Tuesday , 15 October 2019

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+ Hands-on, Quick Review: All In

We go hands-on with Samsung’s new Notes!

Today Samsung unveiled the latest iteration of their long-running phablet, the Galaxy Note. But unlike last year’s offerings, Samsung has drastically changed the design language of their new Galaxy 10 and Galaxy 10 Plus to appeal to a wider, broader audience, while adding quite an impressive array of AR tricks and new hardware upgrades to keep the phone feeling fresh. We’ve spent a few hours with Samsung’s new phones, and here’s what we think about them:

Drastic redesign

We’re not going to lie: we were a little surprised at how the new Notes looked in person. We’ve already had an idea of what to expect for the new phones when the leaks for them came out a few weeks ago, but actually seeing them in person and holding both in our hands, the differences in design language compared to last year’s phones are striking.

Samsung has gotten rid of the gentle curves of the previous generation and has replaced them with a boxier, more aggressive curved profile.

Even the centrally mounted, often horizontally oriented camera module which has become a staple design element for both their Note and S series of flagships wasn’t spared, as the triple camera module on the Note 10 (and quadruple module for the Note 10 Plus) has been moved to the upper left side of the rear, with the cameras now vertically stacked.

Color options for the phone are now less reserved, and while the phone still comes in conservative black and white, it’ll also be available in flashier colors, though the Philippines only get the Aura Glow color aside from the two previous ones we mentioned.

Like the Galaxy S10 earlier this year, the Galaxy Note 10 will come in two variants: a regular 6.3-inch variant, and an even bigger 6.8-inch model. Samsung’s dual model approach is officially the norm for their flagship phones – allowing even people with smaller hands to partake in the company’s newest hotness.

Samsung’s new Notes are thinner than ever, with a 7.9mm overall thickness. With the redesign, Samsung’s new Notes are no longer unwieldy phones that require two hands to use – the Galaxy Note 10 feels just right in the hands, and even the taller Galaxy Note 10 Plus is easier to wrangle one-handed even for people with smaller digits.

One thing we really appreciate about the new design language for both phones is the removal of the annoying Bixby button. While Bixby is still inside the phone, the third button is now gone – leaving just the power and volume rocker on the left side of the device.

One design change that’s guaranteed to make Note faithful unhappy is the removal of the 3.5mm jack. Samsung has resisted the removal of the aging connector for the longest time, but that’s no longer the case with both variants of the phone. They are including a 3.5mm dongle that connects via USB Type-C with every purchase of the note, but alas, that’s a poor compromise for many people that still put a premium on the headphone jack.

The most beautiful screen on a Note ever, marred by the ugliest camera cut-out on Earth

The Galaxy Note 10 and 10 Plus’ Infinity O display looks amazing. Samsung makes extremely good displays for both their phones and for flagship devices of other brands, so it’s not surprising that the one on the Note 10 and Note 10 Plus look absolutely fantastic. The Galaxy Note 10 sticks with a 2280 x 1080 resolution panel, while the Galaxy Note 10 Plus gets a 3040 x 1440 resolution panel. Both utilize the company’s Dynamic AMOLED panel technology.

The bezels on the panel are razor-thin, which is surprising considering that the bezel size on Samsung’s other flagship, the S10, was already plenty thin.

While the Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10 Plus have the prettiest displays on Earth, they’re marred by the ugliest front camera cut-out on Earth. Samsung has made the baffling decision to move the O cutout from the upper left side of the phone where it disappears in your peripheral vision, to the center, where you’re guaranteed to see it no matter how much you try to ignore it.

Samsung says that the placement of the camera makes for better selfies, but in all honesty, we’d rather sacrifice selfie performance for the sake of not getting annoyed at the black blob in the middle of the screen when we use the phone in portrait mode.

The Galaxy Note 10 and 10 Plus uses an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner, which is more secure than the regular on-screen fingerprint scanner used by more affordable flagships.

The S-pen made even mightier

Every year Samsung finds ways to make the S-pen more powerful and more versatile, and this year’s iteration is no exception. The S-pen gets a couple of new tricks, most notably a 6-axis sensor including a gyro and accelerometer.

The new sensors allow you to switch through camera modes when you’re taking a selfie from a distance, for example, as well as remotely controlling camera functions like switching between front and rear snappers, zooming in, etc.

You can also use the S-pen to make AR doodles, essentially doodles that follow your head’s movements when you’re using the front camera. The S-pen also gets better handwriting recognition, essential for people who are insatiable note-takers.

Quad cameras on a Samsung flagship

No matter what version of the Note 10 you get, you get access to three rear cameras: an ultra-wide 16-megapixel f/2.2 shooter, the 12-megapixel main camera with a variable aperture of f/1.5 and f/2.2 with OIS, as well as a 12-megapixel 2x optical telephoto lens with an f/2.1 aperture.

The Galaxy Note 10 Plus gets one more camera: a time of flight camera for better AR experiences. We’ve seen ToF implementations in other brands before, and the quick explanation is that it gives better and more accurate depth and distance information for better AR implementation and video tricks, like being able to apply color to a single part of a scene, for example.

