It’s been just over a month since Samsung launched the highly anticipated Galaxy Note 10 phones, and the initial excitement has cooled off in the light of the cold reality. Ever since Apple launched its iPhone 11 series around the same time, the general hysteria about smartphones is still at its peak, but a month with the latest, best smartphone is still enough to blunt the edge of pure hype.
During this 30-day period, we used a 256GB Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ Aurora Black phone. However, this is not the US model using the Snapdragon SoC. Instead, it’s a version using Samsung’s internal Exynos 9825 SoC. The difference between these two chips is almost imperceptible.
If you have a Note 10+, you have one of the fastest phones in the world, and the difference between the best rivals is unlikely to be enough to influence your buying decisions if you are not only interested in synthetic benchmarks.
So, the first thing you need to know about your time with the Note 10+ is that performance has never been an issue. If something doesn’t work well on this phone, it won’t work well on any modern smartphone. With this little item off the list, we can dive deeper into the actual Note 10+ experience.
What we got on the Galaxy Note 10+ Box
If you’ve bought a modern Galaxy phone since Samsung decided to upgrade to USB Type-C, then you know that quite a few parts were included in the package to make the transition easier.
You will get an OTG adapter for connecting USB A devices to your phone, as well as a Micro-USB to Type C adapter and a USB A to USB C cable. Unfortunately, none of these pretty useful accessories were included with the flagship Note 10+. Inside the rather attractive box, you’ll find one pair of AKG USB-C “tuned” headphones, one USB-C to USB-C cable, and a wall charger that works exclusively with USB-C.
One problem immediately arises here. If you want to connect the Note 10+ to any device that doesn’t have a USB-C port, you’ll have to go and buy a Type C to Type A cable, or disconnect it from another device. This is especially odd since one of the unique flagship features, support for Dex without a dock, requires a USB cable connection to a PC, and you rarely see USB-C connectors on computers that aren’t relatively new. Even then, it is not yet a standard and widespread feature.
A very nice addition is the factory-installed screen protector and the included silicone cover. Both are simple but very convenient. The transparent silicone cover hides the back of course, but if you intend to use the cover, it is better to wait until your phone arrives to see if you like it.
Silicone cases for the Galaxy Note 10+ aren’t cheap, and if you like the bundled case, it might be wiser to invest that money in a Samsung Care plan.
However, the lack of a 3.5mm to USB-C adapter is unforgivable in a phone of this caliber and price. It’s a small extra charge, but the average Note 10+ user won’t need a way to connect the 3.5mm audio auxiliary cable to their phone at some point. Adding the cost of such an adapter would certainly not impact profitability.
Aesthetics and Build Quality
Since the S8, Samsung has really improved its design game and loosened up its tech muscles. The last few generations of Galaxy flagships have developed a distinctive futuristic design that really does feel a little too advanced for 2019 compared to what else is available.
Now the proprietary double-curved screen has become even closer to the edges of the device, almost completely getting rid of the bezel. More than 90% of the front of the phone is screen, and this is a real revelation.
Of course, the question remains of where to place the front-facing camera, but barring some future under-screen camera technology or a motorized pop-up solution, it’s hard to imagine how the designers at Samsung could have done it less. intrusive. The front camera has been reduced to a single tiny hole punch that very quickly becomes invisible in day to day use.
Switching apps between full screen and normal mode is pretty easy. So if you can’t stand the hole punch in certain applications, you can simply constrain the edges of the application so as not to go into that area.
How well a phone is set up doesn’t really matter if it literally hurts to use it. Make no mistake, the Note 10+ is massive. It is quite possible to operate it with one hand, but it requires some effort. By lifting and moving the phone with all four fingers, you can reach almost any corner of the screen.
YouTube URL: https://youtu.be/aFtDcW-Kk7M
Samsung is aware of this and has long used one-handed mode in its portable phones. It is not activated by default and makes using your phone with one hand as easy as using a smaller phone by dynamically changing the display and UI as you use it.
We didn’t feel the need to activate this feature, but users with less than average hands will surely be glad to have it. If you’re curious, this mode isn’t hidden too deep.
