There’s a reason that Samsung have been at the top of the Android game for a very, very long time.
Well, there’s a few reasons, but one that stands out every year for me is the annual update of their flagship ‘phablet’ – the Galaxy Note.
In 2011 smartphone users that hadn’t gone down the Apple road were astonished at a Samsung smartphone unlike anyother. It was bigger at 5.3 inch (that was a big phone back then) and came with a stylus which hearkened back to the earlier days of ‘smartphones’ – the early Symbian and Windows OS PDA’s.
Almost a decade later since the first Galaxy Note and with a consistent release of Note’s increasing in size we now have the 10th edition in our tech hungry hands.
Samsung have taken a different track with the Note series this year. Traditionally there was a singular version of the Note. If you wanted a Galaxy Note, that’s exactly what you got.
But Samsung know that not everyone is the same. Some prefer the smaller handsets and others prefer the mightier screen and specs. So now, there’s two; Note 10 and Note 10+.
Samsung sent over one of their Galaxy Note 10+’s for us to have a play with.
Having the 256GB version (there’s also a 512GB) you’re likely to be the coolest spec’d up kid on the block with 12GB RAM in the Note 10+. The Galaxy Note has always been designed to be a workhorse, for play and serious stuff.
It’s also not the first time Samsung smartdevice to have broken the industry standard of 8GB RAM for a flagship – this year’s S10+ also has the mega-memory for one model.
The all screen Note 10+ weighs in at a 6.8 inch curved wonder with a centered single laser cut for the front camera lens. There’s no notch or bezel. There was a very recent time where 6.8 inch seemed larger than life – how we have become sanitized to phone sizes now.
The fingerprint scanner is under the glass as seems to be the way forward for most smartphone manufacturers. Pleasingly, the under glass sensor is more sensitive and you do not need to press so hard on to the screen as we did with the S10 / S10+.
Depending on which of the two colour variations you go for, Black is black but Aura Glow is a pale cream purple of a rainbow attracting and morphing itself under different lighting conditions. Yes, this is my pick.
The Galaxy Note series has always been built for multitasking, and if you bear the Note 10+ in mind, the 6.8 inch screen allows more than enough real estate to have two windows open at once. Watch Netflix while checking emails. Play a game while… no, just play the game.
Samsung’s built-in gaming optimizing software ensures that you do not get annoying pop ups and notifications while in the heat of battle.
Naturally anything game wise runs on the Note 10+ as the Snapdragon 855 processor hums along. Due to the improved internal cooling system from the Note 9 you can expect a cool and calm play experience aswell as, for the most part, longer battery life for extended bouts.
The usual suspects; Fortnite and PUBG run fine and not once, even while multi-tasking (not gaming) did this beast even get warm. I am curious to see how the mobile version of Diablo handles on the Note 10+ (if Blizzard ever release it!).
Samsung have added a few initiatives to the Note 10’s camera’s and added a spot of fun in the process.
The rear will see you with four cameras in total, nicely streamlined I’ll add in their placement, and their MP counts all break down as follows; Ultra Wide: 16MP, Wide-angle: 12MP, Telephoto: 12MP, DepthVision Camera: VGA. (Note 10 has three rear cameras).
For the front it’s 10MP.
The A.I. (Artificial intelligence) uses both Bixby (love it or hate it) for smarts in your snaps, and A.R. (Augmented Reality) for the super fun stuff.
The cameras not only use 3D space to recognise what they are seeing, they also track in real time. Evidenced by the fact you can scribble across someones face, draw a silly hat on them, whatever, and this will stay put as you record your unsuspecting subject.
The instant Instagram upload feature is still there, inherited from the S10 and the video recordings are in 4K. Optical zoom is still 10x.
Now we get to the reason you’re likely to look into a Galaxy Note in the first place. The S Pen.
This smart stylus has evolved over the years. Going from an almost accessory like feature to an integral function of the Note device.
Connected via Bluetooth the S Pen for the Note 10 / Note 10+ has slimmed down a wee bit more since the Note 9 and it turns in to a magic wand. No really, it actually does.
Air gestures (which Samsung pioneered years ago on Galaxy phones) will see you waving and flicking your S Pen around like a crazed but overly enthusiastic music conductor to wield commands on your Note 10.
Sure, you can just flick through content and functions the old fashioned way, as likely you’re holding your phone in one hand and twirling the S Pen with the other… but to be fair there are times when this is handy – such as having the Note 10 propped on a stand while you step back to take some of those awe inspiring, breath taking selfies that end up in your social media feed.
But air gestures aren’t quite there yet, well, perhaps Android Apps just need to catch up. The main use I got out of air gestures was flicking about with camera modes and twirling the S Pen in the air to zoom in and out.
The top of the S Pen is clickable – that’s it. I think a missed opportunity here, where the top of the S Pen clicked in or out could have been an execution of a command – but that job is taken by the stealthily hidden button to the side of the S Pen.
Making the most of the power house that is the Note 10+ is the built-in DeX function.
Literally just plug n play (software dependent) and use your Galaxy Note 10 on your PC screen. Too easy.
On the body of the Note 10 / 10+ the tactile buttons have moved to the left of the screen. The Bixby button is still there – but you can remap this to something else and unless you fiddle about in settings – there is no power off any more. To restart your Note 10 you do this via the GUI (or the aforementioned Bixby button retooling available in Settings). The 3.5mm audio jack is gone and for wired headphones you will need to use the USB-C socket to pump out the best sounding Dolby Atmos infused audio on any Android device so far.
The Galaxy Note 10 / 10+ is a single sim handset but does have the microSD placement within the nano sim tray.
Powering all of this is a mammoth 4300 mAh battery with super quick charge abilities. Reverse charging for QWireless chargeable device is still there. Super handy if your Galaxy Buds need a quick top up, and something that I am very excited for, the Note 10 / 10+ will also be able to charge up the new Active 2 Smartwatch series from Samsung (current Active / Gear Watch require their specific chargers).
And, if this wasn’t already the complete package – one more thing thrown in, the Note 10 / 10+ is 5G compatible (not in New Zealand models).
Reviewing smartphones during the course of a year it is easy to get in to a trap of saying ‘the best ever’ and then boom something bigger badder and brutish releases and you kind of need to extend that crown.
This said – the Note 10+ totally deserves that crown. It is hands down the best Galaxy Note in the series. A wealth of needed and much welcomed improvements from the Note 9 and the S10 / S10+ is a worthy investment which would see anyone right for a few years before needing to upgrade.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ has the size, the smarts, the power of being one of the best flagships to own this year.
Released: August 2019
Device Name: Galaxy Note 10 / 10+
Chipset: Snapdragon 855
Memory: 12GB (Note 10+ model)
Internal Storage: 256GB (reviewed model)
Camera: F: 10MP. R: 16MP + 12MP + 12MP
Price: $1, 899.00 for Note 10+(NZD)