Samsung Galaxy Note10+ review: Versatile elegant giant

Samsung launched the new Galaxy Note10 series in late August in India. The company is offering the marquee phone in two variants-- a generic Galaxy Note10 and the top-end Galaxy Note10+ with prices starting at Rs 69,999 and Rs 79,999, respectively.

DH had the chance to review the Galaxy Note10+ (12GB RAM +256GB storage) Aura Glow model. I have been using the device for a little over two weeks and here's my observation.

Display, design and build quality:
When Samsung launched the Galaxy Note series in 2011 and it was the one of the first to breach the 5.0-inch screen barrier for mobile; yes, it was considered too big by some critics and even ridiculed by rivals (read Steve Jobs), but it was a runaway hit among consumers. 

Before long, Samsung breached 6.0-inch mark with Galaxy Note8 and followed it up with 6.4-inch Note9 series in 2018  and here we are with the Galaxy Note10+ series, which has a display, 0.2-inch shy of 7.0-inch, the unofficial mark to be considered as a tablet.

However, when you hold the Galaxy Note10+, it doesn't give away that bulky tablet feels at all. Despite the generous use of glass, metal, a big battery and a stylus, it weighs around 196g.


Samsung Galaxy Note10+ Aura Glow model reflects psychedelic colours when looked from different angles (DH Photo/Rohit KVN)

Also, despite me having puny hands, I still can wrap around it easily. The Galaxy Note10+ has a candy bar-like design language and Samsung's engineers have done a brilliant job of increasing the functional display's footprint to the tilt in the front panel and yet keeping the over-all structure compact enough to be used single-handedly to perform some tasks, while a whole lot of things can be done with the two hands and the S Pen.

On the sides, the screen cascades to the middle of the frame. At the top and the bottom, there is near zero-bezel. There is a small punch-hole camera up top like a bindi on a forehead, which is not that distracting compared to the other premium rival-branded phones in the market. Also, there are beautifully crafted wallpaper apps and themes on Play store and Galaxy Store, which tactfully hide the camera hole.


Can you find the punch-hole front camera on this Samsung Galaxy Note10+ model (DH Photo/Rohit KVN)

To make the optimum use of the wide-screen, Samsung offers edge-panel with shortcuts to several apps on the right side at the center. Even with my puny hand's thumb was able to reach and launch the apps.

The Galaxy Note10+ flaunts a 6.8-inch Quad HD+ Dynamic AMOLED display and is undeniably the best for any mobile in the industry. I had a delightful experience watching HD content and playing graphics-intense games on the big screen.


DisplayMate testing agency has awarded highest-ever excellent A+ grade to Samsung Galaxy Note10+ screen (DH Photo/Rohit KVN)

The display settings come with two screen modes -- Vivid and Natural--wherein, the former will offer bright screen at all times and the latter option, will offer normal colours. There is also an adaptive display option, which adjusts the brightness according to the environment and saves the battery life too. 

Furthermore, there is an eyesight friendly feature. A user can enable or schedule timeslot for Bluelight filter and Night mode to automatically take effect so that the eyes don't get strained while reading on the phone's screen in the night or in controlled light conditions.  

On the back, it flaunts premium glass-and-metal shell and my Aura Glow review model truly lived to its name. It was really tough choosing the cover-shot for this article. Whichever angle you point the camera on the phone, it shows up different and beautiful psychedelic colourways. There is one downer though, its a fingerprint magnet.

Another qualm I have with Samsung is that it has let go of the 3.5mm audio jack in the Galaxy Note10 series. On the bright side, the wireless AKG earphones offer good sound quality. 


Samsung Galaxy Note10+ series with S Pen (DH Photo/Rohit KVN)

As far as the durability is concerned, the company has used Corning's latest Gorilla Glass 6 series shield on both the front and the backside. It can survive daily wear and tear such as keys or pen getting pressed on the phone in the pocket, but I wouldn't be sure the device will be able to survive an accidental fall on a hard rugged concrete surface.

