantage! At any rate, this isn’t a fair comparison. However, as this is the only flagship budget from Apple it does get beaten by the Samsung Galaxy S10e – on performance, on specs, on battery and storage – and draws on Operating Systems!

The Samsung Galaxy S10e is for a dedicated Samsung fan-base as much as the Apple iPhone XR – the ‘budget’ tag had been labelled rather liberally and the cost is restrictive. However, those upgrading who aren’t Apple or Samsung super fans, who are new to the flagship experience, could find the Samsung Galaxy S10e that is cheaper than the premium flagships available from both manufacturers. This is the real target of this handset.

Andrew Marchant

See more posts by Andrew Marchant

iPhone 15 Environmental Report

iPhone 15 Environmental Report Reviewed

Once again we have reviewed Apple's iPhone 15 lineup Environmental Reports in order to see whether the iPhones are more eco-friendly.

5 Min Read
Three people on their smartphones and ignoring each other

What Makes Us Addicted To Our Phones?

Ever wonder what’s luring you back onto your phone in the unholy hours of the night? Or feel like you could’ve sworn you heard a mysterious vibration, but no notification is to be seen? Well keep reading to uncover what is keeping you addicted to your phone…

5 Min Read
man panicking about iphone depreciation

Pro or Pass: The Impact Of iPhone Depreciation

We did what we do best - a comparison of first year depreciation rates of the iPhone 13 and iPhone 14 series to predict what the first 12 months for the iPhone 15 lineup will be like. Read on to find out which iPhone 15 to pick to avoid faster depreciation.

5 Min Read