Price (RRP): $1699
Samsung kindly lent me a Samsung Galaxy Note10+ for an extended test. After two weeks of daily use, I can reveal this remarkable smartphone’s innermost secrets.
The Samsung Galaxy Note10+ is an object of desire. It is the best Google Android phone on the planet and has the unique S Pen. If you can use the S Pen – as I do – it is what you aspire to own.
I have been a Note user for many years and would not have felt whole without it as my daily
So, if you think an S Pen could be part of your toolkit then read on. If not the Galaxy S10/+/5G should be your next consideration.
Samsung Galaxy Note10+
The Samsung Galaxy Note10 is in three models
- 6.3-inch Galaxy Note10 costs $1499 for the 8/256GB
- 6.8-inch Note10+ costs $1699 for the 12/256GB/microSD to 1TB
- 6.8-inch Note10+ 5G costs $1,999 for the 12/512GB/microSD to 1TB
The Galaxy Note10+ and 5G versions have a few minor differences to the base Note10.
- Dual Sim (single on 5G)
- Optional 45W charging
- 12W reverse charging (Power share)
- 3D TOF camera
Rather than do a full review (as we have already done the Note10 here so perhaps read that first) I wanted to focus on my experiences over the past two weeks using it as my daily drive.
Dynamic AMOLED screen – as good as it gets
While the 3040 x 1440 resolution (498ppi) is superb, 99.99% of us run it at 2280 x1080 as a battery saver. But you can’t tell the difference anyway so don’t fret it. Brightness is around 700 nits (typical) and over 1000 nits (maximum), so it earns the HDR10+ certification and it very daylight readable.
Colour gamut is 100% DCI-P3 with a Delta E around 2.5 – superb. You can calibrate colour and temperature, but you won’t improve on this much.
The S Pen – the reason to buy a Galaxy Note10+
- 39% of Note owners are evangelical about the S Pen
- 61% don’t use it all the time but would miss it
By my math, that is 100%!
It is a stylus (pen) that allows you to write on the screen whether it is on or off — many a time I have grabbed it in the wee smalls to jot down an idea or reminder. When I attend a launch or briefing, it completely replaces my pen/pad, and I don’t run out of ink or paper.
The Note10+ turns that scrawl into editable text I can use in Word to write up my notes. This feature alone is worth its weight in gold. The translation is accurate and fast. And you can export to Word, PDF, IMAGE or text. The only minor issue is that it can translate the text page-by-page.
You can use it as a remote control to play/pause content or take a photo. It has a gyroscope and accelerometer to allow you to gesture, and the phone knows you want. That includes taking photos, controlling PowerPoint or changing music.
I am not an artist, but I love that I can annotate over drawings and export to JPEG or GIF. Artists can sketch and draw. And AR doodle is great to add to an image.
Power – The fastest Google Android device on the planet with the most competent GPU for all mobile games – there is no better.
The Samsung Exynos 9825 is a powerhouse processor loosely akin to the Qualcomm SD855 that drives the US and Chinese versions. But in multi-core tests and overall compute power it blitzes the SD855.
The Exynos has two ‘heavy lifting’ Mongoose cores, two A75 cores (also heavy hitters) and four A-55 for most work. We call that Thumping Big/Big/Little, and it means you only use the power you need when you need it.
GeekBench5 is 832/2262 which is faster than the S10 at 789/2096 (multiply by five to get equivalent GeekBench4 ratings).
The 15-minute CPU Throttling test shows 153,312GIPS to 127,555GIPS (average 141,660GIPS or 88%). That is excellent and shows that Samsung has perfected the vapour chamber cooling for this super chip. Interestingly the four smaller cores are the ones that throttled – the two Mongoose and two A-75 are rock solid.
And 12GB of RAM – well if that does not support Android 10 or later nothing will. Its uses the new UFS 3.0 storage standard, and it is nearly twice as fast at data transfer as the Note9.
LTE – a real world phone
If I had one concern about the previous Note9 was that despite its Telstra Blue Tick rating (for regional and remote use) it was not as sensitive as other smartphones I have tested. Neither could it easily find the next adjacent tower, which is essential for efficient tower hand-off.
The Note10/10+ shines at -86dB (Note9 was -101-141), and it finds the next tower.
Plus, it is a dual sim and supports two active sims as well as VoLTE, VoWi-FI, Wi-Fi calling and HD Voice. I find dual sim the only way to go and now have separate numbers for private and business callers as well as being able to manage mobile data better.
Download/upload speeds are insane – up to 2Gbps/150Mbps courtesy of up to seven Carrier Aggregation bands.
