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Samsung Galaxy Note10 and Note10+ review: Substance meets Style

By Marcus Wong - 7 Dec 2019

Overview and design

Note: This article was first published on 24 August 2019.

Welcome to the Galaxy Note10 and Note10+

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’s approach has, as there are now two versions of the Galaxy Note – the Note10 and the Note10+. You have probably read our hands-on from the launch event and here's the full review of these new flagship-class phones.

Measuring 151.0 x 71.8 x 7.9 mm, the 6.3-inch Galaxy Note10 is smaller and handier, while the larger 6.8-inch Galaxy Note10+ measures 162.3 x 77.2 x 7.9 mm, gives you a lot more screen real estate. Samsung has made sure that both have Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O displays, and essentially the same processor setup, so the experience doesn’t differ too much regardless of the size of display you choose.

Which is which? Without the benefit of scale it's certainly hard to tell the difference.

Both phones are powered by Samsung’s Exynos 9825 processor, a new 7nm 64-bit octa-core processor with the following core configuration: 2x 2.73GHz Mongoose M4 / 2x 2.4GHz Cortex-A75 / 4x 1.9GHz Cortex-A55.

The Note10 and Note10+ are the first Samsung phones to adopt the speedier UFS 3.0 storage spec for internal storage. The Note10 comes with 8GB of RAM and 256GB internal storage, while the Note10+ comes with 12GB of memory and either 256GB or 512GB of internal storage.

If storage expansion is important to you, note that only the Galaxy Note10+ comes with a microSD slot and storage can be expanded by up to 1TB via a microSD memory card. 

Of course, the iconic S Pen gains some new tricks too, which we’ll cover later. In the meantime, here’s a table that lists out all the key specifications of both phones.

Samsung Galaxy Note10 and Note10+ specs
  Samsung Galaxy Note10+ (256GB) Samsung Galaxy Note10
  Samsung Galaxy Note10+ (256GB) Samsung Galaxy Note10
Operating system
  • Android 9.0 Pie with Samsung One UI
  • Android 9.0 Pie with Samsung One UI
Processor
  • Samsung Exynos 9825 octa-core (2x2.73 GHz Mongoose M4 & 2x2.4 GHz Cortex-A75 & 4x1.9 GHz Cortex-A55)
  • Samsung Exynos 9825 octa-core (2x2.73 GHz Mongoose M4 & 2x2.4 GHz Cortex-A75 & 4x1.9 GHz Cortex-A55)
Built-in Memory
  • 12GB RAM
  • 8GB RAM
Display
  • 6.8-inch / 3,040 x 1,440 pixels (498 ppi) / 19:9 ratio / Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O Display
  • Always-On Display
  • 6.4-inch / 2,280 x 1,080 pixels (401 ppi) / 19:9 ratio / Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O Display
  • Always-On Display
Camera
  • Rear: 12-megapixel f/1.5-2.4, 26mm wide + 12-megapixel f/2.1, 52mm telephoto, 2x optical zoom + 16-megapixel, f/2.2, 12mm ultrawide, TOF 3D VGA camera
  • Front: 10-megapixel, f/2.2, 26mm (wide),Dual Pixel PDAF
  • Rear: 12-megapixel f/1.5-2.4, 27mm wide + 12-megapixel f/2.1, 52mm telephoto, 2x optical zoom + 16-megapixel, f/2.2, 12mm ultrawide
  • Front: 10-megapixel, f/2.2, 26mm (wide),Dual Pixel PDAF
Connectivity
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 + 5GHz), 4G+ LTE Cat 18 (up to 1200Mbps), Bluetooth 5.0, VHT80, MIMO (2x2), GPS, GLONASS, NFC, Screen Mirroring
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 + 5GHz), 4G+ LTE Cat 18 (up to 1200Mbps), Bluetooth 5.0, VHT80, MIMO (2x2), GPS, GLONASS, NFC, Screen Mirroring
Storage Type
  • 256GB internal storage
  • microSD expansion (up to 1TB)
  • 256GB internal storage
Battery
  • 4,300mAh
  • Samsung Super Fast Charging
  • Wireless charging
  • 3,500mAh
  • Samsung Adaptive Fast Charging
  • Wireless charging
Dimensions
  • 162.3 x 77.2 x 7.9 mm
  • 151.0 x 71.8 x 7.9 mm
Weight
  • 196g
  • 168g

If you’re wondering how the Note10 series phones differ from the previous Note9, check out this video:

 

Design

The new prismatic design really plays with light well.

The Galaxy Note10 phones now come in what Samsung calls “Prismatic Colour Perspective design”. The entire body is fairly glossy, so light reflects off the back of the phone nicely. That’s especially obvious with the Aura Glow colour you see here, as that seems to give a rainbow effect depending on how the light hits it.

The edges are also more rounded now, so the phone is now completely symmetrical. With a screen-to-body ratio that’s greater than 94% (Samsung isn’t releasing actual figures), you’re getting a lot more screen than most phones. In fact, we’d say the larger Note10+ has more screen than the vast majority of the phone models in the market now.

With a thinness of just 7.9mm, the Note10 phones really fit nicely in your hand.

In terms of size, 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.

The Note10+ is larger but it isn't overwhelming unless you have really petite hands. It measures 162.3 x 77.2 x 7.9 mm and weighs 196g, so you’re only taking on 30g more in terms of weight. The trade-off is that you’ll get a larger 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O display with a QHD+ resolution of 3,040 × 1,440 pixels (498ppi). It looks gorgeous but more on the displays' performance later.

Both screens are HDR10+ certified and UI verified. The thickness of this phone or rather, the lack of thickness for a phone with such a large screen is impressive, and we feel the new design makes the phone fit more comfortably in your hand despite the size.

The only difference in camera systems is the Note10+ gets an extra depth sensor.

In terms of cameras, both phones get a triple camera configuration on the back. This goes back to the vertical orientation, with what looks to be very similar setup to what was found on the earlier 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, but no headphone jack. The Note10 again features stereo speakers custom-tuned by AKG with the earpiece doubling up as the second speaker. Like the S10, the Note10 offers Dolby Atmos surround sound, both with headphones plugged in and through the phone's own speakers.

There's no longer a headphone jack on the Note10 phones.

The power button can be found on the right side, while the volume rocker is once again on the left. But now there’s no longer a Bixby button. The improvement in voice recognition means you can activate Bixby or Google Assistant just by voice.

Both the phone and the S Pen are IP68 rated, so you needn't worry about a little dust and water. It's worth noting also that 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.

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