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Samsung Galaxy Note10 Plus Review – Premium Flagship Experience Redefined
Samsung has yet again lived up to its legacy of launching premium smartphones loaded with numerous innovative features. Recently, the company took the wraps off its next-generation flagship in the Note series. Well, the Galaxy Note10 series is now official and also the most powerful Samsung smartphone launched till date. This series comprises two devices - the Galaxy Note10 and the Galaxy Note10 Plus.
- Exceptional display quality for various tasks
- Retains microSD card slot for expandable storage
- Smarter and improved S Pen
- Great camera performance with ample settings and modes
- Lacks 3.5mm headphone jack
- Not suitable one-handed usage
- False touches at the curved edges
Being premium Android biggies, the Galaxy Note10 is priced at Rs. 69,999 and the Galaxy Note10 Plus is priced at Rs. 79,999 and Rs. 89,999 for the two storage configurations respectively. At this price point, these latest offerings from Samsung have set a unique market for themselves and compete against the likes of other flagship smartphones available right now.
The Galaxy Note10 Plus has room for very little compromises such as the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack. The device is loaded with features that most users may not even use on a daily basis but could prove handy otherwise. It is good to see that the flagship smartphone comes with a microSD card slot supporting expandable storage space despite having ample internal storage. Also, the device has a water and dust resistant build besides an impressive battery life that doesn't require you to turn to your charger every now and then.
One of the most interesting features of the Galaxy Note10 Plus is the S Pen just like the previous models in the lineup. The S Pen features a premium design and comes with notable improvements making it better and intelligent. Though there are numerous features, are these Samsung phones the best you can get? Let's take a look at what we think of the Samsung Galaxy Note10 Plus to know more.
Design – Huge To Be Used In One Hand
Samsung Galaxy Note10 Plus has been launched in a slew of Aura color options and I got my hands on the Aura Glow color. Talking about the color, I liked it personally, as it offered a mirror effect with the glass back and a slick aluminum frame. Well, I am impressed with the mesmerizing rainbow effect that makes the device a stunner. It definitely adds to the style quotient with its changing reflective pattern and is surely a head-turner. However, the downside of this design is that you cannot use it without a case as it is a fingerprint magnet.
The Note10 Plus features an Infinity-O display with a small punch-hole cutout at the top to house the selfie camera sensor. This time around, there is an IR scanner for secure face unlock as seen on the yesteryear's Note9. However, this is an ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor, which is quick enough. The screen is gorgeous with mild curves that gives a nice feel when held. However, the device, on the whole, is too bulky to be held and used in one hand. And, there are occasional false touches if you hold the phone securely around the screen.
At the rear, you can see four camera sensors at the top left corner. Three of them are positioned vertically while the fourth Depth Vision sensor towards the right along with dual LED flash. The power button is positioned at the left along with the volume rockers while the right edge is barren from controls. This year, the device comes sans the Bixby button. Given the minimal spacing between the controls on the left, I pressed the power button mistaking it for the volume down button at many instances.
At the bottom, the Galaxy Note10 Plus features a USB Type-C port for both plugging in the charger and the USB Type-C headphones. Well, the company has removed the 3.5mm headphone jack that was seen in the previous generation model. This is something that was expected as almost all flagship smartphones are ditching the 3.5mm headphone jack. The hybrid dual SIM slot is housed at the top edge of this device.
Diving deep into the design, it is obvious that the Samsung Galaxy Note10 Plus comes with its secret weapon - S Pen. While it is housed at the same spot as the other Note series phones, it comes with improved design and functionalities. As soon as the S Pen is unsheathed from the bottom right corner of the Note10 Plus, it jumps into action. This time, the company has refined its design, making it relatively thinner and fine-tipped for better note-taking. There are capabilities such as a remote shutter, Air Gestures, etc. and let's take a look at these in detail later.
