Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Review

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Introduction

Samsung has finally launched its much-awaited flagship smartphone dubbed Galaxy Note 10. Breaking the regular pattern, the smartphone maker decided to launch two Galaxy Note 10 devices this time, namely the regular and the plus variant. This year’s lineup is the first Note lineup to feature an all-screen display design, somewhat similar to the Galaxy S10 series. Both smartphones come with top-of-the-line hardware, which is expected since it is the company’s flagship offering.

The primary question here is how well the Galaxy Note 10 manages to perform in real-life. Should you even consider choosing Note 10 as your primary device this year? Is it worth upgrading to Note 10 from its predecessors? Well, these are some of the questions which we are going to answer in this review article. 

 

If you haven’t figured out by now, we have the regular Galaxy Note 10 variant with us. We’ve been extensively using this device for a good amount of time now. Here is what we think of the recently launched Samsung Galaxy Note 10. 

Price in India, Variants, Availability

Surprisingly, the Galaxy Note 10 comes in a single storage variant featuring 8GB of RAM and 256GB onboard memory. The smartphone comes in three different color options, namely Aura Glow, Aura Black, and Aura Red. Coming to the pricing, Note 10 is available for purchase via Samsung’s online and offline stores. You can also purchase the smartphone from Amazon India. 

 

There are plenty of launch offers which you can make use of if you’re planning to purchase Galaxy Note 10 in the coming days. Those who have pre-booked the device can grab Galaxy Buds and Galaxy Watch Active for a discounted price of INR 4,999 and INR 9,999. Sadly, you’ll have to choose between these two products. For offline buyers, Samsung is offering an INR 6,000 discount on HDFC credit or debit cards. On the other hand, online buyers can use ICICI debit or credit cards for an INR 6,000 discount.

Box Contents

As expected, Samsung Galaxy Note 10 comes packed in a premium high-quality, minimal black box having a picture of S-Pen on the front. Opening the box, you’ll first come across with a rectangular section consisting of SIM ejector pin and manuals. Keeping that aside, you’ll find Galaxy Note 10 covered in protective layers laying there nicely. 

 

Apart from all these, there are a plethora of other small and big accessories which this device comes with. You’ll get a 25W super fast wall adaptor, USB Type-C cable, Type-C OTG cable and of course AKG-tuned earphones. On top of this, the device comes with Micro-USB to OTG converter and some small tools for handling S-Pen. 

Here is the quick overview of what you’ll be getting with the Samsung Galaxy Note 10: 

 

 – Samsung Galaxy Note 10 

 – 25W super-fast charger 

 – USB Type-C cable 

 – Type-C OTG adaptor 

 – Micro-USB to Type-C converter 

 – AKG-tuned earphones 

 – S-Pen tools 

 – SIM ejector tool 

 – Manual and documentation

Specs at a glance

Before we jump right into our detailed review, let’s have a look at the specifications of the device first. 

 – Display: 6.3-inch AMOLED panel, 1080×2280 pixels, 401ppi 

 – CPU: Exynos 9825 (7nm) / Snapdragon 855 (7nm) (China & US only)

 – GPU: Mali-G76 MP12 (Adreno 640 for US & China)

 – RAM & ROM: 8GB & 256GB

 – Rear cameras: 12MP+12MP+16MP setup

 – Selfie cameras: 10MP, f/2.2

 – Software: Android 9.0 Pie, One UI

 – Battery: 3500mAh capacity, 45W charging support

 – 12W wireless charging & 9W reversible wireless charging 

 – Weight: 168g 

 – Dimensions: 151×71.8×7.9mm

 

With key specifications cleared out of the way, we can go ahead and look at the very first aspect of this review.

Design And Build Quality

Previously, Samsung’s flagship lineup was pretty distinctive with the S-lineup targetting small-screen users while the Note-series aims for the larger end. Surprisingly, that changes with the all-new Note 10 family – we now have the smaller regular variant and larger plus option. Samsung Galaxy Note 10, the regular one, which we have with us, comes with a smaller 6.3-inch display on the front which we will talk about in detail later. 

