Eight years ago, Samsung launched the first Galaxy Note. A giant smartphone with its 5.3-inch screen (which we would consider tiny today), this device gave birth to the “phablet” market. Almost a decade later, the Galaxy Note line has established itself as one of the most complete on the market. Despite some pyrotechnical setbacks, Samsung has made its product a smartphone capable of meeting almost all needs, recognizable among a thousand thanks to its emblematic stylus.
This year, Samsung declines its new flagship in two sizes. Direct successor to the Galaxy Note 9, the Galaxy Note 10+ is presented as the new ultimate smartphone from the Korean brand. At 1,109 euros, does it become the new benchmark for high-end Android mobiles? We reviewed it to find out.
Giant format: advantages and disadvantages
This year, Samsung breaks its record and integrates a 6.8-inch AMOLED panel into its new device. It’s just gigantic. Curved on the sides and punched at the top, this screen leaves very little space at the edges and gives us the impression of holding a device straight from the future.
Such a screen on a smartphone gives the Note 10+ a huge advantage over other smartphones. Reading the press on the Note 10+ almost gives the impression of reading a real magazine, watching a serial episode is as pleasant as on a tablet and the presence of the stylus makes note taking really practical (we’ll come back to this later) . These are the advantages of such a large screen, even if, unfortunately, everything is not perfect.
Indeed, even if the Galaxy Note 10+ retains roughly the same dimensions as the Note 9, be aware that the edge-to-edge design of its screen creates some regrettable problems. First, this smartphone is simply unusable with one hand. Unless your name is the Hulk, you can’t reach the corners of the screen without using your other leg. More annoying, it is not uncommon for the palm of the hand to accidentally come to interact with the edge of the screen. In some applications like Instagram, for example, we return to the home page by mistake far too often, which is annoying. In fact, we often regretted the 6.4 inches of the S10 + during our review. But this Note targets a niche market that is probably not afraid of a sprained thumb.
As on the S10s, the Note 10+ front camera hides in a punch. There is however a difference in size to take into account, it is no longer in a corner of the screen but it is centered. Advantage, when we take selfies, we no longer have the look that goes to the side. Disadvantage, it is more difficult to forget the presence of this punch, very visible.
Screen: Samsung still excels
Unsurprisingly, Samsung remains the undisputed master of screens. The Dynamic AMOLED panel of the Galaxy Note 10+ is a complete success and seduces us as much as that of the S10. Our laboratory has measured a default maximum brightness of 704 cd / m2 (it is able to go up to 804 cd / m2 in boost mode if you want to continue enjoying a screen that is easy to read in direct sunlight) as well as an infinite contrast ratio. Without being the best, the Galaxy Note 10+ also displays colors rather faithful to reality: evidenced by the Delta E measured by 3.9 by default.
Also remember that the Galaxy Note 10+ has a Quad HD + definition panel even if Samsung sets it to Full HD + by default. In short, here we have one of the most beautiful screens on the market.
To finish on this part, let us specify however that the Galaxy Note 10+ is not equipped with a 90 Hz or 120 Hz screen and is satisfied with a traditional refresh rate of 60 Hz. On a mobile as premium, we would have appreciated that Samsung made an effort, especially since the company produces it for other manufacturers like OnePlus.
Design: a little gem
The Note 10+ marks a significant development in the design of Galaxy smartphones. Note for example the disappearance of the Bixby button, which now merges with the unlock key. Located on the left edge under the volume buttons, this unique side button allows you to do a multitude of things. Quick start of an application, call Bixby Voice, launch the camera or turn off the mobile … It’s up to you to configure it. If its new location forces the user to change their habits, we are happy to see Samsung simplifying its products.
At the top and bottom, the Galaxy Note 10+ also gives a lesson in symmetry. Long criticized, Samsung finally aligns all the ports and proves that it pays attention to details.
On the back, the mobile looks like a work of art. More discreet, its camera module is now hidden in the upper left corner and gives pride of place to a magnificent glass mirror. It must be recognized that the latter is sublime even if it risks displeasing lovers of sobriety. Depending on how you hold it, this back reflects different colors. Only downside, this back mirror loves fingerprints and seems extremely fragile … Wisdom would be to protect it with a shell, but how then to benefit?
