The Galaxy S10e still has the main 12MP (1/2.55") sensor with variable aperture f/1.5-2.4 and big 1.4µm pixels to capture more light. It's the same one used in the last generation Galaxy S9/S9+ and the Galaxy Note9. The variable aperture comes in handy in low-light situations by keeping it open at f/1.5 to capture more light. And when there's sufficient light, the software closes down the aperture to f/2.4 so the image turns out a bit sharper than it would be with an f/1.5 opening. The sensor is also stabilized.
The price has also affected the camera count on the Galaxy S10e. Missing the telephoto lens, the Galaxy S10e borrows only the ultra-wide lens from the other S10s. It's the same 16MP unit with f/2.2 aperture, which also means no autofocus.
The front camera is 10MP residing in the cutout and has f/1.9 aperture and more importantly, supports Dual Pixel Phase Detection Autofocus. So you no longer need to mind how far you keep the phone from your face - it will always be in focus.
The camera software is identical to the Galaxy S10 and S10+'s with some minor differences. Swiping left and right will switch between camera modes. And if you are a bit confused about the portrait mode, it's called Live focus here. The Pro and Food also get dedicated modes along with Hyperlapse, Slow motion and Super Slow-mo. But most of the settings you'd need are buried in the additional Settings menu. To access it, tap on the icon in the upper left corner of the screen.
The viewfinder also accommodates a quick toggle between the ultra-wide lens and the normal one. The same goes for the front-facing camera. The two trees denote the normal lens and the three trees stand for the ultra-wide mode.
This menu lets you choose the video recording mode of the front and back camera as well as the aspect ratio of videos. EIS can be turned on and off and interestingly, the HDR (rich tone) mode is in that menu as well. We would have liked that one placed in the viewfinder instead of being buried deep in the menu. Anyway, you can set it on auto, off or on all the time.
The Scene optimizer is Samsung's way of saying machine learning algorithm without sticking AI to its name. Kudos for that. It works just the way you'd expect - when it recognizes a subject or scene, it will automatically adjust the settings for optimal results.
There's also the shot suggestion that gives you tips on composition. It helps you choose the right alignment of the subject and also straighten the image. And then there's the Flaw detection feature that warns you if someone closed their eyes in the photo or the image is blurry.
It took us some time but we also found the ultra-wide shape correction - it's deep in the Save options sub-menu. Since we are dealing with an extremely wide lens here, the barrel distortion is quite visible and the software correction helps a bunch. Of course, in this case, you'd be losing the dramatic effect.
And if a group selfie is your goal, you can shoot in wide mode, which is the default 10MP mode or you can narrow the field of view and go with a 6.5MP selfie.
The Save options also give you the option to save in RAW when shooting in the Pro mode and also offers face shape correction when shooting selfies.
Quite frankly, it's not the most intuitive camera app we've used but once you set your preferences and get used to the settings, it becomes usable.
Expectedly, the camera performance is stellar. After all, the S10e uses the same sensors as the more expensive S10 and S10+ as well as the same software. When there's sufficient light, you can expect consistent performance - sharp and detailed images, excellent dynamic range and no trace of noise. We've noticed the HDR icon pop-up a few times when the scene required it.
We've also tried the scene optimizer, which returned images with juicier colors and obviously, some image stacking is at hand. Just look at some of the clouds. Also, colors start to go a bit over the top. It will probably help you get a few extra Instagram likes.
The ultra-wide photos also look pretty nice as far as ultra-wide photos go, of course. A bit more detail would have been appreciated and the lack of autofocus could potentially mess up your experience. But it boasts good dynamic range, no noise, and ideal color reproduction. As we've already mentioned, the software deals with the barrel distortion quite nicely.
Here are a couple of indoor shots as well.
The new galaxies don't have a dedicated night mode per se, but there's one setting under the Scene optimizer sub-menu. It can't be activated manually and it can be triggered only under extreme conditions where the light isn't sufficient. It will prompt you with a message to hold still until it does it's magic image stacking.
The rest of the shots will be taken in the normal auto mode. Dynamic range is impressive, the detail is preserved although noise isn't as visible. Here we observe the same "starburst" effect which we noticed with the regular Galaxy S10 and the S10+ when the Scene optimizer is at play. It looks a bit fake and if you don't want it, maybe disable the scene optimizer for the night shots. We didn't notice any major changes to the scenery with the Scene optimizer turned off.
Expect less than stellar photos when using the ultra-wide lens, though. Most the lack of autofocus, OIS and narrow f/2.2 opening really did a number on our sample shots.
Here's how the 12MP unit on the Galaxy S10e stacks against the rest of the competition in a more controlled environment.
This time around, Samsung used the main camera for taking photos and the ultra-wide to collect depth information. The result is crisp portraits with plenty of detail, natural-looking skin, and impressive edge separation. Of course, it all depends on the complexity of your subject. If it's a thing rather than a person, you can expect more consistent performance.
When enough light gets in the sensor, the photos turn out to be sharp and looking great. The dynamic range is quite impressive as well. The autofocus helps a lot with the detail but once it starts to get dark, the images become softer. The portrait mode is okay-ish given the fact that there's no secondary camera for collecting proper depth information like the Galaxy S10+.
The 12MP main camera combined with the very capable Exynos 9820 chipset make a great team in this one. The Galaxy S10e can shoot 1080p and 2160p videos at 30 and 60fps easily. The HDR10+ capture is at hand as well. The Super slo-mo video recording is a carryover from last year's flagships and can do 720p videos at 960fps.
The EIS works in all modes except in the 2160@60fps mode but this year, Samsung brought one additional trick to S10 family - the Super Steady mode. It's only available in 1080p due to the image processing requirements. It uses the ultra-wide camera to crop out the extra pixels outside the 1080p range resulting in an impressively smooth video. That also means no autofocus, though.
But if the video quality is a priority, you can rely on the standard EIS during 2160p@30fps recording. And as far as quality goes - we didn't find any major issues or any at all. Color reproduction is accurate, the contrast is good.
Once you are done with the real-life scenarios, take a look at our video compare tool to see how it competes against the best in the industry.