With their prices skyrocketing each year, flagship smartphones have started to pull out of the reaches of the general public. Each new model comes with some unique tech that also happens to be the latest one at the time. This results in manufacturers bumping up the price tag. So much so that now a well-specced unit from Apple, Samsung and even Huawei would set you back over $1000. Does that mean it’s impossible for common folks to get their hands on the latest and greatest?
Well, no. The manufacturers obviously thought of all these things before increasing their prices. They knew their sales would suffer and therefore, came up with an ingenious solution. Enter Budget Flagships. They have almost all the bells and whistles of their over $1000 counterparts, just turned down a notch. The two hottest budget flagships on the market right now are Samsung’s Galaxy S10e and Apple’s iPhone XR. How do they stack against each other? Let’s have a look.
The performance is the first thing anyone would consider when pitting 2 phones against each other. And in this case, it’s hard to pick a winner. The S10e comes with Snapdragon 855 while the XR comes with A12 Bionic chipset. Both have a 7nm process and are the best ones from their respective manufacturers. The S10e will also be available with an 8nm Exynos 9820, only on the international variants though.
As far as Storage and RAM are concerned, it looks like Samsung has won on paper. The S10e is available in 2 configurations: 128Gb storage with 6GB RAM and 256GB storage with 8GB RAM. Oh, and you also get expandable storage of up to 512GB via a MicroSD slot. Compared to that, the iPhone comes in 3 storage tiers: 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB. The RAM is fixed on all three variants at just 3GB.
Now in this day and age, a 3GB RAM might be considered a joke. However, Apple has proven, over the years, that iPhones can indeed manage with less RAM due to better software optimization. Almost as better as equivalent Android phones with 6-8GB of RAM. This means its really much of a toss-up performance-wise. Buy either one and it’ll last you 2 years easily.
Battery life on a smartphone is just as, if not more, important as performance. In fact, all the performance would be useless if your budget flagship constantly requires topping off. Fortunately, this isn’t the case for either these smartphones. The S10e and the XR come with 3100mAh and 1945mAh batteries respectively. However, the raw numbers are not always accurate in this case.
That being said, the iPhone with its better software optimization edges out the Galaxy S10e. After a full-blown power usage on both devices, the XR lasted an impressive 11 hours while the Galaxy only managed 7 hours. It is to note that 7 hours isn’t bad for continuous power usage. In a real-life scenario, both phones will last you all day without the need to charge easily.
However, Samsung redeems itself when it comes to charging the batteries. The S10e comes out of the box with a 25W Adaptive Fast Charger that can manage 0-50% in just 30 minutes thanks to USB-C. On the other hand, the iPhone still has the aging Lightning port and comes with a measly 5W charger that takes ages to charge. Both phones can wirelessly charge, though the S10e has the added benefit of reverse wireless charging as well.
In the rear camera department, the S10e dominates. It comes with a 12-megapixel primary shooter with OIS, autofocus and a variable aperture of F/1.5-2.4. Additionally, it also has a secondary ultra-wide angle unit with 16-megapixels and an aperture of F/2.2. Compared to that, the XR just has a single shooter of 12-megapixels with OIS, autofocus and a fixed aperture of F/1.8.
Then we come to the front cameras. The S10e comes with a 10-megapixel unit with autofocus and F/1.9 aperture. The iPhone XR, in comparison, has a fixed-focus 7-megapixel camera with F/2.2.
On paper, it looks like its Samsung’s victory, however, real-life pictures may differ. There’s a chance you might like the overall look of the iPhone camera better than Samsung’s regardless of the features it bosts. To truly know what you prefer, I’d recommend Googling picture samples from both devices before making a decision.
OS & Security
The S10e comes with Android 9.0 (Pie) running OneUI while the iPhone XR comes with iOS 12. Both operating systems are the latest and greatest you can get from Google and Apple. Both have their pros and cons: Android is more customizable, has more features and has a wider variety of apps. iOS is more optimized, gets updated for longer and more simplified. It really depends on what you prefer as both operating systems cater to different types of needs.
To secure your device, you only have 1 option on the iPhone. It is, however, adequate. The iPhone XR comes with Apple’s FaceID, which happens to be the best face unlock out there. What it does is, use infrared to project millions of dots on your face to make a 3D map of it. This allows it to not only work flawlessly in the dark but also impossible to fool. However, you don’t get anything else, as if you needed it.
Samsung, however, uses a conventional approach with the S10e. Unlike its older siblings, the S10/S10+, the budget flagship does not get the revolutionary in-display Ultrasonic Fingerprint Scanner. Instead, it gets a regular optical fingerprint sensor on the power button. It works as fast, is secure but isn’t much of a wow factor compared to FaceID. Samsung has also ditched their Iris Scanner with the S10 lineup which leaves the S10e with just the fingerprint scanner.
Lastly, we come to the price. Both phones start at $749. You should know, however, that the base iPhone XR only has 64GB storage compared to S10e’s 128GB. If you get the 128GB version, it’ll definitely cost more. Price wise, I’d go with the S10e, primarily because of the fast charger and 128GB storage as base.