Common Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and 10 Plus problems, and how to fix them

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and Galaxy Note 10 Plus are two of the best phones released in 2019, with top-notch hardware, a stellar camera system, and the inclusion of the S Pen, which has made every Galaxy Note something special.

But even mammoth phones of this caliber aren’t perfect, and some issues are bound to arise. While bugs and problems are especially annoying on exceptionally expensive phones like the Note 10 range, they thankfully have fixes and workarounds. Here’s a list of the current issues and problems that plague the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10 Plus — and how you can fix them.

Bug: Constant “refining picture” notification

Whether the Note 10 or the larger Note 10 Plus, the camera is a strong reason to buy this year’s Samsung phablet. Unfortunately, following the November 2019 update, many users are reporting a persistent notification marked “refining picture”. The notification doesn’t go away and hangs around until the device is restarted.

The notification may be caused by overzealous battery management that restricts the camera app from functioning in the background. If the app is closed before image processing is complete, then the notification doesn’t clear away. Thankfully, this is easily fixed by turning off those particular options.

Solution:

  • You need to turn off background processing management for the camera app. To do this, go to Settings > Device Care > Battery, then find the Camera app and make sure the Put to sleep option is turned off.

Glitch: Signal issues

Another widespread issue with both the Note 10 and Note 10 Plus is poor signal strength. Note 10 owners from a variety of carriers are complaining of oddly low signal strength. People have compared the number of bars with past phones and the same SIM card, and have realized the Note 10 and Note 10 Plus simply aren’t getting the same number of bars — and it seems to be hurting usability.

There’s a lot going on here, and it’s important to note phones measure signal strength in different ways — so three bars doesn’t always represent the same signal strength on different phones. However, it does definitely seem to be an issue for the Note 10, and it’s not clear what can be done to fix it. Samsung still hasn’t officially addressed the concerns as of August 2020, despite complaints dating back months. Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can currently do to fix this, except avoid low-signal areas.

Workarounds:

  • It may help if you use Wi-Fi calling where available, assuming your carrier permits it. To make sure Wi-Fi calling is enabled, go to Settings > Connections and toggle on Wi-Fi Calling. If the option isn’t there, you may need to contact your carrier and ask about it.
  • Certain users suggest a number of makeshift workarounds, which may be effective in certain cases. These include: Resetting network settings, changing network mode, manually disconnecting from your network (by switching to another and then switching back in settings), making sure the phone’s software is updated, and uninstalling apps you suspect may be affecting the phone’s performance.
  • If you have a more serious signal issue, consider getting in touch with your carrier to find out if there’s anything they can do to help.

Issue: Phone restarts at night

Like other recent Galaxy phones, the Note 10 restarts at night by default. This restart has some benefits, helping to clean out the phone’s memory and keep it running smoothly — but what if you’d rather it didn’t? After all, having to type in a password every morning can be a real pain when you’ve just woken up.

Solution:

Issue: Fingerprint scanner doesn’t recognize fingerprint

Owners of the Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10 Plus occasionally complain that their phones won’t recognize their fingerprints, even after updating and factory resets. In most cases, this doesn’t result from a software or hardware issue, but rather a failure to use the scanner in the best possible way.

Workarounds:

  • Try registering the same fingerprint as many times as possible — that will give your phone a greater chance of recognizing your finger.
  • Ensure that you’re using the phone in optimal conditions. For example, high temperatures and moisture on the touchscreen can interfere with how the fingerprint sensor works.
  • If you have a screen protector installed, try removing it. If the fingerprint scanner begins to work, either use your phone without a protector, or install a new one as carefully as possible.
  • Try wiping the cache partition on your phone. You can do this by shutting down your phone — holding the Home and Volume Up buttons — and then pressing the Power button in order to enter Recovery Booting mode. Then, select Wipe Cache Partition using the volume and power buttons. Lastly, select Reboot System Now.

Problem: Bad battery life

The Note 10 and Note 10 Plus have sizeable batteries, but various elements can lead to a battery reducing faster than it should. Many users are complaining the battery lives of the Note 10 and Note 10 Plus (and even the Note 10 Lite) are not living up to expectations, with battery use on standby being of particular concern.

There are many reasons why a battery may not be lasting as long as it should, and if it’s not a widespread issue, software and apps are usually to blame. Samsung will likely release updates to improve battery life as the Note 10 ages, but in the meantime, there are a few ways you can improve your battery life.

Workarounds:

  • Check which apps and services are using the most power. Check this by going to Settings > Device Care > Battery Usage, and look to see if any apps are using more power than is expected.
  • Sometimes third-party apps can help. Naptime is highly recommended, and it speeds up Android’s built-in app management services so they kick in a little faster, saving battery power by disabling background apps and services.
  • Check our battery saving tips for more ideas.

Issue: Fingerprint scanner can be unlocked with an unregistered fingerprint

Here’s a more serious issue: It has been reported that Samsung’s in-display fingerprint scanner can be flummoxed by a simple film screen protector. While the Galaxy S10 was the phone principally affected, the Note 10’s fingerprint scanner may fall prey to the same problem. While you think you may be safe by not having a screen protector, all a thief would have to do is apply a $2 screen protector from eBay to get access to your phone — rather reducing the point of the biometric protection.

Around a week later, Samsung quickly became aware of this problem and rolled out a software fix. As long as you keep your phone updated, it’s unlikely that you’ll have any issues. If you’re unable to update your phone, there are a couple of things you can try.

Workaround:

  • If you’re worried about the security hole, your only real option at the moment is to turn off the in-display fingerprint scanner as an unlock option. Head to Settings > Lock Screen > Screen Lock Type. Enter your PIN, password, or pattern to confirm. Then tap the switch next to Fingerprints to turn off the fingerprint scanner.
  • If you have a cover on your screen, Samsung recommends removing it. Delete all registered fingerprints before registering your fingerprint again.

Solution:

  • Find Settings and then select Software Update. If there are any updates available, select Download and Install.

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