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Hands-on with Samsung Lite: Galaxy Note 10 and S10 push prices and features south

Surprise, surprise. One of Samsung's new cheaper phones even has a headphone jack.

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Jessica Dolcourt Senior Director, Commerce & Content Operations
Jessica Dolcourt is a passionate content strategist and veteran leader of CNET coverage. As Senior Director of Commerce & Content Operations, she leads a number of teams, including Commerce, How-To and Performance Optimization. Her CNET career began in 2006, testing desktop and mobile software for Download.com and CNET, including the first iPhone and Android apps and operating systems. She continued to review, report on and write a wide range of commentary and analysis on all things phones, with an emphasis on iPhone and Samsung. Jessica was one of the first people in the world to test, review and report on foldable phones and 5G wireless speeds. Jessica began leading CNET's How-To section for tips and FAQs in 2019, guiding coverage of topics ranging from personal finance to phones and home. She holds an MA with Distinction from the University of Warwick (UK).
Expertise Content strategy, team leadership, audience engagement, iPhone, Samsung, Android, iOS, tips and FAQs.
Jessica Dolcourt
3 min read
samsung-galaxy-s10-lite-5160

The new Galaxy Note 10 Lite.

Angela Lang/CNET

The first things I noticed about the new Galaxy Note 10 Lite and S10 Lite when I saw them at a small press preview here at CES are their giant 6.7-inch screens. The second is the rectangular camera array on the back, a bold new look that seems to confirm rumors that the Galaxy S11 will have a similar shape to house its cameras. It looks a lot better on the Note 10 Lite than on the S10 Lite, where the module protrudes from the back and takes up more space than it really needs to.

Otherwise, these new Lite  Samsung phones bring a good heap of specs that make them appealing -- especially the bright red Note 10 Lite, because I'm a sucker for that color on a phone. We don't know how much they cost or where they'll go on sale, but it's a sure bet that Samsung's new Lite phones will be cheaper than their Galaxy Note 10 and Galaxy S10 counterparts. 

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Watch this: Galaxy Note 10 Lite and S10 Lite: All about Samsung's new, cheap phones

From the massive screen size to the three rear cameras and a big 4,500-mAh battery, the Note 10 Lite and S10 Lite have a lot in common. Compared to the Galaxy S10 and Note 10, their screens aren't curved or as brilliant, and the materials are more modest. But they have the advantage of running Android 10 right out of the box. They also support dual SIM cards.

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The Galaxy S10 Lite's camera awkwardly pops out from the surface. There's a lot of empty space here, too.

Juan Garzon/CNET

There are important differences between the two Lite phones. The most obvious is the Note 10 Lite's S Pen stylus, which was just as responsive on the Note 10 Lite as it is on the Note 10 Plus. The 10 Lite also uses Samsung's Exynos chipset, while the S10 Lite has a Snapdragon chip inside. Importantly, the Note 10 Lite has one feature many fans have been clamoring for -- a headphone jack. The S10 Lite does not. 

All the cool new gadgets at CES 2020

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There are separate camera sensors, too, with the Note 10 Lite having main, telephoto and ultrawide-angle lenses at 12 megapixels each. Meanwhile, the S10 Lite has a 48-megapixel main camera, 12-megapixel ultrawide-angle and 5-megapixel macro lens.

Of the two phones, I prefer the Note 10 Lite, which has the more advanced camera specs (at least on paper) and the more attractive design. Scroll below for the full specs.

Note 10 Lite and Galaxy S10 Lite: Samsung's flagship phones done cheap

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Why did Samsung make the Note 10 Lite and S10 Lite?

What's even more interesting than the square camera array is that these phones exist at all. For the Note 10 Lite in particular, the fact that Samsung made this phone in the first place signals a shift in how it perceives its Note line. The Note has traditionally been the all-singing, all-dancing device for power users, the one to showcase every top-shelf spec and feature that Samsung has. 

By bringing out a Lite version, which is undoubtedly more downmarket -- in a good way -- Samsung is taking its most different phone (the one with a stylus) and making it available in more places for more pricing options. With the Note 10 Lite, you now have a family of three Note 10s, ranging from it to the Note 10 Plus.

The Galaxy S10 Lite is a slightly confusing addition to an already jam-packed lineup that ranges from the more affordable Galaxy S10E to the Galaxy S10 5G. With the Lite, Samsung is pushing prices and features south.

For Samsung, that provides a golden opportunity to sell more of its most popular phones.

Galaxy S10 Lite vs. Note 10 Lite


Samsung Galaxy S10 LiteSamsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite
Display size, resolution 6.7-inch Super AMOLED Infinity-O display with 2,400×1,080-pixel resolution6.7-inch Super AMOLED Infinity-O display with 2,400×1,080-pixel resolution
Mobile software Android 10Android 10
Camera 48-megapixel wide-angle, 12-megapixel ultra-wide, 5-megapixel macro 12-megapixel wide-angle, 12-megapixel ultra-wide, 12-megapixel macro
Front-facing camera 32-megapixel32-megapixel
Processor Octa-core Snapdragon chipsetOcta-core Exynos chipset
Storage 128GB128GB
RAM 6GB or 8GB6GB or 8GB
Battery 4,500 mAh4,500 mAh
Fingerprint sensor In-screenIn-screen
Connector USB-CUSB-C
Headphone jack NoYes
S Pen stylus NoYes

Originally published earlier this week.