Samsung’s Note series is the flashiest of its smartphone ranges, featuring the newest tech and in a super-sized form.
But with phones getting bigger and flashier, Samsung has tried to out-do itself this time with the new Note 10 and Note 10+.
We spent a week with the larger of the two phones, the Note 10+, and though the design and power of the phone are welcome, there’s some aspects of the big new device that we didn’t completely love.
Here’s what we thought of the new phone.
Samsung Note 10+: Design
We can’t talk about the Note 10+ without talking about the size of the phone. At 6.8-inches and a weight of 196g, this is a hefty phone.
Even using the Pixel 3 XL at 6.3-inches seems smaller and much lighter compared to this.
Whilst that big edge-to-edge AMOLED screen, with HDR10+ certification, may be great for watching Netflix on the go or writing notes with the S Pen, the general size of the phone makes it quite unwieldy in practice. It’s almost impossible to use one-handed without the fear of some extreme thumb-based RSI and gets quite annoying after a while.
However, the overall design of the phone is something to behold. The curved screen looks miles away from the design of even last year’s iPhone XS, and that Aura Glow colour seems appropriately futuristic for a 2019 device. One criticism is that the glass back is a fingerprint magnet – you might want to invest in a case to protect the back from becoming a smudgy mess.
Samsung has tidied up the camera arrangement too; instead of the bulky horizontal camera array on the back of the Galaxy S10 range, the sleek vertical lens grouping means as little design real estate is taken up as possible – leaving space to admire that glass back. But as mentioned, that thing is a fingerprint magnet so it takes a lot of work to keep it looking that good.
For smaller hands, the Standard Note 10 at 6.3-inches is probably a better bet which has all the design features in an easier-to-use model.
Samsung Note 10+: Camera
Samsung says it has made substantial improvements when it comes to the cameras on the Note 10 range. Last year’s Note 9 had two rear lenses, both 12MP, whilst the Note 10 has three lenses and the Note 10+ has four: an ultra-wide angle lens, wide angle lens, telephoto lens, and a 3D-depth sensing camera for improved portrait shots.
We were really impressed with the ultra-wide angle lens on the Galaxy S10+ released earlier this year, and though the images taken with this lens don’t fit neatly into the prescribed Instagram boxes, they look dynamic and capture more of a moment.
By comparison, the ultra-wide angle lens on the Note 10+ makes images look almost like those taken using a fish-eye lens, curving the subjects inwards. It’s comical in comparison to the images taken in the normal photo mode and probably not a feature you would really use as a result – which is a shame.
The Live Focus mode is the shortcut to portrait-style images, and where the addition of that 3D-depth sensing camera should shine. But in images like the below, there appears to be a lack of definition. The subject appears blurred and there’s almost no depth of field.
There are a lot of new video features, however, so if you use your smartphone to take video then this is where you could see the benefits. Super steady stabilises footage, particularly in the hyperlapse mode, and there’s a new video editor so you can make changes on the device without having to upload it to a laptop or computer. Screen recorder will also come in handy for streamers and vloggers; capture what’s on the screen, add reactions and annotate content using the S Pen.
Samsung Note 10+: Performance
With a substantial 12GB of RAM, saying this phone is fast is an understatement. The performance is so smooth you barely even think about it – exactly how technology should be.
Switching between apps and emails to phone calls and podcasts is seamless. If you’re a gamer, you’ll appreciate this even more. The AI-based Game Booster feature optimises performance and power consumption depending on the game, whilst the device itself has an extremely slim vapour chamber cooling system so it doesn’t overheat during a session.
As well, the battery on this phone is a delight. It can easily handle two full days of uses, including social media, phone calls and podcast listening, and the power mode feature which minimises some of the phone’s power in order to preserve battery, can keep it going for longer.
To be fair, you would expect nothing less from a phone with a 4,300mAh battery.
Samsung Note 10+: Additional features
Of all the phones out there, the Note 10+ is one of the most feature-packed devices. There’s the integrated S-Pen which you can have a lot of fun with. Need to scribble something down quickly? Pop out the S-Pen and get writing straight away on the screen, and you can save the notes when you’re finished, all without having to unlock the device.
A new Air actions feature allows you to control certain aspects of the phone using gestures with the S Pen. It’s fun to try and set up but seems like it’s something you need to remember how to do before it becomes second nature – if ever. Depending on the type of person you are, it could become a crucial tool for using the phone, or an unnecessary feature that you forget about two weeks into owning it.
Another benefit of the Note 10 range over other smartphones is the DeX feature. Connect the device to a screen with a USB connection and it transforms the phone into a PC. Handy for leaving the laptop at home and quite impressive in practice.
Samsung Note 10+: Verdict
The Note 10+ is an extremely powerful device, and with super long battery life and features like DeX, there’s almost no need to carry a laptop or tablet around with you as you can rely on this phone to get things done.
However, it is extremely large, which won’t appeal to everyone. And some of the camera features didn’t stand up to other devices – and when you’re spending that much on a phone you want to ensure the camera is something special.
Samsung Note 10+: Price and availability