Samsung has been running two series of flagship devices in parallel for many years now. The Samsung Galaxy S series of smartphones are powerful and relatively compact, whereas the Galaxy Note series was initially targeted at buyers who want a multitasking device primarily for work. The S Pen was and continues to be the defining feature of the Galaxy Note line compared to the Galaxy S models. Samsung has recently launched the latest generation of Galaxy Note devices, called the Galaxy Note 10 and the Galaxy Note 10+. These devices pack a powerful processor, an Infinity-O display, and improved S Pen functionality. Is Samsung’s biggest smartphone the best that there is? We put the Galaxy Note 10+ to the test to find out.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ design
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ has a new design and features a new Infinity-O display. This is Samsung’s name for a panel with a hole for a front-facing camera. The idea is similar to what we have seen on the Galaxy S10 series, but while those models had their camera holes in one corner, on the Galaxy Note 10+ it is right in the centre, at the top of the display. It wasn’t distracting to us, and we got used to its presence in a matter of hours.
What you will notice next about the Galaxy Note 10+ is its huge display which curves on the sides. It also has thin bezels at the top and the bottom, offering you a nearly all-display look. The back of the phone is also made of glass which curves on the sides. This design makes the phone very comfortable to hold. It has a metal frame sandwiched in between these glass panels, and is quite thin on the sides. The overall design of the phone is a little boxy, in line with older Galaxy Note devices.
The right side of the device is completely bare, and all the buttons are on the left side. This feels a little odd at first, since the Galaxy Note 9 (Review), as well as the Galaxy S10 series and nearly every other modern-day smartphone has at least its power button on the right. On the Galaxy Note 10+, the Bixby button is still on the left as before, but it is also used as the power button. A short tap will put the phone into standby, while a long-press summons Bixby.
We had trained ourselves not to hit the Bixby button of previous Samsung devices, and this needed some unlearning to be done. You can change the behaviour of the button to the traditional setting (a long-press to show power-off options) in the software. Samsung also offers a software button in the quick toggles to switch the Galaxy Note 10+ off.
Samsung has positioned microphones on the top, along with a hybrid dual-SIM tray. At the bottom, the Galaxy Note 10+ has the primary microphone, USB Type-C port, loudspeaker grille, and the S Pen silo. The Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ has a quad-camera setup at the back, out of which three sensors are placed in a single module and the fourth sensor is next to it along with an LED flash.
Yes, there is no 3.5mm headphone jack on the Galaxy Note 10+. Samsung had mocked Apple in the past for removing the 3.5mm headphone jack, but recently removed all these ads from its website around the time of the Galaxy Note 10 launch. Samsung does still ship AKG headphones in the box, and these now sport a USB Type-C connector. They sound very good, so you won’t need to buy a new headset.
You can buy the Galaxy Note 10+ in either of three colours in India: Aura Glow, Aura Black, and Aura White. We had the Aura Glow version for review, which elicited mixed opinions in our office. It looks like a mirror finish and splits light into green, orange, and red when it bounces off the back. However, it is a fingerprint magnet and picks up smudges very easily.
Samsung ships a transparent case in the box, so you won’t have to go around looking for one. The charger supplied with the Galaxy Note 10+ is rated at 25W — though the phone supports fast charging up to 45W — and has a USB Type-C port. You also get a charging cable with USB Type-C connectors on both ends. The Galaxy Note 10+ and the S Pen are both rated IP68 for dust and water resistance.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ specifications and software
The Galaxy Note 10+ is currently the highest-end smartphone in Samsung’s stable, and the company of course says that it’s the best Note device yet. Samsung sells this phone powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Plus processor in some parts of the world, whereas, in India, it is powered by the Exynos 9825. This is an upgrade over the Exynos 9820 which was used for the Galaxy S10 series. The Exynos 9825 is an octa-core processor based on a 7nm process with two custom cores clocked at 2.7GHz, two Cortex-A75 cores clocked at 2.4GHz, and four Cortex-A55 cores clocked at 1.9GHz.
The Galaxy Note 10+ gets 12GB of RAM, yes 12GB, and you can choose between 256GB and 512GB of internal storage. We had the 256GB variant for review, and over 220GB of space was free when we first set it up. Unlike on the Galaxy Note 10, storage is expandable on the Galaxy Note 10+ and you can use a microSD card to add up to 1TB more space. This phone has a hybrid dual-SIM tray, but we aren’t complaining since you get at least 256GB of storage to begin with.
Both SIM slots have support for 4G as well as VoLTE. There’s Bluetooth 5, Wi-Fi 6, NFC, and support for four satellite navigation systems. Samsung has equipped the Galaxy Note 10+ with a 4,300mAh battery which is an upgrade over the 4,000mAh battery in its predecessor, the Galaxy Note 9. In addition to 45W fast charging there’s also support for fast wireless charging 2.0 as well as wireless reverse charging, which Samsung calls Wireless PowerShare. This is handy when you have to charge smaller devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Buds.
