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Samsung Galaxy Note10 And Note10+ Review


Introduction

The Samsung Galaxy Note10 and Note10+ Review, Few smartphones are quite as legendary and powerful as the Galaxy Note line. Over the years since the original Note N7000, back in 2011, Note smartphones have pushed many envelopes. Putting productivity and prosumer needs first is what helped the Galaxy Notes define the “phablet” category and bring new life to the stylus accessory. Naturally, a loyal fan-base followed one that Samsung is very proud of and tends to flaunt at every new Note launch.


Eight or so years later the Galaxy Note family has an improbable weight on its shoulders and more than a few backbreaking to fight at the same time. So they’ve approached these challenges by delivering two clear Note 10 this year – the Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+ sibling.

Samsung Galaxy Note10

Samsung Galaxy Note10

  • Body: 151 x 71.8 x 7.9 mm, 168 grams, IP68 rating.
  • Screen: 6.3″ Infinity-O Dynamic AMOLED, 1080 x 2280px resolution; 19:9 aspect ratio; 401ppi; HDR10+ certified.
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 855 or Exynos 9825 (market dependent)
  • Memory: 256GB storage, no microSD slot with 8GB RAM (LTE) or 12GB (5G).
  • OS: Android 9.0 Pie, Samsung One UI.
  • Rear camera:Wide (main): 12MP, 1/2.55″ sensor, f/1.5-2.4 aperture, 26mm equiv. focal length (77° FoV), dual pixel PDAF, OIS. Telephoto: 12MP, f/2.1 aperture, 52mm equiv. focal length (45° FoV), PDAF, OIS. Ultra-wide: 16MP, f/2.2 aperture, 12mm equiv. focal length (123° FoV), fixed focus.
  • Front camera: 10MP, f/2.2 aperture, 25mm Equiv. focal length (80° FoV), dual pixel PDAF.
  • Video recording: Rear: up to 4K 2160p@60fps, EIS up to 2160p@30fps; HDR10+ recording. Front: up to 4K 2160p@30fps with EIS.
  • Battery: 3,500 mAh Li-Ion (sealed), 25W wired fast charging. 12W Fast Wireless Charging 2.0, Wireless PowerShare
  • Connectivity: USB Type-C (v3.1); Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac/ax(Wi-Fi 6); GPS, GLONASS, Beidou, Galileo; NFC; Bluetooth 5.0, ANT+.
  • Misc: Ultrasonic under-display fingerprint sensor; stereo speakers (bottom-firing + earpiece).
  • S-Pen: BLE S-Pen 5.8 x 4.35 x 105.08 mm, 3.04 grams unibody, Lithium titanate battery (LTO) up to 10 hours of standby, 6-axis sensor, including Gyro and acceleration sensor.
Having two concurrent Note models is not a first. Take the Note Edge as an example, but mostly the Galaxy Note 3 Neo, which came out alongside its lead ship Note 3 sibling. Even so, having two Note models has not been a thing for a very long time and could be discerned as a change in mentality. Either that or a sign that the Note is finally conforming to the ongoing trend of stretching out smartphone lineups in an attempt of saturating the market.
Marketing aside, we can not really complain about having more options. Also, the regular Note 10 is not that different from its bigger sibling. A few inches smaller and carrying a few mAh of juiceless, one Time Of Flight (ToF)camera fewer and some slight downgrades to charging are not enough to be detrimental to the overall Note experience. What you get with the Note 10 is essentially a Galaxy S10-sized, or thereabout, device complete with all the Note features. A formula which will appeal to many.