With each successor, Samsung manages to impress when it comes to design and build quality. Since the launch of S6, the smartphone maker has made it a tradition to offer beautiful designs with each flagship device. As expected, the Note 10 make use of the glass and metal sandwich design, which is quite popular nowadays. The all-new Auro color options make this device the striking smartphone of the year in terms of design. We liked the Aura Glow more than the rest largely because of the breathtaking color patterns that appear beautifully. 

At the back, there is a triple camera module aligned vertically which accompanies an LED flash. Apart from the striking color, you’ll see the Samsung branding right in the middle, and that concludes the back panel. With the company’s recent focus on one-hand usage, Note 10 turns out to be remarkably light and thin weighing just 168g and 7.9mm thick. In fact, the device does not feel like a phablet at all, which is quite ironic. The display and the glass back meet together at the curved corner, and the transition showcases the premiumness of the device. All of these results in a premium yet compact experience with the new Note 10 smartphone. 

Coming to the buttons and ports, you’ll find power and volume rocker on the left side while the right side has got nothing going on. With Note 10-lineup, Samsung decided to leave behind the dedicated Bixby key. Previously, the power button was used to be on the right side with Bixby key and volume rockers on the left. At the bottom, you’ll find a USB Type-C port, speaker grille, microphone, and S-Pen holder. Sadly, Galaxy Note 10 does not come with a 3.5-mm headphone jack which might be a deal-breaker for many buyers out there. 

 

In conclusion, if you’re looking for a device with a big display but still retaining the compact form factor, then the all-new Note 10 is the right bet as of now. The device manages to offer phablet like experience at not so phablet size. The 3.5-mm headphone jack might bother you, and that is something you’ll have to weigh in by yourself. Overall, there is nothing to complain about when it comes to design and build. 

Display

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 is equipped with a 6.3-inch Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O display having a cutout located at the top-center position. Surprisingly, the Note 10 comes with a smaller display than its predecessor which comes with a 6.4-inch panel. Personally, I liked the new position of the punch hole camera since it appears more symmetrical to me. Thanks to the thin bezels and punch-hole cutout, the device rocks an impressive 90.9% screen-to-body-ratio. 

 

Unlike its predecessor, the Galaxy Note 10 comes with a Full HD+ resolution only making it a major downgrade. The previous-gen Note 9 features a Quad HD panel on the front. Although I personally don’t think most users will notice any major difference in regular usage. But, the quad panel would have been a nice option to have in case you want to experience a beautiful movie experience. 

Having a 1080×2280 pixel resolution and 401ppi density, Galaxy Note 10 manages to deliver one of the strongest display experience still. Well, Samsung is very well known for its strongest suit on display, and that continues to be trend once again. Of course, there are no attractive features such as a 90Hz refresh rate. Once again, Samsung managed to offer one of the brightest displays with the brightness of up to 674 nits. The color reproduction and accuracy is top-notch on the device, and there is nothing to complain about that. 

Improved S-Pen 

The biggest thing which differentiates Note 10-lineup from the rest is the addition of S-Pen. Sitting there at the bottom, the all-new S-Pen has got a few new tricks under its sleeves.  Although there is still not much of a big difference in the S-Pen aspect. Well, why would there be, considering there is no major competition in this segment. As expected, the stylus is very responsive and can easily detect all your movements and gestures. I like the fact that it can retain all the hand movements from before when the screen is off, which comes in very handy most of the time. 

Apart from drawing and sketches, you can now use your S-Pen as a remote controller for various tasks. The all-new S-Pen comes with Bluetooth Low Energy making it possible to use it as a remote. There are few additions in software that can help you use S-Pen more effectively than before. For instance, you can now scroll photos or click pictures or zoom in using the Pen itself. The Pen comes with a dedicated battery inside that can last for up to 10 hours on a single charge. To keep things more easy and seamless, S-Pen starts to charge itself the moment you’ll pop it back in. 

