The Note series from Samsung has always been the people’s go-to if they’re looking for an all-arounder, do-it-all device. But with the Samsung Galaxy Note 10, is that still the case?
As you all know, Samsung launched two Galaxy Note devices for the first time, which now includes a Plus model. But today, we’ll be checking out the smaller, regular Galaxy Note 10.
Here we want to know if you really need to spend more for the Plus model, or if you’re better off settling with the more affordable Samsung Galaxy Note 10 model. Let’s start.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Specs
- Android 9 Pie, Samsung One UI
- Dual SIM, Dual Standby
- 6.3-inch FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED display, 2280 x 1080 pixel resolution, ~403ppi
- Infinity-O, HDR10+ certified
- 2.7GHz Exynos 9825 7nm octa-core processor
- 8GB RAM
- Mali-G76 MP12 GPU
- 256GB internal storage
- 10-megapixel front camera, PDAF, f/2.2
- 12-megapixel (PDAF, OIS, f/1.5/2.4) + 16-megapixel (ultra-wide, f/2.2) + 12-megapixel (f/2.1, OIS) rear cameras
- S-Pen (6-axis sensor for gestures)
- AKG-tuned stereo speakers, Dolby Atmos
- No headphone jack
- Ultrasonic Fingerprint scanner, Face unlock
- 4G LTE Cat.20
- WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band
- Bluetooth 5.0
- GPS, Galileo, GLONASS, BDS
- USB Type-C
- Dimensions: 151.0 x 71.8 x 7.9mm
- Weight: 168g
- 3,500mAh non-removable battery, Reverse wireless charging
Design and Build Quality
Samsung has been making premium Android smartphones for years, and they definitely know their way around creating good-looking devices. Their flagship releases over the years — from the Galaxy S6 to the Galaxy S10, come with premium designs that’s both nice to look at and feels comfortable in the hands.
The same goes for the Samsung Galaxy Note 10. It’s sandwiched with Corning Gorilla Glass 6 in the front and back, which are curved on the edges and melt seamlessly on the sides. Everything is being held together by metal, which is slightly curved in the thin corners to house the physical buttons.
It sure is a fingerprint magnet, but it’s barely noticeable in the Aura Black model that we have here. The handset is also available in Aura White and the popular Aura Glow that flashes different reflection colors as it reacts to light.
Personally, I prefer the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 over the Plus model because of the size alone. In our hands-on review of both devices, I found that the Galaxy Note 10 is just the perfect size, even for a guy with big hands like me. It’s large enough to keep up with your demanding needs, but not too big to make it bulky in your pocket or strain your hands after long hours of usage.
One controversial design choices that Samsung made on the Note 10 is the punch-hole screen mounted in the middle. It sure is more distracting than the one like the Nova 5T has, where the punch-hole is placed in the far left corner, almost out of sight.
But Samsung’s main reason behind is this: having the front camera in the center makes for a more natural angle when taking selfies. Also, I think it gives the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 a distinctive look in a world full of notches and side-mounted punch-hole displays.
Oh, and here’s an unsurprising fact, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 has an all-screen display. The screen spans at 6.3-inches, with ultra-thin and uniform bezels all around thanks to the AMOLED panel.
One of its main changes over its predecessor is the design on the back. The triple camera setup is now in a vertical orientation in the top left. And the only remaining thing in the middle is the Samsung logo. If you’re wondering, the fingerprint scanner is now buried in the display as well.
At the top of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10, we have the dual-SIM tray (nano). Oddly enough, the option for storage expansion is exclusive to the Plus model. The right side only has the antenna band on the top, while on the right we have the lock/power and volume controls. Samsung could have kept the Bixby button, if only it’s remappable.
On the bottom, we have the second loudspeaker, USB Type-C port, and the slot for the S-Pen. Disappointingly, Samsung has removed the headphone jack on the Galaxy Note 10. This could be a huge deal-breaker for enthusiasts out there because they can no longer use 3.5mm headphones without an adapter.
