Samsung Galaxy Note 10+: A Quick Follow-Up

I’m obviously weeks behind other reviewers when it comes to the Note 10+. So here’s a quick check-in on my experience.

It’s been mostly positive: The Note 10+ display is gorgeous, even in its default FHD+ (2280 x 1080) setting—it can be manually configured to use its native WQHD+ (3040 x 1440) resolution or HD+ (1520 x 720) instead—which I assume is a good balance of looks and battery life. I see no reason to change that, and so far, at least, the battery life has been great. I don’t really go out into the world like many people each day, but I’d be surprised if it didn’t last for a full day of heavy usage.

The size of the display is likewise fantastic, and for anyone with aging or failing eyes, this size phone (or bigger, down the road) may solve some problems. I was curious to see whether I could use the Note 10+ to read in the morning—I’m currently using a full-sized iPad but would prefer an iPad mini—but it may be a bit too small for that purpose. I could see watching movies on it during trips, but only if there were power or the flights weren’t too long.

Samsung Galaxy S8+ (left) vs. Galaxy Note 10+ (right)

One weird issue with a very large phone like this is that the usual, one-handed way of doing things doesn’t always work, and not always for the obvious reasons: Holding the phone normally in my right hand and stretching to reach a point in the upper-left of the display, the bottom of my palm, which is cradling the phone, has triggered items in the lower-right of the display multiple times now. My hands are big enough that I’ve been able to use many large phones with a single hand. But this is one the first times—this happened with the Lumia 1520 too—I’ve had this issue. It may require creating new muscle memories.

I’ve started running into reliability issues with the in-display fingerprint reader, and they’re very similar to what I experienced with the OnePlus 6T last year: Despite carefully enrolling two fingers, I’ve had multiple instances where neither registers, forcing me to use a PIN after a maddening few tries. This happened over the weekend several times, while out in the world, and while at the gym. And it’s kind of depressing. OnePlus never did fix the 6T, but the fingerprint reader in the OnePlus 7 Pro is much improved. But so far, the Note 10+ version is not working well at all.

I used the integrated Link to Windows function in the Note 10+’s notification shade to connect with the Your Phone app in Windows 10 on my NU, and it worked fine. I wouldn’t call this a game-changer per se, but by putting this interface right in the UI, and in the first notification shade, no less, it’s discoverable. And because there’s no (Your Phone Companion) app to install, it’s simpler and faster to make the connection.

In use, this works normally, but I was able to experience the screen mirroring function for the first time. It works well, with only minimal lag. But what I’d rather see is a free-floating screen mirror window instead of it being contained in the larger Your Phone window. That’s a minor quibble, though, and I’ll keep using the Note 10+ with Your Phone to see how the other integration bits—photos, messages, and notifications—work.

I’ve finally spent a good chunk of time testing the Note 10+’s camera system, and it’s a mixed bag if you care about camera quality as much as I do. I’ll cut to the chase: This camera system is better than that of the OnePlus 7 Pro overall, and it is possibly in the same quality area as that of the iPhone XS family. It is most decidedly not in the same company, quality-wise, as the cameras used in the Google Pixel 3, 3 XL, 3a, or 3a XL, or the Huawei P30 Pro or Mate 20 Pro. It’s not even close.

When it’s not sunny, the default shots are decent, not great

But don’t take that the wrong way: Those Pixel and Huawei handsets have really raised the bar, and the Note 10+ cameras do deliver routinely decent and occasionally excellent photos. Low light is similar to what I experienced last year with the S-series Galaxy, where I sort of get what Samsung is shooting (ahem) for, but it just doesn’t match what the latest Pixels and Huaweis can do. And outdoor shots can be washed out unless it’s really sunny.

Sunny day? You’re in for a visual treat

And there some things I really like about the Note 10+ camera system. The camera app itself is great, and the on-screen toggles for normal, wide, and telephoto and for the scene optimizer are features I wish all camera apps offered.

So far, the food shots have not impressed

Samsung provides perhaps too many shooting modes, but you can configure which appear in the carousel, and you can use a Pro mode if you’re not happy with any of the defaults. But some modes—like Food and Instagram—are just goofy. There are some esoteric shooting modes like Hyperlapse and Super Slow-mo I’ll need to force myself to test. I’m not there yet.

