Two weeks after using the Galaxy Note 10+, it’s easy to see why people are so fascinated by the flagship series. But since then I’ve used the Galaxy Note 9 and Note 8 extensively, and the underlying experience between the Note 10+ and the Note 9 hasn’t changed much. Samsung has added a lot of new features to it, which has enhanced the experience of using the Note flagship. But is it really transformative? Find out –
Performance – 7nm makes the Axinos equal to Snapdragon in the end
Compared to the 8nm Exynos 9820 of the Galaxy S10 series, the new Exynos 9825 is based on the new 7nm EUV manufacturing process. Most of the advantages of the new chipset are in terms of efficiency. In terms of performance, only the mid-core clock speeds at SoC are slightly higher, ranging from 2.31GHz to 2.4GHz, but then again, Samsung has also reduced the performance core from 1.95GHz to 1.9GHz. The internal GPU is the same. The changes are minor, and the Note 10+’s benchmark results are similar to those of the Galaxy S10 +. Interestingly, the OnePlus 7 Pro, which comes with more or less the same hardware inside (Snapdragon 855, 12GB RAM, UFS 3.0 storage), beats the Galaxy Note 10+ in all major benchmarks. You can see the scores below –
Yet, these are only simulated scenarios. In the real world, the Galaxy Note 10+ is an interesting tool to use. This is apparently faster than the Samsung Galaxy S10 which I have been using since its launch in India, which is mainly due to the UFS 3.0 storage and 12GB RAM module which always keeps around 5 GB RAM free. But there is an inconsistency. We noticed that OneUI’s resource management is very aggressive. This can kill most background apps if they run for long periods of time. Case in point: Batterylog app that shuts off within one percent of the clock every time the battery is depleted, even after being whitelisted under the Memory section. Even so, the Note 10+ uses around 6.7GB of RAM all the time and around 5.3GB is free for everything. This is still far more than most flagships offer, but high RAM usage does not match aggressive resource management.
Almost everything you throw at the Note 10+ is handled without a hitch. Editing a RAW file in the Lightroom, writing an article, shooting a 4K video, or playing an intense game, the Note 10+ is no problem to accomplish. As such, it is suitable for power users. But then again, you get the same performance and reliability from the OnePlus 7 Pro which is much cheaper than the Samsung flagship.
Gaming on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 + is also a pleasure, unless you follow the maximum frame-rate. The screen is nice and has plenty of hand-space, but using Gamebench, the frame rate we’ve seen in PUBG Mobile and Asphalt 9 is much lower than what we’ve seen in the OnePlus 7 Pro. The PUBG mobile runs at 40 FPS with 88 percent stability, where it can go up to 60 FPS. The Asphalt delivers 30 FPS with 96 percent stability. Interestingly, the phone rarely warms up during the session.
One thing that sets Note 10+ apart is the restructured DeX experience. You can now access desktop mode by simply connecting the phone to the USB port DX is more like Windows now than ever before. Apps get full-screen and windowed mode, you can launch all apps on your phone, and even get Windows shortcuts for working in the environment. However, it is not as smooth as Windows and is actually a little lazy. But then most of the Windows shortcuts work in DX. I tried writing this review in DX mode but all apps (including Microsoft Excel, Dropbox Paper) had to give up half way because they didn’t offer every feature. There is no hot-switching between Windows and DeX. To go back, you need to turn off desktop mode. Samsung says you can even attend calls on your desktop, but the feature isn’t live yet.
My argument here is why would I need DeX in the first place? Yes, it works much better now, but I see no reason to switch from a fully functional Windows environment to a mobile experience that doesn’t match the smooth operation Windows or MacOS offers.
My next catch was the S-Pen itself. This is what sets the Galaxy Note series apart from the rest, and it was a useful addition in the early years. But over time, the use of S-Pen has been limited to primarily creative professional or casual doodlers, a very small subset of users. This time, Samsung has added Bluetooth to the S-Pen and it now supports air gestures. At present the wind is getting a little rusty. We use these to control the camera, and the circular motion to zoom in will often be mistaken for a flick gesture to switch from rear to front camera. The good news is that Samsung has released the SDK for this feature, but it remains to be seen how many developers will actually include it.
