Samsung Galaxy S10e vs. OnePlus 6T: Can the Flagship Killer survive?

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Samsung has kicked off 2019’s flagship rush with the big, beautiful, and supremely powerful Galaxy S10 range. Packing all-new Infinity-O displays and the Snapdragon 855, it’s the new flagship phone of the moment. Of the four revealed, the Galaxy S10e is the smallest and the cheapest — but it’s no less powerful, and it’s the phone to grab if you want the latest flagship power for a couple of hundred dollars cheaper.

But the title of “budget flagship” has been held by the OnePlus 6T for a few months, and it’s champing at the bit to get at Samsung’s challenger. Which wins when the Flagship Killer goes up against Samsung’s cheapest new flagship? We found out.

Specs

Samsung Galaxy S10e OnePlus 6T
Size 142.2 x 69.9 x 7.9 mm (5.60 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches) 157.5 x 74.8 x 8.2 mm (6.20 x 2.94 x 0.32 inches)
Weight 150 grams (5.29 ounces) 185 grams (6.53 ounces)
Screen size 5.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 6.41-inch AMOLED display
Screen resolution 2,280 x 1,080 pixels (435 pixels per inch) 2,340 x 1,080 pixels (402 pixels per inch)
Operating system Android 9.0 Pie Android 9.0 Pie
Storage space 128GB (with 6GB RAM), 256GB (with 8GB RAM) 128GB, 256GB
MicroSD card slot Yes No
Tap-to-pay services Google Pay, Samsung Pay Google Pay
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
RAM 6GB (with 128GB storage), 8GB (with 256GB storage) 6GB, 8GB, 10GB
Camera Dual 12MP (with OIS and variable aperture) and 16MP wide-angle rear, 10MP front Dual 16MP (with OIS) and 20MP (with OIS) rear, 16MP front
Video Up to 4K at 60 frames per second, 720p at 960 fps Up to 4K at 60 fps, 1080p at 240 fps, 720p at 480 fps
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.0
Ports 3.5mm headphone jack, USB-C USB-C
Fingerprint sensor Yes, side-mounted Yes, in-display
Water resistance IP68 No
Battery 3,100mAh

QuickCharge 2.0

Qi wireless charging

3,700mAh

Warp or Dash fast charging

App marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Network support T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint
Colors Flamingo Pink, Black, Blue, White, Mirror Black, Midnight Black
Price $750 $549
Buy from Samsung, Amazon OnePlus, Amazon, T-Mobile
Review score Hands-on 4 out of 5 stars

Performance, battery life, and charging

OnePlus 6T review
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Snapdragon 855 is the jewel in the S10 range’s crown, and it offers extremely powerful performance on the Galaxy S10e. While its performance against other chips remains to be seen, it’s certainly more powerful than the Snapdragon 845. The Snapdragon 845 is last year’s Qualcomm chip, and the processor powering the OnePlus 6T. There’s definitely more raw power in the S10e, so it’ll be capable of running more demanding apps, but the new chip also offers artificial intelligence (A.I.) enhancements, faster connectivity, and more.

What about battery life? The OnePlus 6T has a significantly larger battery, and while we expect the S10e to last at least a day, the 6T can usually see you through a day-and-a-half. The OnePlus 6T’s Warp Charge is also a much faster charging method than the S10e’s QuickCharge 2.0, so you’ll spend less time tethered to a charger with the OnePlus phone. However, there’s no wireless charging on the 6T, which is something you will find on the S10e. In fact, the S10e also supports Wireless PowerShare, which means it can be used to wirelessly charge any Qi-certified device.

The OnePlus 6T has an edge in battery life and recharging, but the S10e’s powerful new Snapdragon 855 and wireless charging take it beyond the other phone.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S10e

Design and durability

Let’s be absolutely clear — both of these phones are extremely beautiful. The OnePlus 6T packs a teardrop notch on the front and a subtly gorgeous glass rear. However, the S10e has 2019’s hottest new trend — the hole punch display. Samsung’s Infinity-O display really makes a huge difference, and it gives the front of the device a stunning, all-screen design.

While we’re torn on which phone is more beautiful, there’s a clear difference in durability. You’ll want a case on both of these breakable glass bodies, but there’s absolutely no water resistance on the OnePlus 6T. The Galaxy S10e comes with an IP68-rating for water and dust resistance, which means it can take a dunk into the pool without lasting damage. You’ll need to be a lot more careful around bodies of water with the OnePlus 6T.