Samsung Galaxy Note10+

  • Body: 162.3 x 77.2 x 7.9 mm, 196 grams, IP68 rating.
  • Screen: 6.8″ Infinity-O Dynamic AMOLED, 1440 x 3040px resolution; 19:9 aspect ratio; 498ppi; HDR10+ certified.
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 855 or Exynos 9825 (market dependent)
  • Memory: 12GB RAM with 256GB/512GB storage, hybrid microSD slot.
  • OS: Android 9.0 Pie, Samsung One UI.
  • Rear camera:Wide (main): 12MP, 1/2.55″ sensor, f/1.5-2.4 aperture, 26mm Equiv. focal length (77° FoV), dual pixel PDAF, OIS. Telephoto: 12MP, f/2.1 aperture, 52mm Equiv. focal length (45° FoV), PDAF, OIS. Ultra-wide: 16MP, f/2.2 aperture, 12mm Equiv. focal length (123° FoV), fixed focus. DepthVision: ToF VGA, f/1.4, 72° FoV
  • Front camera: 10MP, f/2.2 aperture, 25mm Equiv. focal length (80° FoV), dual pixel PDAF.
  • Video recording: Rear: up to 4K 2160p@60fps, EIS up to 2160p@30fps; HDR10+ recording. Front: up to 4K 2160p@30fps with EIS.
  • Battery: 4,300 mAh Li-Ion (sealed), 45W wired (charger sold separately) Super fast charging. 15W Fast Wireless Charging 2.0, Wireless PowerShare
  • Connectivity: USB Type-C (v3.1); Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac/ax(Wi-Fi 6); GPS, GLONASS, Beidou, Galileo; NFC; Bluetooth 5.0, ANT+.
  • Misc: Ultrasonic under-display fingerprint sensor; stereo speakers (bottom-firing + earpiece).
  • S-Pen: BLE S-Pen 5.8 x 4.35 x 105.08 mm, 3.04 grams unibody, Lithium titanate battery (LTO) up to 10 hours of standby, 6-axis sensor, including Gyro and acceleration sensor.
That being said, there is no doubt that the Note 10+ is the true successor to the proud Note line. A new AMOLED panel, now taller and with more pixels than ever manages to outdo even the Note 9 in terms of sheer productivity real estate. A new ToF camera, more battery and a new and better S Pen only sweeten the deal further.

Samsung Galaxy Note10+ vs Galaxy Note10

  • Bigger, heavier body: 162.3 x 77.2 x 7.9 mm, 196 grams.
  • Bigger, higher resolution display: 6.8″, 1440 x 3040px resolution, 498ppi.
  • More RAM, bigger storage option and microSD card slot: 12GB RAM, 512GB storage, hybrid microSD slot.
  • Additional ToF camera: DepthVision: ToF VGA, f/1.4, 72° FoV
  • Bigger battery and faster charging: 4,300 mAh, 45W wired (charger sold separately) Super fast charging. 15W Fast Wireless Charging 2.0.
If nothing else, the Note 10 duo is definitely bold and offers many exciting new features. Sure, it has lost some of the features the Note series had before, but this only comes to show that the Galaxy Note has undertaken some major changes to its formula. Ones that are likely to shape its future.

Design, hardware, and controls

A lot has changed about the Note 10 designed compared to its antecedent. Yet, the most apparent similarities are still there. That’s pretty hard to pull off and Samsung’s design team definitely deserves credit for keeping the Note 10 instantly identifiable as a Note device. Frankly, we can not even put our finger on what exactly makes this effect possible, making the achievement all that more impressive.

Starting with the more important changes, the Note10 is obviously all about slimming down edges. A lot of work has been done to carry/convey the sense of an all-display device as close as possible.
The vertical growth of the display is also instantly clear. The 18.5:9 aspect ratio of the Note 9 has now given way to a taller 19:9 one – the same proportions the Galaxy S10, S10+, and S10e use. And thins is just one example of the many ways the Note 10 is kind of catching up to the S10 this year. We will definitely mention more as we delve deeper.

The new display basically leaves just a tiny sliver of space above the display. hardly big enough to fit the earpiece and a few sensors.
Following the example of the S10 family, the Selfie camera is placed inside a controversial punch hole. Since this is likely to be one of the most polarizing aspects of the Note 10 as a whole, we will leave the usability, convenience and obtrusiveness aspects of the new design up to the community to debate.

