It’s the tale as old as times. Every year sees smartphone manufacturers around the world bring out several devices in the market. But no new launch draws in more crowd anticipation and or excitement than Samsung’s new Note smartphone or Apple’s next-gen iPhones. And why would 2019 be any different? As expected, Samsung launched the next-in-line Note device, chronologically titled – the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and for the first time in Note lineup’s history, a beefier Note 10+. And in this article, we will be talking about how the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10 Plus fares on real-life use.
So, the first thing you get with the Note 10+ is a bigger slab of meticulously crafted hardware. It’s truly the benchmark for big phones. With all the phones having 6.4 or 6.5-inches display these days, it was time the Note got a little bigger. After all, it has always been about big displays. And this time you get a big and bright 6.8-inch display here! Using the word “big” five times in a paragraph this small should tell you something about the phone as well.
However, if you prefer a smaller display and form factor, there’s the non-Plus variant – the Galaxy Note 10. It has got a smaller 6.3-inch display and a smaller battery and some minor changes here and there. So if you want a less chunky phone, which snuggly fits in the hands, you should go for the non-plus variant.
Moving on to the design of the phone, you get what you can expect from a flagship phone – an all-glass body with a metal frame. Like with any Note devices of late, the Note 10 and Note 10+ have a boxy form factor. The sharp edges on the top and bottom may not be everyone’s cup of tea since they’re objectively less comfortable than say, the Galaxy S10. But boy does this thing feel premium!
For a phone of this size, these handsets are surprisingly lightweight. The vanilla Note 10 weighs 168 grams whereas the beefier Note 10+ is 196gm, making it ergonomic for any given use-case.
Button placement has also seen some minor changes. The volume rockers are now on the left and the Bixby button here has been modified to a power button. You can set designated action to be performed upon long-press and double-press of the power button.
So long, accidentally launching Bixby!
On the bottom, there’s the coveted S-pen, a type C port, and a speaker. The speaker quality is top-notch. It’s the stereo speakers at work which produces excellent audio output. When compared to the S10, it’s definitely louder and crispier.
Samsung finally did it, they finally killed off the treasured headphone jack! Here at Gadgetbyte, we use Samsung phones to do live unboxing on our Facebook and Instagram pages and not having the 3.5mm headphone jack is a pain. Guess we will have to live the dongle life now!
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 & Note 10 Plus Specifications
|Galaxy Note 10||Galaxy Note 10 Plus|
|Display||6.3” AMOLED screen (1080 x 2280 pixels), Corning Gorilla Glass 6 protection||6.8” AMOLED screen (1440 x 3040 pixels), Corning Gorilla Glass 6 protection|
|Dimension||151 x 71.8 x 7.9mm||162.3 x 77.2 x 7.9mm|
|Design||Glass body, Metal frame, IP68 Water & Dust Resistance||Glass body, Metal frame, IP68 Water & Dust Resistance|
|Rear Camera||12MP, f/1.5-2.4 (wide),
12MP, f/2.1 (telephoto),
16MP, f/2.2 (ultra-wide)
|12MP, f/1.5-2.4 (wide),
12MP, f/2.1 (telephoto),
16MP, f/2.2 (ultra-wide)
3D ToF sensor
|Front Camera||10MP, f/2.2 (wide), Dual Pixel PDFA||10MP, f/2.2 (wide), Dual Pixel PDFA|
|OS||Android 9.0 Pie with One UI on top||Android 9.0 Pie with One UI on top|
|Processor||Exynos 9825||Exynos 9825|
|CPU||Octa-core (2 x 2.73GHz Mongoose M4, 2×2.4GHz Cortex-A75, 4×1.9GHz Cortex-A55)||Octa-core (2 x 2.73GHz Mongoose M4, 2×2.4GHz Cortex-A75, 4×1.9GHz Cortex-A55)|
|GPU||Mali-G76 MP12||Mali-G76 MP12|
|Internal Storage||256GB; No SD Card slot||256/512GB; expandable up to 1TB through microSD slot|
|WLAN||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot|
|Sensors||Fingerprint (in-display, ultrasonic), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer||Fingerprint (in-display, ultrasonic), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer|
|Battery||3500mAh, non-removable||4300mAh, non-removable|
|Fast Charging||25W Fast Charging
18W Fast Wireless Charging
|45W fast charging
18W Fast Wireless Charging
|USB||3.1, Type-C 1.0||3.1, Type-C 1.0|
|Colors||Aura Glow, Aura White, Aura Pink, Aura Red||Aura Glow, Aura White, Aura Black, Aura Blue|
On the front, the display’s bezels are as thin as bezels can go and on the top sits the notch. The Note 10’s notch feels much cleaner than the traditional ‘U’ or ‘V’ shaped notch out there in the market. No fancy sensors here, like with the iPhone 11 or the newly launched Google Pixel 4. Just a clean display with a tiny cutout for the front-facing camera.
