Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Review

The Galaxy Note 10+ (and 10+ 5G) represents the technological peak of Samsung’s smartphone offering for 2019. We have tested the unique features that make the Note 10 series a “must-see” waypoint on your smartphone quest.

This review was based on using the Galaxy Note 10+, which we consider to be the true successor of the Galaxy Note 9.

It’s essential to understand that the base Galaxy Note 10 (non-plus) is, in fact, an extension of the Note family’s footprint. Samsung should have called it the Galaxy Note 10e, to match the positioning of the Galaxy S10e (don’t miss our Galaxy S10e review).

Specifications highlights

The Galaxy Note 10 has a few key differences with the Note 10+

  • 6.3” display with a lower resolution
  • Smaller size and weight
  • 8GB of RAM
  • No 45W charging with optional charger
Specifications Highlights
ProductGalaxy Note 10 (2019), Price: 949 USDGalaxy Note 10+ (2019), Price: 1099 USD
Display6.3″ 2280×1080 AMOLED , HDR10+6.8″ 3040×1440 AMOLED , HDR10+
Rear Camera(s)
  • 26mm 12-MP f/1.5 wide (Primary) +OIS
  • 52mm 12-MP f/2.1 zoom +OIS
  • 13mm 16-MP f/2.2 ultrawide
  • 26mm 12-MP f/1.5 wide (Primary) +OIS
  • 52mm 12-MP f/2.1 zoom +OIS
  • 13mm 16-MP f/2.2 ultrawide
Selfie Camera(s)
Computing
  • Snapdragon 855 SoC
  • 8GB/12GB RAM
  • 128GB/512GB Storage
  • MicroSDXC
  • Snapdragon 855 SoC
  • 12GB RAM
  • 256GB/512GB Storage
  • MicroSDXC
Battery3600 mAh, Wireless Charging, Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.04300 mAh, Wireless Charging, Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0
DesignIP68, 168g (5.9oz), 151×71.8×7.9 mm (5.94 x 2.83 x 0.31 inches)IP68, 196g (6.9oz), 77.2×162.5×7.9 mm (3.04 x 6.40 x 0.31 inches)
Price (Market)$949$1099

Of course, the Note 10+ 5G is identical to the Note 10+, except that it has a discrete 5G modem capable of both Sub6 and mmWave 5G connectivity.

Industrial Design

The Galaxy Note 10 series has a beautiful design, and this year, Samsung has pushed the dual-curved glass concept to a new level, by having the rear glass curve onto the edge slightly past the middle, giving it an ultrasmooth edge.

For every glass-phone, we advise using a protective case, but it is interesting to see that Samsung’s repair prices are lower than Apple’s (especially for the back panel), so if you’re a bit clumsy that might be something to take into consideration.

At the same time, the screen curved is still present to give the illusion of having an infinity edge, not not as much previously to avoid possible false-positive touch actions.

The ultrathin bezel is really impressive all around, pushing the edge of the AMOLED panel as far as modern technology can today. The difference between a 1mm and 1.3mm bezel may not seem huge, but visually, it makes a world of difference.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ is a large phone in terms of width and height, but because it is thin (7.9mm), it has an equivalent overall volume to the Huawei P30 Pro (-1.7% of the size). Yet, this design has managed to feature a 21% higher battery density than the iPhone Xs Max (711 mAh/cubic-inch).

The Note 10+ has just a little more battery (+2.3%) than the P30 Pro, but it’s incredible to achieve this within the same design footprint with an integrated Pen. Even leaving the aesthetics aside, it’s the most impressive phone design we’ve seen.

“THE MOST IMPRESSIVE PHONE DESIGN WE’VE SEEN”

The only significant collateral damage is the 3.5mm audio port that has been removed. There’s no 3.5mm adapter in the box either, but a pair of USB-C earphones are included.

The Galaxy Note 10 has an IP68 rating (water-resistant, can be submerged in water), like every other phone in this price range.

The Power button is now to the left of the phone, instead of the awkward upper-right position found on the Galaxy S10+. The same button has merged with what was previously the Bixby (Samsung’s smart assistant) button which now launches with a long-press. This might be a matter of personal preferences, but I like this change very much.

