Hands-on: Samsung Galaxy Note10 and Note10+
Hands-on: Samsung Galaxy Note10 and Note10+
The Galaxy Note doubles up
Say Samsung Galaxy Note series and you’ll think bigger display, long battery life, high-end hardware and of course, the S Pen stylus. Things didn’t change this year, but Samsung has gone and introduced not just one but two Notes – the Note10 and the Note10+. The main difference between the two? Screen size.
You see, Samsung gathered feedback that a good number of users are keen to try a Galaxy Note series phone but are intimidated by the size. So, this year’s Galaxy Note comes in two variants – a smaller, handier 6.3-inch Galaxy Note10 and the 6.8-inch Galaxy Note10+, with three new colours — Aura Glow, Aura White, and Aura Black.
Let's take a closer look at the new additions and what they offer in this summary video, followed by our detailed analysis:-
Side by side, the new Note10 series looks a bit like a slightly flattened Note9. The Note10+ is slightly taller and wider, but also thinner, measuring 162.3 x 77.2 x 7.9mm to the Note9’s 161.9 x 76.4 x 8.8mm, and it's also a little lighter, at 196g compared to the Note9’s 201g. As you can see from the picture above, the thing that really stands out is just how much more screen you have with the new Note10 series.
Said to be the best display from Samsung yet, both Note10 displays feature an edge-to-edge, bezel-less design. The front camera has been shifted to be dead-centre, while the screen margins are much smaller so it really emphasizes the expanse of screen.
The Note10 has a 6.3-inch Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O display with an FHD+ resolution of 2,280 x 1,080 pixels (401ppi). It measures 151.0 x 71.8 x 7.9mm and weighs just 168g, making it a lot more portable.
With the Note10+, you’ll get a larger 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O display with a QHD+ resolution of 3,040 × 1,440 pixels (498ppi). Both screens are HDR10+ certified and UI verified.
The new phones have what Samsung calls a Prismatic Colour Perspective design. The entire body is fairly glossy, but the edges are more rounded now. In fact, the entire body is completely symmetrical now. We didn’t get an exact figure for the screen-to-body ratio, but Samsung says it’s greater than 94%, which means the Galaxy Note10+ has more screen than the vast majority of the phone models in the market now.
The triple camera setup on the back of the camera goes back to the vertical orientation, and whole camer module just comes in a standard black finish no matter what phone colour you choose. Both the Note10 and the Note10+ feature similar triple rear cameras that we've first seen on the Galaxy S10 series:-
- Ultra Wide 16MP F2.2 (123°) camera
- Wide-angle 12MP 2PD AF F1.5/F2.4 OIS (77°) camera
- Telephoto 12MP F2.1 OIS (45°) camera,
Additionally, the Galaxy Note10+ gets an extra VGA DepthVision Camera for AR and 3D applications.
At the bottom of the phone, there's the slot for the S Pen, a USB-C port, and a downward-firing speaker. If you are looking for a headphone jack, it's not on these phones. The Note 10 again features stereo speakers custom-tuned by AKG with the earpiece doubling up as the second speaker. Like the S10, the Note 10 offers Dolby Atmos surround sound, both with headphones plugged in and through the phone's own speakers.
The power button can be found on the right side, while the volume rocker is once again on the left. And in a surprise move, Samsung has removed the much unwanted Bixby button! Since voice recognition has come a long way, you can activate your choice of phone assistants by voice - Bixby or Google Assistant.
Both the phone and the S Pen are IP68 rated, and the colours of the S Pens will match the colours of the phone, with the exception of the Aura Glow, which gets a blue S Pen. That also means a more subdued S Pen instead of a striking yellow-gold colour scheme found with the Ocean Blue Note9.
The S Pen gets even more tricks
The Bluetooth LE based S Pen has been upgraded quite a bit, with a new Lithium Titanate battery keeping it running for up to 10 hours on a single charge. It comes with 6-axis sensor for better detection of how you’re holding it, and has a whole range of new Air Actions you can execute with the Note10 and Note10+.
As you can see in the video below (and the one embedded earlier), you can use the S Pen in camera mode to zoom in and out, switch camera modes, and even switch between rear to the front camera. Samsung says they will open the APK for this out to developers, so you can soon assign S Pen controls for other apps too.
Also, any writing you do with the S Pen can now be converted to digital text to be exported to applications like Microsoft Word, so you won’t have to retype what you’ve already written. Shrink, enlarge or change the colour of text before exporting it – it’s a whole new way to work and it all seems so intuitive, you would have thought Samsung might have implemented it on its earlier Note devices.
