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Samsung Galaxy Note 10 review: an enchanting smartphone for phablet fans

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 review: an enchanting smartphone for phablet fans

I haven't used a Samsung Galaxy Note in a while. The reason? The oversized dimensions and I have never felt the need for a feature like the S-Pen. The Note 10, however, with its more compact body than the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus, intrigued me.

Rating

Good

  • Design and build quality
  • Ergonomics
  • Display
  • Software

Bad

  • Battery life
  • Non-expandable memory
  • No headphone jack

Two colors and a single memory configuration

The basic Galaxy Note 10 has 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage, which is not expandable. It is offered as a dual SIM smartphone and costs $949. Just to clarify, the Galaxy Note 10+ has 12 GB of RAM and costs $1,049 with 256 GB of storage and $1,199 with 512 GB. The Note 10 Plus is also a dual SIM smartphone, and the memory can also be expanded.

The first truly ergonomic Note

'Small Note10' might seem like some kind of an oxymoron to some, but in my case, it was precisely its more compact design that impressed me. This model offers a body of 151x71.8x7.9 mm, weighs 168 grams and is really ergonomic and easy to handle with one hand.

I find it much more enjoyable to use than the Huawei P30 Pro. If there's one thing I'd do better it would be to make it a little less squared, a few more Huawei Mate 20 Pro curves would make it even more manageable.

androidpit samsung galaxy note 10 full front
The Note10 measures 151x71,8x7,9 mm and weighs 168 grams / © AndroidPIT

For the first time, Samsung decided to make the Note in two variants and the Note 10 is the more compact variant between the two but also the first 'small' Note from the South Korean company. The first Note ever, released in 2011, measured 146.9x82.95x9.65 mm, weighed 178 grams and integrated a screen with a diagonal of 5.29 inches (the screen of the Note 10 is 6.3 inches). It was slightly shorter, but it was wider, thicker and heavier, the same as the Note 3 Neo, released in 2014, one of the smallest of the brand.

The Note 10, from the design side, convinced me: beautiful, well finished, and usable with one hand

It still sounds a bit strange to me to think that this Note 10 is smaller than the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus and, as I have already pointed out on other occasions, I think that Samsung should focus on a single line consisting of several variants, with and without S-Pen.

androidpit samsung galaxy note 10 top slot
The top slot can accommodate two SIM cards but no microSD card / © AndroidPIT

But back to the Note 10! The physical keys, volume and Bixby button, are all on the left: something you'll have to get used to if you're used to using a smartphone with keys on the opposite side. This choice does not convince me, I would have preferred the power button along the top edge. But it's a personal matter: take the Note 10 in your hands and see for yourself whether or not this layout works for you.

androidpit samsung galaxy note 10 inserted pen
The S-Pen is well integrated into the body of the Galaxy Note10 / © AndroidPIT

The SIM card tray is located at the top while at the bottom, where we have the USB-C port, a speaker and the housing for the S-Pen, perfectly integrated into the body of the smartphone and easy to pull out. The photo compartment protrudes slightly from the body but the smartphone does not dance when resting on a flat surface. Compared to the Plus version, there is no support for microSD cards. Instead, there is IP68 certification.

The model I tested is the one in Aura Black, which is still elegant, even if the Aura Glow variant is definitely more original. It's a matter of taste in this case too! Overall, the design of the Note 10 convinced me: beautiful, well finished, usable with one hand, not particularly slippery, and really makes a good impression.

androidpit samsung galaxy note 10 fullback
In the black, the shell attracts fewer fingerprints / © AndroidPIT

An AMOLED display worthy of a Samsung

Note10 integrates a 6.3-inch Dynamic AMOLED panel with a resolution of 1080x2280 pixels. Unlike on the Plus version, you don't get a quad HD+ resolution, but you won't notice the difference. The screen does not house the notch but a hole that compares to the Galaxy S line, and is located in the center. The first days of use did not convince me so much but then I got used to it. You can also "hide" it by using a suitable wallpaper.

Excellent color reproduction, visibility from different angles, depth of blacks and brightness level. The Note10 on the display side only confirms Samsung's ability in this area: playback of videos, photos and any content will find justice on the screen of this Note10. For the next generation there is one thing the brand might consider offering: a 90Hz refresh rate. Currently offered by OnePus 7 Pro, it will arrive in 2020 on other flagships.

The Always-on Display also allows you to show info about the music you're listening to

In the dedicated display settings, you won't have many options but you can activate the blue filter, activate night mode that will simply set a dark theme so as not to tire your eyes too much, and choose between the natural or vivid screen mode.

androidpit samsung galaxy note 10 front camera
The 1080x2280 pixel resolution of the AMOLED display is all you need / © AndroidPIT

The screen supports HDR10+ and allows you to swipe the edge for quick access to your favorite apps. A little treat for lovers of customization is the ability to set a different character type as the cooky Choco for example (I used it in the days of the old Galaxy S3 mini!). Then there is the Always-on display that also allows you to show information about the music you are listening to.