Battery Life – Boost by the processor and a larger battery
In India, the Galaxy Note 10+ is shipped to the US with the new Exynos 9825 SoC, along with the Snapdragon 855. Before the Galaxy S10, there was a noticeable difference, not raw performance, but reviews and reports from around the world based on power efficiency. Now that Samsung has switched to the latest 7nm EUV lithography process, we were promised better power efficiency. Now that screen-on-time has increased and all things considered, including a larger display, screen-on-time has increased by an hour or more. Then again, it’s hard to say whether it’s due to a slightly larger 4300mAh battery (compared to the 4100mAh in the Galaxy S10 +), or because it’s shifted to the best production process currently available.
We clocked the Geekbench battery life 7 hours 16 minutes, one and a half hours more than what the Galaxy S10 + gave. PUBG Mobile’s 15-minute battery drains 6 percent. The 30-minute HDR content on Netflix did the same. But this is our video loop test which lasted for more than 12 hours.
Camera – software strategy
Did you think the camera overkill of the Galaxy S10 +? The Note 10+ goes a step further and includes a ToF 3D camera with wide, ultraviolet and telephoto lenses. This is basically the same lens set that the Galaxy S10 + 5G has in the US. Still, between the S10 + and the Note 10+, I think Samsung has tuned the software even more so that the images (especially in low-light) come out much better. Now there is a dedicated night mode, and live focus on video.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 + came out on top when we compared it to the premium flagship in the first half of 2019. The Note 10+ comes from there and improves color, sharpness and detail. Although inside it is still basically the same hardware. So the Galaxy S10 + also has a very good chance of finally getting the new software strategy in the Note 10 +.
Testing the new Knight Mode, it uses the same techniques that other OEMs like OnePlus and Huawei use. Shoot multiple photos and combine them to get superior sharpness and detail. First for Samsung, it works quite well to improve low-light photos as the samples above will tell you. Don’t try to pixel-pip though, because that’s when photos start to lose detail.
The live focus video is a bit complicated, of course. This is supposed to keep the camera focus on a (moving) subject but it keeps the focus switching from the front to the background, resulting in a chaotic bokeh video. The ambiguity, though, is pretty good.
Design and display – premium, sophisticated and durable
The Galaxy Note 10+ follows the S-Series with Aura color that paints an RGB reflection on the rear panel. You can see a new color on the back of the phone at every different angle you hold from the Ara Glow variant we got for review. Definitely quite premium. There are also Ora Black and Ora White colors which are more conservative in their choice for more buyers. The Note 10+ is housed in the same sturdy aluminum frame as the S10 + with glass sandwiches on both sides. It is powered by Gorilla Glass 6 which is almost twice as durable as its predecessor and its IP68 water and dust resistant.
Between the S10 + and the Note 10+, the front camera position has changed. From the right angle, the single front camera is now drilled in the center It changes the aesthetics, but it doesn’t really get in the way of looking at things. The 3.5mm headphone jack port is now a thing of the past with the Galaxy Note 10+ being one of the latest flagships to bolster the legacy port. Interestingly, you won’t even find a 3.5mm USB-C converter in the box, but a pair of AKG-tuned earphones with USB-C out is packed in the box.
The Galaxy Note series display was one for everyone. But this time around, the maximum brightness we’ve got from the Note 10+ under the sun was 635 lux, much lower than the OnePlus 7 Pro’s 742 lux. This is less than the display of Galaxy S10 +. However, the AMOLED panel is rated HDR10 + and has QHD + resolution. This alone makes the objects on the display look extremely sharp and crisp with great contrast. HDR content on the 6.8-inch panel looks lively and vibrant, and you can play HDR content across all streaming platforms. With OneUI, however, Samsung has reduced the number of options for changing display settings. It is set by default to natural color and FHD + resolution which you can change to vibrant color and either HD + or QHD + resolution. The Note 10+ is an excellent phone for reading content before going to bed. The minimum brightness of the panel is 3 lux, and it has a blue light filter, which together protects the eyes at night.
The last row
Available as a phone like the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ Galaxy S10 +, save for some new features that may or may not work. Older note users have more reasons to upgrade to it. Then there are the smaller Galaxy Note, which comes with a smaller display and water factor-down features with a form factor that could gain acceptance among a new generation of power users interested in the Galaxy Note experience. What I really liked about the phone was how Samsung improved the camera’s performance, especially in low-light, and the new DeX mode that now works much better than before. Overall, the Galaxy Note 10+ sounds like a growing upgrade, but enough for old Note users to get a new one.