Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus review

OUR VERDICT

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus is Samsung’s leading and most prevailing phone yet, and its Aura colors almost characteristically reflect smartphone luxury top to bottom. The hand-stretching 6.8-inch display is perfectly paired with the S Pen and an extra-big battery. Sure, it’s technically neither the fastest nor the best camera phone, but it’s the most fun we’ve had testing a phone in 2019 thanks to its five cameras and smart photo filters. This is one to get if you want to bask in pre-foldable phone opulence.

Pros AGAINST
The best screen on a Smartphone Supremely costly
The best selfie camera around Big and slippery design
Fun-to-use rear cameras The camera isn’t ‘the best’
Two-minute review

Two Minutes Review

Meet the 6.8-inch Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus, which is here to prove us wrong whenever we collectively think “Wow, phone screens can’t get any bigger, can they?” Oh, they can.

With this screen size, the Note 10 Plus is a massive Samsung phone with an equally sizable price that is quite a bit larger than the Galaxy Note 10. But it’s simple to fall in love with the screen and Aura Glow glass back if you’re into over-the-top smartphone opulence. It’s both class-leading and classy looking.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus review
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus review
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus review
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus review
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus review
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus review
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus review
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus review
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus review
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Of course, today’s best phones all have big screens, counting several from Samsung. So the new Note 10 Plus goes beyond what the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus provided six months earlier, touting the handy, Note-exclusive S Pen with new wand-like gesture manages tricks.

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Screens at these sizes are begging for a stylus, and when we called the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus the “almost-everything-included Samsung phone” this is what we meant. But there has to be more than that, and the Note 10 Plus mostly delivers.

Its five cameras offer a ‘Live Focus’ portrait mode with fun-to-use filters. even though the Pixel 3 beats Samsung’s main cameras in low light, the selective black-and-white Color Point and Big Circles filters took our selfie game to the subsequent level. Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus has the best selfie camera we’ve ever tested.

Samsung goes a step further with ideas we didn’t need, though. Live Focus Video makes sense on paper, but test it just once and you’ll realize you don’t truly want distracting background blurring effects in your videos. The same goes for AR Doodle – neat to make use of once but highly unnecessary. It’s this year’s AR Emoji/Animoji.

You’ll find these features and a stylus on the “normal” 6.4-inch Note 10, which has a further one-hand-friendly screen and cheaper price. But exclusive to Note 10 Plus are faster specs, a microSD card slot, larger battery, and ultra-fast charging speeds.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus review

Both 2019 Note phones are missing one thing: a traditional 3.5mm headphone jack. Samsung lastly caved to the significantly unpopular trend in an effort to make its phones thinner and pack in a bigger battery.

Now, we’ll level with you on this luxury handset. What you’re getting for your money is a great camera in your pocket – but it’s in fact not the best camera phone. And it’s fast – although, technically, it’s not the best ever phone you can buy, either.

Forget all of that – the rankings, they, don’t matter: Note 10 is Samsung’s best phone and, most significantly, the most fun we’ve had using a smartphone in 2019. This may be Samsung’s last great phone before the Galaxy Fold revolution.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus release date was Friday, August 23 after being announced on August 7, and you’ll pay more for S Pen-included Smartphone than pretty much any other Android handset.

Price analysis

  • Launched August 23 after an August 7 announcement
  • 256GB version: $1,099 / £999 / AU$1,699
  • 512GB version: $1,199 and exclusive to the US so far
  • Comparable to iPhone XS Max, but better storage value

It costs $1,099 / £999 / AU$1,699, price matching the iPhone XS Max in most region. Keep in mind, that’s for the 256GB internal storage version (while Apple starts at a measly 64GB), and Samsung offers a bigger screen, the S Pen, and a microSD card slot.

There is a 512GB version of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus, but it’s $1,199 and so far exclusive to the US. American carriers are selling the Note 10 Plus at an average of $45 a month over two years, while the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G edition starts at $1,299 and is exclusive to Verizon.

Smartphone with big screens is more frequent now, chipping away at the value of the Note 10 Plus. However, none of them utilize a stylus, so Samsung has locked up that market.