The front camera for both phones consists of a 10-megapixel shooter with an f/2.2 aperture lens.

Samsung’s attached new tricks to the video side of things. Samsung’s Live Focus can now handle video as well, which means you can add artificial bokeh to videos as well as stills. This works on both the front and rear cameras as well.

Additional tricks include being able to isolate certain elements of the background and add effects, like black and white backgrounds and the like. Pretty slick.

Better performance this time around

Samsung usually uses the same processor from their earlier Galaxy S series on the Galaxy Note, but that’s not the case this year. The Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10 Plus uses the company’s newly announced Exynos 9825 processor to address many of the complaints of the regular Exynos 9820 chipset that’s in the Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus.

The new processor is made with a new, 7nm EUV process, which is a little smaller than the 8nm process used on the 9820. The processor should be more power-efficient than the previous generation, though since we weren’t allowed to run benchmarks on the pre-production phones we had on hand during the preview, we can’t really tell you how much more powerful it is compared to the Exynos 9820 on the Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus.

The US version of the Galaxy Note 10 and 10 Plus will come with Qualcomm’s recently announced Snapdragon 855 Plus, which we recently saw on another flagship, ASUS’ ROG Phone II. No matter what processor your phone gets though, the Galaxy Note 10 will come with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage as standard, though the phone loses the capability to add expandable storage, which isn’t such a big blow considering the amount of space available on the phone. The Note 10 Plus gets even more RAM – 12GB – and two storage options: 256GB and 512GB.

Fast charging is incredibly FAST

Samsung’s finally managed to catch up to rival Huawei when it comes to fast charging. While the Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus had a rather sedate 15W charging speed, the Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10 Plus has an incredibly fast 45W charging capability, which is even faster than Huawei’s already ultra-quick 40W charging that’s on the P30 Pro. Like Samsung’s other flagships, the Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10 Plus has both wireless and reverse wireless charging capabilities.

The Galaxy Note 10 has a 3,500mAh battery, with the Note 10 sporting an even bigger 4,300mAh battery.

Top peso for top hardware

The new members of Samsung’s Galaxy won’t be cheap, which is understandable considering what you’re getting. The Galaxy Note 10 is slated to arrive with a Php 53,990 price tag. The 256GB variant of the Galaxy Note 10 Plus has a Php 60,990 price tag, while the 512GB variant has a Php 72,990 sticker price.

Pre-orders for the Galaxy Note 10 starts at August 9 until the 18th. Pre-order customers for the Galaxy Note 10 Plus with 512GB of storage will score a 43-inch UHD Smart TV as a freebie. Pre-order customers for the 256GB version of the Galaxy Note 10 Plus has a choice of a free 8-inch Galaxy Tab A, free store token worth Php 4,000 or a free upgrade to the 512GB variant of the Note 10 Plus.

Regular Galaxy Note 10 pre-order customers have the option of getting Free Galaxy Buds or an in-store token worth Php 3,000 if they pre-order within August 9 to the 18th.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 specs

  • Exynos 9825 octa-core processor
  • 8GB of RAM
  • 6.3-inch 2280 x 1080 resolution Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O display with HDR10+ certification
  • 256GB of storage
  • Triple rear cameras: 12-megapixel f/1.5-2.2 main camera with OIS; 12-megapixel f/2.1 telephoto camera 2x optical zoom and OIS; 16-megapixel f/2.2 ultra-wide-angle camera; with Dual Pixel, 960FPS Super Slo-Mo video
  • 10-megapixel f/2.2 front camera with AF and 4K video recording
  • 3G, LTE
  • Dual SIM
  • WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS, A-GPS, Glonass, BeiDou, USB-C, ultrasonic under-display fingerprint sensor
  • S-Pen with 6-axis sensor
  • 3,500mAh battery with 25W fast charging capability, Wireless charging, reverse wireless charging
  • Android 9.0 Pie with OneUI

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus specs

  • Exynos 9825 octa-core processor
  • 12GB of RAM
  • 6.8-inch 3040 x 1440 resolution Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O display with HDR10+ certification
  • 256GB/512GB of storage, expandable via MicroSD
  • Quadruple rear cameras: 12-megapixel f/1.5-2.2 main camera with OIS; 12-megapixel f/2.1 telephoto camera 2x optical zoom and OIS; 16-megapixel f/2.2 ultra-wide-angle camera; Time of Flight (ToF) camera; with Dual Pixel, 960FPS Super Slo-Mo video
  • 10-megapixel f/2.2 front camera with AF and 4K video recording
  • 3G, LTE
  • Dual SIM
  • WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS, A-GPS, Glonass, BeiDou, USB-C, ultrasonic under-display fingerprint sensor
  • S-Pen with 6-axis sensor
  • 4,300mAh battery with 45W fast charging capability, Wireless charging, reverse wireless charging
  • Android 9.0 Pie with OneUI

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