Not a typo, the Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite is on sale in US for $650

Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite
(Image credit: Future)

In a surprise announcement, the streamlined flagship Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite is not only coming to the US after all – it’s going on sale today for $650. (Sadly, the similar Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite isn’t included in this release.)

Yes, you read that right: the S10 Lite, which we first saw at CES 2020, is a cheaper version of the Samsung Galaxy S10 line of flagship phones that came out in 2019 and was subsequently released in India, Latin America, and other markets as a more affordable option with mostly flagship specs .

Those specs are respectable, though the Snapdragon 855 chipset is a bit dated (or potentially the Exynos 9820, though not likely, given US Samsung releases traditionally pack a Snapdragon chipset). Most importantly, that means S10 Lite isn’t 5G-capable.

The 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage are a bit more generous, and the 4,500mAh battery is handy. The S10 Lite has a 6.7-inch FHD+ (2400 x 1080) display, which is flat, unlike the curved-edge Galaxy S10 or Galaxy S10 Plus. 

The triple rear cameras include a 48MP main shooter, an ultrawide camera, and a 5MP macro camera (instead of a telephoto). The front-facing camera is a hefty 32MP, which is higher than the 10MP selfie shooter on the S10 line. 

In other words, there are a few upgrades on its S10 siblings, though it reduces the polish to mid-range level (a plastic back and no water resistance, for instance). If those are dealbreakers, one might be able to find a Samsung Galaxy S10e at a similar price point

The S10 Lite – uncertain purpose in the US?

Since the S10 Lite debuted at CES 2020, of course, the Samsung Galaxy S20 line came out. The line lacked a cheaper equivalent of the Samsung Galaxy S10e, so in some ways, the S10 Lite could fill that niche in the US. Thanks to a software update, it even gets some of the neat tricks that came in the latest Samsung flagships, like Single Take, Pro Video, and Night Hyperlapse.

But we’ve also seen some competitively-priced phones in this tier – namely, the just-launched OnePlus 8, which starts at $700 and is 5G-capable thanks to its Snapdragon 865 chipset.

Still, more choice is obviously better, especially at a price point that’s kinder to consumers’ wallets than leading flagships in a time of lost jobs and low paychecks – as we argued, consumers don’t need more foldables, they need cheaper phones like the iPhone SE 2020 and OnePlus 8.

(Though we wish a cheaper stylus-packing Note 10 Lite was also part of those plans.)

David Lumb

David is now a mobile reporter at Cnet. Formerly Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, he covered phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made. He's most interested in technology, gaming and culture – and where they overlap and change our lives. His current beat explores how our on-the-go existence is affected by new gadgets, carrier coverage expansions, and corporate strategy shifts.