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Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ review: Blazing-fast performance, one of the best displays in the market

If you like large, powerful phones, this is nearly perfect.

, ET Bureau|
Sep 07, 2019, 05.37 PM IST
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Agencies
009_galaxynote10_product_im
The Note 10+ is pricey, but it’s also so fully-loaded.
Price : Rs 79,999 (12GB/256GB)
Rs 89,999 (12GB/512GB)

Rating:
****1/2

Specifications : Samsung Exynos 9825 octa core, 12GB RAM, 256/512GB storage (expandable up to 1TB, hybrid SIM slot), 6.8-inch dynamic amoled HDR10+ display (3040 x 1440 pixels, 19:9, 498ppi, Gorilla Glass 6), ultrasonic in-display fingerprint scanner, quad camera (12MP f1.5/2.4 OIS + 12MP f2.1 telephoto OIS + 16MP f2.2 ultrawide + ToF 3D sensor), 10MP f2.2 front camera, 15W Qi wireless charging (reverse charge), IP68, WiFi ac/ax, BT5.0, NFC, USB 3.1, 4,300mAh battery, 196 grams

Pros: Powerful hardware, unique S-Pen features, futuristic design with ultra-thin bezels, brilliant dynamic amoled display, Gorilla Glass 6 front + back, IP68 rating, stereo speakers

Cons: Aura Glow quickly attracts smudges and fingerprints, no 3.5mm audio jack

You have a lot of money to spend. You have high expectations from a smartphone – rightly so. You can’t be bothered with trivial things like running low on RAM or storage space. It’s not about flaunting a flashy new gadget – you need a serious productivity tool that has to do everything right. Right about now, the latest Samsung Galaxy Note will be pretty hard to ignore.

In 2011, the first Galaxy Note was the large screen phone around. It created the need and demonstrated the usefulness of a larger display, especially for those who like to use their phone for work. Now that every phone is big and 6-inch screens are sort of the norm, this new 6.8-inch Note 10+ doesn’t look so massive anymore. If you still think it’s too large, Samsung also has the smaller Note 10 which has a lower resolution 6.3-inch dynamic amoled vs 6.8-inch, one camera less and a smaller battery.

Samsung’s premium range of Android phones are easily among our favourites. And the reason simply is that they get most things right. The software is lean and clutter-free, cameras are effortless, you’ll never be wanting on performance and the amoled displays are spectacular.

Dazzling First Impressions
You’ve probably only seen the Note 10 in the mesmerizing Aura Glow colour. It looks more like shiny silver when the ambient light fades. Shine a light on it though and you’ll be greeted with a kaleidoscope of patterns and colours.

Next, flip it over. To say that the display is eye-catching is putting it very mildly. Thanks to the ultra-slim bezels, the Note 10+ is really narrow and really slim (7.9mm). By way of comparison, the Note 9 was 8.8mm thick. Talking about width and hand feel, it’s also interesting to compare screen sizes: Note 9 was 6.4-inches and 76.4mm wide while the bigger Note 10+ is 6.8-inches and 77.2mm (less than a millimetre of difference).
​The mesmerizing Aura Glow colour can get consumed by fingerprints and smudges.​
The mesmerizing Aura Glow colour can get consumed by fingerprints and smudges.

The Note 10 is very futuristic for sure and our only complaint is that the shiny Aura Glow is consumed by fingerprints and smudges way too soon. If you prefer more subdued hues, there are other colours to choose from such as Aura White and Aura Black. There’s a case included in the box and a screen protector is pre-applied too.

The Centerpiece - Infinity O Display
The display is the highlight of the new Note. A lot of effort has gone into making the bezels thinner all around and this is particularly noticeable at the top/bottom. Samsung’s earlier designs put multiple sensors at the top, necessitating a wider forehead and a thicker chin to match. By putting that front camera in the top centre of the display, Samsung chose to ignore the pop-up camera trend. That means the water resistance is not affected – it’s IP68 certified. The good part is that the camera cut-out is tiny – tinier than the typical hole-punch at a diameter of 4mm. The screen curves down towards the edges while the glass back panel curves up. The bezels on this phone are just a sliver and it has a 91%+ screen-to-body ratio.

Differences between Note 10 & Note 10+
Both phones get a dynamic amoled display but the Note 10+ has a higher resolution (3040 x 1440 pixels, 498 pixels per inch compared to FHD+ 2280 x 1080 pixels, 401 pixels per inch for Note 10). Battery on the Note 10 is 3,500mAh while the Note 10 + gets a much more sizeable 4,300mAh. Apart from the increase in screen size/resolution and battery size, Note 10+ gets four key extras: an extra depth scanning (ToF) camera, microSD slot (hybrid SIM slot), more RAM (12GB instead of 8GB), a higher storage option (512GB) and support for much faster battery charging (45W vs 25W – though the 45W charger is an optional extra and not included in the box)
​Battery on the Note 10 is 3,500mAh while the Note 10 + gets a much more sizeable 4,300mAh.​
Battery on the Note 10 is 3,500mAh while the Note 10 + gets a much more sizeable 4,300mAh.

