Technophile

Galaxy Note 10 Lite review: Best of an iconic phone for less

Mala Bhargava | Updated on February 11, 2020 Published on February 10, 2020

Galaxy Note 10 Lite

With a few trade-offs, Samsung manages the balancing act of price with the inclusion of the unique digital pen of the Note on a mid-ranger

Here’s a masterstroke from Samsung. It just made its own flagship killer. With the introduction of the Galaxy Note 10 Lite, that too in selected markets, Samsung brings its brilliant S-Pen to a mainstream consumer base. If it’s the newest OnePlus phones that held the flagship killer title all this time, Samsung now throws a spanner in the works by offering a unique smartphone at half its price. The Note 10 is currently ₹69,999 and the Note 10+ ₹79,999. Bringing the best parts of these expensive phones to a new Lite series, we now have the Note 10 Lite at ₹38,999 for 6GB/128GB and ₹40,999 for 8GB/128GB. It’s more than a bit of a worry for OnePlus who has been pushing Samsung out of the premium segment for a while now. 

Obviously Samsung had to make a bunch of compromises to bring the price down by half. The new Note 10 Lite comes with the same current Samsung design and its favourite prismatic look on the back. For this set of Notes, the set of cameras are in a square rather than the horizontal window which was there before. But here's what is different. 

What is so Lite?

Most immediately noticeable is the fact that the back is not glass, but plastic. It’s elegant enough and does a fair job of imitating the look of the glass back phone, but there is always the knowledge that it is not. You can mitigate that quite a bit by using the supplied case. Once that is on, you can’t tell whether the back is glass or plastic because all you’re feeling is the plastic case.

The camera set, which protrudes a bit now recedes more safely in its window so you can rest easy. The S-Pen is harder to quickly press to take out because its button too recedes too much into the plastic case. This is a bit of a pity because the whole idea of the S-Pen is for it to be really handy — one quick press and it should slip out. But with the case it is too fiddle and you will have to position it to pull out the pen. If you find some other kind of flip case, perhaps that will solve this problem. 

The metal frame of the phone makes it feel well built and sturdy, except you should know the front is just Gorilla Glass 3. Once you switch on the phone, you forget any differences though, because as ever, the screen is beautiful, specially with the single little ‘bindi’ hole that houses the front camera.

 

As for the rest of the compromises, the processor is Exynos 9810 -- same as the one on Galaxy S9 in 2018. Let’s see how it fares..The RAM and storage is also much less than the main Note 10 series offers. The Lite has no 12GB variant or 256 or 512GB of storage. There’s no wireless charging support, no water and dust resistance, and no dual speakers. There’s a slight difference in aperture level in the primary camera. These are the main differences though. 

What is not so Lite..

Other than these cut backs, you have what is really the best about the Note flagship — the digital S-Pen and a screen it can work on. The S-Pen can write on the sleeping screen for a quick jotting down of something important, for writing long notes, sketching, drawing, and colouring up, but there is a whole lot of other things it can do.

Users like just using the pen to navigate around the device because it can scroll, flip through photos and much more. It can also be used to select something and turn writing to text, translate, or create a gif. The pen can doodle on a video and create a ‘live’ message where written texts appear with effects. 

There are a few camera functions one can perform using the S-Pen including using it as a remote to capture photos and video and to flip cameras — though not camera modes. But if you put the phone up somehow to make it steady, the remote trigger can make quite a difference to photography. The tiny S-Pen actually is the most advanced digital stylus and can be used for productivity and play, and is the reason the Note has been such a hit. Only a one or two air actions are limited.

 

Also not so lite is the 4,500mAh battery this phone comes with along with support for 45W charging and a 25W charger in the box. Battery life holds up very well too. The Note has never been the lightest and slimmest of phones and the big battery does add to the heft, but the ergonomics are still good as the handset is narrow enough to hold comfortably. 

Those who have favourite headphones and who use the phone to connect to filming equipment are thrilled to see the 3.5mm headphone jack back on this device. There’s also memory expansion via the hybrid SIM tray. All sensors are present and accounted for. The display is a 6.7-inch 1080x2400 with 394ppi density. It supports HDR. The phone has a single speaker and it perhaps needed to be a bit louder. 

With 6 to 8GB RAM, Android 10 and Samsung’s OneUI 2.0, the Exynos 9810 is able to a pretty good job. Performance feels quite smooth and the phone holds up very well with intensive tasks like long camera use for video, for example..

Galaxy Note 10 Lite

 

The primary camera is a 12 MP, with f/1.7, 27mm (wide), 1/2.55", 1.4µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, and OIS. Also, a 12 MP, f/2.4, 52mm telephoto lens, 1/3.6", 1.0µm, PDAF, OIS, 2x optical zoom. And there’s an ultrawide lens which is also a 12 MP with  f/2.2 aperture. The cameras do pretty well, with an improvement this time in low light captures. Samsung’s cameras have always had a really nice dynamic range and that continues on the Note 10 Lite as well. Colours from its images are nice and natural and detailed. There/s a 32MP f/2..2 camera in the tiny punch-hole which takes good selfies, though you’ll still find yourself softened. A Super Steady mode stabilises video. It’s supposed to be as smooth as if you were using a gimble.

The Note 10 Lite is pitted against the OnePlus 7T which has the advantage of its 90Hz screen, very snappy performance, a light and much-liked software interface, and its own following. But the killer feature of the Note 10 Lite is obviously that digital pen which brings in features not found elsewhere, while still being about as powerful as the 7T and a somewhat better camera set.

Price: ₹38,999 for 6GB/128GB, ₹40,999 for 8GB/128GB

Pros: S-Pen adds many productivity and other features, excellent screen, smooth performance, well optimised, good battery, solid build, good camera specially with special steady mode, Samsung Pay present

Cons: Many may not be comfortable with an older processor as it is not that future proof, no storage variants, a bit large and heavy

 

Published on February 10, 2020
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