You know what you're getting with each new Galaxy Note release: a big honkin' display, great build, great performance, and of course, the S Pen. Those things are all still true of the Note10 and 10+ — but frankly, it's getting a little predictable at this point. Here are the five best and worst things about Samsung's newest Note(s).
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Samsung sets the standard when it comes to mobile displays. The Galaxy S10 and 10+ already had fantastic screens, and the Note10 is largely the same. Unlike the S10, the smaller one is only 1080p, but both phones have OLED displays with HDR10+, and they look absolutely fantastic with rich colors and plenty of detail. And while the centered front camera cutout is divisive — it's basically just a notch — I happen to like it more than the asymmetrical cutouts on the S10.
With a Snapdragon 855 and eight or 12 gigabytes of RAM, the Note10 and 10+ can do anything you'd want a phone to do. As David puts it in his full review of the Note10+, the phone is "not as manic and responsive as the OnePlus 7 Pro," but nobody in their right mind could call it slow. What's more, the new Notes are currently the only Samsung phones that let you use Dex with a Windows or Mac computer, which is a pretty neat trick.
Both the Note10 and Note10+ come with 25-watt chargers in the box. That's really fast — the Note10+'s sizeable 4,300 milliamp-hour cell goes from empty to full in just over an hour with the included charger. What's more, the 10+ is capable of charging at an absolutely ludicrous 45 watts with an additional charger. That's laptop-level charging.
Considering how powerful the Note10 and 10+ are, it wouldn't be surprising if they exhausted their power cells quickly — but that's not the case. While the smaller Note10's battery life is merely average, the Note10+'s is great: in his testing of the larger phone, David had no trouble reaching seven hours of screen time on a single charge.
It's what makes a Note a Note. The new gesture stuff is very blatantly a gimmick, but on the whole, the Note10's S Pen is just as good as previous iterations. You can use it to navigate the phone, obviously, but it also enables other handy functionality, like taking notes without even turning the device's screen on. Once you get accustomed to it, it's hard to use a phone that doesn't have it.
While both Notes have been discounted several times already, the fact remains that the Note10's MSRP starts at $950. Considering other big, similarly-equipped phones — even Samsung's own Galaxy S10 — cost hundreds of dollars less, that pricing is a bitter pill to swallow.
We can't prognosticate the future, but judging by Samsung's track record, it's likely the Note10 will lag behind other flagships on Android version updates. Android 9 Pie first came to Google phones in August of last year, but the unlocked Note9 didn't see the update until this March — a full seven months later. Extrapolating from there, the Note10 might not see Android 10 until next spring. Not ideal.
T-Mobile lists the Android 10 update as being in development, but we have no idea how long it'll take.
No headphone jack
The Note line has traditionally been Samsung's feature-rich, do-everything option — its kitchen-sink phones. Considering that the implicitly lesser Galaxy S10 phones do have 3.5-millimeter headphone jacks, it's a real shame that the Note10 and Note10+ have forsaken the legacy connector. The USB-C earbuds in the box are quite nice, but that's not much consolation for those who are still attached to the old-school jack.
Samsung's in-display fingerprint scanners are ultrasonic — they bounce inaudible sound waves off your finger and read the reverberations to determine whether or not a digit is authorized to access the device. That's super cool, but it's also flatly not as fast as optical solutions from manufacturers like OnePlus. They're certainly not bad, but is "good enough" really good enough in phones so pricey?
Feature disparity between 10 and 10+
The smaller Galaxy Note10 should be a really interesting option for people who want to sample the S Pen life without stuffing a surfboard in their pocket.
But in choosing the non-plus Note, you're giving up kind of a lot: the Note10 has a 1080p display whereas the larger 10+ sports a 1440p panel; it's got eight gigs of RAM instead of 12; 256 gigabytes of storage without the larger 512-gig option or a microSD slot; no time-of-flight sensor for enhanced depth detection in photography; and no 45-watt charging compatibility. It's still a great phone, but at these prices, there should be no compromises.