You've been introduced to the Galaxy Note10 and Note10+. The question Samsung is asking now is "Will you buy one?" Maybe it might be a better idea get the Galaxy Note9 instead — save a few hundred dollars and get most, if not all of what you wanted from a Note. Well, we've set up a few points of contrast that might help you steer your money in the right direction.
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The case for the Note10
Stack the phones side to side by their backs and you'll see the most obvious difference: the Note9 has wide-angle and telephoto cameras while the Note10 takes those and adds on a super-wide-angle unit; the Note10+ tops it off with a time-of-flight depth sensor.
Every person will use different focal lengths in their own way, if they do at all, but having the extra option on the 10's is definitely appreciated. In our limited testing, we've yet to really find a mass appeal for that ToF camera on the Note10+ other than for augmented reality figurines and stickers, but if you're into that kind of thing, consider that a bonus.
Visually, you'll find the newest Notes to be more stunning than the 9. The new OLED display can take in streaming HDR10+ content — in layman's terms, it's Samsung's HDR format which not only allows a higher number of colors to appear on screen at once, but for the palette to adjust between scenes based on brightness information.
At 1080p, the Note10's screen does take a step down in resolution from the Note9's 1440p, though if you've been using the Note9 at its default 1080p resolution, you're not missing much. Also, the bezels have almost completely disappeared, but you will have to contend with the selfie camera being placed smack dab within the panel. Easy come, easy go.
The Note10 also brings a few improvements to the internal components: depending on your region, the Qualcomm or Exynos chipset has been updated with the implementation of 7nm transistors; RAM-wise, the Note9 ran with 6GB to start with while the Note10 comes with 8GB and the Note10+ goes with 12GB, and; tbase internal storage has been doubled from last year to 256GB with the Note10+ getting a 512GB variant.
One of the biggest props to the Note10 series is charging. The standard device can charge up to 25 watts, 10 watts faster than the Note9. If you buy a separate wall wart for your Note10+ — because, of course, Samsung won't include such a charger in the box — you'll be able to pull 45 watts. That's faster than pretty much anything we've seen on phones in the United States.
The case for the Note9
Let's start small. The Note9 has a headphone jack. Is it important to you? There you go. Also, if you're familiar with having the power button on the right side of the phone, the Note10 series switches it over to the left.
We here at Android Police tend to think that the capacitive fingerprint scanner on the 9 remains the preferable authentication method to the 10's in-display fingerprint sensor. The smaller field size makes marking the pads a finicky affair and it tends to be slower and less accurate than the very mature capacitive technology.
From a wider perspective, however, capacitive scanners do seem to be on the way out in the flagship tier of smartphones as other features vie to take up more space — depth-tracking facial authentication being one of them, though this does not appear in any of the Notes.
But the most compelling reason to go with the oldie is because it is a goodie: it does almost everything the Note10 can do for hundreds of dollars less. While every phone will have its gimmickery, there's a lot you can miss out on with the new Notes. Unless you're a creative professional who can spend hours on what's still a small screen, you probably don't need the gyroscope and accelerometer in the S Pen to draw AR Doodles. Hear about the new handwriting-to-text function on the Note10? It's not actually new! If you don't have a Qi-compatible accessory or another phone, you don't need Wireless PowerShare.
That last point is doubly key here because the Note9 has a 4,000mAh battery. Sure, it might not charge as fast as the other phones, but you shouldn't have to plug in so often in the first place: the Note10 comes with a 3,500mAh cell and the Note10+ brings in a marginal improvement, weighing in with a 4,300mAh power plant.
I'll be honest: the hardest part about compiling this comparison was writing the lede. Working from embargoed information, I was able to assess how the Galaxy Note9 stacked up against the Note10 and Note10+, organize a few talking points, and come to a conclusion supporting a certain buying option. But then, Unpacked came and went, the spec sheet went out, and eyes rolled: Samsung leaned into flashy software tricks and ease-of-use spruce-ups while papering over a divergence in specifications and, more importantly, its perception of how people will approach their phones — a Note is meant for a "power user," but at a time where people are looking to achieve more productivity with less stress-inducing screen time, the Note10 is being marketed to keep people turned on, all the time. For some pundits, including me, that struck wrong.
On a holistic level, we believe that the Note10 offers an equivalent or poorer experience than the Note9 when it comes to the things we interface with the most and want to enjoy. The latter device has an unobstructed display that's vivid enough, a larger battery, and a stylus that's just about as useful. Notably, you'll have a microSD slot, which the standard-size Note10 does not. Most pertinently, you'll save $200 or more, depending on where you buy a Note9.
However, if you're happy to put more effort into using your phone — perhaps experimenting with early stage 5G access (between coverage and network composition, the sum verdict is that it ain't too great) or editing videos with Adobe Premiere Rush on your phone — and want every last pixel and milliamp from your phone, you should spend the extra money (starting from $1,100) and grab a Note10+.
At the end of the day, it is up to you. We'd appreciate comments on what you would choose in this situation.