Display – Gives Life To Visuals
Samsung Galaxy Note10 Plus is fitted with a 6.8-inch Super AMOLED Quad HD+ Curved Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O display with Corning Gorilla Glass 6 protection. Undoubtedly, this edge-to-edge display takes up the whole of the device's front. And, the curved display leaves pixels falling towards the right and left of the screen.
Well, 6.8-inch is definitely big for a smartphone display as it is relatively bigger than counterparts such as the Apple iPhone XS Max though the difference is noticeable at a glance. There's a center-aligned punch-hole for the selfie camera. It doesn't come too much in our way while watching videos or browsing.
The curved display gives a nice premium look to the device and comes with the customizable edge panel. However, as mentioned above, I did face the issue of false touches and it takes time to get used to it. When it comes to the picture quality, the Note10 Plus display is punchy and the QHD+ resolution brings visuals to life. At the maximum brightness level, the display is quite stunning. Of course, it does not support 90Hz refresh rate as the OnePlus 7 Pro, but it is smooth enough. Notably, the Galaxy Note10+ is ranked A+ by DisplayMate for its exceptional color accuracy and brightness levels.
The Ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor on the Galaxy Note10 Plus is fast enough. It is capable of reading the 3D contours of the fingerprint and is touted for distinguishing between real and spoofed fingerprints.
Performance Won’t Let You Down
Samsung Galaxy Note10 Plus is one of the premium flagship smartphones right now. It is one of the fastest Android smartphones out there, but might not be the best smartphone. The Note10 Plus comes with an octa-core Exynos 9825 chipset (Snapdragon 855 in select markets). This processor is teamed up with 12GB RAM and 256GB/512GB internal storage space. I like the addition of a microSD card slot on the Note10 Plus for those who want more memory capacity.
Given that mobile games are more process-heavy and graphics-rich, it is important to have top specifications for the best gaming experience. The Galaxy Note10 Plus is touted to feature the world's slimmest vapor chamber cooling system, which delivers optimal performance during gameplay while keeping the device slim and sleek. There is AI-based Game Booster for optimized performance and power consumption based on the game.
I ran a slew of benchmark tests on the Galaxy Note10 Plus to analyze its performance. In the Geekbench 4 benchmark platform, the smartphone scored 4503 points in the single-core test and 10605 points in the multi-core test. In comparison, the OnePlus 7 Pro achieved 3426 points and 10796 points in the single-core and multi-core tests respectively. In the AnTuTu benchmark platform, the Samsung device scored 349696 points while the OnePlus 7 Pro managed to score 367301 points. Notably, the Galaxy S10+ launched earlier this year logged 340345 points.
In the 3DMark benchmark platform's Sling Shot Extreme - OpenGL ES 3.1 test, Galaxy Note10 Plus scored 4913 points and in the Sling Shot Extreme - Vulkan test, it scored 4813 points. In comparison, the OnePlus 7 Pro scored higher securing 5470 points in the Sling Shot Extreme - OpenGL ES 3.1 test and 4840 points in the Sling Shot Extreme - Vulkan test.
The benchmarks reiterate the fact that both the processor and RAM work together to deliver one of the best performances we have seen of late on a smartphone. The same applies to the gaming department. I used the device to play PUBG and Shadow Fight 3, and yes, there wasn't any lagging issue. The overall performance is enhanced with the combination of the QHD+ display, powerful processor, and stereo speakers. But the back of the device gets slightly hot when it is used for intense tasks.
Samsung Galaxy Note10 Plus features stereo speakers along with surround sound with Dolby Atmos technology. I have used the OnePlus 7, OnePlus 6 and a few other smartphones. Of these, I like the audio output of the Galaxy Note10 Plus. It is quite louder than the smartphones I have used before. What I like is that the audio output is clear without any distortion even at high volume levels.
It has to be noted that Samsung has ditched the 3.5mm headphone jack in favor of a USB Type-C audio. And, the package bundles a pair of AKG wired headphones as well. There's Bluetooth 5 and I used a pair of wireless headphones with the Note10 Plus.
