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Commentary Phones

Galaxy S10 vs. S10 Plus vs. S10E: Pick which phone you should buy

There's a Galaxy S10 phone for everyone. Here's how you choose.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

If you're on the fence about which Galaxy S10 phone to buy, you have a tough choice ahead of you. The Galaxy S10, Galaxy S10 Plus and Galaxy S10E are all excellent phones on sale right now. Then there's the foldable Galaxy Fold coming out April 26 and the Galaxy S10 5G that will sell some time this summer (Q2, specifically). With so many Galaxy phones, how are you supposed to choose the best one for your needs?

Now playing: Watch this: Which Galaxy S10 phone should you buy?
6:35

I'm not going to lie. This is a decision you'll ultimately have to make on your own, because only you know if screen size will be the clincher ("I just don't want a phone that big") or battery life ("I don't want to ever have to worry"), price or some other variable. 

That said, here's my breakdown of all five new Galaxys and who they're probably best for. You'll find a full specs comparison at the very end. 

Read more: Best Samsung Galaxy S10, S10 Plus and S10E cases

Galaxy S10E

Cost: $750, £669, AU$1,199
Screen size: 5.8 inches
Competition: iPhone XR ($750 at Amazon), OnePlus 6T ($629 at Amazon), Galaxy S10

What it is: E is for "Essential." The Galaxy S10E is the smallest, cheapest Galaxy S10 with the most basic specs. You still get the same core front and rear cameras, processor, Android build and design as the larger and more expensive Galaxy S10 phones, but without as much embellishment. The fingerprint scanner is in the power button. Battery is also a bit trimmed back. The Galaxy S10E review says it all: this little-but-mighty phone delivers on its promise.

Who it's for: Everyone, but particularly those who want a Galaxy S10 for less and for people who like a smaller phone.

When to buy it: Now

Now playing: Watch this: Galaxy S10 Plus is an everything phone
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Galaxy S10 Plus

Cost: $1,000, £899, AU$1,499
Screen size: 6.4 inches
Competition: iPhone XS Max ($1,100 at Amazon), LG G8 ThinQ, Pixel 3 XL, OnePlus 6T, Galaxy S10

What it is: The largest, priciest Galaxy S10 phone with the most cameras: three on the back and two on the front. Phenomenal battery life, and 512GB and 1TB options that come with a ceramic backing. This is an excellent, everything phone with great photography and few compromises. Read my full Galaxy S10 Plus review.

Who it's for: People searching for a top-notch premium phone, buyers looking for all-day reliable battery life, and those who prefer a large-screen device.

When to buy itNow.

galaxy-s10-plus-13

You'll know the Galaxy S10 Plus by its row of three rear cameras.

Angela Lang/CNET
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Galaxy S10

Cost: $900, £799, AU$1,349
Screen size: 6.1 inches
Competition: iPhone XS ($1,000 at Amazon), LG G8 ThinQ, Pixel 3 ($749 at Walmart), OnePlus 6T, Galaxy S10E, Galaxy S10 Plus

What it is: Sandwiched between the S10E and S10 Plus, the standard Galaxy S10 has the S10 Plus' power in a smaller body. But its purpose is also less clear. It's only $100 less than the S10 Plus, which isn't much of a deal. And it's $150 more than the S10E, which is such a great value. Still, it's a more than solid option for a smaller-than-Plus device. As for the cost, it's likely that this standard S10 will see a lot of seasonal sales and deals that will make the price more palatable. Read more about the Galaxy S10 here.

Who it's for: Buyers looking for a high-end Goldilocks-size phone and people taking advantage of a promotion.

When to buy itNow.

galaxy-s10-5g-demo

5G on the Galaxy S10 5G makes it possible to pinch and zoom in on a baseball player, or rotate him around in real time.

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Galaxy S10 5G

Cost: TBA, but pricier than the Galaxy S10 Plus, and will require a 5G service plan
Screen size: 6.7 inches
Competition: Every other 5G phone, Galaxy S10 Plus

What it is: Samsung's first 5G effort, which will theoretically be ready to go when 5G networks come online. It's the largest of all the Galaxy S10 phones, with four cameras on the back and two on the front, including a 3D sensor for each side. This is the only S10 that will be able to shoot portrait video (the embedded video shows it in action). I went hands-on with the Galaxy S10 5G here.

