For the first time ever, Samsung has launched not one but two new Galaxy Note smartphones. This includes a compact 6.3 inch Galaxy Note10 along with a massive 6.8 inch Galaxy Note10+ model. The bigger Note10+ is available in both 4G and 5G variants.
Garry McGregor, Vice-President, Mobile Division, Samsung Electronics Australia, said: “The Galaxy Note10 and Note10+ are the ultimate devices for today’s power user whose mobile phone is at the centre of how they manage their lives. It features a long-lasting battery, a pro-grade camera with a full kit of lenses and a super-fast processor to deliver incredible computing power.
In a nutshell, the Galaxy Note10 and 10+ benefit from many of the same high-end components and features as Samsung’s excellent Galaxy S10 5G premium smartphone. This includes processors, graphics, memory, battery technology and the rear-facing 4-camera array.
Compared to the Note9, the Note10 has a 33 percent faster CPU and 43 percent faster GPU.
The four rear facing cameras include standard, wide and ultra wide lenses, along with a ‘time of flight’ camera for 3D depth perception on the Note10+. We’ve covered this excellent camera system at length in our Galaxy S10 review, which you can read about here.
An almost ‘infinite’ screen
The edge-to-edge cinematic Infinity displays are nearly bezel-less, and the Note 10+ takes up 94% of the front of the device. Samsung is an expert in display technology and the Dynamic OLED display shows it. Colourful and bright, it support HDR 10+ with dynamic tone mapping and a wide colour range. The displays are said to be brighter than previous Note phones, and are UL Verified for 98 percent colour and brightness uniformity.
There’s nearly no ‘notch’ to house the camera array either. Instead, there’s one very small circular window positioned in the top centre edge and is hardly noticeable. This may come as a relief to those who don’t like the larger top right camera oval found on the Galaxy S10.
All about S-Pen
What really sets the Galaxy Note apart from its premium smartphone competitors is its S-Pen, or stylus.
This year, the S-Pen takes another leap forward. It While the stylus on last year’s Note9 could be used as a remote shutter for taking photos, the new S-Pen can perform ‘air actions’. These are pen ‘gestures’ that control different camera functions as well as helping you browse and play your media, without ever touching the screen.
For example, with an upwards flick, you can switch been the front-facing selfie camera and the rear camera. A sideways gesture can move you from photo to video mode. You can make a ‘c’ motion to zoom in or zoom out, and a tap of the pen’s button can start recording.
You can use gestures to browse through your photos and videos with a sideways swipe, or click the button to play back a video or start a music track.
When testing this, it took about a minute to get the hang of the gestures. After that, it’s quite easy to flick your pen to control the camera. The system detects fairly small gestures, so you can be subtle about it. Gestures will come in handy when your phone is out of reach, such as on a tripod, selfie stick or propped up on a desk.
Samsung has opened up the Air Actions SDK for developers so they can create customised gestures for new ways to interact with games and applications.
Handwriting to text conversions
The S-Pen has always been great for scribbling down notes. However, hand-written notes are not searchable, and not so great for sharing. Now, the Galaxy Note 10 can convert your hand-scrawls into text in real time. You simply write notes as usual, draw a marquee box around what you want to convert. Your text can then be imported into a Word document or PDF or copied to an email or text message.
The artificially intelligent conversion engine is taught to understand different styles of handwriting by analysing hundreds of thousands of different examples.
In practice, text conversions were surprisingly accurate, even with my fairly sub-standard handwriting. You can also colourise your handwriting, and even increase or decrease its line thickness.
You can also have a bit of fun with the S-Pen with the AR Doodle feature. The idea is that you can ‘pin’ doodles and pre-set objects to subjects in your videos, which will then be ‘motion-tracked’ in 3D. So, for example, you could draw a cheeky set of cat ears over your friend’s head, add a few balloons, and these items would stay in place, even when your friend moves their head. You can even move around them, and they will stay in place.
Starting with Samsung’s DeX, which is an ‘extension’ of the Note’s Android operation system when connected to an external monitor, keyboard and mouse. Now, DeX enables drag and drop funcitonality between a PC and the Note10 when connected via USB. Users can also control their apps with a mouse and a keyboard, while keeping their data secure on their phone through Samsung Knox.
There’s also a new ‘Link to Windows‘ feature. This is more of a direct integration to a Windows PC via the Quick Panel. Samsung says: “With one click, users can connect to their Windows 10 PC. There, they can see notifications, send and receive messages, and review recent photos without pausing to look down at their phone.” Users will also now be able to make and receive calls from their PC.
The Galaxy Note9’s video was already pretty good, and the Note10 is a step up. The new Live Focus video mode adds a shadow ‘depth-of-field’ effect, which separates your subject from its background by adding ‘bokeh’ or a soft focus. There are also a couple of creative modes which keeps your subject in colour while changing the background to black and white, or even a distorted ’80s VHS’ effect.
While we didn’t get to try it, the Zoom-In Mic effect lets you zero in on the audio from a single source and reduce background noise. This is possible because the Note 10 has multiple microphones, so you can effecting cut out audio from mics that are furthest away from your target.
Editing your video footage gets easier too, with the help of a new video editor. You can use the S-Pen to trim clips, move them around on your timeline and add transition effects.
For those wanting a more sophisticated and powerful editor, Samsung has partnered with Adobe Rush. This can also be controlled via the S-Pen.
Lastly, for games streamers and video-bloggers (vloggers) or anyone who likes creating on-screen tutorials, there’s a new screen recorder too. This can record what’s happening on screen as well as handwritten S-Pen annotations, and the view from your cameras.
Samsung says that the Note10 can last all day with just a 30 minute charge. While we haven’t had a chance to test its claims, the 3500mAh and 4300mAh batteries the Note10 and 10+ can apparently be 100 percent charged in just 30 minutes.
This is considerably better than any other premium smartphone, including the Huawei P30 Pro’s 70 percent battery top up in 30 minutes. However, you’ll need to purchase a separate 45 watt fast charger to get this performance, and this will set you back $69.
We assume that the in-box ‘fast’ charger will give you something closer to Huawei’s 70 percent charge in 30 minuets.
Otherwise, like the S10, the Galaxy Note10 can do reverse wireless charging, such as topping up your Galaxy Gear smartwatch by placing it against the back of the phone. There’s also some clever AI-driven battery management technology to throttle battery conservation up or down depending on what you’re doing.
When and how much?
Pricing and memory variants for the Galaxy Note10 range in Australia are:
Galaxy Note10 (256GB) RRP$1,499
Galaxy Note10+ (256GB) RRP$1,699
Galaxy Note10+ 5G (512GB) RRP$1,999
The pre-order period begins August 8, with an on-sale date of August 23, 2019.
Customers in Australia who pre-order the Galaxy Note10, Note10+ or Note10+ 5G from participating retailers will receive a bonus pair of AKG Wireless Headphones (N700NCM2) valued at RRP$499.