Talking about the display quality, well, it’s the best display on any smartphone right now. That’s really no surprise since Samsung has been continuously bringing home the bacon for the best smartphone display for years. 90Hz display found in the likes of OnePlus 7 Pro is still not a thing in Samsung phones for now. Hopefully, a higher refresh rate Note is on the horizon.
However, the AMOLED display here is bright with great colors and contrast. To make the display even livelier, you can change the display settings to “Vivid“. Although this mode is not very color accurate, the colors really pop-out.
Also, you get a 3K Quad HD+ display with 3040×1440 pixels in the Note 10+. A man needs his pixels yo! Nevertheless, downgrading the resolution to FHD+ would give you a better battery life. Like Thanos said, “A small price to pay for salvation“. Another class-leading aspect of this display is how bright it is. According to display mate, it has a record peak brightness of 1,308 nits, which is about 25% more than the Galaxy Note 9. Also, the display can get pleasantly dim too which makes using it at night much more easy on the eyes.
But on the Note 10, it’s a different story. The display here is Full-HD+. So the contents on it don’t look as crisp like on the Plus variant. But you won’t find any sort of pixelations there. So there is nothing much to worry about.
Not just in terms of resolution, Note 10 also falls behind the Note 10+ in terms of brightness level. Note 10 is dimmer than the Note 10+ while maxing it out to the full brightness level. While comparing it with the Redmi K20 Pro, I found the display on the Note 10 slightly dimmer than the K20 Pro. And that’s surprising as the Redmi device has used the display panel from Samsung.
Nonetheless, the display on both of these devices are HDR10+ compliant like the S10. However, there aren’t many HDR10+ videos.
Moving on, for protection you get the Corning Gorilla Glass 6 on the front as well as back. Though they’re the latest and greatest and all, slapping in a case is highly advised. Having spent well over $1000 for the phone, don’t cheap out with a low-quality case. Samsung will only be $300 richer if you needed to replace the screen.
Having said that, there is a default screen protector that should do a decent job against scratches for like a month or so. Also, note that not all kinds of tempered glass work here, because of the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor. And compared to the S10, it’s slightly more accurate and maybe a little faster too, but it’s still not as quick as the OnePlus 7 Pro or the Huawei P30 Pro.
But, Samsung here uses the Ultrasonic Sensor unlike the affordable optical ones so its 3D mapping makes the Note10+ more reliable. Also, this one works even when your hands are wet.
Ok, now you must already be bored, so let’s talk about the S-pen! It’s a Note because of this tiny stylus! No smartphone has one, except for a knockoff from Infinix.
The S-pen has been slightly improved from last year’s Note 9! Looks-wise, it’s a little bit thinner and more comfortable to use. But that doesn’t make much of a difference. It does what the last year’s S-pen did. There’s now the “Air Gesture Mode“, which lets you remotely control your phone, like taking pictures. Maybe it’s fun for a couple of times, but it’s not something that will absolutely knock your socks off.
This feature is reminiscent of the Galaxy S4, launched like 6 years ago that had tons of similar gesture features but failed terribly. Here’s to hoping this lives on a little longer!
Another new feature or a fad rather is the AR doodle. But then again, you won’t be using this, like on a regular basis, but when you do, it’s fun!