Samsung has picked a huge 6.8-inch Super AMOLED display with a QHD+ resolution for this device. The screen resolution is switchable, and is set to full-HD+ by default, but you can lower it all the way to HD+. This Super AMOLED panel is also HDR10+ certified. There are two display modes to choose from, Vivid and Natural. The Vivid mode bumps the contrast up making colours pop on the display. When in Vivid mode, you get a slider to tweak the white balance as well as colour levels.
Samsung has paired this display with stereo speakers. The earpiece doubles up as the second speaker. It isn’t as loud as the bottom-firing one, but the two together deliver a good stereo effect. The Galaxy Note 10+ also has support for Dolby Atmos which can be enabled using a quick toggle in the notifications shade. You can select between different audio profiles or set it to auto. We had it set to auto, and it made a noticeable difference during audio/video playback.
Just like the Samsung Galaxy S10 series, the Galaxy Note 10+ uses an ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor. It unlocks the smartphone quickly and does not need the display to be switched on to function. We found it to be well positioned, and we rarely encountered issues using it. There’s also face recognition if you want.
The Galaxy Note 10+ ships with Android Pie, and the latest version of One UI. Our review unit was running the September security patch. The interface is polished and is designed to be convenient for one-handed use. It has an app drawer, and swiping right from the first homescreen takes you to Bixby Home. You do get a few apps from Samsung, Google, as well as Microsoft preinstalled on this smartphone, plus Facebook and Netflix. We found that the My Galaxy app from Samsung kept pushing spammy notifications to us, forcing us to disable notifications for the app.
Samsung’s Game Launcher clubs all your installed games together. You can choose between “Focus on Power Saving”, “Balanced”, and “Focus on Performance” for all games, or set a level for each game individually. By default, the smartphone is set to Focus on Performance. Game tools are available in the navigation bar while playing a game. You can choose to minimise call notifications, hide notifications from other apps, and block Bixby and the Edge Panel when gaming.
Other gaming-related software features on the Galaxy Note 10+ include Dolby Atmos for gaming, Auto Screen Lock, and a Pop-up panel that lets you add shortcuts for up to four apps you might wish to access while gaming.
Android Pie’s Digital Wellbeing feature is also present on the Galaxy Note 10+. This lets you keep tabs on how you spend your time on the smartphone. One UI has the traditional three-button navigation layout by default, but you can switch to swipe-based gesture navigation. There is a Dual Messenger feature as well which lets you run two instances of supported apps. Another feature called Edge Panels has been seen on multiple Galaxy smartphones, and lets you access multiple app shortcuts from any screen.
Samsung has worked with Microsoft to add a feature called Link to Windows. This lets you connect the Galaxy Note 10+ to a Windows PC so that you can access text messages, notifications, and recent photos, among other things. It requires you to log in to the same Microsoft account on both the device and the Your Phone app on the PC, after which you will be able to access the phone wirelessly. The Link to Windows app also gives you the option to keep the phone connected using cellular data.
Samsung’s Dex feature now works on a Windows PC or Mac simply by connecting the Galaxy Note 10+ to it using a USB cable. You will need to download the Samsung Dex app on the Windows/ Mac machine to use this feature. We tested it using a Lenovo Legion Y740 (Review) laptop, and once connected, we had a virtual window which showed the contents of the phone along with compatible apps. We could run these apps as well as drag and drop files from the laptop to the Galaxy Note 10+. However, there didn’t seem to be any way to copy files from the Galaxy Note 10+ to the laptop. Also, while Dex no longer requires dedicated hardware, we couldn’t find may use cases where we wanted to do something like this.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ S Pen
The S Pen, which distinguishes the Galaxy Note 10 series from all other Samsung smartphones has received a few updates of its own. The S Pen is thin compared to some of the other styli we’ve seen. It pairs to the Galaxy Note 10+ via Bluetooth and charges automatically when it is in its silo.
You can still jot down stuff quickly by pulling the S Pen out of its silo when the screen is off to take notes. Pulling the S Pen out launches Air Command, which lists all the different actions you can perform with it. Smart Select lets you select content on the screen to share directly. Screen Write takes a screenshot and lets you write on the image before sharing it. AR Doodle switches the cameras on, letting you doodle on everything you see through the viewfinder. PenUp lets you sketch using the S Pen. The Galaxy Note 10 devices are now able to recognise and transcribe what is written in the notes you jot down, using optical character recognition. This makes your handwritten text searchable.
With this generation, Samsung has added more Air Actions to the Galaxy S Pen, giving it more functionality compared to the S Pen that came with the Galaxy Note 9. You can still use the button on the S Pen as a shutter button for the camera app, but now using gestures you can switch between the primary and the selfie camera, change camera modes, zoom in, and zoom out.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ performance and battery life
The Galaxy Note 10+ offered stellar performance in our experience. We never really had to wait for anything to load, and even heavy apps were quick to load With 12GB of RAM onboard we could multitask easily even with multiple apps running in the background. We launched over 45 apps on the device and still had about 5.9GB of RAM free.
The big display on the Galaxy Note 10+ has good viewing angles and it does get bright enough to be readable when outdoors. The display has support for HDR10+ and we enjoyed a few HDR videos streamed over YouTube. The speakers are loud, and the stereo effect adds to the experience when watching content on the Galaxy Note 10+.