We will still note some facts, though, namely that for better of for poor the selfie cut-out on the Note 10 is smaller than that on the S10 series. Samsung evidently achieved this by slightly downgrading the aperture of the 10MP selfie on the new Note10 to f/2.2, compared to f/1.9 on the S10. It’s a bit early for us to definitely say whether or not the compromise was worth it, but the thing to take away here is that the punch-hole is in a different spot and definitely smaller.
While on the subject of edges, there are hardly any left beneath the panel of the Note 10 and Note 10+ as well. While this definitely looks cool and contributes toward the overall “all-display” look Samsung is trying for, it does bring about some ergonomic concerns. We bring this up with Note 9 and its chin-reduction back in its day as well. The thing is that the traditional Android navigation buttons end up very low on the phone when you start sharply slimming down the chin. This leads to a lot of thumb gymnastics.
The need for extra stretching is particularly noticeable on the taller Note10+, but is also kind of an annoyance on its smaller sibling, since both phones are pretty tall and require a good vertical grip position so they don’t start tipping over at the top.
It’s also particularly tough to see the trusty 3.5mm audio jack finally go from the Note10. There is no longer a heartrate sensor, a SpO2 sensor or an iris scanner.

Note 10 and Note 10+
Both the Note 10 and Note 10+ have their power button on the left-hand side of the device, right beneath the volume rocker. For anybody really used to a power button on the right frame or anyone used to avoid pressing the Bixby button on the left side, this is a major change. Frankly, when we complained about the high arrangement of the power button on the S10 family, we didn’t really have this solution in mind. To Samsung’s credit, the new placement has said button at a sensible and easy to reach height (unlike what we see on the S10 family).
And did we mention that the Bixby button is now officially gone with the Note 10? Yay! Instead, you can call on the assistant by long-pressing the home button, or rather the always-on and tactile responsive area of the display above the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor.
Samsung now allows you to set a custom action on double-press of the power button. This gesture was before reserved only for quick camera launch. Now you can remap it if you like.
While on the subject of control placement, it is definitely worth mentioning a few things about the edges themselves. Like its antecedent and most modern phones, for that matter, Note 10 employs a “glass sandwich” design. In this case, this needs two curved pieces of Gorilla Glass mounted on a central metal frame. The frame is definitely thinner on the Note 10. Or at least the visible bits on the sides are. So much so, in fact, that the area that houses the power button and volume rocker is spread, just to provide enough room.
On the flip side, the edge does tend to cultivate into your palm for a nice and confident grip. An appreciated and likely intentional effect since all that extra width taken away from the frame seems to have ended up on the glass back. Its curved sides are now a lot wider and extend deeper into the sides of the phone. And while definitely pretty, that Gorilla Glass finish is still very smooth.
The Note 9 was a bit more conservative with its display curvature compared to the S10 and this is luckily still the case with the Note 10.


Samsung Galaxy Note10+ and Note10 head to head

Samsung did a really excellent job scaling the Note 10+ down to Note 10 size, which is why all of the design inspection we made so far apply to both. We can only visualize it was no easy task since the vanilla Note10 ended up with a body, measuring 151 x 71.8 x 7.9 mm, 168 grams, which is overall smaller and lighter than the Galaxy S10+ at 157.6 x 74.1 x 7.8 mm and 175/198 grams. Mind you, this includes the S-Pen, fitting inside the body of the phone and all the extra hardware that goes with it.
And, like we already mentioned, the regular Note10 really isn’t a major step down from its bigger sibling in terms of features. As far as build and quality go, the pair feels exactly as premium and well made. The regular Note10 is probably the easiest to hangle Note phone in a while.