Given the high repair cost for the physical damage, Samsung is offering a transparent shell-cover with the retail package. This will not only saves you money but also lessen the hassle to constantly wipe the shell off the fingerprint smudges. Also, it still maintains the visual appeal of the Galaxy Note10+'s Aura Glow panel.

It can also be noted that the Galaxy Note 10+ comes with IP68 certification, meaning the device can work (take photos) underwater for close to 1.5 meters ( around five feet) for up to 30 minutes. 

I have to say, the placement of the power button on the left is a bit odd, as most phones have it in the right. But, it's just me nitpicking here, as the fingers get accustomed to the new design in a day or two.

Performance:
In India, the Galaxy Note10+ comes with the Samsung's proprietary Exynos 8925 octa-core processor backed by 12GB RAM and 256GB/512GB storage.  Whatever you throw at it, the phone performs buttery smooth. On AnTuTu, it scored a really impressive 348468 points. Whereas on the Geekbench v4.0, it got 10,458 and 4,506 points on multi-core and single-core tests.


Samsung Galaxy Note10+ tested on performance rating apps (DH Photo/Rohit KVN)

In terms of practical use, it showed no sign of lag-ness, and also the device remained cool in the early part of the session while playing graphics-rich Asphalt 9 game series. Though the shell turned little warm in the back over time, it was well under my comfort level.

[Note: In global markets such as US and China, Samsung Galaxy Note10 series come with Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 octa-core processor. Rest of the internal hardware is the same in all variants]

And also, the Android Pie-based One UI is well optimised to run the Galaxy Note10 series and works flawlessly even while doing complex work such as writing notes using the S Pen stylus and convert to proper texts for word document, which no premium phone in the market can boast off.

Also, the Samsung DeX feature lets users mirror the phone's screen interface on any type of PCs. And with Windows computer, it can seamlessly connect with the Galaxy Note10 thanks to the collaboration with Microsoft and Samsung. 


Samsung DeX (DH Photo/Rohit KVN)

Android always offered good integration with PCs, but with Samsung DeX, the company has taken a step further. You can see files, edit and transfer work done on Word suite of apps between the phone and laptops easily than ever before, provided you have activated Microsoft account.


Samsung Dex on Windows-powered PC (DH Photo/Rohit KVN)

Camera:
In the Galaxy Note9 series, many felt camera could have been better and it looks like, Samsung has listened to the critics and has put in a genuine effort to bring the necessary changes in the successor.


Samsung Galaxy Note10+ camera's picture sample (DH Photo/Rohit KVN)

The company has incorporated feature-rich camera in the Galaxy Note10+. It comes with a primary 12MP (with variable aperture F1.5-F2.4) 16MP F2.2 (123-degree),  12MP telephoto lens (F2.1) and a depth camera with loss-less optical zoom at 2x, digital zoom up to 10x, 960fps HD slo-mo feature and LED flash.


Samsung Galaxy Note10+ camera's picture sample (DH Photo/Rohit KVN)

It takes pretty good pictures in all light conditions. There is scene optimiser option and though it improves image quality, by automatically adjusting the exposure, contrast, white balance, and more, choosing from 32 modes. However, the colours particularly red, green and pink in objects like flowers look saturated. But, I  am not complaining, as they look good for sharing them on social media platforms. If you don't like, you can disable it.


Samsung Galaxy Note10+ camera's picture sample (DH Photo/Rohit KVN)

Also, the wide-angle view is amazing, as it is capable of capturing a vast area of the scene in a picture and have to say, it is the best among all top-end phones in the market. 


Samsung Galaxy Note10+ camera's picture sample (DH Photo/Rohit KVN)

Biggest improvement is low-light photography. The Night mode takes brilliant pictures in pitch dark environment. The camera hardware and the software produces a magic-like effect, as it is capable of capturing true colours of the object without the help of the light. However, the images do look on the phone's compact screen, we can notice noise when seen on the big computer screen. I believe this can be improved with a software update over time. Also, the optical zoom and slo-mo features lived to my expectations.


