Skip to main content

Nokia 9 PureView vs. Galaxy S10e: Can Nokia shut down Samsung?

Nokia 9 PureView on a table
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Flagship phones are increasing in price, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a phone with flagship specs for less than $800. Samsung has introduced a new “affordable” tier in its flagship S10-range, and the newly minted Galaxy S10e offers flagship specs and features for $750. But Samsung’s not alone here. Mobile veteran Nokia has finally released the long-awaited Nokia 9 PureView, and the photography-focused phone comes with an incredible penta-lens camera sure to attract shutterbugs. (We should know. Thanks to a week of exclusive access, we took the first photos with the camera.)

But which is better? When your choice comes down to a $700 phone and a $750 phone, are there that many differences? We took a look at both to find out.


Nokia 9 PureView
Samsung Galaxy S10e
Size 155 × 75 × 8 mm (6.10 × 2.95 × 0.31 inches) 142.2 × 69.9 × 7.9 mm (5.60 × 2.75 × 0.31 inches)
Weight 172 grams (6.07 ounces) 150 grams (5.29 ounces)
Screen size 5.99-inch P-OLED 5.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Screen resolution 2,880 × 1,440 pixels (538 pixels per inch) 2,280 × 1,080 pixels (435 pixels per inch)
Operating system Android 9.0 Pie Android 9.0 Pie
Storage space 128GB 128GB (with 6GB RAM), 256GB (with 8GB RAM)
MicroSD card slot No Yes
Tap-to-pay services Google Pay Google Pay, Samsung Pay
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
RAM 6GB 6GB (with 128GB storage), 8GB (with 256GB storage)
Camera Penta-lens 12MP (two RGB lenses & three monochrome lenses) all with f/1.8 aperture rear, 20MP front Dual 12MP (with OIS and variable aperture) and 16MP wide-angle rear, 10MP front
Video Up to 4K at 60 frames per second, 1080p at 60 fps Up to 4K at 60 frames per second, 720p at 960 fps
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.0
Ports USB-C USB-C, headphone jack
Fingerprint sensor Yes, in-display Yes, side-mounted
Water resistance IP67 IP68
Battery 3,320mAh

QuickCharge 3.0

Qi wireless charging


QuickCharge 2.0

Qi wireless charging

App marketplace Google Play Google App Store
Network support T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint
Colors Midnight Blue Flamingo Pink, Black, Blue, White,
Price $699 $750
Buy from Nokia, B&H Samsung, Amazon
Review score Hands-on review Hands-on review

Performance, battery life, and charging

Samsung Galaxy s10e hands-on
Samsung Galaxy S10e Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

When you buy a flagship phone, you expect flagship power, and that’s exactly what you’re getting here. The Galaxy S10e comes with the Snapdragon 855 processor, which puts it at the top of the charts in pure power. It’s very capable, of handling most games and apps without breaking a sweat. Due to its long development process, the Nokia 9 PureView packs last year’s flagship processor — the Snapdragon 845 — but it’s still a powerful chip, and you’ll still get super-smooth performance from it. However, losing out on the latest processing power may turn off some prospective buyers.

We haven’t put these phones through our extensive battery tests yet, but we’re expecting both will last about a day with normal usage. The Nokia 9 will charge faster though, thanks to the inclusion of QuickCharge 3.0. Both have Qi wireless charging, so you can leave them on convenient wireless charging pads.

While both phones are neck-and-neck in battery life, the S10e’s stronger processor gives it a real edge.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S10e

Design and durability

As you might expect, the S10e broadly follows the same design trends set by the other S10 models, but there are some differences. There’s no curved Edge display, so it’s flat, which makes it look a little more like the iPhone XR. The hole-punch camera and glass build are still there, so it’s just as attractive as the S10 and S10 Plus. The glass is going to be fragile, so a case is a good idea, but it’s also bolstered by an IP68 rating for water-resistance.