Display: best of the best

For many years now, Samsung has been keeping the “best display” crown, and this time is no different. From a large-phone perspective, this 6.8” 3040×1440 AMOLED display is the largest among peer competitors, and it has excellent pixel density (495 PPI), color rendering (142% sRGB gamut) and brightness.

The Galaxy Note 10+ display has no equal: the 1335 NITs brightness makes it much more readable than competing screens which often can barely reach ~700 NITs. That’s 47% brighter than the P30 Pro, 24% brighter than iPhone Xs Max, along with 20% to 30% better color rendering.

“THE GALAXY NOTE 10+ DISPLAY HAS NO EQUAL”

As if superior resolution and color rendering were not enough, Samsung is innovating on other display features such as reducing the nefarious blue wavelength (bad for sleep, among other things), while maintaining leading-edge color rendering.

The display houses the same Ultrasonic fingerprint sensor found in the Galaxy S10-series, but the software has improved because the average unlock time is noticeably better. In our experience, the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor works better with wet hands than optical sensors. That’s very handy when you quickly wash your hand before using the phone.

Galaxy Note 10 Camera

178Image Quality scoreUBER-G SCOREScoring/ranking system nameIQImage-Quality based scoring systemCAMERAMobile High EndCategory based on price2019-08Device launch dateSamsung Galaxy Note 10Device brand and name

With a Camera IQ of 177 in our Camera IQ benchmark, the Galaxy Note 10+ is the #2 mobile camera on the market, just behind the Huawei P30 Pro’s camera. We recommend reading our full Galaxy Note 10+ camera review that goes over Daylight, Night, Zoom, and Ultrawide image quality.

If you don’t have time, here’s the bottom-line: the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 has an excellent rear camera system that can shoot 13mm (ultrawide), 27mm (wide) and 52mm (zoom).

While Ubergizmo’s Camera IQ benchmark does a great job of evaluating objective camera performance, this chapter highlights more subjective aspects of the Note 10+’s camera.

For example, the Galaxy Note 10+ is in general better than the Huawei P30 Pro at shooting more realistic colors at dusk, or of food photos. In short, the Galaxy Note 10 generally has a superior white balance.

OEMs sometimes build a loyal following with a specific “style” of image-filtering, having a camera that can reliably capture the original mood and color hues make the photo experience more controllable and predictable.

In this scene, the Galaxy Note captured the proper colors right away. The P30 Pro white balance was OFF and needed editing

The Galaxy Note 10’s rear camera has really been designed to capture “what your eyes see,” and does an outstanding job, even in very low light conditions. However, it doesn’t have a “night vision” capability to reveal details that the naked eye wouldn’t usually see.

The night mode is supposed to compensate for it, and it does a great job at making things supernaturally bright. However, the Huawei P30 Pro remains The phone that can “turn night into day,” quite literally, without long-exposure.

Note 10+ auto-mode, great capture of what we actually see

Note 10+ in Night Mode: makes everything brighter

The P30 Pro shots are instantaneous, and you don’t need to wait for 5-7 seconds for the photo to be shot. As we mentioned in our P30 Pro Night Photo test, that phone made Night Mode irrelevant, except for artistic purposes.

P30 Pro auto-mode literally transforms night into day, with better details, low noise. Who needs Night Mode?

Samsung’s Super Steady video recording mode is also something that is highly desirable for action-minded users, or for anyone who wants to film a video while walking or driving. It is a significant improvement over the Galaxy Note 9 and is more steady than any other smartphone videos we’ve looked at.

But that’s not it, thanks to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 computing power, the Galaxy Note 10 is able to shoot videos with Bokeh (background blur), which is a fantastic way to highlight a subject in a video.

Finally, videos can be edited with a new built-in video editor that is optimized for the Samsung S-Pen. There are countless video editing apps on Android, but it’s great to have a free option from Samsung.