Samsung Galaxy Note10+ camera's picture sample -Night Mode (DH Photo/Rohit KVN)

There is also one gimmicky Zoom-in mic feature in video recording. It works flawlessly thanks to four mics on the phone. The audio of the subject, for instance, a singer in a concert can be amplified, as we zoom-in on him/her.

With S Pen, several camera features can be controlled and the most enjoyable activity you can do with Galaxy Note10 series is the doodling on a live photo or a video, and share it on messaging apps. 


Samsung Galaxy Note10+ AR Doodle feature (DH Photo/Rohit KVN)

On the front, it houses a 10MP (F2.2) and fared well in its job to capture good selfies. It also supports face unlock, but struggles in the low-light as there are no companion bio-metric sensors such as dot projector and IR camera like we see in iPhones (2017-based X series and later models). Thankfully, the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor works brilliantly at all times.


Samsung Galaxy Note10+ camera's picture sample (DH Photo/Rohit KVN)

Battery:
Samsung Galaxy Note10+ houses a 4,300mAh battery, biggest for a Note series to date. And, it lives up to the reputation. I extensively used the device for browsing on the internet, social media channels and also watched some multimedia contents on Netflix and as I said earlier, played the Asphalt 9 series game. It was able to run for the whole day and it even had around 15-percent juice left before I could plug it to the power source.

The Galaxy Note10+ comes with 25W fast charger and it takes just a little over one hour to fully power-up the phone from zero to 100-percent. 

It's a good practice to unplug the phone soon after it reaches full capacity and not to leave it getting charged for the entire night, as this will fast track the chemical degradation of the battery and will lose the power retaining capability.

Like the Galaxy S10 series, the Galaxy Note10+ too comes with wireless reverse power-sharing feature. If your second phone or your friend's mobile is short of battery life, just lay it on the back of the device, it will get charged.

S Pen:
Last, but not the least, the S Pen, which makes Samsung Galaxy Note10+ most unique premium phone in the industry. Just by opening the stylus from the base, Air Actions gets activated and you can just start writing, doodle art on the screen and do more stuff than ever before.

For the first time, Samsung has incorporated 6-axis sensor including Gyro and Acceleration sensors in the S Pen (with Bluetooth LE feature, first introduced in Note9 series), to enable device users to operate the Galaxy Note10 series with hand gestures. 

This is certain to impress Harry Potter fans, as they can use the S Pen like a wand to perform several functions such as the switch camera from back to front, zoom-in and out in photo or in video recording session, change picture modes, adjust volume just by swiping the stylus left to right or up and down in the air.

Final thoughts:
Samsung has done an exceptional job with the new Galaxy Note10+. It ticks every key attribute, a flagship phone should have. It flaunts a visually appealing shell made of premium materials, eye-friendly display and comes equipped with powerful internal hardware, exceptionally good camera, big battery with value-added reverse power-sharing feature and the trump card-- S Pen, which makes the Galaxy Note10 series unique in the mobile industry.


Samsung Galaxy Note10+ with S Pen (DH Photo/Rohit KVN)

For some, the S Pen features may look gimmicky, but have to say, Samsung has to be credited for covering almost all bases in the Galaxy Note10+, so that there is very little room for the consumers to complain, considering the premium price they are paying for the phone and make full use of it.

It can be noted that the top-end Galaxy Note10 series model with 12GB RAM and 512GB storage costs less than Rs 90,000, while the rival branded phones with fewer features are priced in the same range and some are ostensibly priced over a lakh. 

Over-all, the Galaxy Note10+ is a versatile flagship phone and is worth every penny.

Pros:
Feature-rich S Pen stylus
Gorgeous Aura Glow design
Premium build quality
Powerful configuration
Exceptional camera (wide-angle view, night mode, and S Pen gesture control feature)
A full-day battery life

Cons:
No 3.5mm audio jack, but it's not a deal-breaker, as AKG wireless earphones, which come with the retail package are good

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