A pleasant enough night shot, but nothing like what Pixel and Huawei can do

Someone asked about this in Ask Paul on Friday, but I have resolved to try and use as many Samsung apps and services as I can stand and to do so for as long as I can stand. Some, like Bixby, are really testing my sanity. But others, like Samsung Internet (the browser), Phone, and Messages, are non-objectionable. I did install the Google app so I can access the feed I usually see in Google Discover, which Samsung replaces with Bixby Home. And of course I’m using apps like Gmail, Outlook, OneNote, Skype, and others that I rely on.

I did connect the Note 10+ to two other Samsung devices, the Galaxy Buds I bought a few weeks back that I use at the gym and a freebie Galaxy Fit that I got with the Note 10+. The Galaxy Fit is basically a Fitbit with a color screen, and it offers multi-day battery life and pretty much does all the tracking I’d ever need. It connects to Samsung Health, however, and I’ve not yet tested whether it will sync to Google Fit, which would be preferable. I’ll get there, but for now I just want to get several days’ worth of data collected.

I did have one very happy and unexpected surprise: When I connected the Note 10+ to my wife’s car this morning via Bluetooth, I did something that has never happened before. It connected the Note 10+ to the car’s audio system. On all previous phones, including my wife’s Galaxy S8+, only phone and text are available through the car, and we’ve had to rely on a line-in cable for audio. This has literally never worked before, and I was convinced it would never work. I can’t explain it, but that’s great news, and the integration works well, even for this older (2014 model year) vehicle.

More soon.

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Conversation 19 comments

  • bryan75

    Premium Member
    08 September, 2019 - 1:07 pm

    <p>Paul, I rarely have issue with the fingerprint reader, but it seems many do. One thing I did was add my most commonly used thumbprint twice. I have zero proof that's helped in anyway, but I rarely have issues with it working. </p>

    • Trapp

      08 September, 2019 - 2:14 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#462349"><em>In reply to Bryan75:</em></a></blockquote><p><em>yes on my iphone i always add my most used finger two or three times. That always seems to make all the difference. I assume the Galaxy phones are the same. I'm curious about that.</em></p>

      • Dryloch

        08 September, 2019 - 7:30 pm

        <blockquote><em><a href="#462366">In reply to Trapp:</a></em></blockquote><p>Another trick is to register is once in each direction. Meaning once at mostly 90 degrees and then separately at a 45 degree angle.</p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      08 September, 2019 - 2:40 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#462349">In reply to Bryan75:</a></em></blockquote><p>Yeah, I was going to try that as well, thanks.</p>

    • IanYates82

      Premium Member
      08 September, 2019 - 5:11 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#462349">In reply to Bryan75:</a></em></blockquote><p>I'd love to still have a second reader on the back… </p>

      • Paul Thurrott

        Premium Member
        09 September, 2019 - 8:15 am

        <blockquote><em><a href="#462456">In reply to IanYates82:</a></em></blockquote><p>Or just a reader on the back. </p>

  • sentinel6671

    Premium Member
    08 September, 2019 - 1:34 pm

    <p>The unreliable finger print reader is a deal breaker. I'd have boxed it up and returned it on discovery of that. I used to have a Note 5, which had an unreliable finger print reader. It's a shame Samsung can't get this right.</p>

    • tony_ansley

      Premium Member
      09 September, 2019 - 11:29 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#462362">In reply to sentinel6671:</a></em></blockquote><p>This is what I did with my s10+. Bought the OnePlus 7 Pro and it works MUCH better. Though when sweaty or when finger is damp, it too has challenges.</p>

    • earlster

      Premium Member
      12 September, 2019 - 12:58 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#462362">In reply to sentinel6671:</a></em></blockquote><p>I have and S10 and the reliability got a lot better after the first week or so. I think part of it was getting used to how hard to press and I also think that the phone keeps learning and gets better over time. By now I'm more then happy with how it functions.</p><p>I don't see a significant difference to my wife's T6+.</p>

  • chrishilton1

    Premium Member
    08 September, 2019 - 1:46 pm

    <p>I've had Bluetooth audio working with my S9+ and a BWM for years, and mine is an old one 2011 registered.</p>

    • earlster

      Premium Member
      12 September, 2019 - 12:56 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#462365">In reply to chrishilton1:</a></em></blockquote><p>Same here, BT audio has worked in my 2012 BMW, a 2011 Toyota and a 2016 Acura for all the various phones in our house over the past years. Galaxy s10, LG G6, Lumia 950, One+ T6, Essential Ph1, Moto Z Play, iPhone 7 ….</p><p>However we do have an older Infinity and that one only does Phone, but that's a limitation on the radios BT implementation.</p>

