The original Note smartphone paved the way toward ever larger displays in phones and surprised many critics by selling well. Eight years later, Samsung’s Galaxy Note line continues to attract a large, cult-like audience and plenty of plaudits. The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 was a masterpiece, with a superb screen, plenty of power, and a revamped S Pen that worked as a remote control. According to the latest Galaxy Note 10 rumors, Samsung will release two new phones tomorrow.
As good as the predecessor was, I’d like to see some improvements in the new Galaxy Note 10 phones. Samsung has already pushed an update enabling you to remap the Bixby button, so what else would be good idea?
A new look
While Samsung has polished and refined its smartphone design over the last few years, shrinking bezels, removing home buttons, and adding camera lenses, you can see the roots of its current range come from the Galaxy S6 and Note 5, released in 2015. Put the latest Note next to the latest Galaxy S model and it always looks like the taller, chunkier cousin trying to squeeze into the same slinky dress or skinny jeans.
Samsung is overdue a fresh look and it would be nice if the Note line was a little more distinct, and a little further removed from the latest Galaxy S Plus. I love the glass curves and general feel of Samsung’s smartphones, but a departure from the squared-off camera suite, some new colors, and maybe an all-screen front with no hole-punch camera would help the Note 10 stand out.
More S Pen functionality
As one of the few distinguishing features of the Note compared to the Galaxy S Plus, you could be forgiven for feeling the S Pen doesn’t do enough, but Samsung revamped it in the Note 9 and made it more than a simple stylus. The remote control function was a smart idea, but I’d like to see the S Pen do more. If Samsung adopts an all screen look for the front of the Note 10, what is it going to do about the front-facing camera? Instead of having a pop-up selfie camera like the OnePlus 7 Pro, could it be assimilated into the S Pen?
Imagine a pop-out mini camera you can control remotely with your phone. Throw a microphone in there and the S Pen could be the ultimate spy gadget. A built-in laser pointer also seems like an obvious addition for the ideal business smartphone. At the very least, I’d like to see more creative uses for the S Pen’s existing functionality.
Samsung has lagged behind the smartphone industry in terms of charging speeds, sticking stubbornly with Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 2.0 standard. I understand the caution in light of what happened with the Galaxy Note 7, but Samsung needs to get over it. Many phones with similar-sized batteries, like the Huawei P30 Pro for example, can be charged in around an hour now. The Galaxy S10 Plus takes an hour and 45 minutes. Samsung has pushed faster wireless charging, which is great, and I hope it gets even faster in the Note 10, but it’s time to speed up wired charging too.
It’s especially important in a phone with a big battery. The Note 10 is also likely to support reverse wireless charging, allowing other devices to sip from its battery. While we’re on the topic, I hope the Note 10’s battery will exceed the Note 9’s 4,000mAh capacity.
UFS 3.0 storage
It’s not very sexy, but if you remember upgrading that old mechanical hard drive in your PC to a solid state drive (SSD), then you’ll recognize the importance of faster storage in your smartphone. There were rumors that the S10 would support the UFS (Universal Flash Storage) 3.0 standard, but it didn’t.
It won’t quite offer SSD levels of enhanced speed, but UFS 3.0 is twice as fast as the previous UFS 2.1 standard and uses less power, so I’d love to see it in the Note 10. The OnePlus 7 Pro supports UFS 3.0 and it’s one of the fastest phones we’ve ever tested, beating other devices with the same processor and RAM. I think people expect to get longer use from a Note phone, so UFS 3.0 would provide some welcome future-proofing.
Considering the Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus made the jump to a triple-lens main camera (and the S10 Plus also packed a dual-lens front-facing camera), we can safely assume the Note 10 will have more lenses. I hope Samsung works on making tangible improvements to photo quality rather than just adding greater versatility. It may be more sensible to focus greater effort on the artificial intelligence behind the image processing, an approach that has catapulted Google’s humble hardware to top spot in the camera wars, because I’d much rather the photo I snapped off the cuff turn out great than have the ability to zoom in on a distant building or capture a quirky wide shot.
There’s a chance we’ll get a time-of-flight sensor, which would enable accurate depth mapping for better photography and augmented reality. I also hope Samsung adds HDR10+ video recording support in the Note 10, which seems likely since it appeared in the S10.
The strong rumors Samsung will release multiple Note 10 models are disappointing, as I think there are more than enough different smartphones already. For the sake of loyal fans of the line, I hope Samsung retains the 3.5 mm audio jack as well the MicroSD card slot. It’s safe to assume we’ll get a bigger and better display and the traditional fingerprint sensor on the back is surely toast.
Better performance is a given and 5G support seems likely. What we’re very unlikely to get is an affordable price. I think the Note 10 will start around $1,200, maybe even higher, and go up from there, which means it has to be very special indeed. Keep an eye on our Galaxy Unpacked coverage to find out exactly what Samsung has in store.
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