Here’s where our heads are at after 3 days with Samsung’s latest.
Our full Galaxy Note 10+ review is underway, but that doesn’t mean we need to hold back our thoughts as we go. We’ll have a complete and comprehensive Note 10+ review in due time, but until it’s finished, we want to give you a peek into what our thoughts are on the phone at various milestones.
The latest update here comes after three full days of use with the Note 10+ for both myself and Hayato, so you’re really getting a two-for-one deal here. The extra time has given us a better feel for the phone, and let us start to settle into a groove. Now we have more impressions of battery life, camera performance and more — and even though these aren’t final thoughts, it has a lot more weight now than our first impressions after only 24 hours.
If you’d like to go back and see those first impressions, you can hit the bottom of the article to expand our first thoughts after just a day with the phone. Then work your way back up to the top for our better-formed ideas after multiple days.
Read on, and check back in for our future updates to the review!
Biggest and best
Samsung Galaxy Note 10+
The best of Samsung in a single phone.
Samsung improved on the Note 9 in every way … except for removing the headphone jack. But the big display, top-end specs, wide-angle camera and huge battery could make up for it.
Galaxy Note 10+ 3-day impressions: Andrew
Andrew Martonik is the Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central. He has been a mobile enthusiast since the Windows Mobile days, and covering all things Android-related with a unique perspective at AC since 2012. For suggestions and updates, you can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter at @andrewmartonik.
Using the Note 10+ through the weekend helped solidify a lot of my initial feelings on the phone, and let me start to put my foot down on others.
Battery life is consistently good, but this isn’t a two-day phone.
Battery life has so far been good, and consistent, but not mind-blowingly spectacular. Just like the Galaxy Note 9 and S10+, the Note 10+ is incredibly consistent with its battery life from day to day, and also throughout the day. The battery drains at a pretty consistent rate no matter what you’re doing, saving you from the anxiety of seeing your percentage drop dramatically after using it heavily. It doesn’t seem to matter what you do, the Note 10+ just carries on without big drops.
So what’s that translate to in hard numbers? A typical 16-hour weekday landed me at around 20% battery when starting to wind down and get into bed. That naturally includes lots of emails and social media updates, camera use, streaming music or podcasts over Bluetooth, everything syncing freely, with the always-on display enabled. ("Screen on" time was between 3 and 4 hours, for those who like that stat.) On Saturday and Sunday, where things are considerably more casual, I landed with more like 30% at the end of the day. Again, very good, and I never had worries about my Note 10+ dying before I was ready to sleep; but this isn’t going to be anywhere near a two-day phone unless you go deep into the power saving modes.
The cameras didn’t make leaps from the S10+, which is both good and disappointing for a top-tier phone.
I obviously knew roughly what to expect from the camera experience on the Note 10+, but I suspicions have been confirmed: the cameras perform incredibly similarly to the Galaxy S10+. The main camera is really consistent, sharp and colorful. The ultra-wide camera exhibits the same color profile and nearly the same quality, keeping it top of my list of ultra-wide cameras. The telephoto still gets the job done when you want the unique perspective of a zoomed-in shot, but it tends to over-sharpen a bit and create some chroma noise that isn’t present in the main camera; there’s a bit more of a trade-off there than I’d like.
I’m sorry to say that Samsung’s shortcomings in ultra-low-light photography continue with the Note 10+. The telephoto and ultra-wide cameras are basically useless in the dark, so you have to stick to the main camera, but that’s not too surprising. What is surprising is that Samsung still doesn’t know how to handle dark scenes. It continues to take the approach of just upping the ISO and slowing the shutter speed, which produces ho-hum results on a tiny sensor. This includes the "Night Mode," which just takes the same formula and turns it up further — you get a brighter photo, but one that’s noisy and no better in terms of colors or dynamic range. You don’t get clarity, smoothness and depth of color anywhere near what Google’s Night Sight provides. It’s as though Samsung’s completely missed the boat on the computational photography improvements other companies are multiple generations into at this point.
