After endless leaks revealing the good, the bad and the brilliant, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10 and Galaxy Note 10 Plus have landed. Samsung has split the range into two phones for the first time and there are some serious differences. Here’s everything you need to know…
Samsung Galaxy S10+ Vs Galaxy S10. The differences are more than skin-deep SAMSUNG
Displays – Brilliant But Flawed
The most obvious (but not the most crucial) difference between the Galaxy Note 10 and the Galaxy Note 10 Plus (written by Samsung as Note10+) are the physical sizes of their displays:
- Galaxy Note 10 – 6.3 inches, Dynamic AMOLED+, 1080 x 2280 pixels (90.9% screen-to-body ratio), 401 ppi density), HDR10+, Gorilla Glass 6
- Galaxy Note 10+ – 6.8 inches, Dynamic AMOLED+, 1440 x 3040 pixels (91% screen-to-body ratio), 19:9 ratio (498 ppi density), HDR10+, Gorilla Glass 6
Yes, the Note 10 Plus is a monster and the Note 10 is only 0.1-inches smaller than the Note 9. Wisely, Samsung has dropped the pixels on the Note 10 as you won’t notice the PPI difference and it has added Gorilla Glass 6, which has improved scratch and impact resistance compared to GG5 on the Note 9.
The new centred punch-hole camera is the biggest physical change to the Note 10 rangeSAMSUNG
As always, Samsung is promising slightly brighter and more vivid displays compared to last year but the reduction in blue light output is arguably more of a practical benefit for most. The physical headline changes are a new central punch-hole for the front-facing camera (which delivers industry-high screen-to-body ratios) and the addition of an ultrasonic in-display fingerprint reader like the Galaxy S10. Interestingly, Samsung has also upgraded the haptic feedback motor on both phones so you’ll get improved vibration feedback, though this comes at a cost.
The flaw, however, is neither phone supports a high refresh rate display. OnePlus (90Hz), Razer (120Hz) and Google (90Hz) are aboard this bandwagon which delivers noticeably smoother performance than the standard 60Hz panels on other phones, including the new Notes. It’s a disappointing omission, which will look even more of an oversight down the line.
Design – Bigger Yet Smaller
The punch-hole cameras are by far the most striking change to the new Notes, and it has a highly beneficial impact on their dimensions:
- Galaxy Note 10 – 151 x 71.8 x 7.9 mm (5.94 x 2.83 x 0.31 in), 168 g (5.93 oz)
- Galaxy Note 10+ – 162.3 x 77.2 x 7.9 mm (6.39 x 3.04 x 0.31 in), 196 g (6.91 oz)
- Galaxy Note 9 – 161.9 x 76.4 x 8.8 mm (6.37 x 3.01 x 0.35 in), 201 g (7.09 oz)
Yes, despite their massive new screens, the new Notes are far more compact than their predecessors with the 6.3-inch Note 10 weighing 33g less than the 6.4-inch Note 9. Meanwhile, Note 10 Plus owners effectively get another 0.4-inches of display for no significant size or weight penalty. That’s a huge win.
The 6.8-inch Galaxy Note 10+ is barely larger than the 6.4-inch Note 9, it’s lighter tooSAMSUNG
But the downside is both models lose their headphone jack as the company finally buckles to industry pressure. For some Note fans, this may be a dealbreaker.
The Note 10 also makes a further compromise, dropping microSD, though it is still present on the Note 10 Plus. So yes, Samsung is clearly trying to push power users to the bigger (and more expensive) model. Power buttons have changed too with the Bixby button gone and now integrated into the power button (this is customisable). At least the usual IP68 water resistance remains.
As for finishes, this is all change with Samsung adopting iridescent ‘Aura’ colours that are similar to the mirrored multicoloured finishes which have proved popular on Huawei’s phones. They look great but are highly reflective fingerprint magnets you’ll probably put a case on anyway. There are slight differences in availability:
- Note 10: Aura Glow, Aura Black, Aura Pink
- Note 10+: Aura Glow, Aura Black, Aura White
Cameras – Triple As Standard
As for the cameras, the differences are not as big as you might expect:
- Front – 10 MP, f/2.2, 26mm (wide), 1.22µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, 4k video recording
- Rear – 12 MP, f/1.5-1.8-2.4, 27mm (wide), 1/2.55″, 1.4µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS, 12 MP, f/2.1, 52mm (telephoto), 1/3.6″, 1.0µm, AF, OIS, 2x optical zoom, 16 MP, f/2.2, 12mm (ultrawide), 1.0µm, 4K video recording (Note 10+ – TOF 3D VGA camera)
This is a quite bewildering array of specs, but the key points are the rear cameras remain unchanged from the Galaxy S10 line-up (primary, telephoto and 123-degree wide-angle) with the Note 10 Plus adding a Time of Flight sensor like the Galaxy S10 5G. The ToF sensor measures distance to improve autofocus times, particularly in low light.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus cameras SAMSUNG
On the downside, Samsung is still recycling the same primary rear camera module it has used since the Galaxy S7 (the Galaxy S11 will mark “a new beginning”), but Samsung has greatly improved the image processing since then (improved stabilisation stands out here) and 4K 60fps video recording is available front and back with the option to add Portrait Mode-style bokeh effects.