Samsung is one of the biggest display manufacturers and suppliers in the industry. This is why it’s no surprise that the screen on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 is one of the best in the market.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 has a 6.3-inch Dynamic AMOLED screen with HDR10+ support. The downside is, this one only comes with an FHD+ resolution. If you think you need a QHD+ screen, and you can really notice the difference, you have to pay more for the Plus variant.
In our experience, the display on the Galaxy Note 10 is really great. The colors and contrast are top-notch, the size is enough for reading and watching videos, and the sharpness is really not an issue.
There’s also the always-on display that shows you the time and incoming notifications without having to power-on or pick-up the device.
Performance and Hardware
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 is powered by a 2.7GHz Exynos 9825 octa-core processor, with 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, and Mali-G76 graphics. It also has a vapor chamber cooler for better thermals for whatever heavy task you’re doing.
Speaking of which, performance is never an issue in a flagship smartphone like this. It can handle anything without breaking a sweat. From doing basic and daily tasks, mobile gaming, and even video editing. Clearly, the Galaxy Note 10 has covered all the bases in terms of performance.
Besides its powerful hardware, Samsung’s new One UI also plays a major role in making sure the device runs fast and feels fast.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 benchmarks
Software and User Interface
Like I said, the Samsung One UI plays a major role in improving the user experience in the latest Galaxy devices. And partnered with Android 9 Pie, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 is running in top condition.
The software reflects the phone’s minimalistic but powerful hardware. The lock screen is clean, with a tiny strip below the time and date that houses the icons of the apps with unseen notifications.
We also have a clean home screen, which you can swipe up to see the full list of apps, or far left for the Bixby search.
Of course, we have the UI features that are standard in Note devices. Edge Panels let you have quick access to select apps, contacts, and others.
I also like that there’s a dedicated Instagram share button on the camera app. If you remember, Samsung teamed up with the social media app to make sure that the content uploaded on select Galaxy smartphones are in great quality. Something that other Android devices have problems on achieving.
The Gallery app also has a built-in video editor. It’s nothing against apps like Premiere Rush, but it’s enough to help you produce decent videos. Also, using the S-Pen can really encourage you to use this built-in editor.
Samsung kept the camera app clean to make it easier to use. The company also used its own keyboard instead of Google’s. It’s easy to get used to, although the keys feel narrower than usual, so typing errors will be inevitable in the first few tries.
To wrap up, Samsung’s mobile interface finally matured with the One UI. It’s clean, straightforward, and doesn’t get in the way of whatever you want to do with your device fast.
The S-Pen is still one of the main reasons why some people are still patronizing the Galaxy Note line. And with this year’s edition, it now comes with more features that encourage you to use it more.
For one, it has a built-in battery that lasts for ten hours, which recharges every time you put it back in on its own slot at the bottom of the device. It also has built-in Bluetooth connectivity and a six-axis sensor that detects gestures.
Dubbed as Air Actions, you can press the button and flick the S-Pen like a magic wand to enable commands. Rotate it clockwise to switch to the front camera, left/right to browse the gallery, up/down to adjust the volume and more.
You can also use the S-Pen edit videos on the built-in video editor with more precision and ease. The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 also has a feature called ‘AR Doodle’. You can draw anything using the S-Pen in AR space.
The gives the S-Pen on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 more purpose, in case you’re not in to writing notes and drawings a lot.
Let’s start with the biometrics. The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 still uses the company’s ultrasonic fingerprint scanner. But compared to the one we saw on the Galaxy S10, it’s now much faster and more reliable.
However, I noticed that I don’t even have to scan my finger anymore as the face unlock feature already unlocked the device for me the moment I picked it up.
Software-wise, the Galaxy Note 10 has Samsung Pass, an alternative to Google Passwords. We also have Secure Folder for any confidential files you have, Google Play Protect, and constant security updates.
Samsung devices might not be regarded as the best camera phones around. That’s due to the fact that they’d sometimes do a lot of software processing to overdress the images. But on the upside, it translates to more vibrant and well-contrasted images that are ready to ship online without any editing.
