Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus review: Hands on with Samsung’s biggest Note yet
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 isn’t the only phone the Korean brand is releasing today – joining it is a true Note flagship in the form of the Galaxy Note 10 Plus.
This is the bigger, more feature-packed model, complete with optional 5G. If you’re a true die-hard fan of the Note series then you’ll likely be swayed by the larger screen on offer here.
How much does the Galaxy Note 10 Plus cost?
You’ll be able to bag the Galaxy Note 10 Plus from August 23. In the UK the Note 10 Plus with 256GB will cost £999 and in the States $1099. There’s no 512GB version currently available directly from Samsung in the UK.
If you want the 5G model without throwing down for a monthly contract you’ll be paying £1099 upfront (£1199 if you want 512GB storage). It doesn’t look like Samsung is selling the 5G version unlocked in the States.
- Read our Samsung Galaxy Note 10 review: hands on
Display and Design – Galaxy Note 10 Plus is a very big phone with a very nice screen
The Note series is built for a very specific person. This isn’t Samsung’s mass-market device, and as such, it can take more risks. The biggest of which is the sheer size of this thing. Even though the bezel is virtually non-existent and the screen stretches and curves around the edges, it’s still one of the biggest phones I have ever held. Still, if you’re buying this phone then you’ll already know what you’re getting yourself into.
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Glass covers the front and the back, giving it a delicate but also highly polished finish. There’s a USB-C port on the bottom, a slot for the S Pen and couple of notable omissions. The first is the lack of a dedicated button to activate Bixby (yay), while the other is the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack (boo).
Instead of that port, you get a pair of AKG USB-C buds and a USB-C to 3.5mm dongle in the box. It’s still a water-resistant phone (IP68) and, unlike the smaller Note 10, retains the microSD slot for upping the base storage.
During my multi-hour session with the Note 10 Plus it was the screen that really stood out. Now, this doesn’t have any fancy fast refresh-rate tech like the OnePlus 7 Pro, and there’s still a small cutout hiding the front camera, but the colours and punch of a Samsung OLED really draw you in. There’s HDR 10+ support here too.
Specs-wise you’re looking at a 6.8-inch version of the Dynamic AMOLED panel Samsung introduced earlier in the year, with 3040 x 1440 resolution.
S Pen and software – The Note 10 Plus has a trick tucked inside and a focus on gaming
The Note 10 and Note 10 Plus differentiate themselves from the S10 by slotting a stylus into the body. The S Pen is the true headline feature for the Note series, and it is pretty much the only flagship around that lets you draw and take notes with a pen on the display. It’s a pleasure to write and doodle with thanks to fantastic responsiveness and excellent palm-rejection.
The S Pen is very much the same as you’d find in a Note 9. It’s packing Bluetooth Low Energy so it can act as a remote for your phone, has a number of new ‘Air Gestures’ for zooming and altering the volume along with improved handwriting recognition.
Like the S10, the Note 10 Plus runs Samsung’s new One UI interface over the top of Android 9. While it’s a big improvement over previous Samsung software, it still lacks some of the finesse of, say, Oxygen OS on a OnePlus 7 Pro.
So, what’s new for the Note 10 Plus? For one, you can now plug your device into either a PC or Mac for access to a PC-like DeX UI. There’s also the ability to stream games from your PC, with Samsung selling a clip-on controller separately.
Performance and battery life – The Galaxy Note 10 Plus should be one of the most powerful phones around and there’s 5G option
As is usual with Samsung phones, there’s a variety of internals being used. In Europe it’s the Exynos 9825 which is a slightly more efficient version of the S10’s 9820, while the US gets a Snapdragon version. This wasn’t confirmed during our briefing, but it looks like this will be the Snapdragon 855, rather than the slightly faster 855+ we’ve seen in a few gaming phones.
That chipset has been paired with 12GB RAM and you can pick between 256GB or 512GB of internal storage. In terms of battery, you’re looking at a hefty 4300mAh cell back up by 25w fast charging.
Interestingly, the phone does support even faster charging at 45w – to enable this you will need to shell out more cash for a new adaptor. For a phone costing over £1000/$1000 this seems very strange. Wireless charging remains and is upped to 15w, along with the Wireless Powershare feature introduced with the S10. This allows you to slowly juice other Qi-enabled devices (phones, AirPods, Galaxy Watch Active 2) using battery power from the Note 10 Plus. It’s a handy feature that could do with being a bit faster.
Judging a phone’s speed or battery life after a few hours is unfair, and I’ll save that for the full in-depth review where we’ll look into full benchmark scores and breakdowns. For now I will say that it felt very snappy, and with all this power inside, it should be one of the fastest phones around.
Rumours had suggested the Note 10 Plus would simply be a 5G phone in all its configurations. That’s not the case and you’ll have to pick up a specific version of the Note 10 Plus 5G to benefit.
Camera – The same array as the Galaxy S10 5G with four sensors on the back
Whereas the Note series might have once given us a glimpse of what was to come in the next big Galaxy S phone, now it’s more of a case of using what’s already there. The camera array on the back of the Note 10 Plus looks as though it’s been plucked straight from the 5G version of the Galaxy S10.
On the back of the Note 10 Plus there are three cameras plus a ToF (time of flight) sensor: a main 12-megapixel sensor with an aperture that’ll shift between f/1.5 and f/2.4 depending on the conditions, a 16-megapixel ultra wide f/2.2 and a 12-megapixel f/2.1 telephoto. That ToF sensor is used to more accurately measure depth, hopefully, improving the Live Focus bokeh mode.
Both the main and telephoto cameras have optical image stabilisation (OIS) – just like they did on the S10 series. There’s also a bigger focus on video here with ‘pro-grade’ video recording (Samsung’s words), ‘super-steady’ stabilisation and an improved video editor.
I only had a short time to test the camera and the conditions weren’t ideal, so I’ll save my final verdict for the full review. However, it did seem to function very much like the Galaxy S10. That’s one of the better smartphone cameras available now, so things are looking good for the Note 10. Whether it’ll compete with the upcoming Pixel 4 remains to be seen.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus – Early Verdict
The Galaxy Note 10 Plus is the true successor to the Note 9. It’s a huge brute of a phone with a lovely display, plenty of grunt and a huge battery. There isn’t a whole lot new when compared to the S10 – but this still stands as the true high-end Samsung phone for the end of 2019.
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