The Note 10+ appears to be another consistently great Samsung phone.
The one big step forward here is Samsung’s touted improvements to video stabilization, which so far are incredible. We’ll have a lot of video clips to share in our complete video review, but suffice to say Samsung wasn’t bluffing when it said stabilization was greatly improved. Whether you’re walking down the street, on a bike, in a boat or in a car, the Note 10+ takes all of the movement out — and it even stands up to panning, which can often throw off software stabilization algorithms. Without doing a side-by-side comparison to know for sure, my feeling is this stabilization is on the same level as the Google Pixel 3.
Incredibly impressed by the Note 10+’s video stabilization so far. This is Pixel-esque smoothness. pic.twitter.com/yEasyz0d6p
— Andrew Martonik (@andrewmartonik) August 19, 2019
The rest of the experience is rounding out exactly as I expected. Software and app performance has been impeccable, with nary a slowdown or stutter. With a few more days of tinkering I have the software mostly where I want it to be in terms of settings, disabled apps and feature changes. Samsung’s keyboard is still inexplicably terrible, so I’ve switched to Gboard, but I’m content with its default launcher and theme. And yes, the fingerprint sensor is … the same as it always has been on the S10 series. It’s kind of slow, and frustratingly difficult to consistently use on the first try with its small recognition area — particularly in the direct sun, because the always-on display is a bit too dim to easily see the fingerprint location.
Overall, a few days in, there aren’t many monumental revelations to be found with the Note 10+ — it’s great at all of the things I expected it to be, and a little disappointing where I expected as well. And that isn’t surprising, because Samsung is so dang consistent with everything it does nowadays. The Note 10+ appears to be another wonderful Samsung phone, which means it’s going to be in the running for the best Android phone just like its predecessors.
Galaxy Note 10+ 3-day impressions: Hayato
Hayato Huseman is a recovering trade show addict and video editor for Android Central based out of Indianapolis. He can mostly be found complaining about the cold and enthusing about prog metal on Twitter at @hayatohuseman . Got a tip or inquiry? Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m sort of surprised by how much I’m enjoying the Note 10+, especially considering I’m not typically a fan of huge phones. I still prefer the smaller Note 10’s size, but the curved sides and super-tight bezels really do make the 10+ easier to manage, even in one hand for simple tasks. I’m still not crazy about the power button being on the left side of the phone now, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it eventually, and hey — I haven’t accidentally launched Bixby once, which is a huge plus (though the times I’ve intentionally launched it, it’s been surprisingly good at carrying out local actions like "show me my pictures of food").
There’s really not a whole to complain about so far. If you liked the S10+, the Note 10+ will feel right at home.
Battery life has been good so far, too, though I think I was expecting more given how highly regarded the S10+ is for its endurance. I’ve been consistently hitting around five and a half hours of screen-on time — not the best metric for measuring battery life, I know, but in comparison, I get roughly the same endurance out of my Xperia 1, and about half as much on the Pixel 3 (if I’m lucky). I’m a bit disappointed that it doesn’t charge at its maximum potential 45W through my travel charger, a Satechi travel charger that outputs 60W over USB-PD. The charging situation is more complicated than just needing a charger with high enough output; so much so that we had to write an entire article breaking it down.
No surprise, the cameras are pretty much unchanged from the ones found on the S10 series, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing, seeing as they were pretty good cameras to begin with. The main sensor around the back takes very good photos, even if I don’t always love how much sharpening Samsung’s software adds in post — this is especially noticeable with shots of buildings, which accounts for the majority of the photos I’ve been taking in New York this weekend. Dynamic range is fantastic, though, and the ultra-wide camera continues to be one of the best on any phone, without any major barrel distortion.
The cameras are good, as expected, but Night Mode is pretty much useless.