  • Simard57

    08 September, 2019 - 7:48 pm

    <p>"<span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">OnePlus ever did fix the 6T,"</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">I am guessing you meant "never"?</span></p>

  • Simard57

    08 September, 2019 - 9:42 pm

    <p>does google auto work on wife's car?</p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      09 September, 2019 - 8:15 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#462527">In reply to Simard57:</a></em></blockquote><p>It doesn't have anything like that. It's Bluetooth and line-in only.</p>

  • wright_is

    Premium Member
    09 September, 2019 - 3:43 am

    <p>Bluetooth audio and control over the radio / steering wheel of audio playback has worked on most of the cars I've had in the last decade, certainly on our current Nissans (Qashqai and Pulsar), the Citroen C3 I had before it and my Toyota Verso (with Windows Phone and Android, but not iPhone).</p><p>Even the cheap (150€) Blaupunkt replacement radio for my daughter's 2003 Nissan Micra works fine with Bluetooth Audio – shows the current track/audio book and allows skipping forwards and backwards etc.</p><p>One thing that did annoy me was the lowering quality in the Bluetooth stack between Android 7 and 9. With later 7 patches, all the way through 8 and the first couple of patches of 9, it would sometimes just drop the bluetooth connection and start playing out of the phones speaker – usually if I was doing stop-start journeys (stopping to refuel and getting back in, the radio would play BT audio for a minute or two, then it would cut out and the phone would play through its own speaker) . Turning BT off and on again on the phone would solve the problem – this was with the Citroen and the Nissans, which all had different entertainment units (the Pulsar and the Qashqai have similar units, but different screen sizes, but seem to be otherwise similar, although the Pulsar is 2 years newer.</p><p>Since the June Android update I haven't noticed the problem.</p>

  • wolters

    Premium Member
    09 September, 2019 - 10:02 am

    <p><strong>"</strong><strong style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">This camera system is better than that of the OnePlus 7 Pro overall, and it is possibly in the same quality area as that of the iPhone XS family. It is most decidedly&nbsp;<em>not&nbsp;</em>in the same company, quality-wise, as the cameras used in the Google Pixel 3, 3 XL, 3a, or 3a XL, or the Huawei P30 Pro or Mate 20 Pro. It’s not even close."</strong></p><p><br></p><p>Thank you for saying this. I've tried to like the camera results…so much so that I think I could live with the results to have the wealth of features on the Note 10+ and the more seamless execution of Samsung Wearables (Galaxy Watch and Buds). But the camera, as the Note 8 and 9, just frustrates me more than it impresses me. Not that I take a lot of selfies but it is like night and day between the portrait mode selfies and life focus selfies between a Pixel and a Note. And the rear camera continues to be hit and miss. </p><p><br></p><p><strong style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">"I used the integrated Link to Windows function in the Note 10+’s notification shade to connect with the Your Phone app in Windows 10 on my NU, and it worked fine."</strong></p><p><br></p><p>I am not sure if this is due to the integration of YourPhone but on the Note 10+, my Microsoft Apps, especially ones connected to my corporate Office 365 account, keep popping up with "Pick An Account" and that will often flash up 2-3 times and then connect or I have to log back in (mainly TEAMS) manually. And I get constant prompts to log back in to Outlook with my corporate email. I didn't have this issue at all on the Pixel 3 XL. </p><p><br></p><p><strong style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">"I’ve started running into reliability issues with the in-display fingerprint reader"</strong></p><p><br></p><p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">Same. I've seen reviews of people simply putting their finger on it and it comes right up. I'm battling it not reading or it saying I am not pressing hard enough. Note – I did leave on the included screen protector…not sure if that is causing issued or not. </span></p>

  • RickEveleigh

    Premium Member
    09 September, 2019 - 10:30 am

    <p>My Samsung A8 'normal' fingerprint reader doesn't work once my fingers get sweaty (i.e. when I'm out on a run). You mentioned problems when at the gym. Don't know if this is related. Or maybe it's fingers slightly swelling when hotter?</p><p><br></p><p>My A8 also worked immediately on BT Audio with my car, a 2010 Ford Focus (UK).</p>

  • yoshi

    Premium Member
    09 September, 2019 - 11:36 am

    <p>Paul, when you receive the Samsung leather cover for this, can you let us know how you like it? I've been thinking about ordering one for mine. Right now I have an Incipio DualPro on it. The protection is great, but it adds more bulk than I'd like. </p>


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