Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus Review Roundup: Excellent, But Some Caveats

Galaxy Note 10 Plus aura glow refelection
(Image credit: Future)

With both the Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10 Plus now on sale, there’s plenty of opinions on whether it’s worth buying them.

Our Galaxy Note 10 Plus review is live, and several other outlets have posted their reviews of this 6.8-inch beast as well. Highlights include a gorgeous design, brilliant display and four rear cameras with new video editing powers. The Note 10 Plus and Note 10 also offer new S Pen features and faster charging.

However, the high price of the Note 10 Plus ($1,099, compared to a $999 debut price for last year's Note 9) has increased scrutiny. The regular Note 10 starts at $949. Is the newer model worth the higher price, or is there not enough change between generations to warrant it? 

Our Galaxy Note 10 Plus review roundup will help you decide if this phablet is worth your time and money.

Tom’s Guide (Rating: 4/5)

According to our own Mark Spoonauer, there’s plenty to like about the Galaxy Note 10 Plus. The screen is excellent, as is the performance and battery life, while the new video effects, "air gestures" performable with the stylus and the improvements to DeX Mode (Samsung’s pseudo-desktop for mobile devices) are interesting albeit gimmicky. However, he didn’t get on with the notoriously smudgy Aura Glow color scheme, the occasional difficulty of using air gestures or the camera, which he finds is inferior to its rivals.

The Good

“The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus is an ultra-premium, big-screen phone that you'll be psyched to use.”

“You won't find a larger screen on an Android phone than the 6.8-inch AMOLED panel on the Galaxy Note 10 Plus. And it is a sight to behold, with the same rich colors and wide viewing angles we've come to expect from Samsung.”

“In everyday use, the Note 10 Plus is a swift performer. In fact, it loaded apps like Chrome, Twitter and Facebook slightly faster than the iPhone XS Max. This phablet also ably handled long play sessions in PUBG Mobile. It delivered console-like detail without any stuttering even at the highest setting, and the phone remained relatively cool.”

The Bad

“The S Pen has learned some new tricks with the Galaxy Note 10, but I'm not yet sold on how useful they are.”

“The Aura Glow model picks up fingerprints quickly; I found myself wiping the back of the phone on my shirts and pants to keep the smudges at bay.”

“While the Note 10 Plus' cameras perform well in low light, the Pixel 3 and Huawei Mate P30 Pro are better camera phones overall.”

The Verge (8.5/10)

The Verge’s review, written by Dieter Bohn, is positive, but points out that the only unique feature that the Note 10 Plus has compared to other flagships is its S Pen stylus. That said, Bohn likes some of the new stylus-compatible features, like optical character recognition (or OCR, which turns your writing into text documents), AR doodling and video editing features. 

He characterizes the rest of the phone as "luxurious" and high-performing, making the phone’s asking price ($1,099/£999 for the basic model) somewhat palatable, although he doesn’t enjoy the user experience of Samsung’s version of Android 9.0 Pie, One UI.

The Good

“The Note 10 Plus does a million things, some of which manage to rise above the level of the typical Samsung gimmick. It is a big, beautiful, powerful, well-made phone. You can take all of that for granted, which is an achievement in and of itself.”

“It probably seems weird to the uninitiated, but Note people know: using a stylus on your phone is great. You get a greater degree of precision with all sorts of tasks and a few extra features that aren’t possible without it. But it also just feels different — and often better — to jot on the screen rather than tap on it.”

“There are other phones that come close [to being as nice as the Note 10 Plus] — some from Apple, some from Samsung — but the Note 10 Plus is just a little nicer in addition to being a little bigger.”

The Bad

“Recently, I praised Samsung for getting its act together and adding a little more elegance and clarity to its software, One UI. Unfortunately, with the Note 10 Plus, Samsung is reverting to the norm.”

“The specs, massive screen, and design combine to make the Note 10 Plus a smartphone that goes to 11 for $1,100. But — again — there are Android phones and even Samsung phones that cost hundreds of dollars less and get you nearly there.”

“I do think the stylus is the only important reason to pick the Note 10 Plus over the Galaxy S10 Plus or some other big Android phone. And how much you’re into it is an entirely personal decision.”

Galaxy Note 10 Back blue

(Image credit: Future)

Engadget (Rating: 89/100)

Chris Velazco of Engadget finds fault with the Note 10 Plus’ cameras’ low-light performance, the phone's battery life and its cost. But he enjoys the cameras in general, the phone’s performance, its S-Pen features and its display. He doesn’t believe the Note 10 Plus will woo anybody toward the Note series who isn’t already a prior owner, but still calls it the "best big phone out there right now."

The Good

“Instead of performing actions inside apps with the S Pen's button, you can also invoke them with swishes and flicks in the air. If that sounds a little silly, well, you're right, but they do work.”

“This HDR10-certified display is excellent for curling up in bed and bingeing on movies, and it's more than bright enough for reading and note-taking under harsh sunlight.”

“If you just want a big phone, you can easily pick up a OnePlus 7 Pro or a Galaxy S10+ for much less money, and you'll probably have a great time with them. But if you want a big phone that lets you do more than the smartphone basics and don't mind dealing a few quirks, you won't do better than the Galaxy Note 10+ right now.”