I’m less enthusiastic about the Note 10+’s low light shots, though. Regular point-and-shoot results are fine, about in line with what you’d expect from a phone, but the built-in Night Mode? It’s essentially just a long exposure mode; you have to hold still for anywhere from 2-5 seconds (that’s a long time for a photo), and the end result is just a brighter image, rather than one with more detail. In fact, any motion that happens while it’s capturing, including your own hand shake, contributes to a blurrier image, and so far I haven’t been happy with any of the photos I’ve taken in Night Mode. It’s a far cry from Night Sight on the Pixel 3, which captures multiple exposures in a split second and stitches them together into a brighter and sharper shot.
I’m excited to shoot more video with the Note 10+ later today, though, since the samples Andrew’s shown me look shockingly smooth — practically like gimbal shots. In fact, I’m not entirely convinced he didn’t just put the phone on a gimbal to mess with me. He wouldn’t do that … would he? From my own experience, though, I’ve noticed that the front camera is pretty tight for video, and unlike when you’re shooting photos, you don’t have the option of switching to a wider field of view, so this might not be a great front camera for vloggers.
I’ve been having a lot of fun with the S Pen; I even used some of the new air gestures.
I’ve been having a lot of fun with the S Pen, including using it as a remote shutter to capture some otherwise difficult shots pointing the camera down from questionable heights. I even used some of the new air gestures to switch between cameras and shooting modes, and they actually work pretty well — though I haven’t found much use for them otherwise. I was also really impressed after trying out the new text transcription feature, which worked flawlessly even with my terrible handwriting.
Look, there’s really not a whole to complain about so far. I still need to spend more time with the video-centric features in particular, but from the software to the cameras and most things in-between, the Note 10+ is remarkably similar to the S10+ (though I much prefer the Note’s design). So far, so good.
Galaxy Note 10+ first impressions: Andrew
It feels great to get back to the Note 10+ after my relatively brief hands-on time prior to its launch. Let me break down my first impressions from a day with the Note 10+ — first the good, then the bad, then the "unsure until I have more time with the phone."
Samsung has the hardware and display down to a science — it’s so good from top to bottom.
The good begins with the hardware. Samsung has this down to a science, and everything from the design to the materials and construction are spot on. The Note 10+ is massive, but it feels solid, well-weighted and worth the money. And I’m so glad I have the Aura Glow color — it’s an amazing shimmering delight every time you pick it up. The glass is a massive fingerprint magnet, but that’s par for the course with all phones nowadays. Also, I’m loving the power button on the left — both because it kills the dedicated Bixby button, and also because it’s much more reachable than being high on the right.
Unsurprisingly Samsung knocks it out of the park again with the display. We all knew the Galaxy S10+ was as good as it got at the time, and now you just get more of a great thing. With even smaller bezels and a substantially better camera cutout, you just get to focus on that AMOLED panel. I switched mine over to the "vivid" color setting (I can feel Hayato cringing from here) and it’s gorgeous. Samsung’s outdoor visibility is second to none, and it’s incredibly crisp even set to FHD+ by default.
The ultrasonic fingerprint sensor is unfortunately unimproved from the S10.
Okay, the not-so-good parts. The in-display ultrasonic fingerprint sensor is no better than the S10’s, which is disappointing. It works fine, but it’s nowhere near the OnePlus 7 Pro’s in accuracy, speed or recognition area. Y’know what? I actually kind of miss the Note 9’s iris scanner.
Also, this is really based on personal preference, but the phone is huge. It may not be that much bigger than the S10+, but there’s something about the combination of little increases in dimensions, extra weight and the blockier shape that makes the Note 10+ a bit unwieldy. I get that you get a ton of benefit from extra screen space, but more than once already I’ve been afraid I’m going to drop it trying to reach the top half of the screen one-handed.
The Note 10+ can do a lot, but my goodness it’s tough to use in one hand a lot of the time.
Further on the personal preference side of things, every time I set up a Samsung phone I’m reminded just how much work is required to get it just right. So many apps, settings, features and tweaks need to be made. The software is confusing and overbearing out of the box, and really needs to be tamed. Once you do, you’re golden — it just takes a lot of work to get it the way you want it.
