Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and Galaxy Note 10 Plus: Everything you need to know

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and 10 Plus
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The master and arguable creator of phablets is back for round 10 – the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10 Plus. That’s right, for the first time we’re getting two Note devices. As you’d expect, the sizes are different, but the Plus is barely bigger than last year’s Note 9 while the regular Note 10 is smaller than the predecessor.

Size isn’t the only difference, though. While they both appear modern and sleek, the Note 10 has a few missing features the Note 10 Plus carries. Both do bring something new to the table, including gestures with the S Pen, useful integrations with Windows PC’s and Microsoft applications, and triple-camera setups with top-tier specs.

Check out our Galaxy Note 10 and Galaxy Note 10 Plus hands-on reviews for our in-depth impressions. You can check out all the deals and prices from various carriers on the Note 10 and Note 10 Plus here. Here’s everything you need to know.

Updates

The Galaxy Note 10 now comes in aura pink and aura red in the U.S.

If you’ve still not picked up the Galaxy Note 10, then now might be the best time. Samsung has released two new colors for the Note 10 in the U.S. — aura red and aura pink.

Stocks of both color variants are limited, so you’d best act quickly if you want to pick them up. Thankfully, these two new colors come at the same time as Samsung’s huge Black Friday sale, so you can pick yourself up a new Samsung flagship phone for less. Unfortunately for fans of a larger-than-large phone, these two new colors are only for the standard Note 10, and won’t be coming to the Galaxy Note 10 Plus yet.

You can find the new aura red and aura pink Galaxy Note 10 exclusively on Samsung.com.

Design and display

The Note 10 and 10 Plus look and feel distinctly different from the Note 9. That starts with the dazzling Aura colors the new Notes are offered in. Aura Black, Aura White, Aura Glow, and a Samsung.com– and Best Buy-exclusive Aura Blue (Note 10 Plus only) give the first indication of a flashy new design.

But you’ll see it in the sizes, too.

The Note 10 crams a 6.3-inch FHD+ (2,280 x 1,080) display into its body, which is smaller than the Note 9’s screen but with only a tenth of an inch less screen. The Note Plus is able to carry a 6.8-inch Quad HD+ (3,040 x 1,440) display while being only slightly taller and wider than the Note 9. Both utilize the same Dynamic AMOLED display technology as the S10 range and are HDR10+ certified.

The edges are also more rounded, and gone from the back is the fingerprint sensor, owed to the implementation of an ultrasonic in-screen fingerprint sensor, all around contributing to a more seamless look.

One other design change to note is the loss of the 3.5mm headphone jack, which Samsung said was done in the name of fitting a bigger battery in a smaller frame. A USB-C to 3.5mm dongle is included in the box, though, along with USB-C AKG headphones.

S Pen redesigned

The S-Pen also underwent some slight redesigns too with beveled edges and some new functionalities. Air Actions bring gestures to the pen for snapping photos, changing camera modes, and even zooming the camera all with a flick of the wrist.

A new AR Doodles app for the S Pen lets you draw on people’s faces in augmented reality.

Microsoft partnerships, and DeX improvements

Running the show is Samsung’s OneUI, as we have on the Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus, layered over Android 9 Pie. But some new features make their debut on the Note 10 and 10 Plus.

Partnering with Microsoft, Samsung has added the ability to transcribe handwritten notes into Microsoft Word documents. Trained in 62 languages and thousands of writing samples, the transcription is done by Samsung’s Notes app and is able to be sent off as an editable Microsoft Word document, PDF, or image.

This collaboration also aims to shore up the long-standing gap between Android phones and Windows devices. Much like Macbooks and iPhones, the Note 10 range will be able to bring notifications, messages, screen mirroring, the ability to review recent photos to your Windows PC. This is built into the new Note phone’s system settings.

Samsung DeX also receives some bolstered support: it’s now able to be launched on a MacBook or Windows laptop by simply plugging the Note 10 in via a standard USB cable. No additional apps are needed, and no data is stored on the computer. Previously, DeX could only be launched with a monitor and keyboard and mouse peripherals.

