When it comes to Samsung smartphones, the company doesn’t have to worry about cutting corners, or dealing with other competitors. That includes Apple’s iPhone lineup that has become a bit stagnant as of late.
Instead, Samsung is allowed to focus on what it does well with its new products. Regarding the Note 10+, this is the culmination of just about everything Samsung does well with the ultra-popular Note line.
Samsung’s Note series of phones is the only lineup (that matters) which includes stylus built-in. Yes, we know LG does something similar, but that’s a budget-range device and doesn’t come anywhere near what the Note does.
As we got closer to the release of the Note 10 lineup, there were a few questions about how Samsung would shock us. And then it didn’t. However, let me explain.
An ultra-desirable spec-sheet
Before getting into my gripe about the Note 10+, let’s take a look at what’s under the hood and what the Note 10+ has to offer.
|Display||6.8-inch Quad HD+ AMOLED (Infinity O)|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 855|
|Front Camera||10MP; f2.2 aperture|
|Rear Cameras||16MP Ultra-wide, 12MP Wide, 12MP Telephoto, DepthVision Camera (VGA)|
|Fingerprint Scanner||Ultrasonic (in-display)|
This is the best phone that Samsung has ever released, other than maybe the Galaxy Fold. Spec-wise it’s a monster. The Note 10+ has four rear-mounted cameras, an absolutely gorgeous 6.8-inch Quad HD+ display, and the expected Snapdragon 855 SoC.
Paired with the SD855 is 12GB of memory, the only option, and either 256GB or 512GB of expandable storage. On the battery front, Samsung packed a huge 4,300mAh lithium-ion cell into the Note 10+ with promises of all-day battery life and more.
For better or worse, Samsung has moved to solely using its ultrasonic, in-display fingerprint scanners. With this phone, it really feels like we are living in the future, as the spec sheet is better than some computers. And it’s in he palm of your hand.
How good is the software?
At the time of this writing, we have been unable to load up Samsung’s new One UI 2.0, which is based on Android 10. The beta program has been reserved for those running unlocked variants, and we currently have a Verizon unit.
Samsung’s software used to be the sticking point as to why I could never fully get behind what the company was doing. The hardware was always great, but felt hindered and held back by slow and lag-infested software.
With the release of One UI many of my complaints have been resolved, and this may just be the third-best software experience. Who’s ahead? In my opinion, it’s Google and OnePlus, with Samsung having moved ahead of LG and HTC.
One UI is smooth, fluid, and everything just works. That includes all of the extra software features and gimmicks that Samsung packs into its software, such as the Edge Display stuff and the endless myriad of tweaks that can be made in Settings.
Over the course of the review, I never felt stutters, jitters, or lag unless my phone got too hot from playing games. Even then, the stutters were very minor.
One more thing to make note of is the launcher. Samsung’s launcher used to be an abomination of frustration that I couldn’t use for more than a day. With the Note 10+, it was about two to three weeks before I switched over to my favorite launcher (Lawnchair v2.0).
The hardware is a dream
Curved edges, a slightly curved display, and a beautiful glass sandwich. That’s what you get with the Galaxy Note 10+ and it’s an absolute dream to hold and use on a daily basis.
It almost feels like Samsung did a bit of magic as the Note 10+ is lighter than one would expect. Even when switching between the iPhone XS Max and the 10+, there’s not much of a difference and I don’t get much hand fatigue.
More important than the weight, to me, is just the way that the phone looks. I never want to put it down, I always want to be actively using it, and I’m always looking for excuses to do so. That’s something that I haven’t experienced since the release of the iPhone X.
Samsung did it perfectly here and made sure that we wouldn’t have to do any finger gymnastics to unlock it. Yes, I’m looking at the Note 8 and its absurdly placed scanner.
The fingerprint scanner is one of my biggest gripes and complaints about the Note 10+. It’s too slow. I don’t understand all of the ins and outs of biometrics, and I know that ultrasonic fingerprint scanners are new and trendy, but it’s just too slow.
It’s even more obvious when you look at the OnePlus 7 Pro and how fast that scanner is comparatively. Given its resources and the money spent on R&D, we expected more from Samsung.
