4.7
Top of its class

It has been my annual tradition to review Samsung Galaxy Note. This year is extra special because I got to attend Unpacked in New York City, and experienced the phone before anyone else. 2 weeks after using my retail unit, I believe that I have more than enough details to say about how this phone performs, and how it positions itself in the competition.

If you’re used to seeing new phones being unboxed, my experience with the Galaxy Note 10+ was almost devoid of anything special except for the actual unit. While the rest of the items inside are essential, what I was really anticipating right away was the unit. Anyway, you get the following inside the box:

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ (12GB RAM + 128GB Internal Storage)
  • Premium AKG Type C earphones
  • Type C to Type C cable
  • Super Fast Charger
  • Extra S-Pen tips and remover
  • Micro-USB to Type C adapter
  • OTG adapter (Type A to Type C )

Specifications

Display 6.8″ Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O, 3040 x 1440
HDR10+ Certified
Processor Exynos 9825
RAM 12GB
Storage 256GB/512GB
Rear Camera 16MP Ultra Wide  (f/2.2, 123°)
12MP Wide (f/1.5/f/2.4, 77°)
12MP Telephoto (f/2.1)
DepthVision Camera
Front Camera 10MP (f/2.2, 80°)
OS Samsung OneUI
Battery 3,500mAh with 45W Fast Charging
S-Pen Battery Up to 10 Hours Standby
Other Features NFC
Bluetooth 5
Live Focus
Zoom-in Mic
Night Mode (Front and Rear)
OIS
Dual Aperture
Live Focus Video
Super Steady Video
Screen Recorder
AR Doodle
Air Actions
AI-Powered Game Booster
Samsung DeX
Wireless Power Share
Wireless Charging

 

Build and Hardware

Nothing, in Samsung’s latest waves of smartphones, can get more premium than this latest device. Some aspects of its design philosophy are borrowed from Samsung Galaxy S10+ (review here), and its prismatic silver finish gives the Note 10 series a youthful yet elegant vibe.

It’s huge, and I couldn’t help but advise people with really small hands to stay away from Note 10+. There is a smaller Note 10 or the Galaxy S10 if you’re not into note-taking.

As for button placement, you get everything on the left side and nothing on the right. The lack of Bixby button is somewhat refreshing, and the movement of Sleep/Wake/Hold to Bixby from left to right side still does not appeal to my standards.

Note 10+ uses a Hybrid SIM tray, which can be found at the top. There’s no headphone jack so you either go wireless or via Type-C earphone. There is an included OTG adapter, which should allow you to use your USB powered headphones.

Its 6.8 inches, Dynamic AMOLED+ display, which almost entirely occupies its screen (91% screen-to-body ratio), is bright, clear and accurate. Couple this with HDR10+ compatibility and you get a powerhouse of a display. This smartphone has the best display I have reviewed to date, and I believe that this “crown” is stuck on this phone for a long time. You better be careful using this smartphone though as its screen is worth close to PhP15,000.

The more powerful Samsung Galaxy S-Pen can be popped out at the button. It is more ergonomic, balanced and lighter in the hand. Design-wise, its pastel color – in contrast to the phone where it’s docked – give it a refreshing look. A satisfying click can be heard when you push it, and the phone gives off a contextual sound when you entirely pull out the pen. Small details like these give the impression of how Samsung loves its consumers.

Apart from being a glorified remote, the new S-Pen borrows a lot of its functions from its previous iteration. When undocked, the S-Pen functions as scroller and flicker. You can now do more actions with the new S-Pen, thanks to new implementations of Air Actions. There’s also that function where you can easily convert handwritten characters to Word, which I find highly useful especially if you’re working on the go.

Samsung isn’t playing around when they said that the new S-Pen is more powerful than ever. The pen can now detect six-axis motion and with an SDK available to all developers, it opens consumers to a lot of possibilities like new games and productivity apps that can make use of its functions.

Software

The phone runs on Samsung OneUI on top of Android 9 Pie. It brings a lot to the table, including functions that power up the S-Pen. The new UI has been giving Samsung’s new smartphones a breath of fresh air, and it proves that the upgrade from TouchWiz does not just benefit the consumers but also Samsung.

One of the biggest changes of OneUI, which transcends to Note 10+, is its shift to minimalism. “Focus on what matters” emanates in every aspect of its software, and it’s something that I really like about Note 10+.