Gaming and 5G

There are more Microsoft partnerships on the Note range. Samsung and Microsoft are enabling Note 10 owners to stream their PC games from their computers to their phones, a la Google Stadia. Unlike Stadia, the games run on your own computer rather than cloud services, making this a feature best suited for those with a powerful PC. The feature is called PlayGalaxy Link, and Samsung has published a video showing the feature in action, which you can see below.

A reliable internet connection is optimal to make use of this feature, which is why it’s being pushed for the Note 10 Plus 5G. That’s right, neither the Note 10 or Note 10 Plus support 5G. To get access to the next-gen network, you need to cough up more money for the Note 10 Plus 5G.

On-device gaming has been improved too, adding an A.I.-based optimization feature called Game Booster, which tailors your phone’s performance and resource use to your specific gaming habits. There’s also a screen recorder function so you can share clips of your gameplay to social media.

Specs and battery

The spec sheet is where you’ll start to notice the differences between the Note 10 and Note 10 Plus.

Both are powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 but the Note 10 has 8GB whereas the Note 10 Plus has 12GB. Storage also shows some division. While they both start at 256GB, this is where the Note 10’s storage begins and ends, with no option for MicroSD card storage and no step-up option for built-in storage. The Note 10 Plus offers a 512GB model and also retains MicroSD card support.

Key Specs:

  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
  • Memory: 8/12GB RAM
  • Storage: 256GB/512GB* (*Note 10 Plus Only)
  • Screen Size: 6.3-inch/6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED
  • Resolution: 2,380 x 1,080/3,040 x 1,440
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, Wi-Fi 6, 5G* (*Note 10 Plus 5G Only)

Despite the disparity in storage size, both run on UFS 3.0 technology and the latest silicon should make the Note 10 devices perform with 33% better CPU and 42% better GPU performance, according to Samsung.

The battery and charging also show some key differences between these two. The Note 10, sporting a 3,500mAh battery, is more akin to the Galaxy S10 with its 3,400mAh battery and accepts fast charging from a 25-watt adapter, which Samsung said will charge the Note 10 from zero to 100 in about an hour.

The Note 10 Plus, on the other hand, jumps the battery all the way up to 4,300mAh – 200mAh more than the S10 Plus, and brings the all-new 45-watt charging capability, which Samsung said can give the battery a full day of use in only 30 minutes of charge time. The 45-watt charger isn’t included in the box, so you have to pay more for it.

Like with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6, Samsung is partnering with Discord to allow users to access the communications app more easily while gaming, so you won’t need to exit games to continue talking with your friends.

Triple cameras

samsung galaxy note 10 and plus hands on 5
Corey Gaskin / Digital Trends

Implementing a triple camera setup, the Note 10 devices feature similar three lens and megapixel pairings as the S10’s camera setup, with a 12-megapixel main lens, 12-megapixel telephoto lens, and a 16-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens. Variable apertures of f/1.5 and f/2.4 are available on the main lens, while the telephoto camera has a wider f/2.1 aperture than the S10 phones.

Up on the front, you have a single selfie camera with a 10-megapixel sensor and a narrower aperture, but the introduction of selfie Night Mode should help with low-light when you need it.

For video recording, the Note 10 and 10 Plus have improved Super Steady mode and added it to the Hypelapse feature, while also implementing Live Focus Video from the S10 5G. This feature is aided by the ToF (time-of-flight) sensor on the back of the Note 10 Plus, which is missing from the Note 10. The feature is on both, though, making the Note 10’s implementation a software-based one.

Lastly, Samsung has added a feature called Zoom-In Mic, which focuses the sound on the subject you have in the frame and intensifies this effect as you zoom in closer. This is much like similar features we’ve seen from HTC and LG phones.

Price and availability

The Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10 Plus are now available in-store and online. You can read more about pricing and availability of the phone here.

The Galaxy Note 10 is priced at $950 while the Note 10 Plus starts at $1,100 for the 256GB model and $1,200 for the 512GB.

The Note 10 Plus 5G starts at $1,300 for the 256GB version and $1,400 for the 512GB model and is available from Verizon, with a rollout from T-Mobile and Sprint slated for a yet to be determined date.

Updated on November 21, 2019: The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 now comes in two new colors.

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