Samsung has finally made the Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+ Facebook-official but how does the company’s latest flagship phablet compare to the Galaxy S10?
Here’s our pre-review analysis and breakdown of whether Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10 is going to be better than the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Note 9. If you’re on the fence and looking to decide between Samsung's best and brightest, here’s what you need to know.
Design & Display
Unlike previous Note smartphones, the Note 10 is rumored to be arriving in two sizes.
The regular Note 10 has a 6.3-inch Dynamic AMOLED display of the same quality found in the Galaxy S10. This is smaller than the 6.4-inch AMOLED found on the Galaxy Note 9 but larger than the 6.1-inch AMOLED display of the Galaxy S10.
The larger Note 10+ comes in at a hefty 6.8-inches, making it the largest Note smartphone to date and well larger than both the 6.1-inch Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+.
The other difference to note here (no pun intended) is that the regular Note 10’s Dynamic AMOLED display is only FHD+ where the screens on the Note 10+ and Note 10+ 5G are WQHD+ when it comes to resolution.
Still, there's a lot of overlap between both new Note devices and this year's Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+. Both feature screens with curved edges, in-display fingerprint sensors and an Infinity-O notch. Where the S10's hole-notch hung on the corner of the display, the Note 10's notch sits in the center.
However, that’s not to say there aren’t a few immediate design differences. The 3.5mm headphone jack is gone, as is the Bixby button and the Micro SD slot. In some regards, these changes make the Note 10 one of the more radical evolution of the overall Samsung formula to date.
To some these are gonna seem like necessary changes that bring Samsung into line with brands like OnePlus, Apple and Huawei. To others, they’re gonna seem like a reckless hacking away at features that used to be considered a standard part of any smartphone.
If you care about color options, you’ve got two to choose from. The Samsung Galaxy Note 10, the Galaxy Note 10+ and Note 10+ 5G are available in either Aura Glow and Aura Black.
In terms of the guts of the thing, Samsung are equipping the Note 10+and Note 10+ with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 SoC in some markets (like America) and their latest Exynos hardware in others (like Australia).
Samsung's Exynos processor isn't awful but, in previous years, it hasn’t compared all that favorably to Qualcomm's own flagship hardware - which is probably why Samsung opt for the Snapdragon 855 when it comes to major markets like the US.
The Australian versions of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and Galaxy Note 10+ are equipped with Samsung’s own octa-core Exynos 9825 processor. This is a minor upgrade on the Exynos 9820 found in the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+ and a slightly-larger upgrade on the Exynos 9210 processor found in the Galaxy Note 9.
RAM & Storage
In Australia, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 features 8GB of RAM and 256GB of on-board storage. As mentioned, It does not feature a MicroSD card slot - so this is all the storage you get. For more on this, check out our feature here.
In Australia, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ features 12GB of RAM and 256GB of on-board storage. It does include a MicroSD card slot - which means you can add more storage after the fact.
In Australia, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ 5G features 12GB of RAM and 512GB of on-board storage. This one also supports expandable storage via a MicroSD card slot.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 has a 3500mAh battery. The Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ has a 4300mAh battery.
In our opinion, the former is a little small for a smartphone of the Note 10’s caliber but the latter is right where it ought to be in order to compete with behemoths like Huawei’s Mate and P-series.
It’s a significant upgrade on the Galaxy Note 9, which featured a 4000mAh battery. It’s also an upgrade over the Galaxy S10’s 3400mAh battery and a 4100mAh battery.
The Galaxy Note 9 marked the series' first dual-lens rear camera entry, the Galaxy Note 10 is Samsung’s first flagship phablet to embrace the three-lens paradigm popularised by Huawei and others. It features a 16-megapixel ultra-wide (f/2.2) lens, 12-megapixel (f/1.5-f/2.4 with OIS) wide angle lens and a 12-megapixel (f/2.1 with OIS) telephoto lens.
Then, on the front, the Galaxy Note 10 features a 10-megapixel (f/2.2) front-facing camera.
The Galaxy Note 10+ ups the ante to include a four-lens configuration, adding a f/1.4 VGA DepthVision camera into the mix. In line with similar ToF cameras found elsewhere, this is used to enhance portrait shots by allowing more complex and accurate depth maps.
Across the board (and aside from the DepthVision camera on the Note 10+), this is quite similar to the camera configurations found in the Samsung Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+ released earlier this year.
As you might expect, the Galaxy Note 10 is bringing with it a few new tricks for the series signature S-Pen. There’s a new pinch zoom function and a new partnership with Microsoft that looks to make exporting to Word a little smoother of an experience.
Nevertheless, there is a big change being made here in the form of new Air Action shortcuts. 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 needs.
The Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+ are also promising to bring a few new perks and features to the table when it comes to the photography and video side of things.
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.
Charging is another area where Samsung is looking to close the gap on rivals like Oppo and Huawei. The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 supports 25W super-fast wired charging and 12W wireless charging. Samsung are also introducing the same kind of reverse wireless charging found in the S10 and S10+.
Overall, it’s a massive improvement on the Note 9, which offered only 15W fast wireless charging and standard Qi wireless charging.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ and Galaxy Note 10+ 5G are even more accomplished. They up the ante to 20W for wireless charging and 45W for wired charging, assuming you’re connecting them to a charger capable of supporting such speeds. Both the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ and Galaxy Note 10+ 5G will only come bundled with a 25W wired charger in the box.
All three 2019 Galaxy Note 10 devices feature the same ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor found in the Galaxy S10 range. However, Samsung have made a slight amendment to the feature this time around. Specifically, they’ve moved it 33mm upwards. This might sound like a pretty small change but it should go some way toward making the sensor more ergonomic and comfortable to use.
Neither the regular Samsung Galaxy Note 10 or Note 10+ feature 5G connectivity. If you want to make use of the speeds theoretically offered by Australia’s emerging 5G networks, you’ll have to opt for the Galaxy Note 10+ 5G.
In terms of specs, the Galaxy Note 10+ 5G is almost identical to the Note 10+. It features the same processor, camera hardware and design. In Australia, however, it does feature a larger 512GB of on-board storage.
This splintered portfolio is much akin to what happened with the Galaxy S10, S10+ and S10 5G. The Galaxy Note 9 offered no form of 5G connectivity.
Our Early Verdict
Though there are certainly aspects of the Note 10 and Note 10+ that seem - at face value - pretty iterative and by-the-numbers, it’s genuinely really cool to see Samsung continue to push their power-user phablet closer and closer to the smartphone-so-powerful-it-could-replace-your-computer that they so clearly want it to be.
If you’re willing to overlook things like the subtraction of a headphone jack and don’t need something more photography-focused like the Huawei P30 Pro or Google Pixel, the Note 10 and Note 10+ are shaping up to be powerhouses that live up to the legacy of the brand and then some.
In Australia, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 comes with a starting recommended retail price of $1499. Pricing for the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ starts at $1699. The Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ 5G tops out the range at an RRP of $1999.