We lean towards the S10e as being the slightly more beautiful of these two phones, but it’s a tough call to make. However, the water resistance on the S10e gives it enough of an edge to win this round.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S10e

Display

Samsung Galaxy S10e Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The OnePlus 6T has a 6.41-inch AMOLED display, running a 2,340 x 1,080-pixel resolution. It’s a great display, and it shows the usual high level of color accuracy and deep, inky blacks we’ve come to expect from AMOLED technology. But while it’s a great display, we noted it wasn’t up to the level of the last Samsung flagship phone — the Galaxy Note 9 — and we don’t think it’ll be up to the level of the S10e’s 5.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED screen. Samsung is promising the new Infinity-O Dynamic AMOLED displays provide better color accuracy and sharpness than those before — and considering last year’s Samsung flagships had some of the best screens in the world, that’s a huge hurdle the 6T can’t overcome.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S10e

Camera

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The OnePlus 6T has a strong suite of cameras. You’ll find a 16-megapixel lens with optical image stabilization (OIS) and a 20-megapixel lens (both with an aperture of f/1.7) on the back of the phone, and a 16-megapixel selfie shooter around the front. It takes some great photos, but it’s easily one of the weakest elements of this great phone.

We haven’t had much chance to play with the S10e’s camera suite yet, but the signs are promising. It’s packing a 12-megapixel primary lens with OIS and a variable aperture of f/1.5 or f/2.4 and a secondary wide-angle 16-megapixel lens with a 123 degree field-of-view and an aperture of f/2.2. A 10-megapixel selfie lens sits on the front, and all of the cameras are backed up with A.I. scene optimization and suggestions.

While we haven’t tested the S10e’s camera too much yet, on paper it’s a stronger performer than the OnePlus 6T.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S10e

Software and updates

OnePlus 6T review
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

You’ll find Android 9.0 Pie on both of these phones, but in startlingly different ways. OnePlus uses Oxygen OS as its Android skin, but it’s very close to what Google itself offers on the Pixel phones. It’s a great experience, and we enjoy using it. Samsung’s One UI is much more customized, and it’ll be more of a change for anyone who’s used to something closer to stock Android or another manufacturer UI.

That heavy customization may be great for Samsung’s brand and added features, but it means software updates can be quite slow. In fact, Samsung is one of the slowest off the mark where major Android OS updates are concerned. OnePlus isn’t as fast with updates as it used to be, but it’s still extremely speedy compared to Samsung. Thankfully, you can expect to get a similar number of updates from both, so expect Android Q and Android R, and around three years of security updates.

Winner: OnePlus 6T

Special features

OnePlus 6T review
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

You’ll find all of Android’s usual features on both of these phones, including Google Assistant and Google Lens, but both also have special features that help them stand out. On the OnePlus 6T there’s a gaming mode, a newfangled gesture navigation system, and plenty of customization options, not to mention the in-display fingerprint scanner. The S10e doesn’t have an in-display scanner — and is the only model in the S10 range to lack the new tech — so it relies on a side-mounted fingerprint scanner instead. However, there’s a gaming mode here too, Samsung’s own gesture navigation system, the Dex desktop-emulating feature, VR support with Gear VR, AR Emojis, the Bixby A.I. assistant, and even more.

Samsung’s flagship phones are just packed full of features — the S10e takes it through sheer weight of numbers.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S10e

Price

You can currently pick up the OnePlus 6T for the bargain price of $549 from OnePlus, Amazon, and T-Mobile. You can use it on Verizon too, if you buy it unlocked. The Samsung Galaxy S10e will start at $750 for 128GB of storage and 6GB of RAM. It will go up for pre-order from February 21, with a full release following on March 8. It will be available on all major U.S. carriers.

Overall winner: Samsung Galaxy S10e

Price isn’t always an indicator of quality, but in this case it absolutely is. With the power of the Snapdragon 855, a stunning set of cameras, and more special features than you shake a stick at, the Galaxy S10e was always going to be the stronger phone when compared with last year’s OnePlus 6T. If you’re choosing between these two phones, the Galaxy S10e is definitely the phone to pick.

There’s a huge $200 gap between these two phones, and we don’t blame anyone who values their money more than the latest hardware. The OnePlus still has a great processor, the design is gorgeous, and it’s well worth your consideration if $750 doesn’t say “affordable” to you. However, we wager the OnePlus 7 is on the way soon, so if you can wait, it might be worth holding onto your $550 until then.

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