Goodbye jack jack, I liked you
It would be impossible not to talk about it. Samsung, a big defender of the jack since Apple dared to remove it in 2016, finally abandons the famous audio port. The Korean brand justifies this decision with a low head. Samsung explains that it needed space to enlarge the battery of its mobile and took the opportunity to change its vibration motor. Without being as pleasant as those of the iPhone and Pixel, the haptic feedback of the Galaxy Note 10+ is indeed much more precise than on a Galaxy S10 +. We therefore accept this nice consolation prize even if, logically speaking, the absence of a jack is regrettable. Samsung assumes and has not made the decision to include an adapter in the box.
Another disappearance that will not be missed this time, the Galaxy Note 10+ abandons the heart rate sensor present on the back of Samsung smartphones from the Galaxy S5. The logic is that it will be reintroduced next year as a new function of the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor.
An ever smarter stylus
Apparently, nothing changes between the S-Pen of the Note 10+ and that of its predecessor. There are actually some new things like the arrival of an accelerometer and a gyroscope. Thanks to “Air Gestures”, you can control your mobile by gesturing with the stylus. You can, for example, increase the volume by shaking it up, move from one song to another by swiping right or left, or zoom in the camera by making an arc. By pressing the stylus button, you can see all of the gestures available in the app while it’s in use.
The Air Gestures are they really practical? Strangely, we like them. While the majority of users may be unaware of their existence, others may find them useful from time to time.
Another more practical innovation is the arrival of a handwriting recognition system. Notes you write with the stylus can be converted to text and exported to Word or the application of your choice. It is also possible to search for them since the Note 10+ indexes their content automatically. Here, despite some difficulties in recognizing certain words, we are satisfied. We still prefer to warn you, better to have a beautiful writing.
Finally, the last more anecdotal novelty, AR Doodle allows you to draw on your face using the S-Pen (see image above). The magic of augmented reality, the design stays on your head and allows you to make fun videos. It’s not a revolution, but it’s undeniably funny.
Performance: in line with the Galaxy S10
For the first time, a Galaxy Note smartphone does not recycle the processor of the last Galaxy S. The brand launches the Exynos 9825, a new processor engraved in 7 nm which succeeds the Exynos 9820. Our benchmarks reveal very slight differences between these two generations that don’t really compete.
Read also : Lab review: what is the Galaxy Note 10’s Exynos 9825 processor worth?
In other words, the Galaxy Note 10+ is one of the most powerful smartphones on the market and performs all tasks without any problem. The performance gain compared to the Note 9 is truly remarkable. This new chip also has the advantage of optimizing energy consumption thanks to its finer engraving. We will come back to this in our section dedicated to autonomy.
Two versions of the Galaxy Note 10+ are offered by Samsung, one with 256 GB of storage, the other with 512 GB. Both models are expandable by Micro SD and have 12 GB of RAM, which is obviously much more than what which you need. Note also the arrival of faster UFS 3.0 storage, Wi-Fi 6 compatibility and the presence of an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor. As software updates, it has finally become the most efficient on the market. In short, the Galaxy Note 10+ is faithful to the reputation of its range, it is ultra-complete!
One UI 1.5: improvements … and regressions
Let us briefly mention the new features of One UI, the overlay used by Samsung since early 2019. The most striking is the arrival of a screen video recorder. Samsung was indeed one of the rare manufacturers not to offer it natively. This is this corrected gap. The notification center also adds a shortcut to turn off your smartphone in case you have configured the launch of Bixby on the side key (instead of the on / off function).
Unfortunately, Samsung no longer offers quick access to the various devices in its ecosystem SmartThings. If it was possible with the S10 to access the remote control of your Samsung TV from the notification center, you must now navigate the menus to do so on the Note 10+. This is a regression that users of several devices of the Korean brand will regret. For the rest, One UI is still as pleasant to use.
DeX: computer in computer
Launched with the Galaxy S8, the DeX mode allows you to transform your smartphone into a laptop by plugging it into a screen. If it originally needed a paid dock, the brand has since improved its system by making it accessible from any HDMI adapter.
With the Note 10+, Samsung is innovating again. DeX mode can now be installed on any computer. For example, you can connect your smartphone to your Mac to display your Android applications in large format or quickly transfer files.
Does the promise live up to reality? Yes and no. Admittedly, DeX works quite well, but there are still big limits. Installing DeX on Mac, for example, makes it impossible to useAndroid File Transfer. On the other hand, some applications are jerky too much. We feel that optimization was not the primary objective of the Korean group. In other words, this is not the novelty of the year.
