Yeah, yeah, I know we’ve been here before. Another Samsung Galaxy Note launch and here I am telling you why I’m contemplating jumping on Samsung’s latest hype wagon, the Galaxy Note 10. But hear me out.
I’m the proud owner of a Note 8 and while it’s served me well, it’s getting a little long in the tooth. And frankly, the Note 10, specifically the Note 10 Plus is hitting all the marks I want in my next phone (massive screen, powerful processor, huge battery). Granted, there are some caveats like a centrally mounted front camera, but I’m upgrading to the Note 10 Plus, and I think you should too.
What happened to the Note 9?
So the last time we were here, I had a serious battery in my back about the Note 9. It was shiny and new and had a yellow stylus! I drank the Samsung Kool-Aid, and in the moment it tasted absolutely delicious. But once the event was over and I had a week or two to think about my impending purchase, I came to the conclusion that there wasn’t enough there to warrant an upgrade.
Granted, having the ability to use the stylish as a remote for slideshow presentations or certain media is cool. However, it wasn’t enough to make me open my wallet and hand Samsung and Verizon $1,000, especially since I had just paid off my Note 8 and was enjoying a significantly cheaper phone bill. Besides, I had gotten along this far in life without Samsung’s DeX technology, I thought I could manage until the next Note and so far so good.
But the Note 10 Plus is a horse of a different color.
Design: Say Hello to Aura Glow
Remember when I said the bigger the better? Rocking a 6.8-inch panel, the Note 10 Plus is officially the biggest Note ever. And with a QHD+ (3040 x 1440) AMOLED panel, I'm expecting seriously crisp details with extremely vivid hues. And with such a large display, the Note 10 Plus is pushing into tablet territory and I absolutely love it!
And look ma, no bezels! Samsung has all but shunned the unsightly black borders, leaving nothing but wonderful display real estate. However, I'm slightly annoyed that the 10-megapixel front camera is sitting top center. It’s a fly in the ointment (a necessary fly, but a fly nonetheless) that is the gorgeous Infinity-O display. I would much rather Samsung would have found a way to incorporate a pop-up camera similar to Oppo Reno or OnePlus 7 Pro.
Note 10 Specs
My Note 8's Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor is still a peppy puppy and can multitask with the best of them. But two years in, it's definitely not as zippy as it used to be. Armed with a whopping 12GB of RAM and Qualcomm's top-of-the-line 855 CPU, the Note 10 Plus should serve up even better performance. But I'm going to temper my expectations until our review is live.
In terms of storage, I've got my eye on the 512GB version. Between all the photos, docs, games and music, I need as much storage as I can get. And I love that the Note 10 Plus has a microSD slot so I can expand the storage even further.
New, Improved S Pen
It just wouldn't be a Note without the S Pen and as a note-taking journalist, I think the stylus is one of the phone's best features. With last year's Note 9, Samsung added some snazzy new features to the S Pen like Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) connectivity. In addition to expanded note-taking functionality, the company also transformed the stylus into a remote, allowing you to use it for slideshow presentations in DeX or with media apps like YouTube and Spotify. You can even use it to launch the camera app.
Samsung retained all of that functionality for the Note 10 and built upon it adding handwriting-to-text, a much-needed and greatly-appreciated feature. Now I can export my notes to a PDF or Word doc, eliminating the need to type up my notes. And while I never felt compelled to use Samsung DeX, but now that it's easier to use with Mac or PC, I might just take it for a whirl.
The new S Pen also has an integrated gyroscope and accelerometer which allows for motion controls. That means not only can you launch the camera with the stylus, you can switch between modes and transition between the front and back camera with a swipe.
So Many Cameras
Historically, Samsung cameras have offered cool features, but the image quality couldn't hold a candle to the likes of Apple or Google. Every iteration of the Note 10 will have three rear cameras: a pair of 12MP shooters (one telephoto, one wide angle) and a 16MP ultra wide camera. That trio of cameras aren't just there for show. Together, the shooters work with Samsung’s DepthCamera — the time-of-flight sensor on the back of the S10 Plus — to pull off several kinds of photographic effects. When DepthCamera is enabled you can scan objects in 3D, which can then be used in tandem with a 3D printer, or it can be mapped to a person's movement for some weird, but oddly compelling animation.
The front camera gets a bump to 10MP which should help you strengthen your Instagram flex game.
Samsung is bringing some of its best camera features to video. For instance Live Focus, which originally let you control the bokeh effect (a soft out-of- focus background) in your photos has now made its way to video. There’s also Super Steady which uses algorithms to remove the dreaded shaky cam. Both features should make your videos look much more professional, especially since there are edit tools preinstalled on the phone.
Biggest Battery Evar
Big phones call for big batteries. It's particularly important to me since trade shows like CES, E3 and IFA last way longer than your standard 8-hour workday. The Note 10 Plus has a 4,300-mAH battery, the largest ever in the series. Due to its size I'm hopeful that the phone will clear 10 hours on our battery test, but with such a powerful new CPU, I'll have to wait and see.
Whenever the time comes to recharge your Note, you won't have to wait long. Thanks to the Quick Charge 2.0 technology, you can get a pretty significant charge in 15 minutes. But if Quick Charge isn't speedy enough for you, the phones are also equipped with wired Super Fast Charging technology. Powered by a 45-watt charger, Super Fast promises to make Quick Charge look sluggish. Unfortunately, the Super Fast charger isn't sold with the phone and Samsung has yet to disclose how much a 45-W charger will set you back, but I predict it's going to cost a pretty penny.
What about the Note 10 Plus 5G?
5G is going to be the next big thing, but not right now. As it stands, the game-changing technology is only available in certain areas and the service is spotty at best. And I get it, if the technology lives up to the claims, upload and download speeds will easily surpass anything we’ve seen in 4G LTE. But like any network, just how fast will depend on a number of variables, which means that the speeds can vary at any given time.
Plus, the 5G version of the Note 10 Plus costs $1,299 and I’m not ready to pay that much for spotty speeds no matter how knew the technology. Talk to me in a year and we’ll see, but right now, in the words of the immortal Randy Jackson, “it’s a no from me dawg.”
I’m definitely on the Note 10 Plus bandwagon. It’s got a huge, beautiful display with powerful cameras and cool effects. And thanks to expanded S Pen functionality, the phone is the new friend of mobile professionals everywhere, plus its got that powerful new Qualcomm processor all packaged in a sleek, ultra shiny shell. And, if you’re so inclined, you can get on the 5G early adopter train.
But while I’m really excited about the Note 10 Plus, I’m not going to preorder just yet. I want to see how it holds up against our testing — particularly battery life — before I plunk down my hard-earned money.
If everything goes right, though, you’ll see me rocking an 512GB Aura Glow Note 10 Plus this fall.
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Sherri L. Smith has been cranking out product reviews for Laptopmag.com since 2011. In that time, she's reviewed more than her share of laptops, tablets, smartphones and everything in between. The resident gamer and audio junkie, Sherri was previously a managing editor for Black Web 2.0 and contributed to BET.Com and Popgadget.