At least at first glance: Note 10 and S10 smartphones use the same processor, they have very similar cameras and a long battery life. So is the S Pen the only reason to buy the Note 10 Plus? What are the differences that create a new experience? Read my review for more information about the small things that make up the largest Samsung phone and whether it is worth buying.
What’s in the box? Note 10 More с S Pen. USB-C to USB-C cable. User manual. Tweezers and 2 nozzles for S Pen. USB-C to normal USB adapter. USB-C to Micro-USB adapter. SIM tray eject tool. Earphones USB-C (from AKG). 25 W charger (USB-C).
1.Design and appearance
This year, Samsung has two different sizes of the Note series phone: the compact Note 10, which is easy to use with one hand, and the positively gigantic Note 10 Plus. The Galaxy Note 10 Plus is really an XL device, it is about the same size or larger than the iPhone XS Max, Google Pixel 3 XL or OnePlus 7 Pro. The device is slightly lighter than most flagship phablets, with bevelled edges for a relatively comfortable grip.
It is also a very stylish device. There are three official color options: classic black, white and Aura Glow (glowing or glowing). In the latter case, the surface reflects the surrounding light, which floods with all kinds of gradients and colors. It looks enchanting. The design of the smartphone itself is durable, with a protective glass front / rear and an aluminum frame in the middle.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus has one interesting feature: all physical buttons are moved to the left, while most competitors have an on / off button on the right. This is a bit of a weird decision that takes time to get used to. However, I have noticed that the on / off button is slightly dangling, which you certainly do not expect from a premium telephone.
Like the previous Samsung flagships, Note 10 Plus has a degree of protection against dust and moisture IP68. It is easily resistant to an unintended drop of water. And yes, the Note 10+ does not have a 3.5 mm headphone jack.
2. Flag Screen
The number one reason why you want a flagship phone these days should be the screen. The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus is just as great here as its premium price suggests. We get a gigantic 6.8-inch AMOLED screen that is very bright, displays beautiful, vibrant colors, high contrast and excellent viewing angles.
You should know that the maximum panel resolution is Quad HD +, but the screen is set to Full HD + by default to save battery power, especially since the difference is insignificant. I switched to a higher resolution, but with regular use I didn’t notice a big difference in sharpness, so I used the phone with the default setting.
You also have different color settings: natural and vibrant color modes. Of course it looks more realistic, but if you really need bright, saturated colors, you need to switch to clear. It is also worth mentioning about the opening of the front camera, which is now in the middle. It is quite small, smaller than in S10 and does not particularly interfere with the interaction with the gadget.
Despite all the beauty of the Galaxy Note 10 Plus screen, I have to take into account that it does not correspond to the new trend in refresh rates up to 90 Hz. The OnePlus 7 Pro and some gaming phones already have such higher frequencies that it offers really smooth performance. Note 10+ does not support this cool technology at the same time.
I must also mention something that might bother you: because the screen has small frames, we often have phantom touches. These are unintended touches of simply holding the phone, but they are quite common. They are probably connected with slightly beveled edges that come in contact with the hand holding the phone.
The biggest change regarding the S Pen in the Galaxy Note 10 Plus is how you feel. Now we have a one-piece design, more durable. While they may have noticed a slight rattle on previous S Sens and they felt a bit cheap. This time it got a lot better. Otherwise the pen has a familiar shape and size, with one physical button. If you now take the S Pen on the lock screen without even waking the phone, you can record notes. Everything has become even more convenient.
Innovations are primarily associated with the new S Pen functions, such as a magic wand. The accessory is equipped with the best battery that lasts up to 10 hours and is automatically charged when you place the pen in place. Now you can also use the stylus to operate the camera application. Hold down the button and swipe up or down to switch between the front / rear cameras. Swipe to the side – to switch between different camera modes, make a circle and hold the button – to enlarge.
In terms of software, Samsung Notes now recognizes handwritten text better. The software is pretty good and you can easily convert your handwritten notes into a Microsoft Word file. The AR Doodle option is also available for us, using the S Pen to paint over someone’s face.
3. Galaxy Note 10 Plus cameras
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ has a camera that is very similar to the one we saw in the S10 series, but with a few minor changes. Technically, the Note 10 Plus comes with four cameras at the back and one at the front. Here are their features: 12-megapixel main camera, aperture from f / 1.5 to f / 2.4, OIS. 16-megapixel ultra-wide lens, f / 2.2. 12-megapixel 2x telephoto lens, f / 2.1, OIS. DepthVision VGA camera. 10 megapixel camera on the front.
DepthVision technology is what other companies call Time-of-Flight (ToF). Cameras help to better determine the depth of the image and are used to assist in Live Focus mode.
How do you get realistic images? Really super! Samsung has slightly changed the color reproduction and the smartphone has managed to squeeze a little more detail out of the sensor to take better photos. I like the colors, although I would not call them completely realistic, a bit more saturated and lively. The exhibition here is also a bit brighter, which is typical for Samsung phones, we get similar colors on all three main lenses.
Compared to the iPhone and Pixel, Galaxy Note 10 Plus cameras stand out for their balanced and fun colors. They go no further than the contrast, such as the Pixel, and show faces better than the iPhone. Although not always, we usually get very stable and visually attractive results.
5. Video quality
Regarding the video, I will say that we have standard recording options for the flagship: 4K / 60 fps, 4K / 30 fps, FullHD / 60 fps and FullHD / 30 fps. 4K video quality is improved with built-in stabilization. You can also enable the even better Super Steady mode to take super-stable shots. Super Steady mode used to use trimming of an ultra wide angle camera in the S10 series, but on Note 10+ it works with a regular lens.