A lot of the experience is going to take more time to analyze. I’m still not sure how I feel about the speakers; the top one in particular. It’s embedded deeper in the phone, so the sound kind of comes out of the whole top of the phone, rather than a specific speaker point. It’s great for calls, but the body vibrations when listening to anything are a bit odd.
I need more time with the camera, S Pen and battery before I put down my foot anywhere there.
I’m going to need more time with the camera to see if anything has changed from the S10+, but so far it’s exactly as expected: solid, consistent and pleasing to the eye. Super-low-light photography is a weak point, and the high quality wide-angle camera is a strong point. The front-facing camera is great, too.
I’m trying to make a serious effort to incorporate the S Pen into my daily use of the phone, too. I’ve struggled to find a use for it in the past, and I don’t expect the air gestures to make a difference there, but I’m going to rehash all of its capabilities for the review.
I have a lot of thoughts churning right now — and you’ll hear them all soon.
Galaxy Note 10+ first impressions: Hayato
This is my first time back on a Note in a few years, and boy did I miss the S Pen. I know not everybody finds use in it, but there’s just something about touching the pen to the glass that makes using a Note more satisfying. It’s also hard not to love the added precision for certain apps — I’m particularly excited to try out Samsung’s new video editing software for that reason.
There’s just something about touching the S Pen to glass that makes using a Note more satisfying.
I’m also loving the hardware; the Note 10+ is still too big for my taste (I’m dying to spend more time with the smaller Note 10), but it’s stunningly well-made, just as the S10 and Note 9 before it were. And while I’m still not a fan of in-display fingerprint sensors, and Samsung didn’t even do anything to improve the optical sensor here, it’s a breath of fresh air coming from the Xperia 1, whose side-mounted capacitive sensor is so maddeningly unreliable it might as well not even be there.
I’m still not sure I love the power button situation, though. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that you can reassign it so you never accidentally launch Bixby again, but I’m having a hard time adjusting to a left-oriented power button, and I don’t know that hiding the power menu in the notification shade is terribly user friendly. In fact, that’s sort of an overarching problem with One UI; Samsung buries everything deep into random settings menus, and disables a lot of useful features by default. This is the first time in a while I’ve actually needed to use the search function in the system settings.
The USB-C earbuds sound good, and I use Bluetooth cans, but there really should be a 3.5 mm adapter in the box.
While we’re talking about minor annoyances, there’s a weird friction in usability between the in-display fingerprint sensor and the S Pen. Whenever you need to use the fingerprint sensor, the Note 10+ tells you to move the S Pen away from the screen first, which means I have to shift the S Pen around in my hand or just switch hands entirely. It isn’t a huge deal, but it just makes it feel like the two technologies weren’t meant to exist in the same device.
I still think Samsung should’ve included a headphone adapter in the box, but I’ve been using Bluetooth cans for years, so I’m not terribly bothered by it. There’s at least a pair of AKG-branded USB-C earbuds in the box and — surprise! — they look and sound just like the 3.5mm version that’s been around for the last few years. They’re better than what you get with almost any other phone, though I definitely think you’re better off getting a pair of Galaxy Buds with Samsung’s instant $150 credit if you’re pre-ordering.
l need more time to evaluate battery life, but early signs are at least promising.
It’s too early for me to comment on battery life or charging speeds, since my unit arrived halfway charged in the afternoon and I spent the first hour or two just downloading and signing into my usual apps. I ended the day about twelve hours later with 24% remaining, though, which is promising at the very least. As a videographer, I’m also of course excited to check out the new video-related features; not just the new video editing software (though I’m definitely looking forward to trying that), but the improved stabilization while shooting and the new audio zooming feature.
There’s a lot more to explore with the Note 10+ over the next few days and weeks, and I’m definitely excited to get more into the weeds with it.
Your top Note 10+ questions, answered!
We took to the @androidcentral Twitter account and our own Android Central forums to see what you want to know in particular. We picked the top questions here, but we’re answering more in both places!
