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Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ quick review: Perfecting the perfect phone

Anuj Bhatia
At 6.8-inches, the Note 10+ packs the largest screen ever on a Note device. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

Samsung’s latest flagship Galaxy Note 10 Plus will attract you, no matter how many times you ignore this beasty smartphone. There is a mystique, an aura behind the new Galaxy Note 10+ that establishes it as a category-defining model, and while the Galaxy Note series has evolved over the past decade, the core formula hasn’t changed: a large screen-sized smartphone with the best possible hardware available and of course the unparalleled stylus experience of the S Pen.

It is clear, though, that Samsung is trying to create a superphone for a niche audience. In other words, Samsung is offering so much in an inherently premium phone which has everything you expect in this price range. The question is, are you ready to invest Rs 79,999 on the new Galaxy Note 10+?

I have spent the last few days with the Note 10+ and here is what I have observed while reviewing the Galaxy Note 10+.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ quick review: Goodbye bezels, gorgeous display

At 6.8-inches, the Note 10+ packs the largest screen ever on a Note device. The Infinity-O display is massive in size, but it s more manageable thanks to the bezels that have been shrunk down to extend the screen real estate. There’s just a tiny single circular hole in the center of the display at the top, but it never felt like an obstruction.

And I have to say the Dynamic AMOLED display is simply gorgeous. Colours pop out; blacks are deep, and viewing angles are great. Sure, it doesn’t offer a 90Hz display as the OnePlus 7 Pro, but honestly I don’t care much. Most people would rather be interested in the overall quality of the panel.

The Galaxy Note 10+ has a big, bright and colourful display. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

We are talking about a curved screen that has the Quad HD+ resolution (3040×1440 pixel), which translates to 498 pixels per inch. The 6.8-inch HDR 10+ screen is perfect for watching movies, playing games or even reading e-books. If you edit photos or videos a lot on a phone, then the Note 10+ is the perfect device. The screen also reduces harsh blue light and it results in the display that’s softer on eyes.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ quick review: Elegant design, no headphone jack

With the Note 10+, Samsung is trying to match the level of perfectness that goes into making an expensive Swiss luxury watch. Take a closer look at the phone and you will understand why I am saying this. The device gives us the same feeling of a rare collectible watch.

I got the Aura Glow version of the Galaxy Note 10+ and it is beautiful. The design changes colours based on how the light hits the back of the phone. My only issue with the Aura Glow model is that it picks up fingerprints easily. Get a case as soon as you but the Note 10+.

The Galaxy Note 10+ is IP68 rated. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

After using it for two days, I was surprised to see how I got used to the Note 10+. Despite being an ultra-large-screen sized phone, it felt good to use in one hand. It’s not delicate, it feels solid.

The Bixby button is removed (yes, it’s gone). Instead, you will find the volume rocker and power button on the left side. There’s still a USB-C port and S Pen slot on the bottom. The top side of the phone has a hybrid slot for SIM and microSD.

Whether you like it or not, the headphone jack is removed. Samsung says it had to remove the headphone jack, because it wanted to add a bigger battery. I don’t mind if the phone lacks a 3.5mm headphone jack. I have completely switched to wireless headphones, so I don’t really miss a headphone jack.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ quick review: Top performer, all-day battery

The Note 10+ is a fast phone. However, the differences between the Note 9 and Note 10 aren’t as drastic as they have been in previous years.

Powering the phone is Samsung’s own Exynos 9825 processor (at least, in India), coupled with 12GB RAM and 256GB or 512GB of expandable storage. This is the company’s first 7nm chipset, so the performance will be equivalent to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 processor and Huawei’s Kirin 980.

Look, the Note 10+ is a fast phone and every graphics-heavy game I played during the review process ran without any issue. Apps like Facebook, Twitter and Spotify loaded fast.

The punch hole front camera is in the centre of the display. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

The One UI, which is built on top of Android 9.0 Pie, is clean. This user interface has now become standard across all Samsung phones. But I have one big issue with the Note 10+. Most users, including myself, will struggle to find out how to turn off the phone. Just by pressing the power button won’t turn off the phone. You have to press the volume rocker and the power button together to turn off the Note 10+. Another option is that you to have to pull down the top navigation bar and tap the power button icon to turn off or restart the phone. It’s an unnecessarily complicated process.

