Samsung’s latest Note 10 and Note 10+ smartphones are now on sale in Britain. To mark the release, critics have delivered their opinions on the iPhone-rivalling mobiles.
Unveiled at the company’s Galaxy Unpacked event in New York earlier this month, the Note 10 range introduces new displays with ultra-thin bezels and a raft of camera features, including the ability to draw on images and video with the company’s S Pen stylus.
In the past, Samsung has launched just a single version of its Note models, which are often nicknamed “phablets” due to their size. This year, however, it has released two versions of the handset: a regular Note 10 and a larger Note 10+ - the latter being available in either 4G or 5G form.
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But before you pick up one of the new handsets, here’s everything you need to know and what the critics have to say:
Most reviewers put the more powerful Note 10+ to the test. While the regular Note 10 is almost identical, it’s worth noting that the Note 10+ has slightly larger, higher-resolution display and a more complex rear-facing camera system.
Speaking of the camera, TechRadar claims that the system on the Note 10+ is among “the top camera phones” of the year, boasting an impressive quad-lens camera layout that offers “varying perspectives” without users having to constantly move to find the right shot.
For instance, the impressive 12MP f/2.1 telephoto lens with a two-times zoom lets users get “up close” to objects without distorting the image, while the 16MP f/2.2 ultra-wide angle camera can cram more detail into the frame without forcing you “to back up to get everything in the shot”, the site says.
CNet agrees, adding that the Note 10+’s “dedicated night mode is where Samsung really steps it up.” The mode takes a few seconds to process photos after users press the shutter, resulting in an image with more vibrant colours and greater detail compared to rival devices.
But the camera isn’t the only area where the Note 10+ impresses.
The tech site also hails the phone’s 4,300-mAh battery, which has enough capacity to power the device for around 19 hours “with a little life left to spare” at the end. The 25W charger that comes in the box can top the battery up to 100% in about 65 minutes, though the optional 45W charger can charge the phone from 0-70% in only 30 minutes.
Some areas of the phone are a little underdeveloped, argues Engadget. This includes the AR Doodle feature, which “lets you draw all over people’s faces” and sketch objects that appear in 3D on the phone’s camera. The objects are meant to “stick” to the user’s face, but “that doesn’t always happen in practice.”
Nevertheless, the tech site concludes that the Note 10+ “is the still the best big-screen phone out there.” While there are a few rough areas here and there with the AR system, they “don’t ultimately detract from the experience”.
Price and release
The entry-level Note 10 carries a price tag of £869 and is available in either Aura Black or Aura Glow, a pearlescent finish with shades of white, blue and purple.
Note 10+ 4G models, meanwhile, cost £999 and are available in the same two colours as the regular phone. Spend an extra £100 and customers will get the 5G version, which can connect to the new generation of ultra-fast mobile networks.
Both devices come with 256GB of internal storage and Samsung’s S Pen stylus. They are also available to order from today.
Where to order
Most UK network providers have also opened orders for the Note 10 range for customers looking to spread the cost of a phone and SIM plan over a 24-month period.
Design and display specs
As Tom’s Guide reports, here’s how the displays of the new Note 10 models stack up against each other:
- Galaxy Note 10 - 6.3in AMOLED with a resolution of 2,280x1,080
- Galaxy Note 10+ - 6.8in AMOLED, 3,040x1,440 resolution
Both the Note 10’s and Note 10+’s AMOLED displays sport the same “dual-curved sides” as the old Note 9, while the “O-shaped” single-lens front-facing cameras are an evolution of the punch-hole shooters first seen on the Galaxy S10, says T3.
The design has allowed Samsung to squeeze in as much display “real estate” as possible, upping the “screen-to-body ratio” from 83.9% on the Note 9 to 93.2% on the Note 10, the tech site adds. The Note 10+, meanwhile, has “an even more impressive 94.7% screen-to-body ratio”.
The new handsets also support HDR10+ content, which offers more realistic lighting effects compared to regular HD video, and an in-screen fingerprint reader.
That means there’s no longer a fingerprint scanner at the back of the device. Instead, the back panel is left blank, aside from the vertical triple-lens camera system in the top left-hand corner.
It’s also worth noting that Samsung has axed the headphone port, meaning users will need a pair of Bluetooth earphones - or use a USB-C adapter - to listen to music on the go.
According to CNet, both phones get the following cameras:
- 12-megapixel dual-aperture lens
- 16-megapixel wide-angle lens
- 12-megapixel telephoto lens
- 10-megapixel front-facing camera
Users can switch between the trio of rear-facing cameras when taking a picture, in a similar fashion to the iPhone-rivalling S10 mobiles, the tech site says. Samsung has moved from a double-lens to a single front-facing camera on the Note 10 models, but the company says the extra lens is no longer needed thanks to better software aimed at improving selfie images.
The Note 10+ gains an extra “3D depth-sensing” lens at the back, perched next to the vertically stacked triple-camera system, which can be used to blur the background of videos, adds CNet. It also allows users to draw on photos and videos courtesy of the new AR Doodle app.
Battery and performance
The battery specs for the new phones are as follows:
- Galaxy Note 10 - 3,500mAh with wireless charging and power share
- Galaxy Note 10+ - 4,300mAh with wireless charging and power share
Remarkably, the Note 10’s 3,500mAh battery is “significantly” smaller than the 4,000mAh pack found on the outgoing Note 9, says Digital Trends. However, the Note 10’s new Snapdragon 855 processor from Qualcomm is more efficient than the Note 9’s 845 chip, so the latest phone may match its predecessor in terms of “real-world stamina”.
It means that both phones should have enough power to get through “even the busiest of days”, the site claims. But the most significant improvement is charging speeds, as the phones should be able to receive a full charge in just one hour thanks to new 25W chargers. Note 10+ phones are compatible with even faster 45W chargers, though these are sold separately.
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