The original Galaxy Note hit stores some nine years ago. That device helped spur a revolution in the way we see a modern-day large-screen sized smartphone. Fast forward to 2019, Samsung still offers the Galaxy Note series and the iconic S Pen has gained several new enhancements and features.
But today, Samsung is at the crossroads. Its Galaxy S series flagships have evolved to an extent that the line between the Galaxy Note and Galaxy S phones have blurred. That leads to another question: How does Samsung differentiate between the Note and Galaxy S smartphones? Is the S Pen enough to invest in an expensive Galaxy Note phone?
With the new Galaxy Note 10, Samsung wants to take the idea of flagship productivity and a creative mobile device to a whole new level. In fact, Samsung has been hyping the Galaxy Note 10 to the extent that it released two new versions of the device.
We spent some time with the Galaxy Note 10+ in New York, and here are our initial thoughts.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ hands-on: The size of the phone should not concern you
The Galaxy Note 10 doesn t look like last year s Note 9 and honestly, it s a good thing. In fact, the phone is a refined version of the Galaxy S10+, but I am happy to see a clear distinction being made to differentiate between the Galaxy Note and Galaxy S series phones.
The Galaxy Note 10 is a good looking device and the glass back gives it a luxurious feel. The punch hole front camera is placed in the centre of the display and the quad-camera setup on the back is vertically aligned to the top left corner. Under the display, there’s a Qualcomm ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, just like the Galaxy S10+. It should be more accurate and faster than the optical under-display fingerprint sensor Huawei Mate 20 Pro uses.
The handset’s glass back panel is slippery, a lot slippery. A clear case is needed for better grip. The phone packs a USB-C in the bottom and comes in multiple colour options including Aura Glow, Aura White and Aura Black (I liked the white colour option for some reason).
Like any other Samsung flagship phone that has been released in the past three years, the Galaxy Note 10 has IP68 dust and waterproof rating. In terms of audio, the phone s speakers get pretty loud, but the headphone jack which people still use a lot has been omitted.
Yes, the Galaxy Note 10 is a big phone, but it isn t that much heavier to hold. It s impressively light for a big-size phone. Because the 6.8-inch screen is edge-to-edge, even small-handed users like me will be comfortable using the Note 10.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ hands-on: The display is gorgeous
My favourite part of the Galaxy Note 10 is the screen which is simply gorgeous. The 6.8-inch Quad HD+ Super AMOLED screen – that s 3040 1440 pixels – is big and colourful. This is an Infinity-O display, which translates to thinner bezels and expanded real screen area.
A phone like the Note 10 should be apt for someone who watches a lot of movies and plays games on the go. The screen also supports the HDR10+ video standard, meaning deeper blacks and more colours while watching HDR-capable content on YouTube and Netflix.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ hands-on: The S Pen is still the highlight
Samsung s Galaxy Note series is incomplete without the S Pen, a feature which has a cult following. You would use the S Pen to jot down notes, or sketch. I have bad handwriting, but it’s fun to use the S Pen.
With the Galaxy Note 10, Samsung has tried to reinvent the stylus, again. Samsung is adding a number of new features to increase the capability of the S Pen including Air Actions, handwritten note-to-text conversion and the ability to export notes in various formats, including Microsoft Office. But my personal favourite feature is Air Actions.
Think of the S Pen as a remote control for the Note 10. For instance, with the phone s camera open, clicking the S Pen’s button and hovering your hand left or right takes photos and when you hold down the clicker and move the stylus up and down, it switches between rear and selfie cameras. Air Gestures is a nice addition that brings gestures to the S Pen.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ hands-on: It s fast
Powering Samsung’s latest flagship is a 7nm Exynos 9825 processor or Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chip and 12GB of RAM with either 256GB or 512GB of storage (yes, this model does support a microSD card slot that supports memory cards up to 1TB). I had a few minutes with the Galaxy Note 10. There’s not much to say about the performance, but it does feel snappy while opening apps and browsing the web.
Battery life is also improved, claims Samsung. The battery capacity on the Note 10 has been increased to 4300mAh and Samsung claims the phone can last a full day on a single charge. I expect the battery will last longer on the Note 10 compared to the Note 9.
The wireless charging feature, which is already available on the Galaxy S10 and S10+, is coming to the Note 10+ as well. This feature allows you not only to charge your Note 10+ using a Qi-compatible wireless charger, but to charge other devices like Galaxy Buds with your smartphone, too.
Enterprise users might be interested in Dex, a software feature that allows the Note 10 to be paired to a TV or monitor for a virtual desktop. DeX in the Galaxy Note 10 connects directly to a Windows or Mac computer TV using the phone’s USB-C connector. Paired with a mouse and keyboard, it works just like a conventional desktop.
The Note 10 runs Samsung s One UI interface layered over Android 9 Pie. Expect a similar software experience as you would get on the Galaxy S10.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ hands-on: 5G ready
Samsung will offer the Galaxy Note 10+ in both LTE and 5G variants. This is the company’s second flagship to get 5G support. Earlier this year, Samsung launched the Galaxy S10+ 5G in select markets. I wasn’t able to see a 5G-ready Galaxy Note 10+ in person, so I can’t speak about it. However, the Galaxy Note 10+ 5G should be seen as a futureproof device. 5G is the next-generation of wireless technology that succeeds 4G LTE, and promises to deliver faster uploads and downloads and far lower latency.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ hands-on: Quad cameras magic
The Galaxy Note 10+ has four cameras on the back and a single 10MP selfie camera on the front. What you get is a 16MP ultrawide camera, a 12MP wide-angle camera, a 12MP telephoto camera capable of 2x optical zoom, and the fourth camera is an infrared "time of flight" camera, especially for depth sensing. The setup is similar to what you get on the Galaxy S10 5G.
As has been the case with the Galaxy S10, the cameras on this device look familiar. Colours are saturated and images are sharp – nothing much different from the Galaxy S10 s camera. I could manage to only briefly test the cameras in the controlled lighting in my limited time. There will be a detailed review soon.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ hands-on: Early impressions
The Galaxy Note 10 could be a big deal, if you want to upgrade your old Note 8 or Galaxy S8. I personally enjoyed using the Galaxy Note 10 – its massive 6.8-inch screen, snappy processor, quad cameras and writing with the stylus makes Samsung s Galaxy Note series unique. I know the line between the Galaxy Note and Galaxy S phones have blurred but you know, the S Pen is only available on the Note 10.
Disclaimer: The author is in New York on the invite of Samsung India.