iPhone-11-hands-on
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The iPhone 11 is here, and it’s the iPhone XR successor we always wanted. Apple built on the iPhone XR’s solid base, adding another capable camera lens and updating the internal specs with the Californian company’s latest A13 Bionic processor. It’s a powerful and capable device, and when you throw Apple’s great looking design into the mix, it all adds up to a fantastic $699 smartphone.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? But there’s more to consider in this price range than just the iPhone 11. Samsung has dived into a similar price range with the Samsung Galaxy S10e, a $750 phone that balances flagship power, a great looking design, and some exceptionally capable cameras. It’s a serious contender in the battle to become your pocket pal, and it’s easy to get confused over which is better. Well, don’t worry. We’ve done all the analysis and crunched all the numbers. Here’s how the iPhone 11 stacks up against the Galaxy S10e.

Specs

iPhone 11
Samsung Galaxy S10e
Size 150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3 mm (5.94 x 2.98 x 0.33 inches) 142.2 x 69.9 x 7.9 mm (5.60 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches)
Weight 194 grams (6.84 ounces) 150 grams (5.29 ounces)
Screen size 6.1-inch Liquid Retina HD IPS LCD 5.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Screen resolution 1,792 x 828 pixels (326 pixels per inch) 2,280 x 1,080 pixels (438 pixels per inch)
Operating system iOS 13 Android 9.0 Pie
Storage space
MicroSD card slot No Yes, up to 1TB
Tap-to-pay services Apple Pay Google Pay, Samsung Pay
Processor Apple A13 Bionic Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
RAM 4GB (TBC)
Camera Dual 12MP wide-angle and 12MP ultra wide-angle (with OIS) rear, 12MP TrueDepth lens 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 240 fps Up to 4K at 60 frames per second, 720p at 960 fps
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.0
Ports Lightning USB-C, headphone jack
Fingerprint sensor No Yes, side-mounted
Water resistance IP68 IP68
Battery Up to 17 hours video playback

Fast charge capable (Additional charger needed)

Qi wireless charging

3,100mAh

QuickCharge 2.0

Qi wireless charging

App marketplace Apple App Store Google Play Store
Network support T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint
Colors Black, Green, Yellow, Purple, Red, White Flamingo Pink, Black, Blue, White,
Price $699 $750
Buy from Apple Samsung, Amazon
Review score Hands-on review 4 out of 5 stars

Performance, battery life, and charging

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

Thanks to the high powered processors in both of these phones, you’ll get smooth flagship performance regardless of your choice. The iPhone 11 is powered by Apple’s A13 Bionic processor, which offers all the grunt you’ll need for modern 3D games and resource-heavy apps. While we haven’t completed our tests yet, the A13 is probably superior to the Galaxy S10e’s Snapdragon 855 in benchmark results — though it’s unlikely there’s a big difference in day-to-day use.

As a quick aside though, there’s a significant difference in the storage options offered. While the iPhone 11 has the option for 256GB of storage, the $699 model only comes with 64GB, while the S10e starts from 128GB. In addition, the S10e has room for a MicroSD card, offering up to an extra 1TB of storage. It’s something to keep in mind if you save a lot of movies or take a lot of pictures.

Moving over to the battery life, the iPhone 11 improves on its predecessor with solid all-day battery life. Battery life is definitely a weak point for the S10e though, with Samsung’s phone just about making it through the day. Both have wireless and fast charging, but only the S10e comes with a fast charger in the box — Apple only includes a slow 5W charger with the iPhone 11, which is a major disappointment.

Despite the slower charging, we’re giving this round to the iPhone 11 for its larger battery and strong performance.

Winner: Apple iPhone 11

Design and durability

The iPhone 11 looks almost identical to the iPhone XR and that’s no bad thing — unless you dislike the notch or the significant camera bumps on the back. The S10e is slightly smaller than the iPhone 11, but that’s no bad thing for those with smaller hands. The bezels on the iPhone 11 are slightly thicker than the S10e, but that is contrasted with the iPhone 11’s great looking back panel, while the S10e’s rear looks a little dated.

What of durability? The glass on both phones means you’ll probably want an iPhone 11 case or an S10e case regardless, but there is significant water-resistance thanks to the IP68-ratings on both. The S10e also has a headphone jack.

This category is too close to call. Though we prefer the iPhone overall, the camera bump spoils it somewhat — but the S10e isn’t perfect either. This has to be a tie.