Software – One UI Could Have Been Better
Samsung Galaxy Note10 Plus runs Android 9 Pie topped with the company's One UI. The software has been redesigned to make everything easy to reach. The camera interface is also quite simple without much complication. The One UI interface looks clean with the navigation options with a thumb's reach. But I personally did not like the icons and the overall looks of the interface as it feels relatively less premium for a flagship smartphone.
As it is a Note series device, it comes with an Edge panel which lets you add preferred app shortcuts and contacts. Also, there are ample features and gestures. There is Bixby and related features such as Bixby Vision in the Galaxy Note10 Plus. While there is no dedicated Bixby button, the device still has the feature and it does its task as intended. There are nice features such as dark theme, inbuilt screen recorder, scrolling screenshots, etc.
Camera – Handles All Situations Like A Pro
The Galaxy Note10 Plus comes packed with five cameras that deliver a stunning performance that come handy in almost all situations. The device comes with four cameras at the rear and one housed within the punch-hole cutout at the front to click selfies.
Well, there are four camera sensors at the rear with a standard 12MP sensor with a variable aperture of f/1.5-f2.4, 77-degree field of view, and OIS, a secondary wide-angle lens with 123-degree field of view and f/2.2, a third 12MP sensor with 3x telephoto zoom and OIS and a fourth Depth Vision camera. There are interesting camera capabilities including Zoom-In Mic, Screen Recorder, in-built video editor, 3D scanner to turn any object into a 3D rendering, and more.
The rear cameras are quite similar to the one on Galaxy S10 Plus, but I like the camera placement on the Note10 Plus. The cameras at the top left corner is something that I like as it doesn't capture my finger while clicking shots using the wide-angle lens. This is a design element we have seen on many other smartphones launched of late across price points.
The camera interface is simple and straightforward and you will get all the options within a swipe or two. The camera delivers punchy colors and the photos look great irrespective of the lighting conditions. The camera is fast enough without much processing time in almost all modes. Notably, the Night Mode and Live Focus (Color Point) takes a few seconds to deliver the result. Even the transition from one mode to another is fluid and doesn't annoy.
Especially, I like the low-light photos captured by the Galaxy Note10 Plus, thanks to the dedicated Night Mode. As you can see, the Night Mode does a good job, but the noise is visible when it comes to videos shot in low-light. Overall, the photos captured using the Samsung flagship have exceptional color reproduction. Except for the lack of details in low-light conditions, the video mode does a good job as there is good stabilization and quality.
Wide-Angle Camera Is Impressive
The wide-angle camera is quite impressive in terms of performance. It has a wider field of view as compared to other smartphone cameras, but there is a slight noticeable distortion at the edges in some cases. Otherwise, the camera does a really good job. I should mention that there is a minor lack of details, but that shouldn't be a big issue.
Telephoto Camera Is Sharp
The telephoto lens handles the zoom pretty well and I have no complaints in this department. The Samsung Galaxy Note10 Plus has a sharp telephoto lens, which isn't common in the smartphone world. As seen in the camera sample above, the lens captures the colors quite naturally and the result isn't too pixelated.
Depth Vision Lens Adds Live Focus Effect
There's a Depth Vision lens in the Note10 Plus, which its sibling misses as the Note10 vanilla variant uses software for the task. This sensor applies Live Focus, which is the bokeh effect in the portrait shots. There are ways in which I could tweak the bokeh effect as intended and it just highlights the subject neatly. I could take portrait shots with subjects highlighted within the Big Circles.
Selfie Camera Is Good
The selfie camera on the Galaxy Note10 Plus is a 10MP sensor housed within the punch-hole cutout on the display with an aperture of f/2.2 and 80-degree field of view. With the smartphone, it is possible to capture wide-angle selfies too that's suitable to capture more than one subject. Also, there are modes such as color point, big circle, etc. to capture selfie shots with background blur for a nice bokeh effect. And, yes, there's an option to adjust the blur effect with the slider. Overall, the selfies are natural and the edge detection is also impressive in the portrait shots.