It’s improbable you’ll see any major discounts at Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year as this phone is so new, but it may be we see some little discounts on the Galaxy Note 10 Plus at the end of November 2019.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus review

Display – Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus

  • Massive 6.8-inch Quad HD+ screen lends itself to the S Pen for notes
  • Center punch-hole embeds front camera within the display
  • The punch-hole is 26% smaller than the S10 Plus camera hole
  • Be careful of irritating false touches from lack of bezel

The 6.8-inch Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus screen is so large that we’re kind of craving the innovation of the Samsung Galaxy Fold and other foldable phones.

It takes up the total front of the phone and then some, with an edge-to-edge design that has pixels spilling over the left and right sides. The curved display comes to a fine point, making it pleasingly sharp in more ways than one.

Samsung’s use of effective colors, a pixel-dense Quad HD+ resolution, and high peak brightness have always made it’s Super AMOLED screens look outstanding. It’s just now maximized to seem extra immersive and worth all of that hand stretching.

Okay, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus display doesn’t have a liquid, silky smooth 90Hz screen refresh rate seen in the OnePlus 7 Pro. And its curved edges do produce false touches if you tightly cover your hand around the screen. But no other phone has this good of a screen.

6.8 inches makes it sound approximately too big – bigger than a 6.5-inch iPhone, right? Well, not actually. Its width and girth are a fraction of a millimeter smaller than the iPhone XS Max if you measure it out, and it weighs less. It’s only a few millimeters taller.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus review

Samsung’s bigger-screen, the smaller-body trick is that it uses a center-aligned punch hole to embed the front camera into the display. It’s 26% smaller than the top-right S10 camera hole and less intrusive than Apple’s ‘notch.’ We found it simple to disregard when watching Netflix.

Design – Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus

  • The slick glass back means you’ll want a case to stay away from dropping it
  • No headset jack, but microSD card slot remains on the Plus
  • Colors: Aura Glow, Aura Black, Aura White, Aura Pink, Aura Red

False touches or not, you will wish to hold onto the behemoth Note 10 Plus tightly. It can be greasy and extend beyond your natural grip. It’s just that big.

We have a love-hate relationship with the Aura Glow color, too. Not only is it hard to wield the glass back and the slick aluminum frame without a case, but it also smudges so poorly.

But get this mirrored finish in the right light and it has a memorizing rainbow effect, making the Note 10 Plus – factually – your new favorite shiny toy. It’s a head-turner.

The streamlined screen with the little punch-hole camera means there’s no room to fit the IR scanner used in Note 9 and Note 8 for a fast and secure face unlock. In its position is the fancy ultra-sonic in-screen fingerprint sensor, which worked as a fine alternative in our tests. The tech seems to have better in the S10 Plus.

There’s also one less button on the rails of this year’s Note. The power button is at present on the left side, as it’s been combined with the much-maligned Bixby button. It’s a fine move. Oh, Bixby remains an entirely mediocre voice assistant and the power button’s move does take getting used to. But you’ll be way more heedful of this new ‘everything’ button and give up incorrectly pressing it thinking it’s volume down.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus review

Not every design trade-off is so great – the traditional 3.5mm headphone jack isn’t here. Instead, Samsung uses the USB-C port so you can plug in included-in-the-box USB-C headphones. It had to happen sometime.

S Pen magic tricks

  • The most excellent way to jot down notes, markup screenshots, and sign forms
  • Returning features we love: Remote Camera Shutter, Screen-off Memo
  • New gimmicks: Air Gestures, ‘better’ handwriting recognition are just okay
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus review

The Note’s secret weapon is the S Pen stylus, and this year’s phone comes with some neat new tricks. None of them will influence you to purchase this pricey phone, however.

It’s the returning functionality that is far more influential when you unsheathe the S Pen from the bottom right corner of the Note 10 plus frame. It’s shorter and thinner than before but still accomplishes the same great fine-tipped note-taking.

The S Pen is the best way to capture and annotate screenshots on a phone, while Screen off Memo remains the best ever way to scribble down quick notes as fast as you can pop out the stylus. No need to turn the Note 10 display on.

Remote Shutter returns from Note 9, and it’s the best way to take photos from a distance thanks to the S Pen’s Bluetooth LE capabilities. New with the Note 10 Plus is the gyroscope and accelerometer for even more magic via ‘Air Gestures.’

Air Gestures permit you to zoom in and out of the camera view with a clockwise-counterclockwise rotation and swipe through menus using left and right flick motion. Getting these new functions to work took approximately too much training.