The Bad

“On heavier days with more prolonged use... I blew through the battery before bedtime. Realistically, you're not going to have to worry about running out of power before you step out for a night on the town, but this isn't a phone you can get away with charging every other day.”

“Since they basically share the same cameras, the Note 10+ has the same low light limitations as the S10s… I hate to say it, but the included Night mode isn't all that effective either.”

MORE: New iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro: Release Date, Specs, Price and Leaks

CNET (Rating: 9.2/10)

In her Cnet review, Jessica Dolcourt is thoroughly impressed by the overall quality of the Note 10 Plus, saying that even the noticeable problems are not enough to put her off. 

The issues she highlights include the removal of the headphone jack, the position of the buttons (all aligned on the left side of the phone) and the necessity to use a case to protect the screen and the easily marked back. However, she is full of praise for the phone’s design and performance, and one of the few reviewers who has an overall positive impression of the cameras.

The Good

“Samsung makes excellent phones that check nearly every box of what you'd want in a device: a clear, brilliant screen. Great cameras. Strong battery life. But it's been years since all the individual parts have come together in a way that makes me sit back and say, "Wow." The Galaxy Note 10 Plus does that. ”

“For the first time in a long time, I can say to power users: Why wait? The Note 10 Plus is outstanding, and worth buying.”

“Daytime photography is excellent, but the dedicated night mode is where Samsung really steps it up.”

The Bad

“Another early headache is the button placement. Lefties will love that the power/lock button is now on the left under the volume rocker, but if you're used to this button on the right, it's going to change how you unlock and power off the phone. It's also confusing at first to double-press it to quick-launch the camera app.”

“[The Note 10 Plus is] overkill for people who want a smaller phone or are completely uninterested in the stylus.

Android Central (Rating: 4/5)

Galaxy Note 10 Plus Display

(Image credit: Future)

The Note 10 Plus made a generally good impression on Andrew Martonik at Android Central. The stunning display, strong performance and reliable battery were particular highlights for him, while his complaints revolve around a lack of innovation in other areas, for example the cameras and the UI, which in turn result in a phone that doesn’t do enough to outclass the cheaper Galaxy S10 Plus.

The Good

“The fact that Samsung continues to lead in display technology should come as no surprise. The Dynamic AMOLED panel, in all its 6.8-inch glory, is once again setting the bar. It's bright, clear, visible in direct sunlight, has great viewing angles and is just as colorful or neutral as you want depending on which display setting you choose.”

“No matter what you do, you're going to find amazing performance on the Note 10+. That shouldn't come as any surprise with a Snapdragon 855 and staggering 12GB of RAM, but I couldn't do a single thing that made the Note 10+ so much as hesitate — let alone stutter or actually have a problem.”

“Samsung continues to have great battery life consistency, both throughout the day and from day to day. Nothing seems to dramatically drain the Note 10+'s battery, and I could always count on the same general percentage drop throughout each day no matter how I used it. Predictability in battery life is just as much of a feature as actual longevity in my book.”

The Bad

“It's not that the S10's cameras are bad — they're actually very good — but that they're already not the best in every respect today, and when there's clear room for improvement Samsung didn't make any.”

“The Note 10+ may be running One UI 1.5, ostensibly an update from the S10's software, but the changes come in the form of the handful of new Note features rather than any dramatic movements in the interface or user experience.”

“With the removal of the headphone jack, generally iterative improvements or stagnant features, and the introduction of the smaller Note 10 that's out-classed in some ways by the S10+, the Galaxy Note no longer represents the biggest and best Samsung can do. It's simply a great phone — one that's great in all of the same ways Samsung's other phones are, but with an S Pen.”

Julian Chokkattu writes in his Digital Trends review that the Note 10 Plus pushes the bar just enough to justify its position at the top of Samsung’s list of flagship phones, and has excellent qualities inside and out. Where the phone falls down in his point of view is with its gimmicky features, Samsung’s decision to remove the headphone jack, and the battery performance. But he still gives the phone an overall glowing recommendation.

The Good

“This is the phone to buy and hold onto for more than two years; if you’re looking for the all-encompassing phone that can do it all — and do it all well — you can’t do better than the Note 10 Plus.”

“You’ll have a hard time looking away from the stunning, futuristic 6.8-inch screen. Its massive surface is like staring into another reality, and it’s among the most immersive I’ve seen on a phone to date.”

“Should you buy it? Yes. The Note 10 Plus is an excellent Android smartphone that justifies its high price.”

The Bad

“I like the versatility of the triple camera lenses, and the photos they product are strong. But I have minor quibbles. The telephoto lens oversharpens but also lacks detail sometimes; the wide-angle lens can’t handle close-ups like the wide-angle lens on Huawei’s P30 Pro; and Night Mode sometimes looks worse than using the standard camera.”

“There’s a massive 4,300mAh battery in the Note 10 Plus. You’ll end a day of  moderate use with around 30 percent remaining by 7 p.m. That’s good, but not necessarily great. Heavier use means the phone may struggle to stay alive until the end of the day.”

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.