Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ Australian review (2019)

Growing Pains

Samsung Galaxy Note 10+
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10+
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10+
  • Expert Rating

    4.25 / 5

Pros

  • S-Pen
  • Dynamic AMOLED display
  • High-end performance

Cons

  • Camera can't compete with Pixel
  • Battery life still way less than it should be

Bottom Line

If you're the person who's entire life revolves around their phone and like the idea of investing in making that experience the best it can be, you'll get a lot out of what the Note 10+ offers.

Would you buy this?

winfuture-note-10-leak-100806631-orig.jpgCredit: Winfuture
winfuture-note-10-leak-100806631-orig.jpg

Performance - Specs, Software, Benchmarks and Battery Life

Specs

  • Processor:  Exynos 9825

  • Operating System: Android Pie with One UI

  • RAM: 12GB

  • Storage: 256GB

  • MicroSD slot: Yes

  • Headphone Jack: No

  • SIM: Dual

  • Battery: 4300mAh

  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth 5, 4G LTE

  • Rear Camera: 16-megapixel ultra-wide (f/2.2) + 12-megapixel (f/1.5-f/2.4 with OIS) wide angle + 12-megapixel (f/2.1 with OIS) telephoto + VGA DepthVision (f/1.4) camera

  • Front-Facing Camera:  10-megapixel (f/2.2)

  • Dimensions: 162.3 x 77.2 x 7.9 mm 

  • Weight: 196 g

Software

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ runs on Android P and Samsung’s One UI skin. If you’ve dabbled with any recent Samsung devices, you’ll feel right at home. If you’re switching over from an iPhone or any of the other Android-based alternatives out there, you’ll probably dig it. 

Samsung has something of a mixed history when it comes to Android skins but One UI is arguably their best effort yet. It’s clean to look at, intuitive to use and responsive when you need it to be. 

The thing worth noting here is that, historically, Samsung haven’t been amazing about keeping up with major Android updates. There’s no telling when the Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+ will get Android 10 but there’s a good chance you’re going to be waiting until sometime next year. This means you’ll miss out on some of the neat new things that other Android phones like the Pixel can already access.

Credit: Samsung

It also means you’re missing out on the new swipe-based navigation UI that Google are introducing with Android 10. This is particularly important because  the swipe-based navigation that Samsung offer as an alternative is more or less unchanged from the Note 9 and, honestly, just plain bad. Combined with the large form-factor, it can be pretty uncomfortable to use. I'm a swipe navigation evangelist and it did not take long for me to get frustrated enough to revert to the classic navigation bar.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+ also bring with them new improvements to DeX. For the unfamiliar, this feature basically lets users connect the Note to a PC or monitor and then operate the device from a desktop-style user interface. 

Connecting the Note 10 to a monitor works more-or-less the same as it did in the Note 9. However, connecting it to a laptop is new and comes with several advantages. For example, you can now drag files, documents and images from your Windows or Mac desktop directly into the DeX interface. This is cool. You can’t drag things from DeX back over to your desktop but it’s a start. 

Unfortunately, the clincher here is that the experience of using DeX via a laptop is much slower and less snappy than using it via a monitor - and using a monitor was never that fast or responsive to begin with. 

Samsung are also launching a new PlayGalaxy Link app, which promises to allow you to stream PC games via a P2P connection to your Note 10 or Note 10+. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, this feature is still missing in action and is yet to become available to Australian Note users. 

Benchmarks

As is tradition, the Australian version of the Note 10 and Note 10+ opt for Samsung’s own Exynos processor over the Snapdragon 855 that powers the version of the device that other markets get. 

Paired up with 12GB of RAM, the processor in the Note 10 delivers really impressive results. It pretty much beats out every Snapdragon-powered rival aside from the Pixel 3 XL and, in some cases, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3.

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

There’s only so much you can really gleam from a benchmark comparison like this. Samsung’s Exynos chipset delivers flagship level performance and most of the time, it ranked within the top three. 

Battery Life

Battery life has always been something of an Achilles heel for Samsung’s Note smartphones and the Galaxy Note 10+ is regrettably no different. It’s the big smartphone that lets you do more but the tradeoff is that you’re going to chew through the device’s charge far faster than you would with leaner fare. 

It makes for an especially striking contrast to where Huawei and Oppo’s flagship devices are at. I keep waiting for Samsung to catch up on the battery life front and while the Note 10+ gives you a lot, it doesn't give you that. 

On a quiet day, we could get through a day on a single charge. On busier or longer days, the Note 10+ didn’t fare nearly as well. 

I chose to rely on the device during this year’s IFA in Berlin and I’d often hit less than 25% charge by three or four in the afternoon. I’d have to hustle back to a hotel or the media lounge and charge things up to make it work. In my opinion, that's ludicrous for a phone with a 4300mAh battery in it. 

The Galaxy Note 10+ supports 45W fast-charging via USB Type-C and Qi wireless charging. For more on wireless charging, check out our guide here.

The Bottom Line

Part of the reason that the Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10 are so exciting (and the reason why they’re so much fun to write about) is that there’s so much stuff to talk. Samsung really have tried to cram every bell and whistle they can into the Note 10. Unfortunately, the inevitable result is something that’s great at everything but the best at anything.

I mean, sure. If you want a stylus phone, there are pretty much no other options. And if you want the phone with the best display around, this is one to get. However, when it comes to the more fundamental parts of the modern phone experience, the Galaxy Note 10+ just doesn't quite cut it. At least for me.

In some ways, the Note 10+ is almost the anti-P30 Pro. It excels at everything Huawei’s device struggles at but fails to challenge the Chinese brand when it comes to the things that arguably matter the most: specifically, the camera and the battery life. It nails the luxuries but drops the ball when it comes to the necessities. 

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+ feel like a much more significant evolution than last year’s Note 9 was but, personally, it still feels like you really have to buy into using the S-Pen for the asking high price to make sense.

Credit: Samsung

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