Performance

Just like its predecessor, the internal hardware varies a bit depending on your region. For the US & China, Galaxy Note 10 is powered by the Snapdragon 855 chipset coupled with Adreno 640. For the rest of the market, you’ll find Exynos 9826 SoC powering the device paired with Mali-G76 MP12 GPU. Both the processors are top-of-the-line, and for an average user, the difference should be minor. Both the chipset are based on the 7nm manufacturing process having eight cores. 

 

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 packs in a massive 8GB of RAM with 256GB of internal storage. There are no different storage variants, so you will have to deal with this amount of memory. Frankly, this much internal storage should be enough for even a hardcore user if you tend to store files on the cloud. We used the device extensively for the last couple of days to find out how well it performs in real-life. 

 

The software and performance amalgam is pretty impressive on this smartphone, and we never faced any occasional lag or slowed down during our usage. Throw any task you want at this device, and it will handle that with perfection. Thanks to 8GB of RAM, the apps stay in the memory for a longer time, and switching between them is a very responsive experience. Being a heavy multi-tasker, Galaxy was able to handle my usage without any trouble. 

 

Coming to the gaming, we tried playing Pubg Mobile on Galaxy Note 10, and the entire experience was pretty great. There was no issue with the rendering, and we faced no minor lags or frame drops during our hours of gameplay. You can easily play heavy graphics-intensive games on this device at max settings and still manage to get solid frame rates. Overall, there is nothing to complain about in this aspect as well. If you’re someone who plays a lot of games or does heavy multitasking, then you can consider the Galaxy Note 10. 

Software

Last year, Samsung unveiled its redesigned and refined software called One UI. As the name suggests, the software focuses more on minimalism and one-handed usage. Like all the recently-launched Samsung devices, Galaxy Note 10 also comes with the same software based on the latest Android 9.0 Pie operating system. We have already talked about One UI numerous times on various occasions. And, it’s no wonder that we tend to like it more than previous Samsung Experience UI. 

 

One UI is much cleaner and keeps things simple yet premium. There is nothing much going on in the software. You do get a few pre-installed apps out of which you can remove some of them to free up storage space. Apart from all the regular features which you might already aware of, there are few tweaks and addition especially done for the Galaxy Note 10-lineup. These features are based around the productivity and gaming genre. 

 

Speaking of productivity, Samsung has now added DEX mode in the software itself. That means you no longer have to buy DEX Dock. Just plug in your device directly to the computer and there you go, you now have the DEX mode. The mode, as expected, is pretty decent and you might like it if you do a lot of productive tasks from your device. You can access messages, notifications, images, and various other things seamlessly on your PC or Mac too. It is worth mentioning that you would have to install the companion app on your computer too. Another interesting addition is the PlayGalaxy app, which lets you stream your game. You can link your phone to the PC allowing you to stream games easily. 

 

The entire software experience is quite premium just what you expect from a flagship device. Personally, I liked the addition of DEX right into the software, and this should help all the workaholics out there to stay more productive. Samsung Galaxy Note 10 manages to live up to our expectations in terms of software. There are few minor improvements which One UI needs but considering the fact that it is a newborn, we’re going to let that slide. 

Cameras

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 features a triple camera module at the back. These consist of a 12MP primary sensor which supports aperture shift of f/1.5-f/2.4, a 16MP ultrawide sensor (f/2.2 aperture) and a 12MP f/2.1 telephoto lens offering 2x optical zoom. Looking at the spec sheet, the camera seems quite similar to the one we’ve seen with the Galaxy S10 device. In our regular usage, we find the entire camera experience quite similar to the S10. There are few additions of AR-related features and the ability of S-Pen to capture pictures. 