Performance – even more RAM and Storage
The Galaxy Note10 and Note10+ will be powered by Samsung’s Exynos 9825 processor, a new 7nm 64-bit octa-core processor (2x 2.73GHz Mongoose M4 / 2x 2.4GHz Cortex-A75 / 4x 1.9GHz Cortex-A55).
The Note10 will come with 8GB RAM/256GB internal storage, while the Note10+ will come with two configurations: 12GB RAM/256GB storage and 12GB RAM/512GB storage. Take note that it's the first set of Samsung phones to adopt the speedier UFS 3.0 storage spec for internal storage.
Additionally, the Galaxy Note10+ will also have a microSD slot so you can add up to 1TB more of storage. So yes, that means the smaller Note10 doesn't have expandable storage but thankfully it now has a pretty huge default storage option.
The Galaxy Note10 also features what Samsung says is the world’s slimmest vapour cooling system, which delivers optimal performance during gameplay without adding additional bulk. We’re told there’s also an AI-based Game Booster feature that optimizes performance and power consumption depending on what game you’re playing.
Video capture gains quite an upgrade with the Galaxy Note10 series, with a slew of features that many will find helpful. For starters, you can now do simple edits of your video recordings right from your phone, like cuts to video and add transitions. The S Pen can also be used here, so it’s easier for you to find just the right moment you want to trim. Samsung says there’s also a partnership with Adobe so that you can get Adobe Rush from the Samsung store on the Note10 at a discounted price.
During capture, Live focus video adds simulated bokeh to your videos you can adjust via slider, making it easier for you keep focus on your main subject. As you can see in the video below, Zoom-In Mic amplifies the audio in the frame while diminishing the background noise. Meanwhile, Super steady has been taken up a notch, and is available in Hyperlapse mode too, so your time-lapse videos will be even more stable.
Even screen recordings get an upgrade. With Screen Recorder, you can now add picture-in-picture video of yourself using the front camera, so you can literally talk your audience through what you’re doing in real-time. As you can see from the video above, you can pull this up from the Quick Settings menu at any time and easily toggle the picture-in-picture on and off.
Augmented Reality seems to be a big focus for the new Galaxy Note10 phones. Both phones get the AR Doodle feature, which lets you personalize photos with dynamic drawings, effects and animations that move with your subject, as per the video below. These can be stored either as photos or videos (i.e. screen captures), and seem like a great way to keep the kids entertained.
3D Scanner on the other hand, is an app you can download that takes advantage of the extra DepthVision Camera on the Galaxy Note10+ to take AR even further. As you can see in the video below, you can use the Galaxy Note10+ to scan an object by walking around it, then make it move in perfect sync with another person. Cool!
This has got an upgrade too, as the Note10 and Note10+ can now connect to your computer using a basic USB-C cable. This works with both Mac and PC, and Samsung has a partnership with Microsoft that will allow you to make and receive calls on Windows 10. Once connected you'll be able to use your PC's mouse and keyboard to control your phone. Data transfer will still be safeguarded by Knox, so you can easily encrypt any sensitive data.
The Galaxy Note10 has a 3,500mAh battery while the Galaxy Note10+ has a huge 4,300 mAh one. Both support Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 as well as Super Fast Charging for faster charging wired (compatible with QC2.0, AFC, and PD3.0. Because it supports up to 45W wired charging, Samsung says just 30 minutes of charging will have the Galaxy Note10+ sufficiently powered for a full day’s use. You will also be able to wirelessly charge Qi-enabled devices like the Galaxy Watch and Galaxy Buds by placing them on the Galaxy Note10.
The new Galaxy Note10 and Note10+ certainly feel like great additions to the Samsung’s line-up. The Cinematic Infinity Display on the Note10+ is one of the largest you can get now, and the Note10 should fit nicely for those who want something a little smaller. Performance-wise, you now have the option of going up to 12GB RAM and 1.5TB (with an additional 1TB microSD card) on your phone, which is even more than some ultrabooks, so you’ll certainly be able to get through all your daily chores and more.
The S Pen has also been massively upgraded so it’s even more useful than before. The new video editing and AR features are certainly things you don’t see on any other phone. This means you can do even more on just your phone. When you do want a larger screen, the improved DeX capabilities mean you can easily work with both PC or Mac, transferring files or working off both the phone applications and that of your workstation with ease. All in, that’s quite a compelling package.
Stay tuned right here for our full review once we get hold of the commercial versions that are retail-ready. In the meantime, check out our Samsung Galaxy Note10 local pricing and pre-order promos article.