Note 10 and Note 10+

The vanilla Note10 is also the only way to get a slightly “more fun” color in the Aura Pink variant. Unfortunately, its availability could be limited.
As far as the other finishes go, both phones can be had in Aura Glow and Aura Black. And the Note10+ (and possibly the Note10 as well, on some markets) also has an Aura White option, which is probably the easiest one of the bunch to keep clean. Good luck maintaining a black unit smudge-free for more than a second.
The Aura Glow is better in this regard. It’s also really nice to look at. It combines the color sifting capacities of the Prism finish, as seen on Galaxy S10 units with a strong mirror effect. Even a slight tilt or change in angle changes the color of the surface dramatically. This being the case, there is no proper way to really capture the color on camera. No still shot will ever do it justice so we definitely urge you to see it in public before a purchase decision. An Aura Blue (for the Note10+) and Aura Red version are also on the table.

Display

Samsung is fairly leading the pack when it comes to mobile OLED panels and we expect no less of eminence from their most premium Note devices. The Note10+ definitely does not let you down in this department. Not only is its 6.8-inch display the biggest on a Note phone so far (some measurement and aspect ratio assumptions applied), but it is also of the Dynamic AMOLED variety.

Note 10 and Note 10+

Compared to the Super AMOLED found on the Note9, this is the same, current-gen display tech as featured on the S10 phones. What the “Dynamic” bit denotes is an increased focus on HDR. HDR10+, to be exact, which allows the Note10 and Note10+ to read and play modern HDR content with dynamically changing per-scene color metadata.
Compared to the Super AMOLED found on the Note9, this is the same, current-gen display tech as featured on the S10 phones. What the “Dynamic” bit represents is an increased focus on HDR. HDR10+, to be exact, which enables the Note10 and Note10+ to read and play modern HDR content with dynamically changing per-scene color metadata.
For now, we are absolutely content with stating that the QHD panel on the Note10+ is amazingly sharp, crisp, bright and punchy. yet again no high reviving rate, even so, when it is very likely one of the best-looking displays on any phone currently out there.
 The Note 10 panel is not only smaller at 6.3 inches, but also with an original resolution of FullHD (2280 x 1080 pixels). This works out to a pixel density of 401ppi, compared to the 498ppi of the Note10+. This is even lower than the 438ppi on the Galaxy S10e. But before you ask, yes, the screen still looks perfectly sharp in person.
Surely, if you put the pair side by side and really pixel-peep, there is a distinction in sharpness. Still, we definitely see why Samsung considered even this deprecated panel worthy for a Note device. It even comes absolutely with the same HDR10+ certification as its bigger sibling.
The Note 10 panel is not only smaller at 6.3 inches, but also with a native resolution of FullHD (2280 x 1080 pixels). This works out to a pixel density of 401ppi, compared to the 498ppi of the Note10+. This is even lower than the 438ppi on the Galaxy S10e. But before you ask, yes, the screen still looks perfectly sharp in person.
Sure, if you put the pair side by side and really pixel-peep, there is a difference in sharpness. Still, we definitely see why Samsung deemed even this downgraded panel worthy for a Note device. It even comes complete with the same HDR10+ certification as its bigger sibling.

Camera

The Note10 duo is a progressive update over the S10+. And the camera function is where that’s felt the strongest.


Looking sharply at the specs of each one of the rear shooters only reveals an aperture upgrade in the telephoto, camera, which is now provided with a brighter f/2.1 lens. And in fact, Samsung representatives we talked to on the topic of the camera entirely consider it identical to that on the S10. Something we will definitely check out in a deep manner in the full review.
And simply to be obvious, this doesn’t mean that the camera setup is bad. On the contrary, the variable aperture main 12MP, Dual Pixel autofocus, OIS snapper has more than proven its worth by now. And the 16MP extremely and 12MP telephoto makes for more or fewer companions.
The Note10 camera has also learned a few new tricks mostly related to video recording. Samsung declares Super Steady mode is now amplified compared to the one on the S10 devices. We managed to take hold of some official Samsung samples for you to check out for the several video capture modes. It is worth noting that these are not full resolution and have been stuffed. Still, they should do fine to hold you over before we get some genuine samples of our own for the full review.