Selfie Camera: very good, but S10+ is better

Because the Galaxy Note 10 only has one camera on the front, large-aperture (Bokeh) modes photos are a bit more precise on the Galaxy S10+ and its dedicated depth sensor. S10+ has fewer separation issues between the subject and the background. We noticed some image-filtering as the skin seemed a bit airbrushed in Portrait Mode.

In standard photo mode, the image quality is very good, Samsung has made considerable selfie-quality progress with the Galaxy S10 introduction. Photos are sharp, and not over-filtered: they appear more natural than in Portrait Mode, and less filtered than some Chinese brands.

The front color camera module on the Note 10 also has slightly inferior hardware than S10+, with an aperture of f/2.2 instead of f/1.9. The estimated sensor size is comparable to the Galaxy S10+ at ~15 mm².

In bright light, the aperture difference isn’t much of an issue, but to obtain better results, Samsung has added a Night Mode which is a long-exposure photo. The exposure duration depends on how dark the picture is, which is great. Other Night Modes often have a set number of photos to be taken (several dozens) and are very slow.

Note that most competitors (including the S10 as of the publication date) don’t have a Night Mode for selfies, so if you’re willing to strike a pose, you might get much better results with the Note 10.

System Performance

Not surprisingly, the Galaxy Note 10 exhibits excellent system performances, thanks to the Snapdragon 855 computing platform, paired with 8GB (Note 10) or 12GB of RAM (Note 10+) and at least 256GB of storage. That’s 400% more storage than the base iPhone 11 Pro model, at a comparable price.

Graphics benchmark

CPU / Memory Benchmark

The 5G model utilizes the Qualcomm 5G modem that is currently the most popular option outside of China, and in general, Samsung is expected to lead the market, thanks to 5G models for the Galaxy S10+ or Note 10+ at the high-end and the Galaxy A90 in the ~$700 market.

Keep in mind that 5G is currently being deployed and coverage is relatively sparse. Different carriers will also support different 5G bands combinations. At the moment, Verizon is the only game in town when it comes to the Note 10+ 5G, but keep an eye on Ubergizmo’s news for an update.

“400% MORE STORAGE THAN THE BASE IPHONE 11 PRO MODEL”

By next H2 2020, you will get even more options at lower prices, thanks to the next-gen Snapdragon 700 Series with integrated 5G, but also chips like the Kirin 990 which recently won our Ubergizmo “Best of IFA” award. But H2 2020 is a full year away.

With one of the best 4G LTE modem (CAT20 2Gbps), the Galaxy Note 10+ wireless performance is not far away from 5G handsets using Sub-6 connectivity. But if you want to enjoy the latest 5G Technology and mmWave speeds (near 1Gbps in ideal scenarios), the Galaxy Note 10+ 5G is the handset to look at, especially with mmWave-enabled carriers such as Verizon.

When in the office or at home, the Galaxy Note 10 is compatible with WiFi-6, the latest local wireless networking standard that is under deployment for many years to come.

Battery

With a 4300 mAh battery capacity and a measured charge speed of 86 mAh/mn, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ marks a considerable step up from the Galaxy S10 series which charges at a rate of 53 mAh/mn. For reference, the fastest charging we’ve seen is 100 mAh (P30 Pro), and the slowest is 20 mAh/mn (iPhone Xs Max).

This speed can be obtained with the 25W charger in the box. Samsung says that it has an even faster charger, which we have not been able to procure in time for this review. We’ve also been told that the Note 10 is compatible with the USB-C PD (power delivery) standard, but when we tried a 65W USB-C PD charger, the outcome was slower charging (~50 mAh/mn).

The 15 Watts wireless charging is also considered to be very fast by industry standards, although of course not nearly as fast as the wired option.

Previously, a handful of competitors were able to beat Samsung in charging speed, but Note 10 has dramatically reduced the gap. This is the Samsung phone to get for battery-minded users.

Productivity

The Galaxy Note series has always been centered around Productivity, and Samsung has pushed the envelope every year since. Samsung Dex, Samsung’s Desktop Mode for smartphones, can now run as an app inside a Windows PC or Mac lets you use the Galaxy Note like a virtual desktop computer (via USB-C cable).

