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Samsung Galaxy Note10+ Review – All The Little Things

Samsung’s yearly Note release since the beginning has only gotten bigger and bigger and this year’s Note10 is its biggest yet, so much so that a variant with 6.3-inch display in considered the “small one”. The Galaxy Note10+ is everything an ardent Note fan desires – an unapologetically massive phone with a dominating display, excellent build quality, top notch performance and an unrivalled stylus experience. It is an easy recommendation for someone looking for the best non-iPhone phone today.

The Galaxy Note10 comes in two models for the first time ever – the aforementioned “small” Note10 and the Note10+ with 6.8-inch display. Picking one between the two is not a difficult decision as they differ in quite a number of ways in terms of hardware and specifications. The Note10+ is the cystal-clear choice if you want zero compromises.

Starting off with the looks, this is still very much a Note device with a boxy (perhaps boxier than ever) and industrial design. The overarching theme seems to be removing stuffs rather than adding in more. Out goes the headphone jack, dedicated Bixby button and even more bezel and in comes the centre hole-punch cutout on the display, which doesn’t present much of an issue now that notches and cutouts are ubiquitous. You can still hide the cutout with a virtual black bar, or do it in a more tasteful manner with plenty of delightfully-made-for-the-occasion wallpapers.

The power/lock button has been moved from its traditional position at the right to the left and while it feels a little strange at first, it won’t be long before I got accustomed to the new placing. The combination with Bixby activation also means you no longer turn the phone off by long-pressing the power button. There are actually four new methods doing it now, with the easiest being to hold down the power and volume down button for a few seconds, as well as via the new virtual power off button permanently fixed on the notification tray.

I am not going to go in length waxing lyrical about its display. Samsung makes the best smartphone display in the industry and that doesn’t change with the Note10+. While the display quality is undisputed, a concern among many with the Note10+ having such a gargantuan display is its wieildiness. While it might present some on-hand problem to a certain extent, the device is no bigger than the Note9. If you can handle the latter, you should have no problem dealing with the former. Fun fact – the Note10+ is slightly lighter than the Note9.

New flagship means brand new features. The Galaxy S10 Series brings us things such as ultrasonic fingerprint scanner and Wireless PowerShare, features that unsurprisingly have made their way to the new Note series. The Note10+’s new offerings are considerably light in comparison, with the S Pen being the biggest benefactor. There’s Air Action, which takes advantage of the Bluetooth-enabled S Pen’s newly-added accelerometer and gyroscope to remotely control the camera by flicking the stylus in all sorts of directions. It also happens to be the one single frustrating aspect of my overall experience with the Note10+.

Getting it to work properly is more often than not a chore. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it triggered the exact opposite action that you want it to do. Above all, there’s also the lingering thought of what is the point of all this when the standard way of using finger-on-screen is much faster and failure-proof. For now, Air Action is only limited to the camera app but Samsung has opened up the possibility for more use-cases by providing the SDK to developers. I definitely hope to see some truly useful applications by some creative minds but until then, I wouldn’t be holding my breath.

AR Doodle and 3D Scanner are fun little features to play around with once in a while but they feel like additions that may not hold users’ interest for long once the novelty wears off. Both features already exist in some capacities in the form of downloadable apps and there is nothing to suggest that they will start to catch on.

On the more useful side, productivity gets a significant boost with a revamped Samsung DeX on the Note10+ (and Note10), now allowing the phone to be plugged into a Windows or Mac machine and brings up a window with all of the phone’s apps that can be operated upon. Transferring files between your desktop/laptop and the Note10+ is also made much easier with drag-and-drop action. Of course, you can still use DeX with an external monitor paired with a keyboard and mouse for a desktop-like workstation. For Windows users, you will get even more out of the Note10+ with the preloaded Your Phone app which lets you send SMS as well as wirelessly transfer image files between phone and PC.      

Having just introduced a triple rear camera array on the Galaxy S10 series, Samsung is contend with just using practically the same system on the new devices, with the Note10+ gaining an extra DepthVision TOF 3D VGA camera. You can expect largely similar results with photos as a result – which is still among the best for today’s smartphones – with the ability to take ultra-wide angle shots still one of its best camera features. Check out these couple of shots taken with our review unit.

Videos on the other hand are given more prominence as Samsung introduced a couple of new video-centric features like Live Focus for video, Zoom-In Mic and super steady recording. Video Live Focus is usable for some casual shots but is far from perfect while Zoom-In Mic works surprisingly well and could be a useful feature in some professions that involve journalistic works.

Taken together, the Note10+ isn’t a terribly exciting evolution from the Galaxy S10 Series, but it’s a significant leap for those coming from the Note9. Upgrading from the Note9 (or any older Note for that matter) will give you all the best features from the Galaxy S10 Series together with the Note10+’s specs bump.

For new buyers jumping into Samsung from other branded phones, the allure the Note10+ will be compounded somewhat by presence of the Galaxy S10 phones, particularly the S10+, which were just six months old. There is no doubt that the Note10+ will be super phone that checks all the right boxes for people who know they want a Note. It has got a larger-than-life display, top-notch performance and big battery to count as features that people generally desire the most. But so does the S10+.

With a lower price and largely the same set of core features, the S10+ presents the biggest competition to Note10+ itself. It might even has an edge for some users thanks to its headphone jack and, to a lesser extent, a second front camera. The Note10+ doesn’t have the two features but it’s biggest advantage is the S Pen, which is in its finest form yet. Either way Samsung’s two latest phones are still among the best Android phones to get today. Your decision on which to get between the two will hinge on not so much the big-time specs but the little things – Is the S Pen and its features important to you? Do you take a lot of videos? Do you see 45W fast charging a game-changer in your life? (assuming you have the necessary equipment)   

Also, is there anything that looks better than Aura Glow?

 

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