Underneath the display is the ultrasonic fingerprint reader, which is fast and accurate enough. For now, I have found better performance with the one offered by the P30 Pro, but you will be satisfied also by the one offered by Samsung.

One UI with a slice of Android Pie

Android 9 Pie is running on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10  with One UI version 1.5 and security patches updated to September 1. I've never been a real fan of the Samsung interface but it's nice to see how it's getting better year after year. It is also much more convincing in terms of fluidity and design.

Having the S-Pen is not bad at all.

One UI offers many possibilities thanks to the integrated features: game Launcher for gamers, dark theme, wallpapers and downloadable themes, unlocking via fingerprint or face, a personal area to keep hidden apps and sensitive files, gestures, Bixby (for some it could be an advantage, to me Google Assistant is preferable) and the S-Pen. With the Note 10 you can rest assured from the security side and also from the side of notifications, the management is great.

androidpit samsung galaxy note 10 pen closeup
The S-Pen improves from year to year / © AndroidPIT

Samsung's magic nib needs no introduction on the Note line and continues to improve. For me it has never been a really convincing reason to buy a Note but having it available is not bad at all. I used it mainly for taking notes at meetings, events or while I was out and about with friends, or as a remote control for taking pictures. There's another use I enjoyed: signing documents with the nib! Some of you may find it useful, even when associated with gestures, but from that point of view, I was unable to appreciate it. For now at least.

An Exynos 9825 and 8GB of RAM

The Exynos 9825 octa-core processor made with a 7nm process runs on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 I tested. The GPU is a Mali G76MP12. There's 8GB of RAM (four less than possible on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus) and 256GB of internal storage UFS 3.0 that is not expandable.

I'm sure the memory offered by the device is sufficient for most users, however, the absence of microSD support on an expensive flagship makes you flinch a bit. Just because it limits the user's freedom, but maybe it's just a whim.

Otherwise, I had no problem with the Note 10. Gaming, video, daily tasks, and everything else went smoothly without overheating or lag. I only had problems with the PassMark memory test, which froze several times. The Note 10 is a good companion for adventures and 8GB of RAM is, in my opinion, more than enough. In terms of connectivity, the Note 10 offers LTE up to 2 Gbps, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0 and NFC. The picture is therefore complete.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 in benchmark tests

  3DMark Sling Shot Extreme 3DMark Sling Shot Vulkan 3DMark Sling Shot 3DMark IceStorm Extreme Geekbench 4 (Single/Multi) PassMark
Memory/Disk
Note 10 4905 4146 4923 52058 4501/10397 - /72578
Note 10 Plus 4907 4777 4338 54663 3652/10234 19065/72588

Clear sound but no headphone jack

The Note 10 does not offer a headphone jack. This, along with no upport for microSD, is one of the shortcomings that can be blamed on the brand. For the rest, the Note 10 does a good job on the audio side: the volume is high and the sound is clear. Calls are also clear. The bottom speaker and the integrated earpiece along the top edge provide an enveloping audio experience.

The headphones supplied, from AKG, are not bad but I mainly used wireless headphones. I have paired several headphones with the Note 10 and the process has always been quick.

androidpit samsung galaxy note 10 headphones
The AKG headphones supplied by the brand / © AndroidPIT

A good camera, but not the best

The camera configuration of the Note 10 is the same as that of the Samsung Galaxy S10: a triplet consisting of:

  • 12MP standard lens, variable aperture ƒ/1.5-2.4
  • 16MP wide-angle lens, ƒ/2.2
  • 12MP telephoto lens, ƒ/2.4, with 2x optical zoom

The Note10, therefore, renounces the ToF sensor compared to its Plus variant. The front of the Note 10 houses a 10MP lens with ƒ/2.2 aperture.

androidpit samsung galaxy note 10 main camera
Three lenses as on Galaxy Note 10, missing the ToF sensor available in the Plus version / © AndroidPIT

What about the final experience with this camera then? The Note 10 offers good shots, especially when the lighting conditions are good or at sunset. It can capture moments with the right light and with colors very close to the natural ones, without overdoing it, and capturing the moment better than other flagships . Shooting is quick and the app is easy to use. Samsung has integrated goodies into the camera app such as the Live Focus function, which allows you to blur the background in both photos and videos, and the Instagram function for more immediate sharing.

The Note 10's camera is one of the best, but not yet the best.

For night shots, although the dedicated mode does a decent job, it fails to match Huawei P30 Pro. I found myself with shots that were more blurred and noisier than those made with the Huawei smartphone. In the darker areas, it can offer more detail, this must be recognized, but the overall image is, in my opinion, less compelling. Although the Note 10 offers a good experience, there is something that still does not do as well as its rivals. Even at zoom level, it stops at 2x compared to the 5x of the P30 Pro.

On the video side, Samsung manages to get noticed. The smartphone allows you to shoot video in 4K at 60fps, even if electronically stabilized are only from 4K 30fps. Even on the audio side, videos perform really well, making the Note 10 the ideal companion for concerts where you are quite close to the stage (if you are too far away, you'll probably prefer the zoom of P30 Pro or Oppo Reno 10x Zoom).