There is a cute AR trifle trick you can use to make something and have it follow the subject’s face around. And there is now an effective audio zoom feature, called Zoom-In Mic.
The Note10 also conducts more advanced video editing options for your clips in post. The built-in video editor got a remarkable feature boost, complete with various transition effects, speed adjustments and all sorts of goodies we can’t wait to check out in the full review. There is also a version of Adobe Premiere Rush explicitly optimized for the Note10 for anyone that needs even more video editing freedom.
Moreover nice, but nothing Samsung can’t realistically port over the S10 as well, potentially making its owners pretty happy. The only real extra camera modernity is the ToF shooter on the Note10+, which Samsung calls Depth Vision. Live Focus for Video is also on the list of new features on the Note10, which can best be encapsulated as Portrait mode for videos. We already got our first taste of this particular feature on the Galaxy A80, where it didn’t really influence all that much.


On the first survey, Samsung has found a way to enhance the effect on the Note10, but there is more exploration into the matter yet to be done. Further on the basic portrait, background blur effect, Samsung has also flung a few extra modes into the mix, like the pretty self-explanatory color point and defects. You can check these out in the short clips.
One thing worth to take into account here is that as far as we can currently understand the inner workings of Live Focus for video it might depend on a ToF camera, a sense that it could be limited to the Note10+ and be absent from its smaller Note10 sibling. Lamentably, info on the matter remains quite ambivalent at this time.
Last but not least, the S Pen has a few distant gestures now and can control the camera in a number of nifty ways from a distance. This includes zooming in and out or changing camera modes. You can skip over to the S-Pen section for a more detailed clarification of how this works.

S-Pen

The Galaxy Note stylus – a long-standing staple of the whole device family and a remnant of a past era of technology skilfully re-incorporated into the modern smartphone ecosystem. Important for productivity for many long-term Note users it is still right where it belongs on the Note10. Both size variants, to be specific – great news considering a large amount of internal space the accessory takes up.

As for the S-Pen itself – it remains perfectly familiar, but now complete with a few extra smart tricks. The main functionality of Samsung’s Note S-Pen has remained unchanged. Pen removal detection, hovering above the display, the S-Pen button all work in the same way.
Physically, the new Note10 S-Pen looks and feels pretty much same to the one in the Note9 as well. It measures 5.8 x 4.35 x 105.08mm and tips the scale at 3.04 grams. It even has the familiar clicker on one end.
There are some great details and physical differences with the new generation, which has what Samsung is calling a “unibody” design. However, we will dig deeper into these in this full review.
For now, the important thing to note is that the Note10 S-Pen has become an even more capable remote control for the phone. Last year was actually quite big for Samsung’s stylus. Alongside the standard array of traditional features, it also got some new active ones via Bluetooth Low Energy technology and a small internal capacitor that acts like a battery. The new features are gathered under the S-Pen remote moniker and basically boil down to pressing the S-Pen key from a distance varying numbers of times to open apps, control the gallery, take photos with the camera and so on. This is what the Note9 took to the table.


This year Samsung has introduced a 6-axis sensor, including a gyroscope and accelerometer into the small S-Pen. It’s almost unreal when you think about it – all that tech can now fit in this small pen.
This allows access of some new remote motion-based gestures, dubbed Air actions. If you ever wanted to feel like a wizard now you can wave the S-Pen around and control the Note10 from a distance.
We particularly enjoyed the new camera gestures. What you do is stand reasonably far away (up to a few meters) from the Note10 to take up a group shot. Then you press the S-Pen button and wave the styles left or right to change between modes or up and down to change between cameras.
Rotating your hand counter-clockwise or clockwise controls the zoom level in a particularly eye-catching manner. If nothing else you can always depend on this for some genuine reactions out of unsuspecting participants in the shot.