We ran our standard set of benchmarks on the Galaxy Note 10+ and it managed to score well in a few of them. In AntuTu, the Exynos 9825-powered Galaxy Note 10+ managed to clock 342,744 points, which puts it behind the Redmi K20 Pro (Review) and the OnePlus 7 Pro (Review) which managed 368,332 and 367,740 respectively in the same test. In PCMark Work 2.0, the smartphone managed to clock 9,137 points. In Geekbench, the Galaxy Note 10+ scored 4,506 and 10,431 in the single-core and multi-core tests respectively.
Those numbers suggest the Galaxy Note 10+ is more powerful than the Galaxy S10+ (Review) but they put the phone marginally behind Snapdragon 855-powered phones such as the Redmi K20 Pro (Review), the OnePlus 7 Pro (Review), and even the Nubia Redmagic 3 (Review).
The Galaxy Note 10+ scored 5,007 in 3DMark Slingshot Extreme OpenGL and 53,394 in 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited. In the GFXBench T-Rex and Car Chase benchmarks, the phone managed to score 60fps and 40fps respectively, which is similar to what the Samsung Galaxy S10+ delivered.
We played PUBG Mobile on the smartphone, and it defaulted to the High preset with Graphics set to HD and Frame Rate set to High. We bumped the Graphics up to HDR and the Frame Rate to Ultra, and the phone showed no signs of stress. We played the game for 20 minutes at these settings and it did get slightly warm to the touch. The Galaxy Note 10+ registered a 6 percent battery drop over that time, which is acceptable. The hole for the camera was not an issue while playing PUBG Mobile, as it didn’t get in the way of any controls don’t get in the way.
Samsung has bumped the battery capacity up on the Galaxy Note 10+, and at 4300mAh, it does help the device deliver good battery life. In our HD video loop test, the Galaxy Note 10+ managed to run for 17 hours, 9 minutes. With our usage, which consisted of playing PUBG Mobile, navigating using Google Maps for 50 minutes, an active WhatsApp account, and running a few benchmarks, we were able to end our day with close to 40 percent still left in the tank. We had the smartphone set at the default full-HD+ resolution at all times, but you can lower that to HD+ if you want to squeeze even more out of the battery.
Charging is super quick with the bundled 25W charger, which can charge the Galaxy Note 10+ fully in a little over an hour. We found that the supplied charger could take the phone up to 67 percent in 30 minutes, and 98 percent in an hour.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ cameras
Samsung has opted for a quad-camera setup on the Galaxy Note 10+. The primary rear camera has a 12-megapixel sensor with a variable aperture of f/1.5 to f/2.4, Super Speed Dual Pixel AutoFocus, and optical image stabilisation (OIS). Next is a 16-megapixel sensor with an ultra-wide-angle lens, an f/2.2 aperture, and a 123-degree field of view. The third camera has a 12-megapixel sensor with a telephoto lens capable of 2X optical zoom. The Depth Vision camera is capable of scanning objects in 3D. The hole in the display houses a 10-megapixel selfie camera with Dual Pixel Autofocus.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ camera samples. Tap to see full-size image or see more camera samples here
You can read much more about the new camera hardware and features, and see a variety of sample images shot with this phone in our in-depth camera review of the Galaxy Note 10+. To sum up our findings in brief, we found the camera performance of the Galaxy Note 10+ to be impressive in different lighting conditions. However, Samsung’s AI scene optimiser was inconsistent when shooting close-ups.
Low-light performance was good, and the Galaxy Note 10+ is capable of producing bright images using its dedicated night mode. The selfie camera has beautification turned on by default and produces crisp selfies in daylight, but its performance drops a notch when the light isn’t favourable. Video recording tops out at 4K 60fps and 4K 30fps for the primary and selfie cameras respectively.
The Galaxy Note 10+ is currently the best smartphone to roll out of Samsung’s stable in India, and it is the company’s new flagship. While this smartphone’s design might be a little boxy, it packs in a stunning display, versatile cameras, and lots of software enhancements. Yes, you will notice the hole at the top of the display, but you can get used to this.
Samsung has added new functionality to the S Pen in the form of Air Actions, which work in certain supported apps. While it is helpful to use the S Pen as a remote shutter button for the camera, the other gestures feel a little gimmicky. The Galaxy Note 10+ also manages to deliver good battery life, and the bundled fast charger is a boon.
Priced at Rs. 79,999 for the 12GB RAM, 256GB storage version, and Rs. 89,999 for the 12GB RAM, 512GB storage variant, the Galaxy Note 10+ might seem too expensive. However, considering what it offers in terms of performance, Samsung’s software and hardware package isn’t exorbitantly overpriced. If you don’t mind spending this much money, the Galaxy Note 10+ is one of the best devices that money can buy at the moment.
However, if you don’t really care about the S Pen and want something more manageable, the Galaxy S10+ (Review) and the Galaxy S10 (Review) offer roughly the same experience (sans S Pen) for Rs. 73,900 and Rs. 61,900 respectively, making them suitable alternatives.