Samsung hasn’t had it easy off-late, especially in India. As per the latest Counterpoint research report, it hasn’t only been dethroned as the number one smartphone brand in India,
but now, it has even lost the number 2 spot to Vivo. On the premium side of the market, it has lost a lot of ground to OnePlus and now faces a stiff challenge from a reinvigorated Apple. With that background, Samsung will launch quite a strange phone on February 4th, just a week before the launch of its 2020 flagship which has been dubbed the Galaxy S20. I’m talking about the Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite which has some repackaged elements from the Galaxy S10 which was launched around about this time last year, and some newer much more promising bits at a price that’s right up in the face of the sterling OnePlus 7T.

What’s in a processor?

Samsung makes a huge hue and cry about the fact this phone uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chip. Now that’s not a big deal for most phone manufacturers, but it is for Samsung. This is the first phone in India Samsung has released with the Snapdragon 855 chip. Now compared to its own Exynos 9820 on the Note 10+, this isn’t even an upgrade in the truest sense. However, the reason this is interesting is that it gives the Galaxy Note 10 Lite a marketing advantage as most consumers are aware of Qualcomm’s silicon. More than this, there are some minor performance gains to be had as well.

For instance, call quality on this phone using the same Airtel SIM seems perceptibly better than the Galaxy Note 10 Plus. The camera app also has more natural colours which could be because of the Qualcomm ISP instead of Samsung’s own Exynos pipeline.

Enthusiasts who swear by the OnePlus phones because of their hackability can also install the GCam app which works only with phones that have Qualcomm chips. Other advantages are likely to be, slightly better battery life which should be prodigious considering the 4,500mAh, better thermals and better graphics for gaming considering the superior GPU in the phone.

A kickass camera system

Samsung really talks up the triple camera system on this phone on the back. It has a 48-megapixel main sensor, 12-megapixel wide-angle and 5-megapixel depth sensor. Now, these are pretty standard stuff for a top of the line smartphone, but Samsung has a special optical stabilisation system which includes the sensor stacked on the stabiliser like a gimbal which makes for super stable video. I’ve not tried the camera a lot as I only used the phone
for a couple of hours, but the initial video seems very promising.

This is important because Samsung’s phones have a proven track record of being good at video, which isn’t a forte of the OnePlus 7T. The S10 Lite amps this advantage to a different degree which makes this is an even better phone. And mind you, the core camera is no slouch for still and with the presence of the Qualcomm chip, you can also hack the GCam app for some Pixel like picture quality.

What about the OnePlus?

Well, there are advantages to owning a OnePlus 7T. Its high refresh rate display is certainly better than the one on the Samsung, even though the Galaxy s10 lite is no slouch with its Super AMOLED 6.7-inch screen, but having that 90Hz refresh rate is a game-changer.

Design-wise, you’re looking at two really well-built phones. But it is the same old chocolate bar shaped glass slap, aluminium frame and glass back formula. It’s pretty even stevens here.

Samsung’s software is also crummy at best. Sure, it is based on Android 10 and the new One UI interface is good but is no match for the supple and clean Oxygen OS that you get from a OnePlus 7T. One UI is also riddled with software from Samsung that’s average at best.
For instance, Samsung’s keyboard is inferior to the Gboard which is preloaded on the S10 lite. You also need to deal with Bixby which is Samsung’s inferior assistant. Once you’ve used the Google Assistant, there is no going back.

Samsung’s software is almost never updated quickly, especially when compared to OnePlus’s Oxygen OS, so that’s also something to be mindful about.

However, there are some unique things about the Samsung experience — which is a function of its hardware might. You get Samsung Pay, the full-stack version with MST technology which literally turns your phone into a credit card. You also get Samsung Knox which is its
security stack that makes this one of the more secure Android smartphones you can buy.

Price and availability?

You’re looking at a phone that costs Rs 39,999 at MRP price which is around about the same as the OnePlus 7T. However, in typical Samsung style, there are launch time cashback offers and there is also a screen replacement offer for Rs 1,999. This is a very competitive price and certainly, it is shaping up to be one of the nicer phones Samsung has released in the recent past.

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