Galaxy Note 10 Plus impressions: Everything and more

Mala Bhargava | Updated on September 05, 2019 Published on September 05, 2019

The original big phone now has an icing of new features making it even more powerful and productive

Over almost a decade of a lifetime so far, the Note has remained the complex, powerful and extra-large phone that it started out as. A couple of times, this super-phone brought never-seen features, marking a big step-change over the previous year’s version. In a world that has changed so much, it isn’t quite that easy to keep changing the game, but it’s more than obvious that Samsung tries to give the next Note everything it’s got. It doesn’t always mean that users of the older version need to rush out and get the new arrival, but it should certainly have strong appeal for those who want a maximised, almost-computer in their pockets. The phone that started the very trend of large phones is now a 6.8-inch-screen device but because that may be too unwieldy for some, has a smaller version — which is how we have the Note 10+ and the Note 10 regular. We’re capturing our first impressions of the larger variant.

Mesmerising colours

The new Note 10+ is mesmerising both on the front and the back. There are a few colour options, but the Aura Glow variant traps a rainbow pallet inside glass in a way that gives you a shifting colour-scape of shades as you move the device around and let it catch the light. If you’ve seen photographs of it, you’ll imagine it as being brightly coloured but it has its subtlety in real life and shoots colours purely depending on the angle at which it’s held. It shows finger smudges so you’ll want to use the case in the box. But I’m sure anyone who owns it will often slip the case off to gaze at the play of colours and light. I certainly did that with the review unit.

What’s mesmerising on the front of the phone is the fact that there’s only a breath of a bezel all around now and the Samsung-style fantastic AMOLED 6.8-inch screen is left to come into its own with nothing but a small dot of a ‘bindi’ on top in the centre to house the front camera. Notches and cut-outs have been a distracting and annoying eyesore, but the Note 10’s little dot is barely noticeable and very easy to live with. There’s really a lot of screen, all of it rich and lush, riveting the eyes to it. What’s amazing is how Samsung fits in more into a body that is about as big as the previous Note 9’s. Both sides of this phone are Gorilla Glass 6 but you’ll still have to be very careful with this one. Small borders will inevitably mean more vulnerability.

One additional point about the design of the Note 10+ is that the power and volume buttons have moved to the left side, very disorienting for those who are expecting it to be on the right, as it typically is. Muscle memory will have to develop to automatically reach out to the left. Meanwhile, the special Bixby button is gone and is now incorporated into the power button. So, pressing the power button will turn off the screen but not shut down the device and a long-press will activate Bixby. To turn off completely, there’s a tiny software button on the pull down menu. This is confusing at first, but once you know, you know.

Grab a pen

Anyone who’s willing to carry this large phone has just got to be a power user. There are plenty of other options for those who use the phone lightly and for mostly basic things, but the Note 10+ is strictly for those who will definitely bother to use more than the usual number of features. The most prominent of these is, of course, the S-Pen, which is tucked away inside the chassis quite elegantly. The Aura Glow phone has an indigo pen that looks quite nice and is comfortable to hold. The S Pen was already the most advanced stylus in the world, and now it actually has even more capabilities. How well these work we will take up after an adequate amount of time with the device. For now however, the ability to write on a sleeping screen still works beautifully and is a delight for busy people who need to keep jotting down things. Handwriting in the notes app gives the option of converting to text and that works at high speed as well. How useful this is will depend on how much you need to use this feature in daily life. So far though, the way the S Pen works is entirely exclusive to the Note and a few Samsung tablets. The S Pen has a host of other ‘Air Gestures’ to explore, including as a remote to the camera.

The Note 10+ has top-notch specs including 12 GB RAM and the Snapdragon 855-equivalent Exynos 9825 with up to 512 GB storage and a microSD card slot. There’s a 256 GB storage variant too. It works with Android 9 Pie and has a 4,300 mAh battery. The 3.5 mm headphone jack is gone and there’s no end of complaining about that all around. While many have moved on to wireless audio and can use an adaptor dongle if they buy one, there are devices creators use that are connected via the 3.5 mm jack.

There’s a quad camera set-up on the Note 10+. There’s a 16 MP ultra-wide lens using an f/2.2 aperture. Next is a 12 MP wide angle lens with a variable aperture of f/1.5-f/2.4. The third camera is a 12 MP telephoto lens with f/2.1 aperture. A fourth camera is the time of flight or depth-sensing lens, which lets you do things like 3D scanning, AR and the usual Live Focus. The regular cameras on this phone work about as well as the other Galaxy flagships such as from the S10 series. There isn’t a dramatic change in the results, which is not to say they aren’t good — they always have been — just that they are not the best. Beautiful colours, high dynamic range, and a full-featured camera app and controls make it a great set of cameras to use.

Price: ₹79,990

Pros: Stunning screen, beautiful exclusive design, ergonomic despite screen size, most advanced stylus (S-Pen), premium all over, full of productive features and in-general feature-rich, top performance

Cons: No headphone jack and no dongle, missing 90 Hz refresh rate, disorienting hardware button position, some features that may not be used on an everyday basis, would have been nice to see camera innovations

Published on September 05, 2019
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