Where questions do remain, however, is the front camera. The new Notes use the same 10MP sensor as the S10 range (the Note 9 had an 8MP front camera) but with no dual camera option (like the Galaxy S10 Plus), it remains to be seen how well Portrait Mode will work for selfies.
Performance – Cutting Edge, But Not For Long
Now, this is an area of some contention:
- EMEA – Exynos 9825 Octa (7 nm), CPU: Octa-core (2x 2.73 GHz Mongoose M4 & 2x 2.4 GHz Cortex-A75 & 4×1.9 GHz Cortex-A55), GPU: Mali-G76-MP12
- US, China – Qualcomm SDM855 Snapdragon 855 (7 nm), CPU: Octa-core (1×2.8 GHz Kryo 485 & 3×2.4 GHz Kryo 485 & 4×1.7 GHz Kryo 485), GPU: Adreno 640
While Europe will get an upgraded version of the Exynos 9820 chipset used in the Galaxy S10 phones, the US and China will not get Qualcomm’s impending Snapdragon 855+ chipset which delivers a 15% graphics boost and incrementally better CPU performance than the S10’s SD855 chip.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 performance is not quit cutting edge SAMSUNG
This isn’t the end of the world, but with the Snapdragon 865 also coming early next year, it would’ve been nice to see the new Notes get the absolutely best chipset available right now across all regions. Samsung does claim to have fitted the Notes with a new ‘cooling vapor chamber’ though, which should help the phones stay cool and avoid throttling performance.
The Note 10s also have next-gen UFS 3.0 storage which is twice as quick as the UFS 2.1 storage inside the Galaxy S10 lineup and RAM is plentiful. The Note 10 gets 8GB while the Note 10 Plus has 12GB, but with its lower native resolution don’t feel shortchanged if you go for the smaller model. The Note 10 Plus will also get a 5G option (using Qualcomm’s X50 modem), for those determined to hop on the 5G bandwagon early.
The Galaxy Note 10’s S Pen continues to innovate SAMSUNG
In terms of software, the biggest changes are to the S Pen. The addition of an accelerometer brings ‘Air’ actions which let you control the phone’s screens just by making gestures in the air (swipe through photos with a flick, draw circles to zoom in and out with the camera, etc). This seems somewhat gimmicky, but with Google’s Pixel 4 also going down the air gesture route (minus an S Pen) it seems customers are going to get plenty of opportunities to see if they like it.
Battery Life – Hello Super Charging
After the big battery capacity increase on last year’s Note 9 (4000mAh), this year it’s all about charge speeds:
- Galaxy Note 10 – 3500 mAh, 25W fast charging, 20W wireless charging
- Galaxy Note 10+ – 4300 mAh, 45W fast charging, 20W wireless charging
Compared to the Galaxy S10 and Note 9 (15W wired), this is a huge step-up. That said, there is a bone of contention that 1. The Note 10 doesn’t support 45W charging, and 2. The Note 10 Plus only has a 25W charger in the box. Samsung will charge circa $50 for the 45W charger separately.
That said, Samsung really is stepping up here after years of falling behind. The company claims its 45W “super-fast charging” can deliver a full day’s worth of battery life in just 30 minutes with both phones lasting several days on a full charge. Samsung has also boosted its wireless charging speeds above the wired charging of its predecessor, which is very impressive, and added reverse wireless charging (like the S10 line-up).
Reverse wireless charging is added to the Galaxy Note 10 range SAMSUNG
An interesting aside: the loss of the headphone jack gave Samsung the ability to increase battery capacities in both phones by 100mAh. Whether this is worth it, is likely to be hotly debated.
Price And Storage – Subtle Price Increases
Compared to the Galaxy Note 9 (from $999), the Note 10 range appears to have had a price reduction, but don’t be fooled:
- Galaxy Note 10 – $949 (8GB, 256GB)
- Galaxy Note 10+ – $1,099 (12GB, 256GB), TBC (512GB)
- Galaxy Note 10+ 5G – $1,299 (256GB), TBC (512GB)
Yes, the Note 10 is cheaper than the Note 9 but the latter was a genuine flagship while the new Note is the entry-level device. As such, you’ll be paying $100 more for the “true” Note 9 successor and this puts the Note 10 Plus into iPhone XS Max territory. Meanwhile, the 5G option is eye-wateringly expensive, so 5G fans may want to wait until next year when it should come as standard.
Pre-orders are now live and shipping starts August 23.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10+ and Note 10 are solid, if unspectacular upgrades SAMSUNG
Conclusion – Solid, If Unspectacular Upgrades
Samsung deserves great credit for the Note 10 range’s design, they knock it out of the park. It’s also good to see the company leap onto the cutting-edge of battery charging and continue to find new ways to innovate with the distinctive S Pen.
That said, cutting microSD from the Note 10 and the headphone jack from both models is going to irritate the Note’s typically hardcore audience and undermine its reputation as the ultimate do-all smartphone. It’s also a shame that Samsung hasn’t taken the option to fit the Note 10’s with Qualcomm’s faster Snapdragon 855+ chipset and the naming of the new phones is a little deceptive. What we really have here are a Note 10e and a Note 10, but that wouldn’t let Samsung get away with its new price points.
As such, while I think Samsung has done a solid job with its new models (and it’s good to see two screen sizes at long last), they are not revolutionary. For those who don’t need an S Pen, Samsung looks set to up its game with the Galaxy S11 and 5G should be a standard feature by the time the Galaxy Note 11 launches. That’s food for thought.