Winner: Tie

Display

Samsung Galaxy s10e hands-on

The iPhone 11 is sporting the same 6.1-inch Liquid Retina (also known as LCD) display as the iPhone XR. The 1,792 x 828 resolution is good, but it’s nowhere near as crisp as the S10e’s 2,280 x 1,080 resolution. The S10’s Dynamic AMOLED screen is also just generally superior to the iPhone, with inky blacks and bright colors only really possible on an AMOLED display. The punch-hole Infinity-O display will also be preferable to anyone who dislikes the iPhone 11’s notch. The S10e wins hands down.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S10e

Camera

iphone 11 review hands on jc blue camera 5x zoom 1
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The Galaxy S10e is packing two lenses in its main rear camera module, a 12-megapixel main lens with variable aperture and optical image stabilization and a 16-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens for capturing those wide landscapes. It’s a great camera that takes excellent photos — but it can struggle with poorly lit scenes.

While we haven’t tested it yet, the iPhone 11 shouldn’t struggle with low lighting as it comes with Apple’s new Night Mode. It also adds an ultra-wide-angle 12-megapixel lens to the iPhone XR’s 12-megapixel lens, and it’s an impressive-looking setup. The biggest new addition is probably to the front, though. The TrueDepth camera has been upgraded to 12-megapixels, but it can now also take slow-motion selfies (slofies), a feature that is likely to become an Instagram favorite.

The S10e has a solid camera suite, but we’re expecting the iPhone 11’s camera to just pip it to the post in terms of overall camera quality. The iPhone takes this.

Winner: Apple iPhone 11

Software and updates

Samsung Galaxy s10e hands-on
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The iPhone 11 comes with the latest version of iOS 13, while the Galaxy S10e comes with Android 9.0 Pie under Samsung’s One UI skin. We’re not going to dive into the details of iOS vs. Android here; it’s a fairly personal decision, and frankly, you can get used to either. Both are smooth and easy to get to grips with, though Samsung’s One UI is more customizable than Apple’s iOS.

It’s not so sunny for Samsung when we look at updates. Samsung is one of the slowest to update to new versions of Android, and S10e owners are likely to be waiting for a while for the new Android 10. Plus, they can expect major OS updates to dry up after Android 11. No such issues with Apple. The iPhone 11 can expect major iOS updates quickly for years after release, thanks to Apple’s extremely strong support for its devices.

As ever, Apple wins on the strength of its updates.

Winner: Apple iPhone 11

Special features

iphone 11 review hands on jc camera lenses 1
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

There’s no shortage of special features on either phone. There’s no fingerprint sensor on the iPhone 11, as it’s been replaced by Face ID. The secure facial scanning tech also powers the excellent Animojis and Memojis and the same tech is used in the augmented reality ARKit 2.0. iOS 13’s gesture navigation is one of the best around, and Apple’s Siri virtual assistant is also present.

The Samsung Galaxy S10e provides a similar wealth of special features. There are all of Android’s usual features, like Google Assistant, but also Samsung’s additions, like the desktop DeX mode, Bixby, and Gear VR (with a special adapter). There’s a side-mounted fingerprint scanner instead of the in-display fingerprint scanner of the other S10 models, but there’s facial recognition too — though it’s not as secure as Face ID.

There are a lot of special features on both phones, and while the S10e sports more features than the iPhone 11, a lot are fairly niche and probably won’t be used by many. It’s a draw.

Winner: Tie

Price and availability

The iPhone 11 is available to pre-order from September 13 and starts from $699 for the 64GB model. It will officially release on September 20 and will be available on most major U.S. carriers. The Galaxy S10e is currently available, and prices start from $750 for the 128GB model. Like the iPhone, it is also available on most major U.S. carriers.

Overall winner: Apple iPhone 11

After a hard-fought battle, it’s the iPhone 11 that emerges as the eventual victor. Pound-for-pound, our analysis shows it to be the stronger of the two phones across a variety of categories.

However, the story doesn’t end there. Can’t live without a headphone jack, or just love the customization of Android? Then it’s the Samsung Galaxy S10e you should pick. It’s still a powerful phone with a lot of life in it — and a pretty awesome camera too. But if you’re not that impressed by the Galaxy S10e’s unique factors, then it’s the iPhone 11 that deserves your cash.

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