The S Pen allowed us to turn out to be the maestro of taking selfies, conducting the camera app to snap in numerous modes and take an endless parade of fun Live Focus shots. It worked for the most part, apart from you actually new a tripod for this.

Taking remote photos with Note 10 in New York City isn’t easy without a tripod, as the city is filled with domed trash cans and few flat surfaces. You’ll get a lot of unflattering low-angle shots by sticking this on the ground. Are you really going to carry around a tripod for a smartphone, though?

The other new S Pen characteristic is improved handwriting recognition. It kind of works, but obvious mistakes still happen. It incongruously had a problem converting our handwritten words “This is the text” into the printed text a few times. It is improved, but better is subjective.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus review

Five Cameras – Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus

  • Not ‘the best’ but the most fun cameras to use, with normal, telephoto, ultra-wide, and depth-sensing lenses on the back
  • 12.3MP main camera benefits from Night Mode, but still bested by the Pixel 3 in lowlight
  • Ultra-wide and 2x zoom telephoto lenses offer more attractive perspectives, something not on the Pixel 3
  • ‘Live Focus’ Color Point and new Big Circles portrait filters make this the best selfie camera around

The Note 10 Plus delivers on the hype of five cameras, with varying perspectives and outstanding performance from all, something we did find on the six-camera-lens LG G8.

There are four cameras on the back, with the main 12MP camera capturing scenes with the bright and punchy colors Samsung photos are recognized for. It’s hard, albeit almost accurately like the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus camera.

Low light photos look improved than ever thanks to a dedicated Night Mode. Without it, people’s skin looks like a 1990s glamour portrait when Photoshop first came on the scene – so much unlucky airbrushing going on.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus review

With Night Mode enabled, we do see less violent smoothing, but more noise as contact is increased. In most dark scenarios, we establish it to be a better trade-off. But for this reason, the Google Pixel 3, with its better post-processing in Night Sight mode, remains the overall winner for your nighttime and bar-restaurant shots.

What stands out the majority are the Note 10 Plus 12MP f/2.1 telephoto and 16MP f/2.2 ultra-wide lenses. They offer photos at varying perspectives, while a VGA Depth lens (exclusive to the Note 10 Plus) aides in applying ‘Live Focus’ bokeh to photos (the smaller Note 10 relies on software blurring).

We were capable to capture scenes in new ways: up close without distortion via the 2x zoom telephoto lens, and cramming more in the frame thanks to the wide-angle lens – without having to back up to get the whole thing in the shot.

The other highlight is the little punch-hole that embeds a 10MP front camera on the screen. With fun-to-manipulate Live Focus filters on selfie photos, we were capable to make subjects (often us) really stand out.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus Regular lens

The other highlight is the little punch-hole that embeds a 10MP front camera on the screen. With fun-to-manipulate Live Focus filters on selfie photos, we were capable to make subjects (often us) in fact stand out.

ColorPoint returns from the S10 series to be our favorite filter, but there’s a new one we like almost as much: Big Circles. This fresh software-produced bokeh filter blurs the background with distant lights taking on a natural-looking bulbous shape.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus review

The Pixel 3 also offers outstanding selfie photos, and we appreciate Google’s use of two camera lenses on the front, with one for wide-angle group selfie photos. But in general, we had more fun using the Note 10 Plus front camera and everyone we showed was wowed by the selective-black-and-white Color Point filter.

We observed the differences between the S10 Plus and Note 10 Plus still cameras to be minimal. Video is where Samsung’s newest phone breaks new ground – if you ignore the silly features that distract from what’s actually good.

Note 10 video benefits most from its ‘Super Steady’ optical image stabilization (OIS). Our side-by-side contrast with an iPhone XS Max and Note 9 show Samsung’s newest phone offers smoother video. It won’t make you ditch something like the DJI Osmo Mobile 3, but when gimbal-free, you’ll have the smallest amount shaky video out there.

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The return of Samsung’s video editor, now retooled for 2019, is a greeting addition. It’s built into the gallery app and simple to make use of, almost as if it’s a simplified version of Adobe Premiere Rush. And it pairs satisfactorily with the S Pen for fine-tuning edits on the timeline.

