It's huge, shines in all the colors of the rainbow and has a gorgeous display: this is the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus. But can it do anything better than any other top smartphone? We've been testing it to find out.
- ✓Great design
- ✓Outstanding display
- ✓Impeccable performance
- ✓Very good camera
- ✓New functions for the S-Pen
- ✓5G option
- ✕Large and unwieldy
- ✕Keys on the left-hand side
- ✕Weak night photos
Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ release date and price
If you want to buy a Galaxy Note 10 Plus, you have to dig deep into your pocket, because the Samsung smartphone is one of the most expensive models on the market. The RRP is £999/$1,049 for the 256 GB model. If you've got an extra 100 quid (or 200 US dollars), you can have the 5G version.
As with many Android smartphones, have a little patience and your wallet will thank you. After two or three months, the Galaxy Note 10 Plus should be available for significantly less than a grand. If you can, wait a little longer.
Big and beautiful
There are people who think that smartphones all look the same these days, and on the surface, you can see why. Glass at the front and back, slightly curved at the edges, a metal frame in between, a bit of color with a gradient, the current smartphone design is pretty uniform. Somehow it's true, but then again it's not, because there are differences.
Samsung's top smartphones are the best you can buy on Android in terms of workmanship, and the Galaxy Note 10 Plus is no exception. Everything is in place, there are no irregular gaps, wobbly switches or anything like that. The workmanship is flawless. However, the design of the new Galaxy Note has become a bit more fragile, because the frame is extremely slim. This causes the glass to shatter more easily when the Galaxy Note 10 Plus is dropped. That's why you should definitely think about a protective case.
However, with a case you have the disadvantage that you can't see the back of the smartphone anymore, and with the Galaxy Note 10 Plus it would be a shame. The back has become really chic, especially in the new Aura Glow color. The glass shimmers in all colors of the rainbow, but is not really intrusive and often just looks silvery shiny. The courage to use more color, which most smartphone manufacturers have found popular, provides more variety, and those who prefer it in plain black can still choose this version.
Wide, slippery and a fingerprint magnet
The surface of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus also has two disadvantages. On the one hand, it is very slippery, which, together with the sheer size of the smartphone, is not particularly pleasant to hold. The Galaxy Note 10 Plus is also quite wide at over 77 millimeters and weighs around 200 grams, which makes the smartphone unwieldy. Combined with being slippery, it can lead to drops. The smaller Galaxy Note 10 is much more comfortable to hold, while the backside magically attracts fingerprints and the greaseproof coating is not as good as on the Huawei P30 Pro, which is less problematic. So you have to clean the Galaxy Note 10 Plus over and over again.
Speaking of getting used to it: you will also have to adapt to the new position of the buttons on the Galaxy Note 10 Plus. You can find them on the left-hand side instead of on the right. This is really unusual, but at least Samsung didn't add a Bixby button.
The best smartphone display
I'll tell you the truth: the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus has the best display of any smartphone for me. If you don't have a problem with the small hole in the Infinity-O-Display, you simply can't ask for anything more here. The 6.8-inch Super AMOLED panel looks gorgeous, is easy to read in all positions and lighting conditions and shows great colors and deep blacks. If Samsung could improve anything here, it would be the possibilities to adjust the display to one's own taste. With the Galaxy Note 10 Plus there are only two fixed modes, Lively and Natural, but no possibility to set the color temperature freely.
The Always-on Display from Samsung is extremely practical. It displays not only the time and date, but also the battery level and the colored icons for the notifications of the individual apps. The brightness is very low, so that the Always-on Display doesn't disturb you even in the dark. However, the charge level indicator should go off quietly when charging if the battery is at 100 percent, otherwise, it lights up all night if you leave the Galaxy Note 10 Plus on the charging cable while you sleep.
The S-Pen is a magic wand
Samsung also worked on the S-Pen for the new Note generation. The pen, the unique selling point of the Galaxy Note since the very first model, remains the same in terms of hardware, but has become a few millimeters shorter. There was still room for new functions though. With the new S-Pen Air Actions, you can wave the S-Pen around in the air like a magic wand to trigger some actions with special gestures. At the start, this is mainly done in the camera app, but the interface is open to all app developers. The S-Pen serves as a remote control for the camera shutter release and as a remote control for presentations.
The possibility of zooming with rotations is quite pointless - this happens in steps of 0.1x, it takes forever until the Note really zooms noticeably. Changing the camera modes via the S-Pen gesture control is more practical if the smartphone is in a tripod or otherwise in front of you. You can use the pen - provided the appropriate software is installed - to provide legally compliant signatures. Samsung now also manages to convert your handwritten notes into digital text. If you pull out the pen while the Galaxy Note 10 Plus is in standby, you can scribble directly on the black screen, the notes will be saved automatically.
Android 10 on the move
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 comes with Android 9 Pie and the latest One UI. The update to Android 10 is confirmed, but only the schedule is not yet set. Samsung's One UI interface is a system that is relatively transforming Android and requires corresponding resources. Over the years, however, Samsung has put a lot of work into improving performance, and that's slowly paying off. Everything has become much slimmer, more mature and less complicated. You can adjust the optics with the help of themes according to your wishes. The pen functions of the Galaxy Note 10 are not on the other Galaxy smartphones, otherwise, One UI is the same as on the Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus.
