If you’ve waited for more than kingdom come to pick up a Samsung Galaxy S10, don’t worry.
Samsung just launched a better version of its flagship with a pokey thingy called stylus nestled within. Oh, and it's called the Galaxy Note!
No kidding. Much like last year, the Note series gets an incremental update and if you’re scratching your head over which of the awesome-but-not-jaw-dropping features the Note 10+ offers, let us remind you ⧿ a fancier S-pen (that pokey thing), smarter video capture with AR, an even better screen (as if the previous one wasn’t enough to send your telly to the trash can), more screen-less bezel and just like clockwork it’s also got more RAM and more storage.
So are the positives of Note 10+ enough to make us forget the horrors of Galaxy Fold?
Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ Screen and audio
The 6.8in Dynamic AMOLED QHD+ display is the best in this business. Finding faults along its gorgeous curved HDR10+ display is like finding a needle in a haystack, except the needle isn't there. Very few smartphones have an amazing display and the Note 10+ is on top of that list. The blacks and contrast are spot-on and the brightness will sear through your soul. Even under harsh sunlight, the phone manages to keep the quality crisp and visible. We recommend watching Netflix (It’ll get hella addictive). Oh, and it’s one of the most eye-friendly displays to date. It’s got this low blue-light mumbo jumbo which means no matter how long you binge Netflix, your eyes won’t strain.
The Dolby Atmos audio adds a new layer of immersion. While watching Sacred Games, we switched the audio from standard to Dolby Atmos and it felt quite nice. There was a wider soundstage with recognisable depth in the midrange. It still gets beaten by the iPhone XS in terms of clarity but that’s just us being nitpicky.
There are essentially no bezels and just a punch-hole camera on the top centre of the screen. It's smaller than the Galaxy S10 and least bit intrusive.For the first time, the Note 10+ also gets a smaller brother, the Galaxy Note 10. And in typical Note fashion, it's got a big screen ⧿ 6.3in. It’s smaller than the Note 10+, but still plenty of screen real estate to doodle on.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ camera
The tiny black dot on the top which has the 10MP front-facing camera does a decent job of taking selfies. We were expecting more from the Note 10+ front camera but the quality of the images is almost similar to the S10 front camera (which is not a bad thing). We compared it to the iPhone XS’ front camera and the Note 10+ has a bit more sharpness and detail in well-lit conditions. It’s still not the best in the business, but there isn’t much to complain here.
Around the back, you get three lens. Starting from the bottom, a 12MP telephoto lens, a 12MP wide-angle lens in the middle and a 16MP ultra-wide lens on the top. And along the sides you have a flash and a DepthVision camera that, according to Samsung, lets you do fancy things like 3D scanning your favourite teddy bear and have it mimic movements, probably moonwalk to Thriller? Although, we never got it to work because it wasn’t showing up in the camera UI.
The quality from the rear camera is still very “Samsung” and by that we mean, the over-smoothening and colour-popping images that we've seen on most Galaxy S series. It lacks the detail of the Pixel, and even the drama of the Huawei Mates, or the natural tonality of the iPhones. That said, it’s still a very capable shooter, one that’ll send your Instagram profile on the trending page. It's even got an Instagram mode in the default camera app.
In perfectly lit conditions it's great, and pictures admittedly look better for social media flex or to share with friends. We know because we did a comparison poll on our Instagram and took votes from you.
The wide-angle adds so much flexibility to experiment with photos and if you’re an absolute nerd then Huawei and Samsung are the only two who have a manual mode in their default camera app at this price range.
There’s a bigger focus on videos this time and literally so. You can now zoom in while recording a video and the Note 10+ will focus on the specific audio coming from the zoomed-in object. Very handy for live concerts. We never used it more than once. Even if we tend to record some videos for social media using the camera, this feature never really helped us. If you’re looking for something so specific as this, Samsung’s audio enhancing feature works, to say the least.
Aside from the regular camera settings and variable aperture (ya, this one has it too), there’s the general faff of AR emoji and AR stickers, both of which we used just once and never again. Those 3D smarts also let you doodle in thin air or draw a silly moustache on your buddies. It’s all very fun and engaging, but not Note-worthy…
Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ S-Pen
So why do you really need a Note? You can pick up a Galaxy S-series smartphone (all fabulous in their respective sizes) and call it a day. Well, it’s the pokey thingy we spoke about earlier. And this time, you can do silly gestures from afar so people REALLY know you have a Galaxy Note 10.
