As you now know, there’s a plus size model of the Galaxy Note 10 so you need to choose which of Samsung’s phones to get. We’ve been hands-on with the Note 10+ and here’s our initial review.
Plus phones are nothing new in the smartphone world but Samsung has never gone this far with the Galaxy Note range. Arguably, the firm has never had to considering the long standing premium phablet status of the handset.
Previous models aside, the Note 10+ is the Galaxy device you go for if you want to go all out. It’s the big phone power user’s dream with amped up specs compared to the regular Galaxy Note 10 including a few exclusive bits and pieces. Check our Note 10 vs Note 10+ review for a full comparison.
The regular Note 10 will set you back £899/$949 and the Note 10+ is only £100/$150 more despite all the extras at £999/$1,099.
The Note 10+ also comes in a 5G variant which costs £1,099/$1,299 or £1,199/$1,399 if you want 512GB.
Design & Build
The Note 10 phones sort of look like previous generations, but also have a distinctly new look at the same time. Blending familiarity with freshness isn’t easy so Samsung has done a great job in this respect.
There are some small design tweaks which we’ll explain but the big one is around the screen, as you can see. This thing has almost no bezels now, especially on the top and bottom where a lot of space has now become display. Despite having a bigger display compared to the Note 9, the device as a whole is a very similar size.
This is largely due, of course, to the camera being embedded in the screen like Samsung did with the S10 phone – only the sensor is central to get a better angle of your face and to look more appealing.
We really like the design of the Note 10 which still has the usual sort of mix of materials and craftsmanship, including things like an IP68 waterproof rating. However, it’s not all plain sailing.
Over the last couple of years it’s become pretty normal for phones to ditch the headphone jack and that’s what’s happened here. Samsung says this is partly to slim the design down (it’s just 7.9mm) and to leave room for the battery.
Whether that’s ok with you depends on your stance on using wired headphones. We’d rather have the option to plug some old-fashioned cans in, though. Unlike a lot of rivals, the Note 10+ doesn’t come with a dongle but some USB-C headphones instead.
Some changes with the physical buttons are worth pointing out, too. There’s no dedicated Bixby button but you can long press the power key to summon the digital assistant. The power and volume keys are now on the left which is highly unusual but actually seems to be pretty comfortable for this right-handed reviewer.
The Note 10+ comes in a different set of colours to the regular model, so while the Note 10 is available in an exclusive Aura Pink, the plus comes in Aura Glow, Aura Black and Aura White – the latter being the exclusive.
Specs & Features
As alluded to, the Galaxy Note 10+ is the model to go for if you want to go all-out. It’s got quite a few specs that are the same as the regular model, but plenty of extra things to tempt you with.
A tablet sized phone
Starting with the display it’s 0.5in bigger than the regular model at 6.8in – so that’s pretty much the same size as the small 7in tablets which were popular a few years ago. The phone still feels pretty big, but that’s to be expected and will appeal to the Galaxy Note lovers.
In terms of tech, this is Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O display, as Samsung calls it, with curved edges and support for HDR10+. They’re both stunning, but the Note 10+ has a higher resolution and pixel density at 3040 x 1440 and 498ppi if you like playing smartphone Top Trumps.
As you might expect, the Note 10+ has an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner embedded in the screen, which is also placed slightly further up compared to the S10 for better comfort. The other option is face unlock as there is no iris scanner here.
The processor is the same – a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Plus or Exynos 9825 depending on where you live. However, the Note 10+ comes with a triple set of benefits if you do splash out.
It’s got 12GB of RAM (50% more than the regular model), the option for 512GB of storage as well as 256GB and is the only one with a microSD card slot so you can add up to 512GB more. On these, fronts the Note 10+ is a power user’s dream and could even replace a laptop for some.
That’s most of the extra bits but you do get a bigger battery in the Note 10+ at 4300- compared to 3500mAh. Some of that will go to driving the additional pixels, but we think it should still last longer than the regular model with the same useage.
While we’re talking about the battery, charging has improved in multiple ways. Via USB-C, the phone can now charge at a whopping 45W, although at 25W charger will be supplied in the box. Wireless charging is now up 15W and there’s Wireless PowerShare as you would expect so you can charge other devices from the Note 10+ if needed – that extra capacity will come in handy if you use this feature a lot.
Back to the Note 10+ extras and the phone has some extra camera sensors compared to the regular model. Samsung calls then DepthVision and they help out with things like portrait mode and Live focus rather than solely relying on software to create those effects.
The main cameras are the same so you get a 12Mp dual aperture camera and a 12Mp telephoto lens that offers a 2x optical zoom. Both feature optical image stabilisation (OIS). Then there’s a 16Mp ultra-wide angle option which matches the S10. At the front the punch-hole camera is 10Mp with an f/2.2 aperture.
Videos should be better thanks to improved Super Steady stabilisation and there are also new features like audio zoom so you can select a particular area of a video to listen to more and AR Doodle which lets you scribble over on a video with tracking. The most useful thing is being able to use bokeh blur effect of Live focus on videos.
We also need to talk about 5G which is not a standard feature of either Note 10 model. If you’re interested in getting on the latest and greatest mobile network, or at least future-proofing, then you’ll have to buy the specific 5G variant of the Note 10+ just like Samsung has done with the S10 5G.
To round off some other wireless stuff, the phone is Wi-Fi 6 enabled, following in the footsteps of the S10, so uses the up and coming 11.ax standard and also has things like Bluetooth 5.0, NFC and GPS. Samsung said not many people used it so the heart rate monitor which was previously a feature is now gone.
Stylus it out
We haven’t talked about the Galaxy Note’s classic feature yet, partly since it’s the same on both models but also because it’s not hugely different from the previous gen.
It’s still got Bluetooth and a very similar design, but does last longer now with up to 10 hours of standby with a quicker charge time, too.
The big new feature is Air Actions which lets you wave the S Pen around like a wand to control the phone. At the moment it’s pretty limited to things like changing between cameras and modes but an open SDK might mean that developers come up with some interesting uses for it.
This remains a key reason to buy the Note over other Samsung Galaxy phones like the S10.
There’s no difference in software so you don’t get any exclusive apps on the Galaxy Note 10+ or the like. There’s Android 9 Pie with Samsung’s own One UI skin.
You get Samsung’s DeX software which provides a sort of Windows/MacOS-like experience but a new partnership with Microsoft is possibly more interesting. We’re waiting for more details but the firm said you’ll be able to handle calls, messages and notifications via your PC.
We’ll explore the software on the Note 10+ much more in our final review.
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