The Galaxy Note lineup is always known for its insanely long battery life and the new Galaxy Note 10 is no different. Even though I used the phone for only two days, I do feel that the Note 10+ can easily last more than a day on a single charge. I took the phone off the charge at 8:30 am and it lasted an entire day and continued to have enough power left to last a few more hours. The phone also comes with a 25W charger, but Samsung is also making a 45W charger which will be sold separately.

The Galaxy Note 10+ is just as fast as any other smartphone. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

The speakers are louder and clear than the Note 9. I also liked a built-in Wireless PowerShare that lets you charge other phones using the back of the Note 10+ and Galaxy Buds. The phone’s in-screen fingerprint reader is similar to what you get on the S10+, though I found it to be slightly faster and responsive. With the Note 10, Samsung is also updating the Dex mode. But I am yet to try Samsung s desktop-like software that is powered by the smartphone.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ quick review: S Pen, Quad cameras

The Galaxy Note 10 is incomplete without the S Pen. The new stylus is not only shorter but thicker than the Note 9’s. It feels just right to hold and comes in handy when jotting down notes. The 2019 edition of S Pen has both hardware and software improvements.

The S Pen now comes with an accelerometer and gyroscope. It has Bluetooth connectivity and can be charged via the port on the bottom of the Note 10+. Having new sensors means, new capabilities.

The S Pen has to the highlight of the Galaxy Note 10+. Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

I would like to mention two features (so far) that impressed me most about the S Pen. With Convert to text, you can write anything in your handwriting with the S Pen, and the Note converts it into written text. You can even share it to Microsoft Word. Not just English, but Hindi, as well as Marathi and Urdu languages, are also supported.

In a brief test, I also tried Air Actions gestures, you can control the camera or music playback (it works with Spotify) from a distance- hold down a button on the S Pen to control the different modes. It works, but I have to say that it’s still a gimmicky feature. Unless developers come up with new ideas, Air Actions will remain niche.

Also read| With Air Actions, Samsung Galaxy Note 10 shows that touchless gesture controls could be the future

The S Pen like a magic wand with Air Actions on the Galaxy Note 10+. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

Air Doodle is another feature that takes advantage of the S Pen and the phone’s ToF sensor. I briefly tested the feature during the phone’s global launch in New York, but haven’t yet explored Air Doodle fully.

Just like the Galaxy S10+, the Note 10+ offers three cameras (telephoto, regular and ultra-wide). You get a 16-MP ultra-wide lens, a 12MP standard lens and a 12MP telephoto lens. The fourth lens is basically a Time-of-flight (ToF) sensor to unlock augmented reality capabilities.

I have used both the S10+ and Note 10+ and I did not find a major difference in the picture quality. Look, don’t get me wrong. Regular users will appreciate what the phone’s cameras are capable of.

You can see sample shots yourself below

Shot on the Galaxy Note 10+ using the Live Focus mode. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)
Shot on the Galaxy Note 10+. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)
Shot on the Galaxy Note 10+ using the Live Focus mode. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)
Shot on the Galaxy Note 10+ using the Live Focus mode. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)
Shot on the Galaxy Note 10+ using a 12MP telephoto lens. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)
Shot on the Galaxy Note 10+ using a 12MP regular lens. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)
Shot on the Galaxy Note 10+ using a 16-MP ultra-wide lens. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)
Shot on the Galaxy Note 10+ using a dedicated night mode. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)
Shot on the Galaxy Note 10+ (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

Night Mode is kind of OK, but don’t expect it to be as good as the Pixel 3’s. For video, Samsung has added a new portrait mode, which blurs the background, similar to what you do in photos. The video quality is good.

Another new feature is "zoom in mic" which helps amplify the audio to whoever is in the frame. I am yet to try out the feature. The 10MP front-facing camera is fine or selfies.

The Galaxy Note 10+ has four cameras on the back. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ quick review: Verdict

Samsung has succeeded in its attempt to position the Note 10+ as a device for power users. However, Samsung is caught in the dichotomy between the Galaxy S10+ and Galaxy Note 10+. Both smartphones are impressive devices, to say the least. Like the Note 10+, the S10+ comes packed with a lot of feature an everyday consumer would expect from a flagship smartphone. In my opinion, the only differentiator between the Galaxy S10+ and Note 10+ is the S Pen. That’s one reason I think is what driving Samsung to invest in the Galaxy Note series and bring new phones each year.