There’s no hole-punch or notched display on the Nokia 9, just slim bezels at the top and bottom of the screen. Despite the lack of recent “must-have” design trends like a notch or hole-punch, we don’t think the Nokia 9 is ugly. On the contrary, it’s sleek and has a unique attractiveness. The penta-lens rear camera is arranged in a “spider eye” shape, which may put some people off, but we think it adds to the Nokia 9’s unique flair. Like the S10e, the glass will be fragile, but there’s water-resistance here too, though it’s a lesser IP67 rating.

These phones both sport beautiful designs, but the slightly more modern look and the higher water-resistance rating swings this for the S10e.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S10e


Samsung Galaxy s10e hands-on
Image used with permission by copyright holder

You’ll find beautiful OLED displays on both phones. The Nokia 9 sports a 5.99-inch POLED display with a 2,880 x 1,440-pixel resolution, so it’s sharp and beautiful. However, we don’t think it’s a match for the Dynamic AMOLED displays on the new S10 range. The S10e’s 5.8-inch display comes with a lower 2,280 x 1,080-pixel resolution, but it strips out 42 percent of blue light, supports HDR10+, and has that hole-punch selfie camera. While the Nokia 9’s display is great, Samsung’s Dynamic AMOLED may be the best screen on the market right now.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S10e


Nokia 9 hands-on review
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The S10e is the only phone in Samsung’s new range to include two lenses, and they’re very capable. You’ll find a 12-megapixel lens with an f/1.5 to f/2.4 variable aperture, paired with a 16-megapixel ultrawide-angle secondary lens. It also comes with A.I. Optimizer and Shot Suggestions to make sure you’re taking great photos. It can record video in 4K as well.

But photography is totally the Nokia 9’s wheelhouse, and the five-lens rear camera makes that obvious. Each is a 12-megapixel lens — two with RGB sensors, and three with monochrome — and uniquely, the phone takes pictures with all five lenses at once. That’s a lot of extra image data, and it’s handled by the so-called “Lux Capacitor” inside the modified Snapdragon 845 processor. While we haven’t played with it much yet, it seems to excel at taking shots that are true to life in color and sharpness. Best of all, you even get the choice to edit RAWs taken with the camera in the specialized Adobe Lightroom app, giving you loads of control over your shots.

We need more time to be absolutely sure, but it seems the Nokia 9 is meant for photography enthusiasts, and we’re provisionally giving it the win.

Winner: Nokia 9 PureView

Software and updates

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The S10e comes with Samsung’s One UI layered over Android 9.0 Pie. It’s probably the best UI Samsung’s ever made, and new additions include a dark mode and tweaks intended to make elements of the UI more easily accessible. Whether you prefer Samsung’s One UI to Android One on the Nokia 9 is definitely a matter of opinion, though we are partial to the stock Android 9.0 Pie interface Nokia offers.

However, update speed isn’t an opinion, and Samsung continues to struggle with providing timely updates, often lagging months behind the competition. On the flip side, Nokia is proving to be one of the speediest and most prolific of updaters, having updated 10 phones to Pie to date. The Android One program also guarantees two years of Android version updates and three years of security updates. Nokia wins this round.

Winner: Nokia 9 PureView

Special features

Nokia 9 hands-on review
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The bare-bones nature of Android One is what attracts a lot of people to it, but the Nokia 9 still has some special features to offer. Most of them concern the camera, and outside of the huge control over your images that RAW editing in Lightroom affords, you’ll also be able to alter the Depth Map of your JPG photos, so you can completely change the focus of the image. It also features one of 2019’s biggest trends — an in-display fingerprint scanner. It’s not as good as the ultrasonic in-display scanners on the S10 and S10 Plus, though.

The S10e can’t play that trump card, as it uses a side-mounted fingerprint scanner instead. However, there are still a lot of features on offer here, even if they are extremely niche. There’s DeX desktop mode support, Samsung’s own A.I. assistant Bixby, and the Wireless PowerShare feature that lets you recharge someone else’s phone with your own. There’s also Samsung Pay and Gear VR support.

