Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ Smartphone REVIEW
Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ Smartphone REVIEW
PAT PILCHER finally gets quality time with Samsung’s plus-size beauty and is struck by its flawless awesomeness.
I finally got some quality time with this big beaut. And either my flaw-receptors are faulty, or the Note+ is as close as Samsung has ever got to the making the perfect phone. Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ Smartphone REVIEW
Its striking AMOLED, HDR 10+ screen sports an impressive QHD+ (3,040 x 1,440) resolution. It also measures in at a palm stretching 6.8-inches. With support for HDR 10, movies and TV shows streamed using Amazon Prime Video are spectacular. Colours are super vivid, and the AMOLED display delivers inky blacks and dazzling whites which makes for impressive contrast levels and helps everything look pin-sharp.
There’s also a generous 12GB of RAM as well as faster charging (up to 45W), which is a good thing considering the Note 10+ comes with a massive 4,300mAh battery. Rounding things out are impressive front and rear cameras as well as expandable storage.
The Note 10+ is powered by Samsung’s Exynos 9825 chipset and runs Android 9 Pie, overlaid with Samsung’s One UI skin. The big news with any Note is, of course, the S Pen, which comes with some nifty Nintendo Wii tricks.
The 6.8-inch display is easily the biggest Samsung phone screen I’ve seen. It has already attracted praise for its accuracy and vividness from the likes of DxO Mark, and the circular notch for the front camera has also seen Samsung win friends thanks to its symmetrical location at the top middle of the display. With a screen-to-body ratio of 95 percent, there are literally acres of screen real estate to play with.
From a design perspective, the Note 10+ keeps its Samsung DNA and looks both familiar and feels good in the hand. Sporting a Gorilla Glass body, its shimmering finish is eye-catching, while rounded silver-tinted sides and corners make it comfy to hold. Along its back sits four cameras arrayed vertically (more on these later).
Another critical point is that its also the first Note offering with under-screen fingerprint sensors. It makes for a significantly streamlined design, not to mention rendering accidental fingerprint smudges on the rear camera lenses a thing of the past.
Large, But Not Large
Perhaps the most notable thing about the design of the Note 10+ is that Samsung has managed to make sure that it doesn’t feel excessively large. Even though it sports a big screen, it only measures 77mm wide by 162mm tall. Being only 7.9mm thick, pocketing it wasn’t an issue either. And weighing in at just 196g, I wasn’t treated to the sound of my jeans ripping whenever I slid it into a pocket during this Samsung Note 10+ review. The only real negative for some from a design standpoint is Samsung’s decision to do away with the 3.5mm headphone jack.
This time the S Pen comes with some neat tricks. It comes with what Samsung calls Air Actions, which allows you to wave the S Pen about Harry Potter style to do specific actions (such as zooming or rotating photos). As cool as it sounds, it only works with Samsung applications like the camera app. (Samsung says wider third party support will follow).
It might sound gimmicky, but it is fun. Shutterbugs will also appreciate Air Actions when their Note 10+ is on a tripod.
All the usual Note-taking goodness that fans have come to expect from the range is also present. You can scribble quick notes while the phone is locked, and just as handily, use the S Pen to select a portion of the screen for a screenshot. I also found the S Pen did a great job of highlighting text on a web page, allowing me to use the selected text so it could be translated into English.
The Note 10+ has plenty of grunt on tap thanks to Samsung’s in house developed silicon, the Exynos 9825. Manufactured using a 7nm process, it consists of a quad-core Cortex-A55, dual-core Cortex-A75 and another dual-core custom CPU. In non-geek speak, it offers bacon factory levels of grunt and its 7nm design also makes it surprisingly battery friendly.
Anyone who runs a lot of different apps will also like the generous 12GB of RAM, which make for effortless multitasking. On the storage front, you get 256GB, and this is expandable by up to 1TB using a microSD card. Such a beefy spec requires plenty of juice, and the Note 10+ uses a massive 4,200mAh battery. It also supports fast charging up to 45W. That said, Samsung bizarrely decided only to include a 25W charger.
Performance-wise, it’s definitely no slouch. I found it to be very responsive, and easily the equal for games and any demanding apps I threw at it. Firing up Fortnite (which by the way I totally suck at), gameplay was silky smooth.