Not everything about the S-Pen is hit or miss. “Handwriting to Text” is a really handy feature, which as the name implies converts your handwritings into Unicode texts. Like English conversions, it can even transform your Nepali handwriting into Nepali text. How cool is that!
Samsung, this time has also collaborated with Microsoft. Now you can send these notes directly into a Microsoft Word file. While sending handwritten text, it automatically converts your handwritten text message to a word format and you can share it with your friends and acquaintances.
Performance and Software
The Note 10 (and obviously Note 10+) is powered by the new Exynos 9825, which is based on a 7nm architecture compared to the 8nm architecture of S10’s Exynos 9820. The Exynos 9825 is not just energy-efficient but also offers higher CPU and GPU clock speed.
While this might not be that big of an upgrade to see a noticeable difference when compared to the S10 or even last year’s note 9, but there are some noticeable differences. It could also be because of the new UFS 3.0 storage. It’s significantly faster than last-gen UFS 2.1. From apps’ loading time to installing huge games, the UFS 3.0 storage does a better job.
But, the Exynos 9825 still falls behind the Snapdragon 855 and the recently announced Apple A13 and the Kirin 990. So, not the best performing flagship phone out there.
But don’t get us wrong, this thing can run anything you throw at it! From PUBG Mobile to all other high-end games, it can run in the highest of settings. The phone does heat up, but nothing to the level of frustration.
And One UI is something you will fall in love with. Samsung’s revamped UI is far better than the previous “Samsung Experience”. From the notification panel to settings to multitasking toggle, everything feels seamless. Most of the bloatware can be uninstalled or disabled, so that’s a good thing too!
Let’s talk about the cameras now. Like the S10, we get a similar kind of setup on the back. There’s a 12MP dual-aperture primary lens, a 2X telephoto zoom, and a 16MP wide-angle lens. Also, an additional TOF sensor for AR and Depth sensing is available in the Note 10+, which is missing in the vanilla Note 10. But both of them flaunt a single 10MP camera on the front placed beautifully within a small cutout.
While many argue that the Note 10 has essentially the same camera setup as the S10, there’s definitely some differentiating superiority about the Note 10 camera.
It might be the same hardware, but the image and software processing on the Note10+ is polished and hence you get slightly better images. From colors to dynamic range, the Note 10+ is just better. The wide-angle lens also captures really great shots. There’s no color shift when setting it side by side with the primary lens.
The portraits, now assisted with the TOF sensor, have better bokeh and edge detection. You can also take portraits from the wide-angle lens and it looks good too, but the edge detection is not as precise as done from the primary camera. Since the Note 10 lacks the ToF sensor, I have expected some differences in the portrait images. However, the portrait images from Note 10 and Note 10+ were barely distinguishable on my test.
To our dismay, Samsung hasn’t pushed its camera capabilities for superior zoomings like that of Huawei and OPPO flagships. Samsung is still sticking with its 2X zoom, and while the 2X zoom is of good quality, the 5X and 10X zoom is no match compared to the Huawei phones.
On to the low light performance, Samsung has managed to slightly improve its algorithm to get better images and you also get a dedicated “Night Mode” feature with the Note 10+. S10 did receive the feature with an update. But then again, the Note 10+ does a better job at taking pictures in the dark. Although it can’t match the details of the P30 Pro, the colors are better on the Note 10+.
However, it seems that Note 10+ can’t process flower images in night mode. It fails terribly, so maybe Samsung needs to improve this with a software update. Taking a photo using the Night Mode could be drab to some since it takes forever to process the shot. Samsung could’ve done a better job at processing long exposure shots.
Talking about the selfies, they have good colors in them and look fairly sharp. I was a little worried before as Samsung has shrunk the aperture here (compared to S10). But the pictures have got better here nonetheless. Talking about the selfie videos, you can shoot 1080p and 4K videos at 30fps. There is no 60fps option as of now. But Samsung could release that feature as well through the software update.
The video capabilities are also really great on the Note 10+. You can shoot 4K @ 60fps which looks really stabilized. And if you are thinking of making vlogs, the Note 10+ is a great option. There is also a super steady option that uses a wide-angle lens for those wide footages, but then you are restricted to 1080P.