Note 10 and Note 10+
This can potentially have some interesting gaming or interactive applications, seeing how the new S-Pen is practically a Nintendo Wii-style joystick. That is to say, not incredibly sophisticated but pretty good enough to have some fun.
The new S-Pen supports 5 native remote control functions out of the box, including single, double press, horizontal/vertical gesture and rotate, which are actually customizable. Plus, Samsung is offering an Air actions SDK for developers, so the potential is there.
With all those smarts features, the battery life on the tiny S-Pen could be a consideration. We can’t really say how rapid the stylus will run out of juice if you fling it around, but Samsung has promised a solid 10 hours of standby from the Lithium titanate battery (LTO) while away from this phone.

Software and new features

Software is another aspect we will definitely be sinking our teeth deep into for the full review since the Note phones are legendary for its abundance of features. Some not exactly obvious at first look and often doing their work behind the scenes. Still, even after spending a brief time with the Note10 duo there are some things we can… ahem… note.

For one, there are no major changes in the phone UI and that comes as no surprise. Samsung users have been enjoying a pretty high level of consistency in experience across many phones, especially flagships. What we are getting at here is that you should feel right at home moving from any other recent One UI Samsung over to the new Note10 or Note10+.
That being said, there are a few smart new features worth mentioning. Besides the remote gestures we already described, the S-Pen is also put to great use in the improved hand-writing recognition features of the Note10. OCR has really come a long way and works surprisingly well on the Note10, even with pretty horrible handwriting. The Note is also smart enough to not only transcribe your scribbles but also save any color options you might have input and then export all of the data to Word for further editing you want. Now you can also directly save notes in PDF format or as an image.
The S-Pen can be pretty helpful while editing text. You can use it to zoom and highlight. Doodling is pretty fun on the Note10 especially if you take advantage of AR Doodle. That way you can have your drawing follow people around in the camera viewfinder.
Speaking of video, the Note10 takes a bit more serious and in-depth approach to editing and post-processing. First off, there is a redesigned and more feature-rich default video editor to play around with. And if that’s not it, Samsung has partnered with Adobe to create a version of Adobe Rush specifically for the Note10. You can grab that as an optional download for some serious video editing work.

And if you plan on putting combined clips on the Note10, chances are you might want to capture the screen as well. Samsung has you covered with a pretty versatile new screen recorder, complete with a picture in picture mode. The latter could potentially be good for game recording as well.
And talking about on gaming, Samsung has extended some extra effort in this respect as well. On the one hand the Korean giant boats of impressive thermal performance thanks to what they claim is the world’s slimmest vapor chamber cooler design. Then there is the revamped Game Booster, imbued with new AI smarts. We get it, everybody has to keep up with the buzz words one way or another.
To be fair, though, Samsung’s AI additions to what on the surface looks like the familiar Game Button on the navigation bar sound interesting. When you need all the performance the Note10 has to offer, the new AI Game Booster promises it will deliver automatically. However, when it detects that whatever you are playing is simply not that intensive, it will dial back clocks and try its best to save the most battery without harming your performance. Nifty!

Note 10 and Note 10+
We’re sure that this is the little tip of the feature iceberg on the Note10. There is definitely pretty more to explore, like the newly extended partnership with Microsoft, which promises seamless connectivity between the Note10 and Windows machines. Link to Windows is now prominently featured as a shortcut on the Note10 Quick Panel allowing one-click connectivity to a Windows PC. This connection allows for seamless notification forwarding, messaging and gallery access from the PC, without needing to pick up your phone. DeX has become smarter with some extra polish as well.
And if you have a tendency to use your PC for gaming more than productivity, the new PlayGalaxy Link P2P has you covered. It can be used to seamlessly take your PC games on the go. We can’t wait to try everything out and report back in the full review.

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