Samsung's Galaxy S10 Lite is a little late and a little pricey in the US
UPDATE: Just as promised, the unlocked Galaxy S10 Lite has gone on sale in a single Prism Black hue on Samsung's official US website and BestBuy.com. Also as promised, the latter retailer offers a $200 discount with upfront activation... on Sprint only. Meanwhile, those looking to use the 6.7-inch Snapdragon 855 powerhouse on Verizon or AT&T can slash 150 bucks off the $649.99 list price, which doesn't sound half bad considering some of the top-shelf specs detailed below.
As for Samsung, its trade-in deals will allow you to save $250 with everything from a Galaxy Note 8 and S8 to the S7 and S7 Edge, as well as an iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 6s, or 6s Plus. Bizarrely enough, the iPhone X and XR are appraised at $220 and $200 respectively, while those interested in trading in an iPhone 11 Pro or Pro Max (why, though?) are looking at a substantial $440 discount on the Galaxy S10 Lite. Our original story follows below.
Globally unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas way back in early January, the latest addition to Samsung's Galaxy S10 family has been unofficially available stateside for more than two months now courtesy of retailers like B&H Photo Video and various unauthorized eBay vendors.
Somewhat surprisingly, the Galaxy S10 Lite joins the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite to the US market today, although sales are technically scheduled to start tomorrow, April 17, through "limited channels." We're talking Samsung's official US e-store, as well as Best Buy and Amazon, with the recommended price set at $650 across the board.
That may have sounded reasonable last year, when the rest of the S10 lineup saw daylight, but right now, it feels like a tough sell. After all, the "standard" Galaxy S10 is normally just 100 bucks costlier, frequently going for less than that with a smaller yet higher-quality display in tow, as well as a superior rear-facing camera system and two extra gigs of memory.
The timing of the S10 Lite's US commercial debut also makes the OnePlus 8 5G and iPhone SE (2020) comparisons inevitable, neither of which is particularly flattering for Samsung's newest value flagship.
Yes, the refreshed $400 and up iPhone SE is significantly smaller and, well, uglier than the Galaxy S10 Lite, but last year's Snapdragon 855 processor is certainly no match for Apple's A13 Bionic powerhouse. Meanwhile, the non-Pro OnePlus 8 starts at a slightly steeper $700, but it does so in style, with 5G support, a Snapdragon 865 SoC, at least 8GB RAM, and the same breathtaking design as its sibling.
All that being said, the Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite is by no means a pushover, as highlighted in our thorough review back in February. The Super AMOLED Plus screen and Snapdragon 855 chipset are perfectly fine, the battery positively massive, and the software just as smooth as on a "true" Galaxy flagship.
What the 6.7-inch handset needs to stand out in the insanely competitive US market is a discount or two. And it needs them fast. On the bright side, if you feel an introductory freebie can help seal the deal, Amazon will sell the unlocked phone bundled with a complimentary pair of first-gen Galaxy Buds. Meanwhile, Best Buy plans to offer up to $200 discounts with "qualified" carrier activation straight off the bat, and Samsung will let you save up to $250 with eligible trade-ins. The full details are not out yet, so be sure to visit us again tomorrow.