Integral to the improvement of the new S Pen is the customized experiences built-in to OneUI. From Apps Edge to S Pen contextual menu (that appears each time you pull out the S Pen), everything is built to support the fluid experience of using the S Pen. The S Pen and the software make the Galaxy Note 10+ the perfect companion for people who wish to be productive on the go.

Performance

Galaxy Note 10+ delivers as one of this year’s most powerful smartphones. We’re speaking here of a smartphone that rivals the performance of ASUS ROG Phone II and the Huawei Mate30 Pro.

Although not advertised as a gaming smartphone, the phone has everything it takes to perform as one. It even has vapor cooling chamber that helps the device divert heat away from its SoC. In fact, during the launch, Samsung announced that Note 10+ has the slimmest vapor chamber, and this is the reason why it maintains to look and feel sleek despite being “bulked up” to perform as a gaming smartphone.

Audio

Apart from having down-firing stereo speakers, Samsung didn’t put much in Note 10+ in the sound department. Perhaps, if there’s one notable feature that concerns this subject is the audio zoom function, which is mostly a part of its video capturing features. The lack of 3.5mm headphone jack is quite a letdown, and using a Type C to 3.5mm headphone adapter from my Mate30 Pro didn’t help either. I guess that we are the time when consumers are starting to feel more “accepting” when it comes to issueslike this, but as for me – nothing beats having a 3.5mm headphone jack for better sound fidelity.

Camera Performance

Galaxy Note 10+ has the most sophisticated set of cameras in Samsung’s lineup of smartphones. While its competitors are fighting over the number of megapixels per lens, Samsung maintains to have 16MP at most in one of its lenses. The rest are 2 12MP rear lenses, and another 10MP front camera. I’ve got no complaints here as I’m not going to use my photos in billboards anyway.

Rear Cameras 16MP Ultra Wide  (f/2.2, 123°)
12MP Wide (f/1.5/f/2.4, 77°)
12MP Telephoto (f/2.1)
DepthVision Camera
Front Camera 10MP (f/2.2, 80°)

 

Its Ultra Wide angle lens has wider field of view by 3 more degrees compared to Huawei P30 Pro (123° vs 120°). It’s the widest I’ve seen on a smartphone, and it’s one of the few features that I love about it.

Its telephoto lens may not be the brightest compared to its competitors, it manages to take stunning portrait photos.

The lack of periscope lens is not a problem with Note 10+. While this is something that is nice to have, the lack of it does not make it less of a smartphone. My only issue is how good or bad it is when taking photos of subjects in dark environments. Its brightest lens can only go as high as f/1.5, and the ISO can’t even go beyond 800. While it takes good photos at night, its night mode’s performance is limited by its hardware – the lens.

Selfie photos I took using the smartphone look good as well. Beauty mode is somewhat aggressive, but it can easily be tweaked via its robust camera software.

 

Battery Life

Galaxy Note 10+ is one of the smartphones we reviewed that has a notable – pun intended – battery performance. Its 4300mAh battery lasted 10 hours and 25 minutes at consistent LTE during daytime and WiFi at home. Its performance, while laudable, still goes just as good as the Huawei Mate30 Pro but not as impressive (or as “kunat”) as the Galaxy S10+ (check out our full review here).

Verdict

What more can I ask for? It’s the Galaxy Note that I’ve always wanted. Galaxy Note 10+ is an impressive blend of Samsung’s new design philosophy and a renewed set of goals to wow its consumers. For the 12th time – if my counting is correct – Samsung has given the new Note a superior and unmatched level of quality. I, for one, am keeping this until the next one comes along.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ Review
Our Verdict
What more can I ask for? It's the Galaxy Note that I've always wanted. Galaxy Note 10+ is an impressive blend of Samsung's new design philosophy and a renewed set of goals to wow its consumers. For the 12th time - if my counting is correct - Samsung has given the new Note a superior and unmatched level of quality. I, for one, am keeping this until the next one comes along.
What's Good
Accurate and Bright Display
90Hz + HDR10+ Compatibility
Camera Performance is topnotch
Video Stabilization is impressive
Sleeper hit for mobile gamers
Coverage of ultra wide angle is widest we've seen
Stunning Battery Life
What's Not
No 3.5mm Headphone Jack
Aura Glow is smudge magnet
4.7
Top of its class

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Author

Giancarlo Viterbo is a Filipino Technology Journalist, blogger and Editor of GadgetPilipinas.net, He is also a Geek, Dad and a Husband. He knows a lot about washing the dishes, doing some errands and following instructions from his boss on his day job. Follow him on twitter: @gianviterbo and @gadgetpilipinas.

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