REVIEW: The Samsung Note 10+ is big, brilliant and pricey 6 months ago

REVIEW: The Samsung Note 10+ is big, brilliant and pricey

Surely screens can’t get any bigger? Yes, they can.

JOE recently got hands on with the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+, one of the most expensive smartphones available on the market.

But while there’s a hefty price tag to pay if you want to make this phone yours, are you paying for far more than just the addition of an S pen?

We’ll start out with what comes in the box:

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus smartphone
  • 25W USB-PD charger
  • Black USB-C to USB-C cable
  • Black AKG USB-C headphones
  • USB-A to USB-C adapter

Design

First things first, it is… huge.

The massive 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED display (3,040 x 1,440 resolution at 498 pixels per inch) is brilliant to use, but there’s no denying there are easier phones out there to use one-handed; we’re looking at you Pixel 4.

When you pick up the Note 10 Plus, you do get the feeling this is a premium and expensive phone. It weighs around 196g, making it lighter than its main competition, the iPhone 10X Max.

A stunning blend of polished aluminium and gorilla glass, the Note series has come a long way since the big plastic Note was unveiled eight years ago.

Let’s be clear, this design is not unique to Samsung, so many others have used it on their phones over the past few years, including OnePlus and Huawei.

A minor critique of the popular design is while it looks great in pictures and when left untouched, it is – like so many others – a magnet for fingerprint smudges and scuffs.

There’s barely any bezels at all and Samsung has avoided a “teardrop” notch or “hole punch” in the corner in favour of a centre selfie camera cut out.

You will want to invest in a good cover for the Note 10+ for peace of mind. During testing there were a number of heart-in-mouth moments when it slipped in our hand (there were no droppages though... honest!).

There’s no headphone jack, which Samsung says is to make the phone even thinner, which seems a flimsy reason because the difference is imperceptibly small.

Features

Under the hood, the Note 10+ uses an Exynos 9825 processor, which while means you’re getting one of the fastest Android phones you can buy at this time.

12GB of RAM and 256GB of UFS 3.0 storage means the Note 10+ is among the top tier for performance.

Apps open and close at speed and there was very little reloading once opened. In short, there’s no app too big for the Note 10+.

The S pen is what sets this phone apart from others and it’s supremely irritating when it gets dismissed all too easily. A reputation for gimmicky gestures and drawing on people do a disservice to the pen.

But it’s built for those who use the phone for editing video (there’s a fantastic built-in app for this) and photos. It’s also a mouse that provides accuracy, speed in online signatures and is generally very useful. Don’t get fooled that it’s purely there for show and ignore the gestures, which do work but are actually just a gimmick.

On a side note, it’s also highly addictive to click the pen in your hand while using it, but it’s probably not advisable to overdo it on that score.

Samsung has chosen a 4300mAh battery for the S10+ and we have zero complaints about this whatsoever. Even after a full day of heavy usage, the phone was never close to giving us battery paranoia.

The fingerprint scanner uses an ultrasonic sensor, unlike the optical one used on OnePlus and Samsung’s own galaxy A50, but it produces great results and is does seem to be quite a bit faster than the Galaxy S10.

Samsung has also positioned it in a more natural spot than on the Galaxy S10.

Cameras

There are three camera lenses on the back of the Galaxy Note 10+.

  • A 12-megapixel variable aperture (between f/1.5 and f/2.4) main lens with optical image stabilisation
  • A 12-megapixel f/2.1 telephoto lens returning a 2x optical zoom
  • A 16-megapixel f/2.2 ultra wide lens
  • VGA-resolution “DepthVision” camera, known as a time of flight lens for AR and 3D scanning

While in the "hole punch" on the screen, there's a 10-megapixel, f/2.2 aperture, auto-focus selfie camera.

*F-stop value represents the amount of light that goes into the lens. The smaller the f-stop value, the more light will enter the lens. For example, an aperture of f1.8 will allow a lot more light than an aperture of f2.2, which causes better, brighter photography in low light conditions - night photos etc.

The Note 10+ doesn't take photos quite as sharp as the Google Pixel 4. It's optical zoom is not quite on the level of Huawei. Apple, meanwhile, still have the colour market cordoned off for themselves. But it is a great all rounder that won't let you down.

There's no doubting you'll be able to take some stunning photos and videos on the Note 10+. But overall they're rather similar in a lot of ways to the S10, which is unsurprising since Samsung uses the same S10+ designation for the camera model.

You can read our S10 review here.

Overall

There's no way around the fact that this is a really expensive phone with its €1,119.00 price tag. But should you part with your hard earned cash to get your hands on it?

It's targeted at users who are seeking the best of the best and it delivers in spades in most of those areas.

It's difficult to see where meaningful improvements will come in the next couple of years of smartphones - or at least until foldable phones become viable - so if you're worried about being left behind if you splurge, chances are you won't be.

The Note 10+ is a great phone, but is it that much better than the S10+? It really comes down to the S pen. If you genuinely feel you'll get use out of the S pen then the Note 10+ is the way to go for you.

If not, then you can save yourself €100 and get a free Samsung Galaxy Active Watch by buying the slightly less powerful S10+ instead.