Who it's for: Early 5G adopters, though there are compelling reasons to hold off.

When to buy it: Summer in the US.

Now playing: Watch this: Watch Samsung's Galaxy Fold stress test
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Galaxy Fold

Samsung

Cost: $1,980 for the 4G model; TBA for the 5G version
Screen size: 6.7 inches
Competition: Huawei Mate X, upcoming foldable phones (including two more from Samsung?)

What it is: A foldable phone that opens into a tablet, with a 4.6-inch exterior screen, a 7.3-inch interior screen and six cameras. Running on Android 9 Pie, the idea is that you unfold it to get more detail. Multitasking embraces up to three live screen areas at a time. I called it one of the most exciting phones I've "seen" in years.

We're still waiting to touch the Galaxy Fold -- we've "seen" it behind layers of glass and in video -- I have seen enough of a competitor device, the Huawei Mate X, to sense who a foldable phone would appeal to. 

Who it's for: People who crave a conversation-starting statement device, who have cash to burn.

When to buy it: It goes on sale April 26.

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Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Fold specs, compared

Galaxy S10 range


Samsung Galaxy S10E Samsung Galaxy S10 Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus Samsung Galaxy S10 5G Samsung Galaxy Fold
Display size, resolution 5.8-inch AMOLED; 2,280x1,080-pixels 6.1-inch AMOLED; 3,040x1,440-pixels 6.4-inch AMOLED; 3,040x1,440-pixels 6.7-inch AMOLED 4.6-inch Super AMOLED; 7.3-inch QXGA+ Dynamic AMOLED
Pixel density 438ppi 550ppi 522ppi 505ppi N/A
Dimensions (Inches) 5.6 x 2.8 x 0.27 in 5.9 x 2.77 x 0.31 in 6.20 x 2.92 x 0.31 in 6.40 x 3.04 x 0.31 in N/A
Dimensions (Millimeters) 142 x 70 x 7.9 mm 149.9 x 70.4 x 7.8 mm 157.6 x 74.1 x 7.8 mm 162.6 x 77.1 x 7.94 mm N/A
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 5.3oz.; 150g 5.53 oz.; 157 g 6.17 oz.; 175 g 6.98 oz.; 198 g N/A
Mobile software Android 9.0 with Samsung One UI Android 9.0 with Samsung One UI Android 9.0 with Samsung One UI Android 9.0 with Samsung One UI Android 9.0 with Samsung One UI
Camera 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 16-megapixel (ultra wide-angle) 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 16-megapixel (ultra wide-angle), 12-megapixel (telephoto) 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 16-megapixel (ultra wide-angle), 12-megapixel (telephoto) 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 16-megapixel (ultra wide-angle), 12-megapixel (telephoto) 3D depth (HQVGA) 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 16-megapixel (ultra wide-angle), 12-megapixel (telephoto)
Front-facing camera 10-megapixel 10-megapixel 10-megapixel, 8-megapixel 10-megapixel, 3D depth (HQVGA) Two 10-megapixel, 8-megapixel 3D depth
Video capture 4K 4K 4K 4K N/A
Processor Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
Storage 128GB, 256GB 128GB, 512GB 128GB, 512GB, 1TB 256GB 512GB
RAM 6GB, 8GB 8GB 8GB, 12GB 8GB 12GB
Expandable storage Up to 512GB Up to 512GB Up to 512GB No No
Battery 3,100 mAh 3,400 mAh 4,100 mAh 4,500 mAh 4,380 mAh
Fingerprint sensor Power button In-screen In-screen TBA Power button
Connector USB-C USB-C USB-C USB-C N/A
Headphone jack Yes Yes Yes TBA N/A
Special features Wireless PowerShare; hole punch screen notch; water resistant (IP68); Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 Wireless PowerShare; hole punch screen notch; water resistant (IP68); Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 Wireless PowerShare; hole punch screen notch; water resistant (IP68); Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 Wireless PowerShare; 3D depth cameras (not for face unlock); water resistant (IP68); Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 Foldable display, wireless charging, fast charging
Price off-contract (USD) $750 $900 $1,000 TBA $1,980
Price (GBP) £669 £799 £899 TBA TBA
Price (AUD) AU$1,199 AU$1,349 AU$1,499 TBA TBA

Published March 8, 2019 at 9:23 a.m. PT and updates often.

Mentioned Above
Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus (128GB, prism black)
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