Plenty of power and memory
The heart of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus is the new Exynos 9825, which is supposed to provide 20 percent more computing power and 45 percent more graphics power than the Exynos 9820 in the Galaxy S10 - at least in Europe. In the U.S., the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 is used as the processor. It's a bit more powerful than its Samsung counterpart, especially when it comes to graphics, but both are among the fastest smartphone processors on the market.
The Galaxy Note 10 Plus, therefore, ran confidently and quicklyin my test, and looked a bit more comfortable than the OnePlus 7 Pro, for example. The benchmarks are correspondingly good, more on this in our detailed performance review. But one thing is for sure: with the performance of the Galaxy Note 10, you won't have any big problems in two or three years , given the lavish memory of 12 GB of RAM (the small Note 10 has only 8 GB). The internal storage starts at 256 GB. In the Galaxy Note 10 Plus there's also a 512 GB version. An SD card can only be put into the Galaxy Note 10 Plus, not the smaller model.
No surprises with the sound
When it comes to sound, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus is not particularly well equipped. The internal speaker sounds decent and has sufficient volume, but is not outstandingly good. There is headphone jack, no adapter included, but good in-ears from AKG, which will easily suffice for many Galaxy Note buyers. Bluetooth headphones are of course the more convenient choice, such as the Samsung Galaxy Buds, but of course you can also use all other models.
A world-class camera
The camera of the Galaxy Note 10 Plus is very similar to that of the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus. This is good news overall , as the Samsung camera was able to fully convince in most situations during our review. So we are dealing with a triple camera with ultrawide-angle lens, a normal focal length lens and dual zoom lens. The Galaxy Note 10 Plus comes with a ToF camera for depth detection. The exact key data of the triple camera are as follows:
- 16-megapixel ultrawide-angle lens, 123 degrees, f/2.2
- 12-megapixel normal focal length lens, f/1.5 and f/2.4, OIS, 4K video at 60 fps, HDR10+
- 12-megapixel telephoto lens, OIS, f/2.1, 2 x zoom
- ToF (only for Galaxy Note 10 Plus)
In addition, there is a front camera with 10 megapixels, aperture f/2.2, autofocus and live focus. Video enthusiasts will enjoy the Super Steady mode and the so-called Zoom-In Mic. This turns the Galaxy Note 10 Plus into a directional microphone so that you can hear what is shown on the picture. Live focus functions are also new in video, which still produced some errors during my test of the Galaxy Note 10. There is a good chance that this will look better with upcoming updates.
Finally, Samsung smartphones have been given a night mode as well, and it does a good job with the normal lens. In comparison with the Huawei P30 Pro, which has proven to be our king of the night, the Galaxy Note 10 Plus shows a little more blur in moving objects and people, but captures the lighting mood better and even shows more detail.
The differences between the top smartphones in terms of the cameras have diminished over the years and now often the choice of lenses and personal taste separate them rather than the quality of the pictures and videos. The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus is at the forefront, especially in videos, but also for photos and night mode. Read more about this in our detailed camera review.
The Galaxy Note and the battery - that wasn't always a happy story. The Galaxy Note 10 Plus doesn't do badly in this battery test, on the contrary. The 4,300mAh battery brings you through the day without any problems , no matter what you do with it. It makes hardly any difference whether the display resolution remains with the preset Full HD+ or is increased to the full 3,040 x 1,440 pixels. This is also reflected in PCMark's battery benchmark. With full brightness and full resolution the Galaxy Note 10 Plus reaches 7:02 hours here, with reduced pixel count it's 7:33 hours, so not much more. The difference is clearer when the brightness is reduced to 50 percent. Then the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus will last 9:56 hours, at full resolution.
It's a shame that Samsung doesn't deliver a power supply with the maximum possible 45 watts, but only a weaker one. But this still charges the battery of the Note 10 Plus in well under two hours and is therefore fast enough. Those who like it more comfortable can load wirelessly via Qi, but that takes longer.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ technical specifications
|Dimensions:||162.3 x 77.2 x 7.9 mm|
|Battery size:||4300 mAh|
|Screen size:||6.8 in|
|Screen:||3040 x 1440 pixels (495 ppi)|
|Front camera:||10 megapixels|
|Rear camera:||16 megapixels|
|Android version:||9 - Pie|
|User interface:||Samsung One UI|
|Internal storage:||512 GB|
|Chipset:||Samsung Exynos 9820
Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
|Number of cores:||8|
|Max. clock speed:||2.7 GHz|
|Connectivity:||HSPA, LTE, NFC, Dual-SIM , Bluetooth 5.0|
Big, strong and expensive
If you're looking for a smartphone with lots of power, sophisticated software, a great display and a good camera, the Galaxy Note 10 Plus is for you. However, you have to keep in mind that the Galaxy smartphone is quite expensive on the one hand and quite big on the other - the former has to be accepted, the latter especially liked. If your needs match what the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus offers, there's hardly a better smartphone on the market.