Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus Review: Power Of The Pen And Much More

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Galaxy Note 10+ - Samsung's Phablet Flagship Is Bigger, More Powerful But Is It Better?

samsung galaxy note 10 plus in hand

Samsung's Galaxy Note series of large format Android smartphones has never been about compromise. The pen-wielding, hybrid devices have always been bigger, more powerful and more capable, with larger batteries and as many bells, whistles and features as Samsung could cram in. As such, Galaxy Note users generally hail from a power user demographic, oftentimes with enterprise and business use cases that require an expanded tool set. And so for this passionate following, it probably comes as no surprise that Samsung has once again upped the Note's game with the latest iteration, the Galaxy Note 10 series.  

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 now comes in two sizes, a more modest 6.3-inch Galaxy Note 10, priced starting at $949, and the bodacious 6.8-inch Galaxy Note 10+ (Plus), the latter of which we have on tap for review here today that retails starting at $1099. They're not cheap but everything about the Galaxy Note 10 series is premium and feature-packed. Both devices sport Samsung's fantastic Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O display technology, similar to what can be found in the Galaxy S10 series. The Note 10+'s display offers HDR10+ color fidelity, low blue light emission Eye Comfort certification and 1200-nits peak brightness, though it sports slightly less-rounded corners. However, the Galaxy Note 10 series also has just a single 10MP front-facing camera, so that Infinity-O punchout in the display is now a significantly smaller, single bullet hole right in the center of the near bezel-free top area of the device. It's tiny and does a nice job of getting out of the way, without the need for mechanical camera periscope or flip-up mechanisms.
samsung galaxy s10 plus in hand

In fact, most things about the new Galaxy Note 10+'s industrial design speak to extremely efficient ergonomics for a phone in its size class. With a 6.8-inch display, you'd be inclined to think the Note 10+ is huge and unwieldy, but it's actually somewhat compact for the amount of screen real estate it offers. For average-sized hands, one-handed navigation isn't a problem and compared to its 6.4-inch Galaxy Note 9 predecessor, the 6.8-inch Note 10 is literally less than a millimeter taller and wider, but almost 1mm thinner as well. 

Samsung Galaxy Note 10+
Specifications & Features
Operating System Android 9 Pie With Samsung One UI
Display 6.8" Dynamic AMOLED (3040x1440 QHD+), 498ppi, HDR10+, Infinity-O, Reduced Blue Light 
Cameras Rear: Ultra Wide: 16MP FF, F2.2 (123°), Wide-angle: 12MP Dual Pixel AF, F1.5/F2.4, OIS (77°), Telephoto: 12MP PDAF, F2.4, OIS (45°)
Front Selfie: 10MP Dual Pixel AF, F1.9 (80°), RGB Depth: 8MP FF, F2.2 (90°)
Processors Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 - 2.84GHz, 64-Bit octa-core, Adreno 640 graphics
Memory & Storage 12GB RAM, 256 - 512GB UFS2.1 storage, microSD expandable
Dimensions 162.3 x 77.2 x 7.9 mm (196 grams)
Colors Aura White, Aura Black, Aura Glow
Media & Audio Stereo Speakers, No Headphone Jack, Sound by AKG
Battery & Power 4,300 mAh w/ Wireless Charging, Qualcomm QuickCharge And Wireless PowerShare
WiFi & Bluetooth Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax (2.4/5GHz), Bluetooth® v 5.0, ANT+
Carrier Networks World-wide network/carrier compatibility, up to 7 CA, LTE Cat.20
Sensors Accelerometer, Barometer, Gyro Sensor, Compass, Magnet (Hall) Sensor, Proximity Sensor, RGB Light Sensor, HR Sensor
Ports, IO, Location USB Type-C, NFC, Location (GPS, Galileo*, Glonass, BeiDou*)
Materials And Protection Metal frame, Corning Gorilla Glass 6, IP68 Water and Dust Resistance
Security Embedded Ultrasonic Fingerprint Scanner, 2D Face Recognition