That continues with the Samsung Galaxy Note 10. The 12-megapixel primary camera with PDAF takes really colorful and punchy photos with great contrast. In addition, the aperture shifts from f/1.5 to f/2.4 so you can take bright and bokehlicious portraits, or sharp shots of larger subjects.
It also has built-in OIS and other super steady software feature that lets you take 4K videos with good stability, even in handheld.
Most devices will offer you a whopping 48-megapixel sensor, which would still take 12-megapixel images with pixel-binning. Samsung is cutting the nonsense and went with a real 12-megapixel sensor for better light capture even in low-light.
For an even better shot at low-light scenarios, you can enable the Night Mode feature for an improved and brighter image.
Of course, we also have the 16-megapixel ultra-wide lens on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10. Just like the former, this lets you take Instagram-ready image. But now, with a wider field of view so you can cram in more subjects in a single frame.
A 12-megapixel telephoto lens is also present, if you really want to get close in on a subject without any loss in quality.
Lastly, there’s the 10-megapixel front camera. Just like the primary one, don’t let the low megapixel count throw you off as it can actually take well-lit and sharp selfies with life-like colors. You can amp up the fun by using its software novelties like AR Doodles and more.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 comes with all the flagship features that you might need on a device. Samsung clearly covered all the bases on this device, so it’s no surprise that it also has all the antennas you’d need to stay connected.
It comes with 4G LTE Cat.20 that provided a fast and seamless connection to my mobile network. Also, I have no complaints with its dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0, and NFC when I paired the device in our other accessories at home and at the office.
Call quality is also great on the Galaxy Note 10. If your job is heavy on making calls, this one will fit just right in, since it’s also light and sleek. You can hold it in your ears for minutes just fine.
One of the main compromises that the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 has over the Plus model is the battery. This thing only comes with a 3,500mAh capacity, while the latter has a larger 4,300mAh. The fast charging support was also downgraded 25W from 45W.
On the upside, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 also has a reverse wireless charging feature. It can share battery charge on any wireless-charging supported devices by simply placing it on the back of the device. At 9W, it’s not the fastest charging solution, but it’s enough for emergencies.
That capacity is actually uninspiring, even for a mid-range device. With that, it’s no surprise that battery life is not the strongest suit of this device.
We ran PCMark’s battery test, which runs a simultaneous synthetic workload until the battery reaches 20%. We did it with the WiFi off and the volume and screen brightness set to 50%, and the device got a score of 9 hours and 40 minutes.
For comparison, a similar flagship device like the Huawei P30 Pro got twice of that score with 18 hours and 3 minutes with its 4,300mAh battery.
There’s no denying that, in terms of overall specs and features, the Galaxy Note 10 Plus is the better option. However, after spending a lot of time with the Samsung Galaxy Note 10, we finally found its appeal.
This one is for those who have been longing to own a Galaxy Note device, but doesn’t want to always carry a giant device. If you really need that S-Pen, and all the productivity and novelty features that come with it, then you might want to save money and get this sleeker, lighter Galaxy Note 10 model instead.
But then again, if you want to best smartphone that Samsung currently makes, you can skip this one and get the Galaxy Note 10 Plus. Alternatively, if the S-Pen doesn’t appeal to you, you might be better off with the Samsung Galaxy S10 or the S10 Plus.
It may lack the prominent accessory, but the Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus actually feature better screens, a much smaller and compact design, and tons of other flagship-level features for a cheaper price.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 pricing and availability in the Philippines
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 is available in the Philippines for Php53,990. On the other hand, the Galaxy Note 10 Plus retails for Php60,990.
You can get it at tons of Samsung stores, kiosks, and multi-brand shops nationwide. It’s also available in a lot of retailers online and through Samsung’s official store in Lazada.
- Compact for a Note device
- Great display
- Improved S-Pen
- Reliable performance
- Great cameras
- Ultrasonic fingerprint still needs improving
- No headphone jack
- Battery life could be better