You can’t say the S10e isn’t packed with special features, but are they essential? Unless you absolutely love one of them, they probably shouldn’t have much of a bearing on your choice. We’re leaving this as a tie for now.

Winner: Tie


The limited-edition Nokia 9 PureView will be available for purchase starting March 3. It will be available for $599 that first week, but afterwards will go back up to $699. The Galaxy S10e is currently available for pre-order, and will be shipping starting March 8. It’ll set you back $750 for the 128GB variant.

Overall winner: Samsung Galaxy S10e

The upgraded power of the Snapdragon 855 and Samsung’s Dynamic AMOLED display have secured the win for the cheapest member of Samsung’s latest flagship range. It also has a beautiful design and lots of extras. We think that, for most people, the Samsung Galaxy S10e will be the better choice.

But don’t be fooled by thinking it was an easy decision — the Nokia 9 is neck-and-neck with it in many areas, and though the S10e’s processor is objectively more powerful, you aren’t likely to notice much of a hit to performance on the Nokia 9’s older hardware. Photographers will love that penta-lens camera and the Nokia 9 PureView also boasts slick Android One software and a limited-edition allure.

Editors' Recommendations

Mark Jansen
Mark Jansen is an avid follower of everything that beeps, bloops, or makes pretty lights. He has a degree in Ancient &…
The best Samsung Galaxy S10 cases and covers for 2022
Samsung Galaxy S10 cases - Totallee Thin Case

The Samsung Galaxy S10 may no longer be Samsung's top phone, but you might not know that by looking at it. It's a gorgeous piece of design, with an almost seamless glass design, all-encompassing display, and powerful specs that show you can have beauty and brains at the same time.

The Samsung Galaxy S10 is all about maximizing screen space with its edge-to-edge display and lack of bezel. The 6.1-inch Super AMOLED display and high screen-to-body ratio are ideal if you use your phone to watch videos or read news stories. Unfortunately, it's the Samsung Galaxy S10’s attractive design that makes it susceptible to damage. Protecting your phone’s display with a case or cover is a simple and effective way of preventing scratches and cracks. Using a phone case or cover for your Samsung Galaxy 10 is also a fun way of personalizing your device.

Read more
The best Samsung Galaxy Note 9 screen protectors
Galaxy Note 9 blue offset

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 features a 6.4-inch screen with an AMOLED display. The quality of the image and color accuracy are two features that make the Galaxy Note 9 stand out from other phones, even though it isn’t the newest model.

With its premium glass and metal build, the last thing you want is for the screen to be damaged. Accidents happen, which is why it is so essential to protect the screen with the best cover. If you own a Samsung Galaxy Note 9, investing in a screen protector will ensure that you keep getting the stunning image quality that sets this phone apart. A screen protector is a simple accessory that prevents scratches and other issues that can affect your display.

Read more
The best Samsung Galaxy S10e cases and covers
Samsung Galaxy s10e hands-on

The Samsung Galaxy S21 range may be the newest S-range on the block, but that doesn't mean that the Galaxy S10 line isn't still a tempting option. With enough power to run anything you throw at them and good looks to turn heads for years to come, the Galaxy S10 line is still a fantastic choice if you're looking for a new smartphone. The Samsung Galaxy S10e is the smallest and cheapest of the S10 line, but it packs the same level of high performance as its bigger brethren. Plus, the dual-camera system produces some exceptional shots.

To serve you faithfully, it's going to need some protection. Smartphones risk a lot of everyday damage, and even the hardiest of phones can risk broken screens, scuffs, and device-ending drops. While you can't keep your device protected against everything, a protective case can reduce the damage from impacts and scratches, making it more likely your phone makes it to your next upgrade. Here's a list of the best Samsung Galaxy S10e cases available right now.

Read more