The S-Pen now features a gyro sensor and an acceleration sensor, which basically means you can wingardium leviosa your way to control the camera (Just pronounce it correctly). Simple swipe gestures such as up, down left and right will toggle the camera into different modes and even switch between front and rear. If you spin your wand (I mean S-Pen) in a circular motion, it will zoom in and out. Pretty neat right? Developers also can jump right in and start tweaking this for their own apps. Again, never used it more than once but if you wanted it, it’s there.
The Samsung Notes app is also smarter than ever before. It can understand your handwriting and if you’ve had a bit too much at the party, it will recognise those wobbly writings too, as long as its in English, Hindi, Marathi and Hinglish. You can quickly convert your drunk messages to text without squinting at the keyboard. Better yet, it will put them down on a PDF or a word doc so your friends can really fathom the love at 5AM.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ Body and performance
Like any ₹80K smartphone (only Samsung and Apple dare venture there), the Note 10+ is a thing of beauty, both in hand, and to onlookers. The fit and finish is probably on par with the iPhone XS. The Gorilla Glass 6 sandwich (front and back) eases so effortlessly into the metal frame that it’s hard to find faults here.
Samsung has finally booted the headphone jack too — took courage? Maybe not but on pre-orders you can pick up a pair of Galaxy Buds for ₹5K (which are terrific by the way and cost ₹10K). And if your house mortgage can only siphon ₹79,999 for this very unit, then Samsung has generously added a USB Type-C braided AKG earphones along with a fast charger in the box. It can fast-charge using a 45W fast charger as well. There’s a silicon cover as well but it won’t hide the Aura Glow variant from attracting eyeballs. We only like the Aura Red variant, but it’s exclusively for the smaller Note as of now.
Samsung is very hush about outright mentioning the Exynos processor with their 2019 flagship launches, but we (Google) know that it’s the Exynos 9825 which is Samsung's first 7nm processor in a smartphone and it’s as smooth as the Exynos 9820 from the Galaxy S10+ review. With 12GB of RAM, you can expect this beauty to last till the Galaxy Note 13 or 14 rolls out.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ DeX
With the Note 10, Samsung has joined hands with Microsoft to make DeX and Your Phone apps easy and accessible. It’s a nice initiative but one that needs a lot of polish. It’s like the people who made these apps didn’t use it themselves. Let’s start with DeX.
DeX mode is nice and all, kinda silly if you ask us, but with the DeX app in the Microsoft Store and Apple Store you can connect the phone via a cable and have the DeX experience run on your laptop app alongside the Android mode on the phone. It’s nice but its DeX, which means you can’t drag and drop files from the phone to the laptop. Extremely pointless because that’s primarily why AirDrop exists in the first place. Otherwise, we have no use of a smartphone app to be on a laptop.
Your Phone app takes pointlessness a step further. It’s like the Dell phone app but much smoother. You can access your notifications, messages and photos. Although you can only see the first 25 photos (why Samsung?). It will even mirror your phone so you can use the entire phone seamlessly and it’s very responsive but still can’t drag and drop files. And phone mirroring keeps the screen of your smartphone display active which is a new level of strange. If you’re caught using this in office, say goodbye to privacy. Peeking colleagues have two screens to drill their nose in your business.
Just give us a clone of AirDrop!
Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ verdict
The Note 10+ is seriously expensive, so Samsung has made sure to tighten every last screw on this to keep it from faltering. Rightly so, this is the best Galaxy Note we’ve got our hands-on and its enough to race to the finish line for being the best smartphone of 2019.
The Note 10+ is smack on top of the ‘I’ve got a lot of money so which phone should I buy?’ market and this might even sway the mighty iPhone users, simply because of its better productivity offering. The S-Pen, expandable storage, slick performance and better battery life all point towards capturing the creative sphere of smartphone buyers. If you find yourself searching for an all-rounder that lets you take business on the move, don’t splurge till you’ve tried the Galaxy Note 10+.
And if you don't need the S-Pen, the S10 is now slightly cheaper with similar performance and features.
To understand the Note 10 and its features from a casual smartphone user perspective isn’t going to help. If you want all of the best and regular Samsung features then just get an S series smartphone. If, and only if, you find yourself in a situation to absolutely make use of this S-Pen and the other Note features then the Note 10 offers flexibility like no other. Are you a chemist (a scientist, not the ones who sell medicines off a counter)? Then removing the S-Pen and jotting down formulas on-the-go is a great replacement for paper. If you juggle social media and live the influencer high life, the Note 10+ is a powerhouse with great battery life and the S-pen will extend that finer touch to social media stories. Are you a videographer or a photographer? That massive storage can be expanded with a MicroSD card and even the zoom-in audio feature is handy to shoot quick videos while Adobe Rush works effortlessly to edit videos on the go (Samsung’s built-in video editor is half-baked at best). The need to buy a Note 10+ is specific and it’ll always stay that way.