It’s that time of year again. Samsung’s new Note smartphone is here - but does it live up to the hype? We run the numbers to see how the Galaxy Note 10 and Galaxy Note 10 Plus compare against last year’s Galaxy Note 9.
The Big Changes
Though the overall look of the Galaxy Note 10 and Galaxy Note 10+ isn’t that far off the Note 9, the design is where the biggest - or at least most noticeable - changes are going to be found.
The Galaxy Note 10 features a FHD+ 6.3-inch Infinity-O display. The Galaxy Note 10+ is a clear upgrade here, since it features a WQHD+ 6.8-inch Infinity-O Dynamic AMOLED screen.
The former could maybe considered a slight-downgrade on the Note 9’s 6.4-inch QHD+ screen but the latter is a clear upgrade that brings it in line with slick screens found in this year’s Samsung Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+.
The screens on both the Galaxy Note 10 and Galaxy Note 10+ also feature notches, where the Note 9 did not.
Of course, while the Galaxy Note 10+ is the largest Note smartphone to date, that’s not to say there haven’t been subtractions. The headphone jack is gone. So is the Bixby button. You’ll now be able to summon Samsung’s smart assistant by holding down the power button for a few seconds.
The Micro SD card slot is looks like it might be on its way out. Sort of. You’ll only find it on the Galaxy Note 10+ and Galaxy Note 10+ 5G. The regular, run of the mill Galaxy Note 10? It hasn't got a Micro SD card.
The Usual Upgrades
As with any major flagship smartphone, a large chunk of the upgrades that the Note 10 offers over its predecessor are iterative in nature.
In Australia, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10, Galaxy Note 10+ and Galaxy Note 10+ 5G all rock an Exynos 9825 octa-core processor. This is a clear upgrade on the Exynos 9210 processor found in the Galaxy Note 9 that should bring it broadly in line with rivals, though we expect that in practice the performance won’t be able to match devices running on Snapdragon’s 855 SoC.
The Galaxy Note 10, Galaxy Note 10+ and Galaxy Note 10+ 5G also feature more RAM and on-board storage. Last year’s Note 9 came in two configurations: 6GB/128GB and 8GB/512GB. By comparison, the Note 10 lineup is a little more diverse.
In Australia, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 comes with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of on-board storage and the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ boasts 12GB of RAM and 256GB of on-board storage. Finally, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ 5G features 12GB of RAM and 512GB of on-board storage.
The battery is also getting a healthy bump upwards. At least, it is if you’re opting for the more expensive Galaxy Note 10+.
If you opt for the Galaxy Note 10, you’re getting a 3500mAh battery - which is a clear downgrade on the Note 9’s 4000mAh battery. On the other hand, the Galaxy Note 10+ and Galaxy Note 10+ 5G feature a 4300mAh battery - which is a clear upgrade on last year’s Note 9. That 700mAh difference is surprisingly large and could result in a pretty big difference in terms of everyday battery life between the two handsets, so be sure to choose wisely.
A Few New Tricks
Charging is an area where Samsung has lost a lot of ground to brands like Oppo and Huawei in recent years. The Galaxy Note 10 looks to regain some of that. To that end, the device supports 25W super-fast wired charging and 12W wireless charging. This is a notable improvement on the Note 9, which offered only 15W fast wireless charging and standard Qi wireless charging.
The PowerShare wireless charging found in the S10 and S10+ also returns.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ and Galaxy Note 10+ 5G double down on this. They raise the bar to 20W for wireless charging and 45W for wired charging, assuming you’re connecting them to a charger capable of supporting such speeds. Both devices will only come with a 25W wired charger in the box.
All 2019 Galaxy Note 10 devices feature the same ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor found in the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+ but Samsung have slightly amended the feature by moving it 33mm upwards. In the grand scheme of things, this is a pretty small change but it should go some ways towards making the sensor more ergonomic and comfortable to use.
[Related: How do in-screen fingerprint sensors work?]
Partially owing to the more advanced camera array on the back, the Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+ are also promising to bring a few new perks and features to the table.
For one, the smartphone will support not just Live Focus bokeh videos but also improved Super Steady stabilisation and zooming audio mic capabilities akin to that found in recent LG and HTC hardware. There’s also going to be a native video editor this time around, accompanied by version of Adobe Rush optimised for the device.
There are also some new tricks coming to the Note 10’s signature S-Pen. Exporting notes to Word or PDF is said to be a bit easier and there’s a new pinch zoom function. However, the biggest addition here looks to be Air Actions.
Building on the capabilities of the new S-Pen introduced with the Note 9, Samsung say that developers will now be able to use a new S-Pen SDK to create custom controls and shortcuts to suit more specific or complex use cases.
In Australia, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 comes with a starting recommended retail price of $1499. Pricing for the Samsung Note 10+ starts at $1699. The Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ 5G tops out the range at an RRP of $1999.