On a different note, the iPhone’s 11 video mode has the ability to change from primary to wide-angle modes while shooting videos. Maybe Samsung will bring that too with a software update.
Like with the S10, you get tons of features like Super slow-mo and slow-mo, which could be fun when you are bored. The “Live Focus Video” however, isn’t all that great.
Also, the “zoom-in-mic” feature is not to be very effective as advertised. What it does is increase the audio level of the sound source when you zoom in the videos. Someone who goes to concerts frequently and wants to record the audio coming from a particular instrument can possibly benefit from it.
All in all, the Note 10+ is one of the best point-to-shoot cameras you can find on a phone right now. Maybe the new upcoming Pixel 4 is going to be better, but don’t expect radically different performances.
Samsung has done a commendable job by making the base variant of the device with 256GB storage. There’s also a version with a 512GB on the Note 10+, but the 256GB should do just fine for most of us, and yes this one also has a microSD card slot (only on the Note 10+) so your storage hunger is pretty much covered.
Take note, Apple!
Now, the Galaxy Note 10+ is a powerful phone and a productive device. It’s been a while since Samsung launched DeX that lets you connect your phone with a PC.
When DeX was first announced with Galaxy S8, you needed a DeX Station. Then with Galaxy S9 and Note 9, you needed an HDMI to Type C cable. But on the Note 10 and Note 10+, you can connect using the Type C to Type C cable that comes inside the box. So, it’s really easy to use DeX now. Just install the DeX app on your laptop, use the cable, and you are good to go.
But with the cable, there’s a noticeable drop in FPS, making it very unpleasing to use. The same issue isn’t present while connecting it with Type C to HDMI cable. It runs smoothly at 60fps. Though DeX has many useful features, it’s fair to say not everyone will be using it on a frequent basis. However, Note 10+ owners with powerful PC or Ultrabook can definitely benefit from DeX with the Microsoft integration where you can directly copy Office files and edit in DeX.
The battery life on the Note 10+ (4300mAh) has been impressive. Coming from the S10, the Note 10+ has a much more enduring battery. Apart from the bigger screen, the sizeable battery life on the Note 10+ is another major difference compared to the regular Note 10 (3500mAh).
You also get a faster 25W charging out-of-the-box. In our previous reviews, we’ve been constantly complaining that Samsung should bring a faster charging tech as they were still sticking with 15W.
This 25W charger has a USB Power Delivery tech that uses a USB-C to USB-C cable to connect to phones. Since its Power Delivery 3.0 at work, the charging much faster here, faster than 27W Redmi K20 Pro and 30W OnePlus 7 Pro.
Also, it supports the “Programmable Power Supply” mode, which allows the phone to control the power output of the charger for optimal charging that keeps the battery cool.
Moreover, you can also get the 45W Charger that Samsung sells for like $50, which should charge it even faster. However, 45-watt fast charging is only supported by the Note 10+. So that’s one more tradeoff for the Note 10 users.
The Note 10/10+ also supports 15W wireless charging and 6W reverse wireless charging which is well, slow compared to the 25W wired charging.
So, when it comes to Samsung’s flagship phones that we have reviewed, our verdict has always been the same – great phones, pricier (of-course), best display and one of the best cameras but not much of an upgrade from the last generation.
And same is with the Note 10+. It’s a great flagship, really great flagship. But if you are using the Note 9 or the S10, you won’t find too much of a difference. Your phone already runs on the One UI at this point so the experience is more or less the same. But there are surely some tradeoffs on the Note 10. It’s smaller display, lower resolution, smaller battery, lack of ToF sensor and a micro SD card slot. But if you want a new Note device in 2019 with most of the functionality of the Plus variant. You cannot go wrong with the Note 10 as well.
And what’s great with Samsung phones is that you get a good price drops and offers after it reaches its EOL, so if you are reading this article like in 2020, chances are its available for 30-40% off.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10+: Pros and Cons
- Great Camera
- Awesome Display
- Amazing Battery Life
- Crisp and loud Audio
- No 90Hz display
- No headphone jack