Samsung also has some new tricks, the first is called Live Focus video and actually blurs the background, leaving only the subject in focus. It looks very ugly. The problem is that with the video you inevitably have moving objects, but unfortunately the blurry background effect doesn’t move at the same speed as the object, it stays behind and leaves a lot of ugly artifacts behind. Again, the effect looks exceptionally artificial and fake. It seems that we get a cheaper filter here than a good filter.
The second filter works slightly better in the same category where we only have the color of the object and everything else in the background becomes black and white. This effect is quite creative. Another novelty that is pretty good on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus is what Samsung calls “microphone with magnification”, which is automatically switched on. Every time you bring an object closer, the sound that comes out is amplified. This is great if you are filming someone who is talking far away.
Finally we have a mode for teenagers: AR Doodle. This allows you to use the S Pen stylus to draw a mustache, ears and all kinds of other scribbles on top of a live video. All these drawings are glued to the face of the person on your video.
6.Interface and functionality
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus comes with the latest Samsung One UI 1.5 software on top of Android 9 Pie. The shell looks pretty good: the single user interface is now better optimized for single-handed use with a large number of controls in the lower part of the screen, which is easily accessible.
In terms of performance, the Note 10 Plus comes in two different versions: in the United States, the phone is equipped with a Snapdragon 855 processor (not 855+), while the entire world will use the device with its own device. Samsung chip – Exynos 9825. The model I tested works on Exynos. Note 10+ on paper looks like a monster. In reality, the flagship flies high, scores in the tests, works great in games and has a huge 12 GB RAM.
Another feature is that the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus has not only received the incredible 256 GB internal memory in the basic version, but also that it is the new standard UFS 3.0. Despite all these incredible improvements, I cannot say that the Note 10 Plus is perfectly consistent with the iPhone, Pixel or OnePlus when it comes to perceived flexibility in daily work. There is a slight delay when opening the keyboard, scrolling through notifications and starting the application panel. It’s not very big, but it is, and the only way I can explain it is the Samsung One user interface.
8.Safety and biometrics
The Galaxy Note 10 Plus uses an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner that is built into the display. The same technology that Samsung introduced earlier in the S10 series. At that time, the scanner was a bit cunning and the first time our prints were not recognized. Compared to the newer optical sensors, the Huawei P30 Pro or OnePlus 7 Pro.
Unfortunately, the same applies to the sensor in the Note 10 Plus. I still don’t feel that the ultrasonic fingerprint scanner here is as good as the competitors mentioned. But we get a perfectly working face unlock function based on the image. However, this is not comparable with 3D scanning with Face ID on the iPhone. Not so safe and not so good in low light.
Smartphone Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ is equipped with two speakers that can play music with a fairly powerful accent. They do not reproduce both bass and the new iPhone, but regarding the phone’s speakers, they sound excellent in mid and high frequencies.
One of the speakers points downwards, while the other makes a sound from two different places. The result of three different places where the sound comes from is that no matter how you hold the phone, it is hard to accidentally drown it. Here I must remind you of the lack of a 3.5 mm headphone jack. Note 10 Plus does not even include a USB-C to 3.5 mm adapter, so if you need it, you must purchase it separately. I am glad that we get the USB-C headphones tuned by AKG in the set, with elastic bands of different sizes for a good fit in the ears. The headset sounds pretty good, like for a free set, but for experienced fans it won’t be a substitute for high-quality headphones.
10. Battery autonomy
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus has a 4300 mAh battery. It is larger than that of many competitors, and the 4000 mAh battery in the Note 9 from last year. Real use shows that the phone works for a while, but cannot compete with the Huawei P30 Pro, which has a really excellent battery life. Note 10+ works all day without problems, but not much longer.
In the test, the Galaxy Note 10 Plus battery lasted 8 hours and 21 minutes, which is less than its predecessor and above the 2019 flagship average. I also checked the device’s operating time when playing a video from YouTube and found that in this case it is 7 hours and 6 minutes. Clearly lower than the Galaxy S10 + and Huawei P30 Pro, with a result of approximately 9 hours.
Prices and alternatives for Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus
Galaxy Note 10+ is a premium phone, of course you can understand it for the price. There is a flagship of $ 1,100 (72.5 thousand rubles) in the United States and from 1,100 euros (80 thousand rubles) worldwide, for the 256 GB version. After an amount of $ 1,200 (79 thousand rubles) in the United States and 1,200 euros (87 thousand rubles) in other countries, you can get a model with 512 GB ROM. This makes it one of the most expensive phones on the market, second after the iPhone XS Max with the same amount of memory. However, if you need more affordable flagships, there is: Google Pixel 3 XL with an excellent camera and timely software updates. The device is nowadays available for $ 700 (46 thousand rubles).
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus is really impressive in some areas. There is a beautiful design, a version of Aura Glow, a more functional S Pen, an incredible display, an abundance of memory for storing data, which are also the fastest, and high-quality speakers. But in other areas we see that the phablet from Samsung does not completely match what competitors offer. Perhaps the high refresh rate on phones such as the OnePlus 7 Pro has spoiled us. We felt how incredibly smooth a smartphone can work. The ultra-long zoom of the Huawei P30 Pro cameras and their impressive low-light performance have shown us a new dimension of optics in smartphones. Unfortunately, the newest and best Note does not have such functions.