Windowed Android user interface as a Windows App

This is great for different scenarios: first, many chat apps don’t have a desktop version, so you can now use them with desktop-like productivity. Secondly, you may have subscription-based apps or enterprise apps that only run on Android. Finally, you may want to do something with photos or videos located on your phone, without having to copy them over.

In this new DEX windowed mode, you can use the phone at the same time, and the screen is not cloned at all.

“SAMSUNG HAS THE BEST APPROACH TO PHONE/COMPUTER COLLABORATION”

If you were wondering, legacy features of DEX, such as being connected directly to a monitor (without a PC/Mac) still work as they did with Galaxy Note 9. Since I always have a laptop or desktop computer nearby, the 2019 Samsung DEX is the best version yet.

Link to Windows controlling the Note 10+

With Link To Windows, it is also possible to connect and control the Note 10 without physically connect it, thanks to WiFi. Using the “Your Phone” app on Windows, it is possible to clone the phone’s screen and quickly access the SMS, notifications or Camera Roll (for drag & drop copies). You can use any app, just as if you were on the phone.

Again, Link To Windows boosts your productivity by using a real keyboard/mouse combo, but you won’t have access to multi-window or desktop-apps as you would with Samsung Dex. It’s more like a simple remote desktop functionality.

There is little competition in this space, and other OEMs often require users to buy a computer of the same brand for this functionality to work, so Samsung has the best approach to phone/computer collaboration.

Samsung S-Pen

We kept the S-Pen (official page) close to the conclusion because it is the defining feature of the phone. First, it’s awe-inspiring how Samsung was able to build the chassis to accommodate the pen in a thin, ultra-powerful, smartphone design.

The S-Pen is an active pen that recharges every time you put it back in the phone. After 6mn of charge, you can use it for about 10 hours, according to Samsung, so the battery is virtually never a problem.

S-Pen has a programmable button that lets you trigger the camera’s shutter, or flick to the next presentation slide. This year, it gets an internal motion sensor that allows you to use gestures called Air Actions.

You can turn it on its main axis to switch to/from the selfie/rear cameras, flick it left/right to control an image gallery, or move it up and down to adjust the volume. That’s all depending on the context. 3rd party developers have access to the S-Pen API, and more of that will be promoted during the upcoming Samsung Developer Conference (SDC) in San Jose Oct 29-30.

The pen has a narrow shape which I find agreeable to write with during short meetings (~1hr), and Samsung has mastered the Pen tip design, using materials that feel really good and natural when writing on the glass. It’s not like the plastic gliding feel that you get with other e-pens.

Depending on the apps you use, handwritten notes can be converted into text, for clean and final storage or export to Microsoft Word. The quality of the conversion will depend on your writing style.

Finally, apps like Screen Off memo let you write quick notes without unlocking the phone, and upon writing, you even hear a very subtle pen/paper sound – a classy touch!

Conclusion: the perfect phone for doers

Technologically, and objectively, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 has an excellent chassis design (second only to the S10+), the best display on the market, one of the best mobile camera systems, leading performance, excellent battery capacity, and charge speed.

More subjectively, the Galaxy Note 10 is a perfect phone for large-screen fans – in that category, it’s the best you can get today, short of a foldable phone, such as the Galaxy Fold, which has just been released to the public in some parts of the world.

“THE GALAXY NOTE 10+ IS PERFECTION”

Designed for productivity, it fulfills its mission of making the user more productive as a standalone handset, but also as the brain of a real desktop computing experience, a unique feature that can quickly become addictive if you use it often.

For pen-lovers, the original Galaxy Note crowd, the Galaxy Note series remains undefeated and mostly unchallenged. The gap between the Note 10 and potential competitors is larger than ever before.

Finally, if you want 5G in all of its flavors, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ 5G is one of the best options you can find. In today’s context, the Galaxy Note 10+ is perfection.

Overall product rating: 10/10

Filed in Cellphones >Reviews. Read more about Galaxy Note, Samsung, Samsung Reviews and Smartphone Reviews.