Just open Settings and go to Advanced Features> Motions and Gestures> One-handed Mode.
Fingerprint reader at the bottom of the screen
One of the worst casualties in the aspect ratio war was the fingerprint reader. Facial recognition and the very inconvenient “iris scan” that first appeared on the S8 don’t work as well as a traditional fingerprint scanner.
Moving the fingerprint reader to the back of the phone, however, causes all sorts of usability issues. If your phone is secured to a car mount, unlocking is a pain and you will have to resort to a password or pattern. If the phone is on your back, you have to lift it to unlock, or, again, go back to the password.
YouTube URL: https://youtu.be/lYtdxDedCLM
So everyone will be thrilled to know that the under-screen fingerprint reader works flawlessly. It’s fast and pretty easy to use once you know where it is. Samsung has an OS-level overlay that pops up whenever an app asks for fingerprint authentication. Wherever we tested everything worked as advertised. Whether it was web authentication for Paypal or our banking app, it just worked.
While some have complained that under-screen readers are noticeably slower than traditional programs, this has never been an issue. However, around the middle of the month, Samsung released an update that included read speed improvements. While we are happy to believe that it is faster now, it seems to be just as fast.
It is almost impossible to find a flagship smartphone or even a mid-range model that has what anyone would call a “bad” camera. These days, differences in camera performance between the best dogs often boil down to subjective preference or subtle technical differences that don’t matter to the average consumer.
By different standards, the Galaxy Note 10+ doesn’t have the best cameras to date. However, it’s hard to imagine anyone not being impressed with Samsung’s serious commitment to making this incredible all-round content creation machine.
The phone has three main cameras, from ultra wide angle to telephoto. The easiest way to demonstrate what you are getting is to show you. Here are some personal photos from the Note 9, excluding, of course, the new ultra-wide lens.
This first image is the result of the Note 10 Plus’ ultra wide-angle lens, which the Note 9 lacks.
This is a standard Note 9 wide-angle lens.
Here we can compare the results as this is the standard wide-angle lens of the Galaxy Note 10+.
The Note 9’s telephoto lens was a welcome addition and it still looks pretty darn good.
Video is also a pretty important aspect of today’s premium smartphones. So we decided to head to the local off-road racing track and test the Note 10+.
First, here’s a clip using an ultra wide lens and “super stabilization”. Of course, YouTube does little damage to visuals with its compression, but it remains an equal playing field as it happens with all videos uploaded to the Internet.
YouTube URL: https://youtu.be/sMQkjq9wQAY
For an active sporting event, you really need slow motion, and here the Note 10+ really impressed with its standard slow motion setting.
YouTube URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLPEapciQZs
As you can see, the Note 10 Plus is a step up from the phone it replaces, but you have to look at the photos side-by-side as if the Note 9 was taking bad photos. However, the inclusion of an ultra wide angle lens is a pretty big issue if you’re a serious phone photographer. This is a stunning feature that justifies an upgrade from the previous generation Note.
Everything was shot in automatic mode here, as most people are likely to use the phone. The built-in camera app, however, includes many manual options for those looking to achieve near-professional results.
Samsung Dex has been the desktop environment built into their phones since the release of the S8. Using the Dex Station accessory, you can connect a screen, mouse and keyboard to your phone. Docking it takes you straight to Dex, where you can do pretty much anything you would on a normal, low-performance machine.
Dex stations were quite expensive, although you can get them these days for a fraction of the starting price. However, it doesn’t seem to have caught on with users, so Samsung has done something new with Dex for the Note 10 release.
You can use Dex with Windows or Mac by installing the Dex app on it. Then when you connect your phone to your computer via USB, Dex opens as a desktop application.
Now, it’s fair to ask, what’s the point when you’re already sitting at your computer. But there are quite a few cases where this Dex form makes sense. Internet cafes or other public computers are one example. You can also use Dex on your work computer to prevent your personal information from mixing with company data.
Dex is a great app that works really well. There was a noticeable delay, of course, but nothing to render the application unusable. Most importantly, Dex makes it easy to transfer data between your computer and your phone, and the Note 10 is powerful enough to keep normal phone operations working as usual even when Dex is running.