With typical use, I’d average a day and a bit of battery life, and equally handily, I found I could extend this by dropping the display resolution to FHD+, which gave me an additional hour or so of use.
It isn’t all just about the hardware and fancy pants S Pen features, though. The software and Samsung’s One UI impressed too. The Note 10+ uses Android 9, and Samsung has said that an upgrade to Android 10 will happen soon.
With One UI, Samsung has pulled off that ever so tricky balancing act of being both powerful and intuitive to use. There are plenty of customisation options, and a clean, clever UI design makes the Note 10 a joy to use.
Samsung is also onto a winner with a partnership with Microsoft. The first Microsoft/Samsung trick is DeX for PC. This allows you to turn the Note into a surprisingly powerful computer-like device. While I was initially sceptical of the DeX for PC functionality which will enable users to use DeX on a PC or a Mac (I couldn’t for the life of me see why anyone would need to use DeX when they already had a PC/Mac at their disposal), I soon became a convert.
Connecting the Note 10+ to my PC, I gained an elegant way of partitioning personal and work stuff. I’d typically run DeX and treat it as a personal PC while my PC was kept separate for work purposes. This was effortless as DeX for PC let me use the keyboard and mouse on my PC to drive the Note 10+, and moving between DeX and my PC was seamless.
The other PC connectivity option involves connecting the Note to my Surface book running Windows 10 with the Your Phone. On the Note 10+, this was simplified with the connection option labelled Link to Windows.
Using this, and making sure that the Note 10+ was hooked up on the same Wi-Fi network, I could mirror my Note 10 on my PC during the Samsung Note 10+ review. Which made responding to text messages a breeze. I also liked being able to drag and drop photos from my Note into Windows applications, and Notification settings also allowed me to manage what notifications could appear on my PC to limit distractions.
As an Outlook user, I was pleased to note that the Android version of Outlook was preinstalled. In my humble opinion, Outlook is one of the best mobile email apps around, especially when paired with the S Pen. I found that using the S Pen I could hover over contacts to call, text, or email. I could also use the S Pen to quickly respond to calendar invites and take a closer look at email attachments.
It isn’t just Outlook or tighter Windows 10 integration, though. Inside the Microsoft folder on the Note 10+, I found Outlook, Office Mobile, LinkedIn, and OneDrive. While I find LinkedIn is more often than not a spammy self-promoting hot mess, Office 365 gives you 1TB of cloud storage, which makes it an excellent option for storing documents and backing up full-resolution photos. When paired with DeX, Office 365 on the Note came into its own and the office apps were a godsend more times than I could possibly count.
As a standalone device, the Note’s large display made creating and editing documents a breeze. And while I would not want to write war and peace using a touchscreen keyboard, it worked fine for smaller document edits.
The cameras on the back of the Note 10+ include the same dual-aperture (f/1.5, f/2.4) 12-megapixel sensor and 2x telephoto zoom lens as the Note 9. This time around though, Samsung has added a 123-degree wide-angle shooter and a depth sensor for more accurate live focus.
Phone cameras have come a very long way thanks to intense competition in the smartphone space. To this end, the Note 10+ delivers excellent photos that are richly detailed, accurately exposed and vibrant. Things are helped along nicely with the generous range of shooting modes on offer.
These include a background blur mode which Samsung calls Live Focus, and this time around it also works with video. The Note’s video chops are nothing to sneeze at. With it, I was able to record super slow-mo and zippy hyperlapse footage. These modes are rounded out by a bunch of filters that could be applied to both photos and video.
One particularly gimmicky but fun shooting mode is called AR Doodle, which lets you draw whatever you like over video. Scribbling a moustache on a face never gets old, especially when the drawing accurately tracks and follows facial movements.
The Note 10+ can record 4K footage at 60fps. While optical image stabilisation is only available with 1080p, Samsung’s Super Steady mode (found in the camera settings) proved to be a surprisingly good form of electronic image stabilisation.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ Review – Conclusion
The Note 10+ is easily the best phone out of Samsung’s stables so far. It isn’t cheap, but you do get a tonne of value as it is a powerhouse device that really does do it all.