Samsung Galaxy S10e vs iPhone XR: the battle of the more affordable flagships

Does Samsung or Apple deserve your hard-earned cash?

Samsung Galaxy S10e vs Apple iPhone XR

In their last round of flagship phone launches, both Apple and Samsung unveiled cheaper versions of their top-end flagships: namely the Samsung Galaxy S10e and the iPhone XR. But which of these two excellent smartphones is the right one for your next upgrade?

We're here to try and help you answer that question – we've put the phones up against each other in all the categories that matter, from the design and dimensions of the handsets to the internal specs and even the software they're running out of the box.

Samsung Galaxy S10e vs iPhone XR: design

Samsung Galaxy S10e vs iPhone XR

Samsung Galaxy S10e

We've got two fine-looking handsets here, that's for sure: both the Samsung Galaxy 10e and the iPhone XR follow the design principles set down by their more expensive siblings, though the build quality isn't quite up to the same level – and both have smaller screens than the main flagships.

The Samsung Galaxy S10e brings with it a 5.8-inch, 1080 x 2280 pixel AMOLED display, which matches up against the 6.1-inch, 828 x 1792 pixel LCD screen of the iPhone XR. With that extra screen size, the iPhone XR is a little bigger and a little wider than the Samsung Galaxy S10e, but there's not much in it.

Apple's iPhone XR has the traditional iPhone-style notch, whereas the Samsung Galaxy S10e opts for the hole punch notch Samsung seems to be favouring this year. Thanks to those little notches, both phones have very thin bezels. The Samsung Galaxy S10e is available in white, black, green, blue, yellow and pink, whereas you can get the iPhone XR in black, red, yellow, blue, coral and white.

Samsung Galaxy S10e vs iPhone XR: specs

Samsung Galaxy S10e vs iPhone XR

iPhone XR

While these aren't the most expensive flagships in their respective ranges, they still come packed with some impressive, cutting edge 2019 specs: both these phones are going to be able to take everything you can throw at them, lag-free, for a good few years yet, whether it's playing the latest games or editing video on your smartphone.

The Samsung Galaxy S10e comes with either a Snapdragon 855 or an Exynos 9820, depending on your region – pretty much the most powerful processor you can get in 2019. That's paired with 6GB-8GB of RAM and 128GB-256GB of internal storage, which you can opt to expand with a microSD memory card.

As for the iPhone XR, it runs the Apple A12 Bionic processor – Apple's top CPU for 2019 – together with 3GB of RAM and either 64GB, 128GB or 256GB of storage, which you can't expand. Taking Apple's hardware and software optimisations into account, it's pretty much honours even as far as power and performance goes with these two phones.

Samsung Galaxy S10e vs iPhone XR: features

Samsung Galaxy S10e vs iPhone XR

Samsung Galaxy S10e

Camera quality has to be a big consideration for any discerning smartphone buyer, and the Samsung Galaxy S10e packs in more lenses than the iPhone XR: the Samsung phone has a 12MP+16MP rear camera while the Apple phone settles for a single-lens 12MP rear camera. The iPhone XR can definitely hold its own in terms of photo quality, but the Galaxy S10e offers more camera trickery.

Of course a big consideration here is that the Samsung Galaxy S10e runs Android (complete with Samsung's new One UI interface) whereas the iPhone XR runs iOS. You may already have your own personal preference when it comes to Android vs iOS, and that's likely to influence which of these phones you prefer – the more tightly controlled and privacy-focused iOS or the more customisable and open Android.

The Samsung Galaxy S10e has a slightly better IP68 rating for water and dustproofing compared with the IP67 rating of the iPhone XR. Both phones support wireless charging, but only the Galaxy S10e has a true HDR-compatible display – something to bear in mind perhaps if you spend a lot of time watching Netflix. The Samsung phone has a headphone jack too, whereas the Apple one doesn't, and Samsung opts for an in-screen fingerprint sensor for unlocking whereas Apple sticks with Face ID.

Samsung Galaxy S10e vs iPhone XR: verdict

Samsung Galaxy S10e vs iPhone XR

iPhone XR

Hopefully we've been able to help you identify the main differences between these phones in the sections above – whichever one you choose is going to serve you well for years to come, and because they're so well matched in terms of performance and features, a lot of it comes down to which design and which mobile OS (Android or iOS) you prefer.

The other differences are minor ones really – a headphone jack here, HDR support there. The jury is still out on the Samsung Galaxy S10e camera performance but there doesn't seem to be a huge amount of difference in terms of the quality of the pictures you can take. Software updates are likely to be more timely on the Apple side so that's something else to bear in mind.

When it comes to picking a clear winner it really depends on personal preference to a large extent, so we're not going to say one of these phones is definitively better than the other. What we can say is that both are very capable, more affordable versions of their respective flagships, and both are well worth considering for your next phone.

David Nield

Dave has over 20 years' experience in the tech journalism industry, covering hardware and software across mobile, computing, smart home, home entertainment, wearables, gaming and the web – you can find his writing online, in print, and even in the occasional scientific paper, across major tech titles like T3, TechRadar, Gizmodo and Wired. Outside of work, he enjoys long walks in the countryside, skiing down mountains, watching football matches (as long as his team is winning) and keeping up with the latest movies.