Samsung Note 10+ Preview

Posted on August 22, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Mobile with 13 Comments

As I explained in Samsung Galaxy Note 10 First Impressions, I realized shortly after preordering the smaller Note 10 that what I really wanted was the larger—and more expensive—Note 10+. But by the time I tried to change the order, it was too late. So I figured I’d give the Note 10 a shot and see how it went. It’s a gorgeous device. It’s just a bit too small for my tastes.

As I also documented in that article, I had a frustrating time communicating with a Samsung support rep over live chat. But it was all sorted out eventually: Samsung finally registered the Note 10 as having been delivered, and this allowed me to return the phone (and the case that came with it). I have until September 5 to do that.

In the meantime, I’ve preordered a Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ to replace it. That handset won’t arrive until September 10, unfortunately. But this time around, I didn’t make the same mistake I did when I preordered the smaller Note. Meaning that I did a better job taking advantage of Samsung’s $150 worth of credit towards other merchandise. (It was only a $100 credit on the smaller Note 10.)

This credit, combined with Samsung’s unusually high values on trade-ins, helps to make the Note 10 and Note 10+ a lot more affordable and enticing. I’m not sure if these deals will be around forever, or if they’re just during the preorder time (which ends Friday). But it’s a nice bonus. Samsung is giving me $600 for my Pixel 3 XL—a phone I paid $480 for, by the way—and now I’m getting a few extra accessories too: A black leather cover and a Galaxy Fit wearable I’d been researching as a potential Fitbit replacement (another step into the Samsung Galaxy ecosystem) anyway. Together, that’s exactly $150 of additional stuff, for free.

As for the Note 10+ I’ve preordered, I wasn’t able to get my first color choice, the Aura Glow, which is sold out. (Both of those, the wait time and the color sell-out, anecdotally suggest that the Note 10 is selling pretty well, at least for now. Update: Since writing that I’ve learned that Samsung sold over 1.3 million preorders, double the number for the Note 9.) So, I ordered the Aura Blue version instead, with 256 GB of storage.

The new math. The normal price of this Note 10+ model is $1100, but it will be $500 after the $600 trade-in credit. I’m using Samsung’s no-interest financing program, so I’ll pay $21 per month until I just pay it off, which I intend to do quickly.)

As for the benefits of the Note 10+ over the Note 10, it starts, of course, the larger display. It’s funny how perception changes as our handsets get ever bigger and bigger. When we started about 4.5 years ago, I used to write about a 5-inch display, like that on the Nokia Lumia 930, as being the sweet spot. Since then, displays have gotten bigger, taller, and thinner. With these taller aspect ratio displays taking up less space, it’s getting harder to define a sweet spot.

In any event, I was struck by how small the Note 10 seemed when I opened the box. This was due both to its height—which is about a half-inch shorter than the Google Pixel 3a XL, OnePlus 7 Plus, or Huawei P30 Pro handsets I’ve used most recently—and its thinness, side-to-side. It’s a svelte little handset by today’s standards. And this is particularly interesting given that the Note line is what triggered the move to large smartphones, or what we once called phablets. No Note should ever seem small. And yet there it is.

The smaller Note will find an audience, of course. I like the angular styling a bit better than that of the more bulbous Galaxy S10 series, as I’m sure others will, and the S Pen is an attraction too. But it was immediately obvious to me that if there was ever a chance of me converting to Galaxy, I would need the bigger display.

Based on Samsung’s photos comparing the Note 10 to the Note 10+, the larger device will be very much like the Pixel, OnePlus, and P30 Pro from a form factor perspective, and given the dimensions of the Note 10, I suspect it will be thinner than those rivals as well.

From a specifications perspective, the Note 10+ has a 6.8-inch WQHD+ (3040 x 1440), Dynamic AMOLED display, compared to a 6.3-inch FHD+ (2280 x 1080) Dynamic AMOLED on the smaller Note 10. There has been a lot of grumbling about that “1080p” display on the Note 10 since previous Note models all had higher resolutions, even when the display was the same size. In my limited experience, however, the Note 10 display looks gorgeous and I have no issues with the clarity, or resolution, or whatever. No one actually looking at the device would ever complain.

That said, it’s hard to argue with the math: The Note 10+ display is almost 500 dpi, compared to “just” 400 dpi for the smaller Note 10. I won’t be able to compare them side-by-side, but I’m curious if it will seem better/different. I’m guessing no.

Beyond that, the Note 10+ provides a bigger battery, the same internal storage but with microSD expansion (which is missing on the smaller Note 10 for some reason; no matter, I’ll never need it), 12 GB of RAM (vs. 8 GB on the smaller Note 10; either is perfectly future-proof). And then there’s the camera system.

This is, of course, of interest.

Both the Note 10 and Note 10+ have the same basic rear camera configuration, with three lenses, a 12 MP wide-angle with an f/1.5-2.4 aperture and dual optical imagine stabilization (OIS), a 12 MP telephoto with an f/2.1, 52mm aperture, dual OIS, and 2x optical zoom, and a 16 MP ultra-wide with an f/2.2, 12mm aperture. But the Note 10+ bolsters those with a fourth lens, Time Of Flight (TOF) 3D VGA lens that Samsung calls the DepthVision Camera. I’m not sure I’ll ever really need it, per se, but this fourth lens basically adds AR capabilities where you can scan physical objects and created 3D AR representations of them. OK, I am absolutely sure I’ll never need it.

The front-facing selfie camera appears to be a step-down, both from previous Notes and from some of the more impressive two-lens smartphone selfie camera systems, like that of the Pixel 3 and 3 XL, which offer a useful wide selfie mode. What Samsung provides is a single 10 MP lens with an f/2.2, 26mm aperture. The downgrade was necessitated by its decision to use a hole-punch style cutout in the top middle of the display. A dual-camera system would have required a bigger hole. Anyway, the selfie camera, like the rest of the Note 10+ components, is identical to what you get on the smaller Note 10.

So, there you go. That’s where I’m at.

But before I return the Galaxy Note 10, I’ll perform some camera tests and will further examine the software and services that Samsung provides. When the Dex app for Windows 10 goes live tomorrow, I’ll take a look at that as well. So I will have more to write up before the Note 10 goes back.

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