Just like Galaxy S10, the clicked photos on this device turns out to be bright, punchy, and a little over-saturated. You can take snaps with a high level of detail from this device. When it comes to image processing, Samsung’s algorithm tends to brighten the low-light scenarios at the expense of dynamic range. In our usage, we would rate Galaxy Note 10 below the Pixel 3 and Huawei P30 Pro. For an average user, this should not be a big deal. Keeping that aside, the camera on this device works as expected and is pretty much similar to Galaxy S10. In various scenarios, S10 manages to outshine while in other, the reverse happened. 

 

On the front, there is a 10MP selfie camera housed inside the punch-hole cut out at the top middle position of the display. The front camera supports night mode too, which should brighten the pics taken in low-light conditions. The selfie camera also takes satisfactory snaps with a good level of detail and great color accuracy. 

 

Things get interesting in terms of video recording. Samsung Galaxy Note 10 comes with Live Focus Mode for the video, which lets you blur the background and add special effects all in real-time. For instance, you can keep the background black and white while keeping the subject colorized. There is also the Zoom-in Mic feature which at first sounds gimmicky, but it actually works. As the name suggests, it lets you focus on audio while keeping the other noise minimum. For instance, if you start recording a speaker output from Note 10, the phone will pick the audio coming out from it by keeping the other surrounding noise minimum. This is an interesting approach & addition to video recording. 

 

Additionally, you can edit videos using the S-Pen via the company’s own basic editing app. You can also make use of Adobe Rush for Galaxy phones which you can download from the Galaxy Apps store itself. 

Battery Life

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 is fueled by a rather smaller 3,500mAh battery which is a major downgrade. The previous Note 9 comes with a 4,000mAh battery while the S10 packs in 4,300mAh capacity. Surprisingly, the battery still manages to deliver a pretty decent result in our daily usage. That could largely be due to the low-res display which this device has when compared with its predecessor. The device should still last you for an entire day on a single charge easily. 

 

The Galaxy Note 10 comes with a 25W super-fast charger which you can use to juice up your device instantly. The device can charge completely from zero to 100% in less than an hour. Although if you’re looking for much better-charging speeds, you can pair your device with 45W charger adapter. You will need to buy the charger separately, which should be pretty expensive. On the other hand, there is a 15W wireless charging and 9W reversible wireless charging support.

Audio, Connectivity, Biometrics

In terms of audio, Samsung Galaxy Note 10 comes with a dual-stereo speaker that has impressive sound output. Even at the higher volume levels, there was no sign of audio distortion whatsoever. The device also supports Dolby Enhancement, which we will recommend turning on for the much better audio experience. Sadly, there is no 3.5-mm headphone jack, and you would have to either depend on an adaptor or wireless Bluetooth audio accessories.  

 

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 comes with an ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor that works pretty well. It is quick, accurate, and very much reliable. The position is now shifted to 33m upwards, which is now more comfortable and ergonomics. There is Face ID too which you can make use of, and it is quite quick and fast but not that reliable. 

Coming to connectivity, Samsung Galaxy Note 10 comes with all the standard features that you would expect from a flagship device. These features include dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS, FM Radio, USB Type-C port for charging and NFC for mobile payments & one-tap pairing. 

Verdict

It’s time for the question which you’ve been waiting for desperately. Is it worth considering the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 in 2019? Well, that depends on various factors. First of all, Samsung Galaxy Note 10 is the best flagship device which you can buy right now from the company. It manages to hit all the checkpoints which a flagship device should come with. Apart from a downgrade in the display, there is really no annoying thing about the device. In fact, you can also ignore the display part since most of you will not be able to differentiate it.  The device can handle all the heavy multitasking or gaming with ease. The cameras work pretty well but still lags behind from Pixel 3 and Huawei P30 Pro. Even the battery life on this device is pretty decent, and it should last you for an entire day on a single charge. The S-Pen does make it a strong contender as always. Switching from Note 9 to the latest Note 10 does not make sense since there is no major upgrade in my opinion. Samsung Galaxy Note 10 is a great option for non-Note nine user out there, and you should definitely consider this device.