Live Focus Video seems like a natural progression since we do love to make use of Live Focus photos. Blurring the background behind moving subjects is cool at times, particularly when isolating a bright subject against a black-and-white scene with ColorPoint or making your room appear on the fritz with the static-filled Glitch filter.

But Live Focus Video is a bit too inconsistent to willingly use outside of a “Hey doesn’t this video look neat?” social media posts. Unlike Live Focus photos, you shouldn’t use this until the edges of foreground subjects are a little more defined. It’s better than the very alike feature on the LG G8, but that’s not saying a lot.

Zoom-in Audio also serves a purpose – amplifying the subject matter you’re zooming into. Samsung analogized the characteristic to boom mic. However, we found this just made everything in a room louder, not just the subject we were zooming into.

Battery – Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus

  • More than all-day battery time with the default Full HD resolution
  • The 4,300mAh battery ability is the largest on a Samsung phone
  • 25W charger included for fast charging, but well-matched with 45W
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus review

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus battery life will get you through more than a day, and it charges much more rapidly than previous Samsung phones.

We had a 20% to 30% battery life after heavy use thanks to the hefty 4,300mAh battery ability. That’s approximately what we saw with the Galaxy S10 Plus, which had smaller battery ability, but also a smaller screen.

More-than-all-day-battery achievement is aided by Samsung’s power management has been very much refined over the years and the fact that the QuadHD+ display resolution isn’t on by default – it’s set to 1080p out of the box.  

You won’t notice the dissimilarity between 1080p and Quad HD+ resolutions outside of VR, but also off by default was the helpful Always on Display setting. We turned it on because seeing the time and lock screen notifications at a quick look made a dissimilarity in our appreciation of the screen day-to-day. It didn’t hurt battery life much.

Performance – Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus

  • One of the greatest Android phones, but not really ‘the fastest’
  • 12GB of RAM is more than enough for Dex desktop web browsing
  • 256GB or 512GB of internal storage
  • MicroSD card slot for stretchy storage (not in the smaller Note)

As you’d be expecting from a new Note, the 10 Plus is among the best ever phones out today. Sure, last year’s iPhone and a few other Androids are a smidge faster, but that’s frequently about bragging rights at this point.

We found Samsung’s 12GB of RAM more than sufficient to mirror Dex desktop mode and full browser support with many tabs open at once. The Plus version gets more RAM with 12GB vs the normal Note at 8GB, but either version is going to seem fast. We ended up with a GeekBench multi-core score of 10,849 in our tests.

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Both Note 10 and Note 10 Plus have either a Snapdragon 855 or an Exynos 9825 chipset, depending on your region, and we’ve tested both. Samsung didn’t upgrade to the gaming-centric Snapdragon 855 Plus used in the Asus ROG Phone 2, but it did outfit the Note 10 Plus with a vapor cooling chamber designed to handle today’s 3D games and what comes next.

One more perk exclusive to the Plus that’s not on the normal Note: this version retains the microSD card slot for expandable storage. That’s in case the 256GB or 512GB internal storage configurations aren’t sufficient for you.

Who’s it for?

You watch videos on your phone

It’s general to see people watch Netflix, YouTube and Instagram Stories during their commute. If you calculate yourself among them, this 6.8-inch screen is the definitive way to take it all in and ignore everyone around you.

You’re a rabid selfie taker

The Note 10 Plus has the best selfie camera simply because it’s fun to use the S Pen Remote Camera Shutter and Live Focus filters like Color Point and Big Circles.

You’re an avid note-taker

The S Pen lends itself to people who like to take handwritten notes or sketch things out. The remote extras on the S Pen are nice, but at its core, it’s a great stylus for fine-tipped note-taking.

Camera Result

Who’s it not for?

You wish for a reasonably priced phone

There are phones for half as much money that do a lot of the same tricks and have big screens. Therefore the value isn’t here if you’re on a budget and won’t make use of the S Pen or five cameras.

You want a one-hand-friendly phone

As much as we love the Aura glass back, the material and size of the Note 10 Plus is going to be problematic for notorious butterfingers. It’ll make bigger your hands to new lengths.

You want the best photos probable from the main camera

Samsung once more provides a great camera experience, from five different lenses to a robust camera app. But its main camera isn’t always as excellent as the Pixel 3, particularly in low light.

Not persuaded by the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus? Check out our contrast Slideshow for the option to this phone.

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