Galaxy Note 10+ Key Hardware And Power Specs

Under its all-glass chassis resides a bevy of the latest in mobile technologies, starting with an octal-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor with Adreno 640 graphics (Exynos 9825 for non-US markets), a fat 12GB of LPDDR4 RAM and a baseline 256GB of on board flash storage (512GB top-end config) that is also expandable via microSD expansion in its combo SIM/memory card tray. All of that horsepower is backed up but a beefy 4300 mAh battery (3500 mAh for the smaller Note 10), which is slightly up-sized from the Note 9's 4000 mAh battery. How this plays out in terms of battery life ought to be interesting to note, shall we say, on the pages ahead. More on the power side of things, the Note 10+ is also capable of 25 Watt and 45 Watt Super Fast wired charging and 12 Watt Fast Wireless charging where the previous gen Note 9 topped out at just 15 Watts and 7 Watts, respectively. For the 45 Watt charging capability you'll have to spring for the optional charger, but there's no question, the Note 10+ charges really fast with its included 25 Watt charger and still supports Samsung's fantastic Wireless PowerShare feature for topping off wireless Galaxy Buds or other Qi wireless charging-enabled devices.
galaxy note 10 plus kit
In the bundle with the Galaxy Note 10+, Samsung does include that 25 Watt charger and a pair of AKG wired earbuds, which are of the USB-C variety because, as you may have heard, the new Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+ eschew a 3.5mm headphone jack. Samsung underscores that this was to make room for the S-Pen holster and larger battery on board the Galaxy Note 10+ but whether this is a collective "boo" or "don't care" for the passionate Samsung Galaxy Note demographic remains to be seen. Personally, at this point we're getting used to converter dongles but wireless buds are still not quite on par with some of our favorite wired solutions, so this feels like a miss for an otherwise ultra-versatile device like the Galaxy Note 10+. That said, we are certainly getting ever-closer to "a world without wires."

galaxy note 10 plus bottom back colors
galaxy note 10 plus top edge
The other standout aesthetic you may have noticed with our particular Galaxy Note 10+ is that its adorned in what Samsung calls an Aura Glow finish. Other color options are Aura White and Aura Black, but as you can see, this silvery, iridescent finish has a rather unique way of reflecting color and light. Depending on how and where you're holding the Galaxy Note 10+ with Aura Glow finish, you're treated to a veritable rainbow of colors, similar to that of the aurora borealis we suppose. Regardless, things can become a bit smudgy with fingerprints back here for sure, so keep the microfiber cloth handy or slap a clear case on this beast perhaps. 

Galaxy Note 10+ Camera Array - More Of The Same Great Hardware

When it came to the camera setup of the new Galaxy Note 10+, Samsung was careful not to mess with the success of the Galaxy S10+ series camera array, instead opting to apply just a few small tweaks. The Note 10+ primary rear camera is a 12MP f/1.5 / f/2.4 shooter with optical image stabilization, which is identical to the Galaxy S10+. Also on board is a 16MP camera with f/2.2 aperture and offering 123 degree Ultra-Wide Angle shots. However, the third rear 12MP telephoto camera with 2X optical zoom on the Galaxy Note 10+ offers a slightly wider f/2.1 aperture lens versus the Galaxy S10+ f/2.4 aperture, which should make for better low light sensitivity in general for indoor shots, at least in telephoto mode.
galaxy note 10 plus rear camera
samsung galaxy note 10 plus camera detail
In addition, there's a fourth camera sensor on the back of the Galaxy Note 10+. It's an f/1.4 VGA DepthVision sensor that should help capture improved portrait mode shots with better detail and background separation. More on that in our camera performance section ahead. Finally, where the Galaxy Note 10+ does give up a slight bit is on the specs of its front-facing camera. Again, here we have a single camera lens with f/2.2 aperture versus the f/1.9 primary shooter of the Galaxy S10 series, which is also coupled with an 8MP fixed-focus depth sensor. Though you might not miss the slightly better light response of the f/1.9 aperture Galaxy S10 series selfie cam, if you're into portrait mode selfies, the S10 series might get the job done with better accuracy, though the Note 10+ does have a portrait selfie mode as well. 

Still The Best Pen Stylus In The Business And IP68 Water-Resistance

One of the areas you might logically think Samsung had to compromise on the Note 10+ would be its Ingress Protection, or IP rating for water and dust resistance. However, though the Galaxy Note 10 series does quite literally have a hole and deep silo in the bottom of it to house and charge its Samsung S-Pen, the Note 10 series does in fact maintain its IP68 water-resistance rating. It's an impressive feat perhaps, but it certainly adds cost and it's one of the reasons OnePlus hasn't gone the way of an IP rating for its flagship devices yet. Regardless, the bold and yes beautiful Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ comes equipped to handle the elements, or up to about 5 feet of water for as much as 30 minutes to be exact, according to Samsung.
galaxy note 10 plus with pen
samsung galaxy note 10 plus live message 
Finally, there is the Galaxy Note 10 series' note taking experience which is now also augmented with air actions, or gestures that allow you to use the S-Pen as a remote control of sorts for various phone functions. And yes, writing on that big, beautiful 6.8-inch AMOLED HDR+ display works quite well, with excellent tracking accuracy and fluid responsiveness to touch and pressure levels. In fact, the Galaxy Note series has always excelled at marrying Samsung's best-of-class OLED display technology with excellent pen stylus support and the Note 10+ is no exception. And as you can see, the Note 10+'s tiny front facing-camera port hole is as minimally invasive as any front display-mounted phone camera has ever been, notch or otherwise.

Let's look at the software and user interface of the Galaxy Note 10+ as well as its camera setup and performance, next...

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