Battery life: the best of Samsung
Inside the Note 10+, there is a very high capacity battery of 4300 mAh, a large increase compared to the 4000 mAh of the Note 9. The Exynos 9825 processor engraved in 7 nm also improves energy consumption. The recipe for success ?
According to measurements from our laboratory, the Galaxy Note 10+ is quite simply the most enduring high-end smartphone ever released by Samsung. 15h32 of versatile autonomy, 12h17 of streaming viewing, 22h04 of phone calls. It is truly remarkable.
Read also : Lab review: with the Galaxy Note 10+, Samsung breaks its own autonomy record
During our few days with the smartphone, we really appreciated its autonomy. Where an S10 + could be a problem in heavy use, the Note 10+ does it easily. Without exceeding the record performance of the Huawei P30 Pro, it is truly one of the most enduring high-end smartphones.
Recharge: 25W by default, 45W optional
Small revolution at Samsung, the Korean brand joins the small circle of manufacturers adepts of ultra-fast charging. Like Oppo, Huawei, Xiaomi or OnePlus, Samsung is trying to minimize the time required to recharge a smartphone with a more powerful AC adapter. The one supplied with the Note 10+ is 25W against 15W in the past.
As a result, the Galaxy Note 10+ charges quickly. Where it took almost 2 hours on the Note 9, it only takes 1:01 on a Note 10+ off and a little less than 1 hour 10 on a Note 10+ on. 30 minutes of charging is enough to recover 66% of autonomy.
Finally, note that a 45W charger is optional. The brand suggests in its advertisements that a recharge in half an hour is possible with this accessory sold all the same 49 euros. If it is more than regrettable that it is not offered with a smartphone over 1000 euros, recognize that we are curious to check its performance. Our review will be updated when the measurement is made by our laboratory. The Galaxy Note 10+ is also compatible with 20W wireless charging.
Photo and video: an S10 with a ToF sensor
When it’s not unusual, Samsung’s efforts on its Galaxy Note’s camera are minimal. The brand simply recycles three of the S10’s cameras and adds a dedicated ToF sensor for measuring depth of field or distances. We therefore find a main camera of 12 Mpix (variable aperture from f / 1.5 to f / 2.4), an ultra wide angle of 16 Mpix (f / 2.1) and a telephoto lens with x2 zoom of 12 Mpix (f / 2.1). Most observers will probably notice that the aperture of the latter two is a little larger than on the S10 where it was f / 2.2.
Unsurprisingly, the Galaxy Note 10+ is therefore one of the best smartphones in photo. Without matching the Huawei P30 Pro in night photos and zoom, this smartphone has one of the fasreview autofocus on the market, incredible color fidelity and very good consistency between the different sensors. Difficult to be disappointed with the quality of its images.
The application Camera from Samsung is still as successful. You can easily switch from one mode to another, the change of angle is quick and some practical ideas like Instagram mode are a real plus. With it, you can make Stories directly from the main camera and then send them to the application.
Let’s not dwell too much on the photo part of the Galaxy Note 10+ since it is substantially identical to that of the S10. You can find our detailed photo review for more complete information.
Read also : Galaxy S10 photo review
Now let’s talk about some new features in the Note 10+. The vast majority of them relate to video. The “Zoom-in-Mic” function allows you to zoom in on a person in a video, for example, to focus on what they are saying … at least in theory. In reality, our reviews mostly showed that the smartphone only increased the volume as soon as you zoomed in during a recording. Whoever speaks does not change much.
Thanks to the ToF sensor, Samsung also offers a video portrait mode. The latter blurs the background or can, for example, pass it in black and white. Here we are very satisfied, it works very well. Would it have been possible to do this without ToF? Without a doubt. Is the clipping precision better with? Certainly.
Another function enabled by the ToF sensor is 3D modeling. Here is a little carnage. To access the function, go to the camera, open Bixby Vision, go to the “Play and explore” tab and select “3D Scanner”. This application is unbearable to use and misses modeling about 9 times out of 10. The rare times when everything works as expected, the 3D object is distorted. In short, Samsung should perhaps not have rushed the launch of such a function.
Finally, Samsung’s super video stabilization improves on the Note 10+. Always activated manually, it removes all tremors with disconcerting ease. Like the S10, the Note 10+ is certainly one of the best smartphones for filming.