It’s finally here. After all the leaks, rumors and speculations, we have the real deal. The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 series has been officially revealed and it’s here to claim the title of the best smartphones of 2019. Yes, you read that right. This year, for the first time ever, multiple Galaxy Note devices have been launched. You have the standard Galaxy Note 10 as the base phone and the Galaxy Note 10+ as the top-tier performer.
In case you’re unfamiliar with Samsung’s trend of launching smartphones, pay attention. Earlier in the year, you get the flagship S series devices and then, a few months later, you get a single flagship Note series device. That particular Note device benefits from everything good that the Galaxy S devices have to offer and a whole lot more. This year, however, things have changed.
So how do these Galaxy Note devices stand up to the already tough competition for the best smartphone title? Let’s have a look at all the specs and features to find out.
Design & Display
The design of the Galaxy Note 10 is almost exactly the same as we saw in the leaks. You have the same glass and metal sandwich that’s found in almost all flagship smartphones that came out this year. Upfront, you have an almost bezel-less HDR10+ Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O Display that has a size and resolution of 6.3″ with 2280×1080 and 6.8″ with 3040×1440 on the standard phone and the plus variant respectively. It’s really a shame that the base model gets a downgrade in screen resolution which was 1440p throughout the years.
That being said, the implementation of the front camera can be considered revolutionary. It is placed inside a hole-punch in the display like the one we saw in the Galaxy S10. However, unlike the one that we saw on that phone, the hole-punch is centered and not off to the right side. There have been mixed feelings regarding this design. If you want to look at the bright side, things are much more symmetric now.
Move to the back and the first things you’ll notice is the triple-camera layout. The sensors are stacked vertically in housing over on the top-left side. Along with that, you have an LED flash along with some additional sensors on the Note 10+. Up in the very center, you have the subtle Samsung logo, that can be found on every smartphone manufactured by the brand. The rest of the back is just plain glass.
The button layout has been changed. You have no button on the right side of the device, while the power and Bixby buttons have been merged into one on the left under the volume rocker. Down below, you’ll notice the S-Pen in its usual spot. However, something you’ll not see anymore is the 3.5mm headphone jack. Yes, Samsung has finally given in and possibly the last company to support it has moved on.
As mentioned earlier Samsung has three cameras at the back, like every other flagship smartphone of 2019. You get a 12MP Main sensor that has an f/1.5 and f/2.4 dual aperture modes along with a 77° field of view. Next, you have a 12MP Telephoto sensor that has a fixed f/2.1 aperture along with a 45° field of view (2x zoom). Last, comes the 16MP Ultrawide that has an f/2.2 aperture and a 123° field of view. All the aforementioned cameras except the Ultrawide are Optically Stabilized.
Additionally, on the Galaxy S10+ only, you get two additions Time of Flight sensors. Samsung calls them DepthVision cameras. They will be used for AR purposes like Live video focus. As far as video goes, you can shoot up to 4K@60fps. In case that’s too much for you, you do have 4K@30, 1080p@30/60, and 720p@30 options. Additionally, you have options to shoot in Slow-Mo (1080p@240fps) and Super Slow-Mo (720@960fps).
Come to the front camera and you only get a single shooter across all variants. This is a significant step down from the dual selfie cameras found in the Galaxy S10+. The single selfie camera is a 10MP unit that has an aperture of f/2.2 and an impressive 80° field of view. Unfortunately, it is not optically stabilized but it does have Dual Pixel Autofocus. It can also shoot 4K#30fps, which is rare in selfie cameras.
As the final flagship smartphone of the year, you’d expect the Galaxy Note 10 to pack a punch and it does. Under the hood, you get, as we all expected, the latest and greatest 7nm Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 855 CPU along with the Adreno 640 GPU in USA and China regions. In International markets, the Galaxy S10 will have Samsung’s own 7nm Exynos 9825 CPU with a Mali™-G76 MP12 GPU. The performance figures of both chipsets are similar, which means, regardless of where you live, you’ll get the best possible smartphone performance out of this device.
RAM and storage configuration is where things start to get confusing. On the base Note 10, you can only get 8GB RAM with 256GB storage, which is more than enough in this day and age. On the 5G version of the base model, you can get a 12GB RAM but the storage remains fixed at 256GB. Come to the Note 10+ and you get 12GB RAM with an option of 256GB and 512GB on both LTE and 5G variants. The MicroSD expandable slot is only found on the LTE Note 10+ variant. The rest don’t get it.
Lastly, let’s talk about the battery. You get a 3500mAh unit on the standard Note 10 and a 4300mAh unit on the Note10+. These figures sound really good for battery life, especially the one on the Note 10+. Samsung claims an “All Day” of use on the non-5G variants., which seems to be a big deal. Further battery tests will reveal how it stacks up against competition like the Huawei P30 Pro.
Samsung users will now be pleased to know that the Galaxy Note 10 comes with a 25W fast charger out of the box. As a special treat, the owners of the Note 10+ will be able to charge their phones with Super Fast Charge 2.0 via a 45W adapter and a 5A cable. Do note that you’ll have to buy these accessories separately. Other than that, Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 and Wireless PowerShare come as standard.
Software & Security
The Galaxy S10 comes, out of the box, with Android 9.0 (Pie) running with Samsung’s OneUI on top of it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, OneUI is a massive upgrade from the horrible TouchWiz that previous Samsung phones had. However, that being said, it is still far from being the purest Android experience. It is filled to the brim with countless features that have their pros and cons. But, in the end, we can all agree that people won’t really use them in normal circumstances.
The S-Pen is easily one the Galaxy Note Series’s most distinct feature. It gets more sophisticated by the year. This time, you get gesture support, which allows you to control the phone UI via the gestures made with the S-Pen. You also have a feature now to covert your hand-written notes to text, which may actually be useful.
As far as security is concerned, you get the same In-display Ultrasonic Fingerprint scanner that we saw on the Galaxy S10. It is now faster and more secure thanks to slight software tweaks. Regardless, it still the most secure and efficient in-display fingerprint scanners and I’m glad Samsung revolutionized it.
Price & Verdict
You might have guessed that all this might not come in cheap and you’d be right. The base Samsung Galaxy Note 10 starts at $950, which is just a lot of money for a device with those specs. Don’t get me wrong, the specs are strong, but there are options which offer similar or even better smartphone experience for a fraction of the price.
It amazes me that a well-specced variant of the OnePlus 7 Pro is better in every way than the base Note 10 and costs a whole lot less. And in case you’re not brand conscious, you can even go for the Redmi K20 Pro, which is the best smartphone bargain in terms of price and performance.