No Galaxy Note review is complete without looking at the actual parts of the Note product.
The bottom line is that writing on this screen is eerily similar to writing on paper with a pen. Next to our Note 9, the experience is almost the same. The Note 10+ seems a little more responsive, but not that you notice it day in and day out. The new stylus has a much longer battery life (technically a supercapacitor). The Note 9 will last 30 minutes before it needs recharging.
The new stylus will last over 10 hours, which we have not tested. Simply because there is no sensible scenario where you would use the stylus for so long without inserting it back into your phone. No need to pay attention to battery life anymore.
YouTube URL: https://youtu.be/ZaXp-0Y-tVs
And that’s good, because the stylus can now function as a remote control. Great to use with PowerPoint app and as a remote camera trigger. However, the application must specifically support it. Some macro-like setting would be nice.
This is the best stylus on any phone. If you enjoy drawing, writing notes, annotating PDFs, or giving many presentations on the go, this is great. If you don’t care about this aspect of the Note10 +, you’re much better off saving and buying the Galaxy S10 +.
Real Battery Performance
The Note 10+ has a very massive 4,300mAh battery, and you’ll find plenty of reviewers on the Internet who put it through torturous tests that drain the phone in less than 12 hours of use.
While this is an interesting metric in and of itself, most people would like to know what kind of performance they can expect on average each day. After using the Note 10+ for a month, we can safely say that unless you plan on being away from any chargers for more than 24 hours, battery life is not something you need to think about.
We made it a rule to start the weekend with a full charge and return the phone to charge just before bed. Daily usage included general web browsing, YouTube Music, a moderate amount of games, and more Netflix than strongly recommended. Whether at home or in the office, the phone was set to use Wi-Fi, with LTE running for about two hours every day on the way to work.
For the most part, after a full day of work, at least 40% of the battery remained in the Note 10+’s tank. We’re confident that very intense users can get close to the 12-hour real-life torture test, but the vast majority of users shouldn’t have a problem.
Just for fun, if you go to bed with a full charge and leave your phone unplugged overnight, about 8% of the total capacity is typically used. The Note 10+, of course, learns and adapts to your usage patterns to optimize battery usage, but we saw excellent battery performance right out of the box.
However, let’s say you still manage to discharge your phone to red – what about charging time? In one word – hurray! The included wall charger fills up the meter quickly. The transition from 60% to 100% takes 40 minutes. Keep in mind that you can buy a faster 45W charger, but we’re sticking with what you get for the asking price.
Who Should Buy the Note 10+?
You will notice that when it comes to the Note 10+, there are not many negative emotions. While not a perfect device, it represents the pinnacle of a premium smartphone. It is not the best at anything, but the device has no weak points either. Whatever you do with the Note 10+, it will meet the requirements without any complaints and will generally work flawlessly.
The biggest problems are related to its size. We highly recommend holding one of these phones before purchasing. It’s no bigger than the Note 9, but anyone not accustomed to that relative bulk should give it a try before buying.
The physically smaller Note 10 may be the best all-around choice, and if you don’t need stylus features, we strongly recommend that you consider the Galaxy S10 and S10 + instead.
Which brings up the next most important issue – Note 9 owners. If you own a Note 9, the Note 10 does not provide enough to warrant an upgrade. If now is your natural time to upgrade, you will definitely be happy with your new phone. There are no reverse steps here. But don’t cut your time with the Note 9 cut for this phone. The cost is simply not justified.
If you are considering buying a Note phone for the first time, now is the best time to get on board. Make no mistake, the Note 10+ is the real Note.
A large, uncompromising phone with the best features at the time of release and aimed at enthusiastic users. Most importantly, the Note 10+ is an enthusiast-class device. This is more than anyone else needs, but this is what many of us want.
Samsung has reached the summit of this particular mountain, and it shows what is on the horizon. The Galaxy Fold may now be the next cutting edge phone for PC geeks, and there are serious rumors that the Galaxy S10 and Note 10 phones will be the last of their respective lines.
Instead, they will be combined into a new hybrid device. If true, then this is a masterpiece of the legendary smartphone line, and it is undoubtedly excellent.