How does Samsung benefit by partnering with Microsoft instead of offering the full suite of Google apps? If they continue down this trend of partnering for apps would this eventually fracture the "ecosystem" of apps Samsung offers?
— David Lamma (@DavidLamma) August 16, 2019
Andrew: Google still has its usual apps pre-loaded, and you can install more if you want others. Partnering with Microsoft just makes more sense for Samsung at this point than continuing to develop (and support) a bunch of self-branded apps that frankly weren’t that popular or competitive.
Hayato: I think Samsung realized its business-related apps weren’t great, so partnering with Microsoft and bundling its services made a lot of sense. Of course, you can still download Google’s apps separately, and Samsung still bundles in a ton of other services.
msm051108-15-2019 04:07 PM“
How are the haptics?
A: I’m not noticing a big difference from the Galaxy S10. Haptics are above average, but not as impressive as the Pixel 3 or even OnePlus 7 Pro. Samsung has toned them back so they’re not strong enough to rattle, which is a good strategy. They’re just solid.
H: Samsung’s gotten pretty good at haptics in the last few years. I don’t think the Note 10+ is quite up to the level of the Pixel 3 or especially the iPhone XS, but I’m perfectly happy with it.
Is the fingerprint scanner better than the S10? I know Samsung didn’t mention it, but some people have said it feels faster
— Jarad (@Jradical21) August 16, 2019
A: I don’t notice a single improvement in speed, accuracy or recognition area over the Galaxy S10+. It works fine, but it isn’t particularly fast and can be a little frustrating to get the pressure just right to get it to recognize consistently.
H: As far as I can tell, this is identical to the optical sensor on my S10 5G — which is to say, it’s not the best out there, but it isn’t horrible either. I’m honestly just waiting for the day Samsung moves to depth-mapped facial recognition like the iPhone and upcoming Pixel 4.
KupKrazy08-16-2019 05:37 AM“
How do you take a screenshot? Still Power/Bixby + down volume? I assume hand gesture wave is still there as well.
A: Hayato knows how this works!
H: Swiping your palm across the screen indeed still works, or you can quickly press volume down and the sleep/wake/Bixby button. Just don’t hold them down too long; you’ll trigger the power menu instead.
How are the speakers? The ones on the S10 5G were terrible I thought. The vibrations through the body were horrendous too. Hope this is better!
— Trevor Beckett (@trevontheisland) August 15, 2019
A: The speakers are very asymmetrical — the bottom is a typical single loudspeaker that sounds pretty good, and then the top is a small speaker set deeper in the phone that kind of emanates from inside the phone rather than from a specific speaker opening. That creates a little rattling inside the top half of the phone that can be distracting.
H: They’re surprisingly loud and punchy without clipping, but there’s a bit of rattle under the display near the earpiece speaker. You can definitely feel a lot of vibration on the back of the phone, though.
Will the aurora glow work if it’s under a transparent plastic or rubber back cover???
— Abhradip Acharya (@AbhradipAchary6) August 15, 2019
A: Any transparent case will show the glow just fine. It’s a shame to have to cover up this brilliant shimmer and color shift, but if you have to do it a clear case would be a fine choice.
H: Aura Glow will shine through anything. This is one of the shiniest, most reflective finishes I’ve ever seen, but it’s also a ridiculous fingerprint magnet, so. Yeah, I’d probably grab a clear case.
Galaxy Note 10+ More to come
As we have more time with the phone, we’ll be adding our updates here covering more substantial topics with more informed opinions. We’ll have more to say soon about all of the nitty gritty details of the phone, how it’s held up after a week of use, and all of the tiny features and quirks that are catching our eyes.
So be sure to check back and follow along with us! You’ll be learning about the Note 10+ right as we do.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10+
The Note 10+ is the pinnacle of Samsung’s hardware, features, specs and more — plus, it’s the only phone you can get with an S Pen. It’s a proper flagship competitor in all respects.
August 19, 2019 at 11:13AM