S Pen Does More Than Note-Taking
The USP of the Galaxy Note series phones is the S Pen. In the initial variants, the S Pen was meant to pen down digital notes, but its functionality has been improved over the years. Now, it serves many more purposes than just note-taking. It works wonders and is quite handy. Samsung has added many new features that makes the S Pen intelligent.
The device unlocks creativity and provides a seamless user experience. The latest S Pen features a 350mAh lithium-titanate battery delivering 10 hours of usage on a single charge. There is a sleek unibody design, intuitive gesture recognition support with Air actions, screen off memo, translate and convert, screen recorder, Air Command, Air Actions, AR Doodle, Live Message, Samsung Notes, etc. It can also click pictures, zoom in and zoom out with a simple gestures and adjust volume in multimedia apps.
The S Pen bundled with the Galaxy Note10 Plus has a gyroscope to perform air Actions, which is gestures such as swipe up and swipe down to switch the camera mode, swirl in front of the camera to zoom in and zoom out, etc. Also, the button on the S Pen doubles as a camera shutter button and you can use it to capture selfies without your hand extending in front of the camera.
How could I not talk about the AR Doodle feature. My eight-year-old had a great time with this feature creating doodles of himself in a virtual space. I like this fun-filled feature that creates animated videos with the addition of funny elements such as a pair of bunny ears. And, even the screen off memo is interesting as I could jot down important notes or have reminders mentioned without unlocking the phone.
Battery Easily Lasts A Day
The Galaxy Note10 Plus draws power from a 4300mAh battery under its hood. This battery supports 45W fast charging, but the package is bundled with a 25W fast charger. In my usage, I found the battery to last at least one day without any glitch. It really has a good battery performance as compared to the other Samsung flagships in the past. Even after using it for intense tasks such as streaming videos and taking photos and videos, I had 18% charge left at the end of the day, which is impressive. Well, the 25W charger is capable of charging the smartphone from 0% to 100% in 80 minutes.
What's more impressive is that Samsung has added numerous power optimizations to the device. Though there's a QHD+ display, it comes with FHD+ 1080p resolution by default and it is up to users to go and change it to QHD+. This default setting helps save the battery life whenever possible. I switched to the QHD+ setting only when I had to watch videos as there won't be much noticeable difference in other use cases. Also, the Always-on Display setting also saves the battery life considerably.
For those who hate wires, Samsung Galaxy Note10 Plus comes with wireless charging support and there's Wireless Powershare to charge other devices that are Qi compatible on its back.
Verdict – Must-Buy For A Premium Flagship Experience
Samsung flagships do not come at a pocketable pricing to talk about value, but these devices are meant for those who want a premium flagship experience. The Galaxy Note10 has been launched just months after the Galaxy S10 Plus and delivers impressive performance with many notable improvements. It has a higher battery capacity since it is a Note series device with a bigger and brighter display, S Pen that's more functional, and higher RAM.
Of course, there are relatively more affordable offerings such as the OnePlus 7 Pro that you can buy for under Rs. 50,000 and get a display with 90Hz refresh rate, but you will miss out on many aspects such as wireless charging, S Pen capabilities and expandable storage to mention a few. The S Pen is one of the biggest differentiating factors of the Note10 Plus and it makes tasks such as capturing screenshots, note-taking and clicking photos much easier. However, more than normal users, business users and digital artists will be able to leverage its complete functionality.
Talking about cameras, the Samsung Galaxy Note10 Plus captures close-up shots without distortion and wide-angle shots with everything crammed up in the frame without losing many details.
Summing up, the Galaxy Note10 Plus may not be appealing for those who already own the Galaxy S10 Plus as it comes with just a few more refinements and the S Pen. However, it is a good buy for those who are looking forward to enjoy a premium experience with a flagship smartphone that touches almost all sectors and handles tasks thrown at it like a pro.