The Supercharged New S-Pen
The stylus or S-Pen has always been integral to a Note device. It has all the usual features: Bluetooth remote for the camera, it charges in the slot, auto connects to the phone, has hover actions, low latency, pressure sensitivity etc. But this time, they’ve engineered a much longer battery life (up to 10 hours with a new Lithium Titanate battery). There’s no need to slot the S-Pen back to charge it in the middle of a creative drawing.

The other new additions are the gyro sensor and accelerometer. This means that S-Pen can track movements in free space and you can control the phone interface with a few gestures – kind of like waving a magic wand. This is particularly useful in the camera, where you can change modes with a left-right swipe and zoom in/out using circular gestures before finally starting capture. Samsung is opening up the new S-Pen SDK to developers so we will soon see gestures coming into other apps and games too.

This S-pen is not compatible with any previous Note phones or any other phones. You might think that all this tech has made the S-Pen heavier but that’s not true. It weighs just 3 grams – about as much as three paperclips. In case you were wondering, the size of the S-Pen remains the same on both the Note 10 and Note 10+.

New Software Features
The software experience will be familiar for anyone who’s used a premium Samsung Galaxy or Note phone. This includes all the little S-Pen tricks like quick actions, jotting, doodling, story-boarding, annotating, scrap-booking etc. One neat feature is handwriting recognition – just jot down something in the notes app and it can convert to editable text. It works well if you write neatly.

If you’re using a Windows 10 computer, you can download Microsoft’s ‘Your Phone’ app. Once you pair the phone with the PC, you’ll be able to mirror the phone’s screen on the PC and basically control the phone with the PC’s keyboard. It also allows transfer of files between the Windows PC and your phone.

Like many previous Samsung phones and tablets, DeX is included. If you remember, DeX mode allows the phone to give you a desktop-like experience when you connect it to an external monitor. DeX is a most overlooked feature and it can be really powerful. All you need is a USB C to HDMI cable or dongle and you can use any external display, projector or TV. You can also pair the phone with a Bluetooth keyboard/mouse for a complete PC-like experience. The phone remains functional even when powering DeX on an external display.

Camera Features & Performance
The Note 10 gets a triple camera while the 10+ is technically a quad camera thanks to the addition of a tiny ToF (time of flight) 3D sensor. You get a wide angle camera with dual aperture, an ultrawide and a telephoto lens. The wide and telephoto lenses are optically stabilised too.

This is a very similar camera setup to the S10 series. There’s nothing to complain about though since the dual aperture is still unique to Samsung and these cameras have more than proved their mettle in the past.

There are several new software features such as advanced video stabilisation (OIS + EIS), video bokeh, AR Doodles, a feature that focuses (zooms into) the sound when you zoom in and advanced video editing options. The ToF sensor on Note 10+ lets you scan objects upto 80cm in 3D. With the 3D scanner add-on (you have to download it from the Galaxy Store), you can walk around a small object and get a 3D avatar of it. The camera is very similar to the S10 and it delivers excellent results most of the time.

There’s a new night mode that captures and combines multiple photos into one brighter image. Night mode is good – just not Pixel good! The live focus video also has trouble determining edges of the subject, particularly with the front camera.
Untitled-6

Notable Omissions
The 3.5mm audio jack is gone! As compensation, you get a neat pair of AKG USB-C headphones with braided cable in the box. You also won’t see the iris scanner for secure unlocking. The only secure way to unlock the Note 10 is with the ultrasonic in-display fingerprint scanner. The heart rate sensor and SpO2 sensor (it was always next to the camera in premium Galaxy phones) is gone. The idea is that these sensors can move to wearable devices. And finally, the dedicated Bixby button is gone too. If you want to call up the assistant, you need to long press the haptic feedback area (fingerprint area) or you can remap the functionality of the power button.

Summing It All Up
Yes, the Note 10+ is pricey. But it’s also so fully-loaded that there’s a lot of stuff we still haven’t spoken about. For instance, the internal storage is blazing fast (1500MB/s read, 600MB/s write speeds), it has USB 3.1 for fast transfers from a computer, it can charge up other phones fairly fast (9W reverse wireless charging), you can record UHD video with the front camera (that’s rare too), streaming HDR content looks absolutely stunning and the 4,300mAh battery is good enough for close to 8 hours of screen on time (or a day and a half of use). If you like large, powerful phones, this is nearly perfect. It’s what geek dreams are made of!

If you’re interested in buying, do keep a lookout for the special deals such as the 50% discount on Galaxy Buds or Galaxy Watch Active or the upgrade bonus of Rs 6,000 (which is in addition to any existing cashback offers, discounts or operator offers – this is in effect at the time of writing, valid till Sep 30, 2019).

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Tech Treat

7 Sep, 2019
September is a busy month in the tech world. Ahead of Apple's annual event where it will unveil its new iPhone line-up, IFA - Europe's largest consumer tech conference, kicked-off in Berlin.The event (full form: Internationale Funkausstellung) will host about 1,800 companies from 50 nations.Tracing its origins back to 1924, the annual exhibition sees tech giants showcase highly-anticipated devices. Here's a look at the phones from the event.
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