I’m sure that the Galaxy S11 and Galaxy Note 11 lines will be better, but for now, we are disappointed. Another disappointment is the removal of the headphone jack. Samsung had been one of the remaining proponents of the 3.5mm jack, but it’s now gone from the Note line.
The only sense in removing it comes when looking at the battery life, which we’ll touch on here shortly. But it still seems that with the S Pen and speakers, something could have been adjusted to keep the headphone jack. Oh well, another excuse to use my AirPods Pro on a regular basis.
Holy **** battery life is great
There’s no reason to mince words here. Battery life on the Galaxy Note 10+ has been absolutely phenomenal. Here’s how my day usually looks.
- Wake up and spend time catching up on emails/social media before getting out of bed
- Drive for up to an hour and a half to my day job with Google Maps/Spotify running
- Spend 9-10 hours at work with random emailing and social media interaction, mixed with some game playing on lunch
- Drive back home for up to an hour and a half with Google Maps/Spotify running
On a regular basis, even with Maps running for my drive to and from work, I still end up with 20-30% when I get home at 830 PM. It’s a workhorse and allows me to get through my whole day without feeling the need for a charger. And if I’m not around a charger, I can just switch into power-saving mode quickly to last me the rest of the day.
Triple camera features for days
I’m not an Instagram photographer and I don’t go out of the way to find reasons to use my phone’s camera. But, what I want is a smartphone camera that can handle the times that I need to quickly snap a photo. That, and enough features to tweak and change settings on the fly.
When you open the camera app on the Note 10+, you have to swipe a lot to see the different modes that are available, and it’s pretty awesome. Here’s what you get:
- Live Focus
- Live Focus Video
- Super Slow-mo
- Slow Motion
That’s a lot to handle, but knowing there is a mode for every situation puts my mind at ease. If I want to play around with Pro mode, I can. If I want to fiddle around with Night Mode, I can. If I want to quickly open up my phone and snap a quick pic of my daughter, I can.
Speaking of Night Mode, it’s clear that Apple and Google have this figured out, while Samsung is still tinkering. You aren’t going to get the astro-photography mode offered by the Pixel 4, and Apple’s “magic” with the camera isn’t available either. I’m sure that there will be some type of software upgrade in the future, but it’s not here yet.
That’s not to say that the Note 10+ is a slouch, because it’s definitely not. Samsung has a bit of work to do with computational photography, but at least you get three cameras to switch between based on the situation that arises.
Okay, so what’s my gripe?
Battery life is great, the design is beautiful, and the software is finally good for me. So, why would I say that Samsung didn’t shock anyone? That’s because I’m disappointed in the display.
Sure, the 6.8-inch Quad HD+ Infinity O AMOLED display is stunning in every way, and is the best smartphone display I’ve ever seen. Except for the fact that the company decided to “skimp” or skip on the 90Hz revolution we’re currently seeing.
After seeing a 90Hz display used in the OnePlus 7 Pro, I was convinced that this was the future. Thanks to staring at screens for years on end, my eyes aren’t the greatest, but there is still a discernible difference between viewing 90Hz and not.
Oh, and just as a little salt to the wound. Samsung provided the display for the OnePlus smartphones.
You may be thinking “yeah, but Google added 90Hz displays and battery life is terrible”. That’s true, but Google isn’t Samsung, and OnePlus did the same thing without a major hit to battery life. In fact, the 7 Pro continues to be one of the best phones on the market, despite being succeeded by the OnePlus 7T.
Samsung has the wherewithal to get this right, and I really wish that they had.
The Galaxy Note 10+ is going to be the best phone on the market until the calendar turns to 2020, and then a little beyond that. Something is going to come out that beats the overall package, possibly the S11, and then Note 10+ will be discounted and slowly forgotten.
For now, though, if you’re in the market for a flagship, and you want all the bells and whistles without worrying about a budget, the Note 10+ is perfect.
Let us know what you think about Samsung’s handset and if you already have, or will be picking one up for yourself.
You can purchase the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ at all major carriers and a variety of retailers.