Last week, I had the chance to spend about an hour with the new Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and 10 Plus. As a Galaxy Note 9 owner, and long-time Note series fan, I was mostly pleased with the Galaxy Note 10/10 Plus improvements and will likely continue using the Samsung Upgrade Program to switch over to the new Galaxy Note 10 Plus. There were several performance improvements, with one feature from the Samsung Experience that has now been left behind.
Also: Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Unpacked event: How to watch and what to expect
Looking at the Galaxy S10 Plus released six months ago compared to the Galaxy Note 10 Plus, we see the following:
- Same Snapdragon 855 processor
- Move from UFS 2.1 to UFS 3.0 for the internal storage drive
- Increased battery capacity from 4,100 to 4,300mAh
- Increased display size and brightness levels
- Same rear quad-camera design
- S Pen, which is typical for the Note series
The distinction of the Note series compared to the S series is lessening as we move forward in time with the S Pen being the primary differentiator. The differences in Samsung flagships may soon move to comparisons of the Galaxy Fold that offers a radically different design than the S or Note lines.
Also: Samsung Galaxy Note 10: Everything you need to know
Galaxy Note 10 and Galaxy Note 10 Plus Specifications
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
- Display: 6.3 inches, 2960 x 1440 pixels resolution Super AMOLED (Galaxy Note 10) and 6.8 inches (Galaxy Note 10 Plus with HDR10+ certification
- Operating system: Android 9.0 Pie
- RAM: 8GB LPDDR4 (12GB base for the Galaxy Note 10 Plus)
- Storage: 256GB/512GB internal storage options (10 Plus), UFS 3.0
- Cameras: 12MP rear f/2.1 telephoto, f/1.5, and f/2.4 super speed dual pixel dual aperture camera, 16MP f/2.2 ultra-wide camera, and 3D depth camera (Galaxy Note 10 Plus only). 10MP f/2.2 front-facing camera
- Water resistance: IP68 water and dust rating
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/acax (2.4/5GHz), Bluetooth 5.0 LE, ANT+, GPS, NFC, MST
- Sensors (phone): Accelerometer, Barometer, Ultrasonic Fingerprint Sensor, Gyro Sensor, Geomagnetic Sensor, Hall Sensor, Heart Rate Sensor, Proximity Sensor, RGB Light Sensor, Pressure Sensor
- Sensors (S Pen): 6-axis sensor with gyro and accelerometer
- Battery: 3,500 (Galaxy Note 10)/4,300 (Galaxy Note 10 Plus) mAh non-removable with fast wireless charging
- Dimensions (10 Plus): 162.3 x 77.2 x 7.9mm and 196g
- Dimensions (10): 151.0 x 71.8 x 7.9mm and 168g
- Colors: Aura Glow, Aura Black, Aura White from carriers. Aura Blue for Note 10 Plus exclusively at Best Buy and Samsung.com.
Also: Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus vs Note 9: Is it worth the upgrade?
Hardware first thoughts
I only had an hour with the Galaxy Note 10 and 10 Plus so far, but they clearly feel a bit better in hand, with less thickness than the Note 9 while still being wider than the S10 lineup. In addition to the width, the edges are “flatter” than the S10 line, which is a major bonus for me since I’m not a fan of heavily curved screens on phones where my fingers inadvertently cause screen presses. The width and screen curvature performance vary with the size of your hands, and the Note series is perfect for me.
Note 9 has no side bezels to speak of with the top and bottom ones being pretty minimal. However, it’s rather stunning to look at the Galaxy Note 10 and see just a very thin black line at the top and bottom. Samsung blew the doors off of the screen-to-body ratio, and while I haven’t seen the figure yet, it appears to be something like 99%.
There three main rear cameras are arranged similarly to what we see from Apple and Huawei with a vertical alignment along the left edge. This makes a lot of sense when holding the phone in landscape for photos too and looks fine. The hole-punch camera on the front is now centered with a cutout that is 26% less than we saw on the S10 series.
The new Aura colors look great, and while I will try to pick up the Aura Glow model that has a back that changes with surrounding lighting, the white and blue are my second favorites.
It also feels odd to have a Samsung phone with one entire side devoid of buttons. There is nothing on the right side and no dedicated Bixby button. The power button is a multi-function button, so by default, it is set to Bixby, but this can be changed by the user. It takes a volume button and power button press to turn off the phone.
The new S Pen is a unibody design, so there is no metal cap area like we saw on the Note 9. It has a very similar weight and feel, with a single button on it to activate Bluetooth functions and the new Air actions. I tried out a few of these Air actions (changing the camera mode and zooming in) but will need to spend more time with it to see if there is value in these gestures.
The Galaxy S10 series launched with UFS 2.1 storage just six months ago and then OnePlus rolled out the 7 Pro with UFS 3.0. Thankfully, the Galaxy Note 10 series launches with UFS 3.0 with a minimum internal storage capacity of 256GB. It will take more time with the device to test out the responsiveness of this updated storage technology.
Software first thoughts
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10/10 Plus launches with Android 9 Pie with the Samsung One UI. One UI is a great update to previous versions of the Samsung Experience. It’s present on the S10 series and Note 9, offering a clean user experience with gesture-based navigation options.
Thankfully, Samsung still includes its own apps, such as email, calendar, contacts, image gallery, music player, and web browser software. All of these offer more than the stock Google apps, and while others move to purely stock Google apps, there is still a ton of value in these Samsung applications that offer more for the enterprise.
Samsung Notes gets a major update with the ability to pinch to zoom, change colors of text after you enter it, handwriting to text (not cursive) and export to Word, PDF, text, and image.
There is also a fully functional video editor on the phone with a special offer for Adobe Rush too. The S Pen allows you to fine-tune your videos with frame-by-frame editing capability.
Price and availability
It was pleasantly surprising to see Samsung announce the Galaxy Note 10 and Galaxy Note 10 Plus at a slightly lower price, for twice the storage, than the Note 9 last year. The Galaxy Note 10, starting with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage, starts at $949.99 while the Galaxy Note 10 Plus with 12GB of RAM and 256GB internal storage starts at $1,099.99. There will also be increased RAM and storage options for both devices, but the default base models offer ample RAM and storage for most users.
Pre-orders launch today, 8 August, with in-store availability scheduled for Aug. 23. The Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G will launch on Verizon to start with at pricing to be announced by Verizon.
There are also several new case options from Samsung with a massive third party market ready to explode with offerings for these new Galaxy Note 10 models.
Summary first thoughts
A Galaxy Note 10/10 Plus review unit should arrive shortly, and then we’ll update this post with the full formal review. Since I bought my Galaxy Note 9 through the Samsung Upgrade Program, I plan to exercise that upgrade option for the Galaxy Note 10 Plus. While there is no longer a microSD card slot or headphone jack, neither of these features were regularly utilized on Note 9, and I want the most capable S Pen experience possible.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and 10 Plus are priced slightly lower than the Note 9, but they are still nearly double the price of very capable devices like the OnePlus 7 Pro, Google Pixel 3A XL, and more. However, the Note series is targeted to the enterprise and is once again the most powerful Samsung Galaxy phone available today so it will likely do well with Note fans.