3500 mAh on Note10 is not enough

The battery is the only real sore point on the Note 10: 3,500 mAh is not enough, despite the presence of the Exynos 9825 chip. You'll have to charge it every day, not always a night either. I used the Galaxy Note 10 during the IFA and had to charge it every afternoon for fear of being left dry late at night. I dusted off the power bank that I hadn't used in a long time for fear of being without a usable smartphone.

The battery is the sore point of the Note10

The Note 10 consumes power like a hungry animal: even without doing anything with the device, the charge level quickly drops faster than other devices such as Huawei P30 Pro and Huawei Mate 20 Pro. As with other devices, the use of the camera affects power consumption, but this is normal. Mark Battery Work 2.0 reported a result of nine hours and 51 minutes on the PC test.

Charging takes place via the USB-C 3.1 port, also used for the DeX function that moves the action to a PC. The Note 10 supports 25W fast charging (45 on the Note 10 Plus), 15W wireless and 9W reverse wireless.

 

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 technical specifications

Dimensions: 161.9 x 76.4 x 7.8 mm
Weight: 198 g
Battery size: 3500 mAh
Screen size: 6.3 in
Display technology: AMOLED
Screen: 2280 x 1080 pixels (400 ppi)
Front camera: 10 megapixels
Rear camera: 12 megapixels
Android version: 9 - Pie
RAM: 8 GB
Internal storage: 256 GB
Removable storage: Not available
Chipset: Samsung Exynos 9820
Number of cores: 2
4
Max. clock speed: 2.7 GHz
2.3 GHz
1.9 GHz
Connectivity: HSPA, LTE, NFC

An almost perfect smartphone

The Note 10 is a great smartphone for which it's easy to lose your head. Careful design, perfect size, excellent performance, a valuable screen, a mature and updated system in terms of security and an excellent camera. And then there's the S-Pen, which makes your smartphone different from any other smartphone.

If the absence of the headphone jack and microSD card slot can be excused, the battery performance weighs a little more on the final evaluation of the device. I'm really sorry, because I thought the Note 10 could be the best smartphone of the year considering the overall package, but it's not.

If you make intensive use of your smartphone you will not like to find yourself in the afternoon having to recharge your smartphone. If you love the Note line, the Note 10 Plus has a more powerful battery that solves the problem, while also offering the ability to extend the internal memory, if you are interested.

But if you've been bewitched by the Note 10 you'll probably buy it regardless of its battery and, in that case, you can be sure that you've made a good purchase even if you have to arm yourself with a power bank. Just consider that if the S-Pen is not so important to you, you can buy Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus online for a lot cheaper these days.

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13 comments

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  • Extremely expensive, no sd card, bad battery ( and I suppose it also can not be removed) so one would be paying for the hype and some shiny novelty gimmick.And next year it will start all over with a new model. This game is getting a bit old.I would pay,maybe, a high price for something built to last years


  • Wait until the note comes out and buy you a note 9 at reduced price..I been having my 9 for a year now and still packs a punch. It has everything you need and then some. Prices on phones have gone crazy and there is no reason to upgrade from a note 9 to a 10. It has some great new futures but ask yourself how much do really use them?..Is it worth the extra money?


  • I watched the review of this prominent phone SAMSUNG Galaxy Note10. It's just wow! I wish I could buy this but right now it's out of budget.


  • nope I don't really mind the air phone jack I'm a wireless guy, but sd card hell no even if I don't use the gbs I still want tht option first above all and the 3500 amh note 10 is not for me I'll go note 10+ but I have the note 9 and loving tht to death I'm gud I'll wait for note wht ever and see then if it's worth a up grade or not


  • Maybe for the first time I'll change my phone so soon.. I've got a Note 9. But the new screen is beautiful enought to make my mind...


  • Mark
    • Admin
    3 months ago Link to comment

    My Note 4 is my last note and last Samsung. To many good and even better options that are much cheaper.


    • Let me know which have a better screen and an S Pen.


      • idprolonden Sir please be more frequent. We are missing you.


      • Mark
        • Admin
        1 month ago Link to comment

        @ itprolondon
        My main problem with Samsung is their curved display, I personally hate them. For the S pen I have a tab S4 with one, which is non internal which I dislike. Until Samsung starts making flat displays I will be rocking with my LG V20 a very under rated phone in my opinion. I may jump to the V60 when it comes out with the optional second display. That looks good on the G8 X they just announced.


  • A note phone with a 1080p display, huh? No jack or micro s/d? 950.00+? Well, alittle dissapointing to say the least!


    • Save your pennies, buy a note9 or s10+. Both are cheaper & better than the base model note10. No jack, no micros/d support & a 1080p display. E-gadds!


    • Less for more.

      Should only have been the bigger Note. NOTE was always the biggest phone with all the new toys- now just a Galaxy range phone with S Pen.


    • Buy a note 9 after the note 10 comes out and save some money..you will not be disappointed.

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