Add to that a 22-band modem so if you are travelling, it’s a world phone
Wi-Fi AX, BT 5.0, NFC, Dual-band GPS
If you have a Wi-Fi 6 router is will support 2Gbps DL. Using a reference NETGEAR AX12 AX6000 router it achieves 1200Mbps (using VHT aggregation – not WI-Fi 6) at the router and out to five metres. At 10 metres it was 102Mbps – a record.
BT 5.0 supports most high res sound codecs (AAC, LDAC, FLAC and many more) as well as multi-point connections (two headphones or speakers at the same time). The AKG tuned Dolby Atmos speakers are convincing.
GPS is dual-band, very fast and accurate.
Face unlock – good but not perfect
@D Face Unlock is excellent in reasonable light but slower in low light. It still works, but you may have to wait a few seconds, by which time you have put in the pin instead. You need to be face-on to the phone for it to work best.
Or use the fast, ultrasonic under-glass fingerprint detector.
Because I use Qi wireless charging – I have Qi pads everywhere – I have not really been able to get more than a feel for battery life.
In normal use from 8 AM to 10 PM, I have about 60-70% left.
If I leave it overnight (10 PM to 8 AM), it consumes about 30% of the battery.
I ran a 1080p video loop, 50% brightness in aeroplane mode and got over 17 hours.
But I suspect that you need to use the Maintenance Mode to make sure background tasks are not chewing up the juice. With everything turned on and 100% load it made just over six hours.
Recharge time is fast – using the 25W charger it is about 1.5 hours, and a 15W Qi charge is about 4 hours.
The 45W charger option (not tested) is a special version that goes from 3.6V-20V and has added some smarts that allow it to charge at 10V/4.5A (45W) instead of 9V/3A (27W) as PD 3.0 does.
I love reverse charging. I was excited when I first saw it on the Huawei P30 Pro but disappointed when that device barely delivered 2W (5V/.4A). This is a genuine 5V/1.8A (9W) reverse charge and supports Apple iPhone and Watch (7W) and all Qi devices. It also has WPC standards and will charge the Samsung Galaxy Watch and Active.
And finally, the Always On Display shows the remaining time to charge, and it is very accurate.
You may have noticed my reference to how this is the best Google Android phone on the planet. While Huawei may argue that its new Mate 30 Pro is better, it does not use Google Android nor has Google apps or access to its Play Store. While Huawei has hinted that it can ‘side-load’ these apps Google, under the mandate of the US Government, has closed that avenue.
Samsung adds its One UI over the top, and it covers the gaps in pure Android. It offers all Google Apps, security patches and updates to Android 10 – if not 11.
But the One UI also adds value that I find remarkable.
I love DeX (Desktop eXperience for Android). All it needs is a USB-C to HDMI cable, and you can connect a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard. When I travel, I use the Note10+ as a computer replete with Microsoft Office, Outlook, etc.
Microsoft and Samsung are collaborating (and I need to test this more so this is a teaser) and its Link to Windows shows a lot of promise. Let’s, say that it allows seamless drag and drop of data between devices as well as Android notifications on the PC.
Camera – idiot proof
The addition to the Note10 is the 3D TOF (Time of flight) camera for depth sensing. Now 3D TOF is embryonic and needs apps that support its features. At present, it supports 3D scanning via Bixby Vision. But it can do so much more like Quick Measure, Life Focus video, and eventually for use in assisting online clothes shopping.
The photos below are perfect – 10-out-of-10. The DxOMark review is here.
Superb, natural colour, great brightness and contrast and definition.
Daylight Wide angle
Office Light (500-600 lumens)
The toy dog’s fur is well defined as is Shaun the sheep’s individual wool strands. Colours are perfect.
Office Light Zoom
Office Light wide angle (not this is a portion of the shot)
Dark room (only light is from the PC monitors)
Superb definition (the best yet), accurate colours and little noise. I am surprised that it did not use the variable aperture (f/1.5-2.4) to let in more light – it obviously has excellent low light capabilities anyway.
Dark room night mode
Night mode brightens the image by pixel binning and keeps the definition.
Camera summary: The camera is fantastic, even more so as it is set to fully automatic for idiot-proof shots. I compared these reference shots to the Note9, and there is a noticeable improvement.
GadgetGuy’s take – The Note10+ is the best bar none.
As I wrote last year, the Note9 is the best Android handset by quite a margin. On a scale of 1-10, it is an 11. Of course, until the Note10 comes along.
As I write this year- substitute Note9 for Note10.
Now, if you want the S Pen, then this is it. Otherwise, the Galaxy S10/+/5G are your choices as they share the processor and most of the camera smarts.
Samsung, thank you for doing it again, again, again… Although how do you improve on perfection each year?