Samsung Note 10+ Preview

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.

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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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Conversation 13 comments

  • proesterchen

    22 August, 2019 - 9:06 am

    <p>I have found myself gravitating towards phones in the 70-ish mm width range, having found the Iphone Plus models and similar Android counterparts generally less comfortable to hold and use than I would like.</p><p><br></p><p>Unfortunately, it seems like this smaller size is now being relegated to a cut-down, less-featured, shorter battery life version that in the case of the Note 10 doesn't really qualify for flagship status in my eyes.</p><p><br></p><p>I really hope this trend doesn't continue to the point where the regular Iphone is left as the last somewhat fully-featured phone (well, as fully-featured as Iphones go) on the market. </p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      22 August, 2019 - 10:51 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#451006">In reply to proesterchen:</a></em></blockquote><p>I assume they're shooting for some happy medium between tall/large and usable with one hand.</p>

  • Doctor_K

    Premium Member
    22 August, 2019 - 9:19 am

    <p>"Since writing that I’ve learned that Samsung sold over 1.3 preorders."…….I think something is missing in this sentence.</p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      22 August, 2019 - 10:51 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#451009">In reply to Doctor_K:</a></em></blockquote><p>Yep, thanks!</p>

  • duncanator

    22 August, 2019 - 10:53 am

    <p>Like you mentioned, its thinness and the fact it's shorter must be due to having almost no bezels that make it seem smaller. I had a Note 4 and the screen size of the "smaller" Note 10 is larger, but the actual device is probably smaller. I think the Note 4 had a 5.7" screen. Interesting how our perception of large phones has changed over the years.</p>

  • a_seeker

    Premium Member
    22 August, 2019 - 11:09 am

    <p>Leo installed the Dex app yesterday on his Lenovo AIO. Looks interesting</p>

    • rmlounsbury

      Premium Member
      22 August, 2019 - 12:06 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#451040">In reply to a_seeker:</a></em></blockquote><p>I've enjoyed DeX but it's limitations become apparent pretty quickly as well. I'm not entire sure why I would connect DeX to my Windows laptop. If I have my Surface Laptop out then I have no need for running DeX at that point. Unless I really want a few specific Android apps. </p><p><br></p><p>That being said I have a NexDock 2 coming my way in September (if they hit their ship dates) which I can use as a laptop clam shell to pair with the Note 10+. I've talked about experimenting with using DeX as my only device and not using a secondary laptop/desktop for now. I might actually do this now since I have a NexDock and I have a DeX dock at home from when I had a Note 9. </p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      22 August, 2019 - 12:07 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#451040">In reply to a_seeker:</a></em></blockquote><p>Samsung provides a link but it comes up dead here still.</p>

  • Sykeward

    22 August, 2019 - 12:35 pm

    <p>I'd never thought that I'd see the day where there would be <em>phones </em>with 12GB RAM and even that much isn't "perfectly future proof"</p><p><br></p><p>In any case, this has been an interesting write-up so far. I'm especially interested in what you think of the UI –&nbsp;I haven't owned a Samsung phone since the S6 but I've read that their Android skin has made some impressive leaps forward since then.</p>

  • wolters

    Premium Member
    22 August, 2019 - 3:12 pm

    <p>I just got my 10+…as mentioned in many posts, I go back and forth between a Note and Pixel with the camera being the decision maker but here are some very early thoughts…</p><p><br></p><ul><li>Memory Management is already so much better. Like night and say with apps having to reload all the time on the Pixel and here, they come back up like you left them. </li><li>As always, the screen is amazing. </li><li>On my Verizon Note 10+, a lot of bloat ware but all uninstallable or at least the option to disable.</li><li>Samsung apps, as expected, cannot be disabled </li><li>I immediately tried "Link To Windows" and it worked great. YourPhone built into the Note 10 is working well.</li><li class="ql-indent-1">Though no fault of the phone, there is still work to be done with syncing "read" messages with YourPhone.</li><li class="ql-indent-1">Screen Mirroring works surprisingly well. I believe you do need to be on the same network. </li><li>256GB minimum storage is great. I know people like MicroSD option but to me, it always caused lag issues with the phones. </li><li>I am glad I pay for 2TB Google One as I forget I don't get unlimited full res backup with Google Photos. </li><li>I've only one snapped on quick selfie and played with the "Live Focus Videos" real quick. Skin tone wasn't as washed out as I expected. I hope to compare to Pixel this weekend. </li><li>I've been using a Galaxy Watch for over a year now and it works as expected. I am giving Samsung Messages a fair shot since it works a little better with the watch but beyond a little more historical texts, no real advantage in using it over Android Messages. </li><li>Dex works great on both the Windows App via USB C or a USB C to HDMI cord directly into monitor. Even played media on the Windows App and worked flawlessly. Need it or not, it is a very nice option to have. </li></ul><p><br></p>

  • Stooks

    22 August, 2019 - 4:14 pm

    <p>It is sad we only have two mobile phone OS'es. I don't think a 3rd could survive because Windows Phone did not. </p><p><br></p><p>I think Samsung makes the best hardware hands down. That said I simply will not use Android for a lot of reasons, but mainly because of privacy. So I am stuck with Apple hardware and iOS. Both are good enough, but I would love to have a Note 10+ with iOS or some other mobile OS not created by a Ad company.</p>

  • MacLiam

    Premium Member
    22 August, 2019 - 4:26 pm

    <p>In the eighth 'graph, the OnePlus phone is a 7 Pro, not Plus — not that this really matters to people unless they're 7 Pro owners. Which I am. Decent phone.</p><p><br></p><p>I bought it without waiting to see what the Note 10+ was like because of my still smoldering grudge against Samsung for a spectacularly unsatisfactory experience with an S4 way back when. Think of Ernestine the Operator, the recurring skit character on Laugh-In: "We don't care. We don't have to. We're The Phone Company."</p><p><br></p><p>I agree about screen sizes. I actually bought (and liked) a Lumia 930 on your recommendation, and it still works. I used it until the larger 950 came out. My eyes today need the biggest screen they can get so that I can enlarge fonts enough to read without forcing the third word to the following line. I am a constant note taker on glass surfaces, and I use an old Adonit stylus with the 7 Pro. Works fine for my purposes.</p><p><br></p><p>Did you send your 7 Pro back? If not, I'd be interested to hear if you have second thoughts about any position you took in your informative review. Like you, I find the camera a little underwhelming. Other critics complained about its weak processing, but what I see that worries me more than, say, contrast and white balance is an image softness that makes close-up or macro shots look like the lens had a really fine gauze filter on it. Ick. I don't know if that can be programmed away in further system updates. I think the problem is in the glass.</p><p><br></p><p><br></p>

  • ahassall

    23 August, 2019 - 1:48 pm

    <p>Do they credit the $600 all at once or dole it our so much per month? I recently discovered that with Verizon when I upgraded 2 years ago to my Note 8. I was interested in pre-ordering a Note 10+ and discovered that the pay off price for my phone (2 payments) was going to be $68 instead of the $25.50 that it will if I pay the payments as scheduled. I do hope that the Note 10+ is awesome, but I won't be getting one for awhile.</p>

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