Like every year, Samsung has chosen the month of August to renew its already classic Galaxy Note range. On this occasion, the Korean firm brings us a rather striking change, and that is that the Galaxy Note 10 is the first of its kind that comes in two versions: the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and Galaxy Note 10+.
This year’s bet, in addition to unfolding, adds to the trend of the hole on the screen as we saw with the Galaxy S10, raises the bar in power and brings us an S Pen with more autonomy and new gestures to control the mobile without touching it. We have already tried the Galaxy Note 10 and we tell you our first impressions.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+, first video impressions
Taking out two phones is a common strategy in the Galaxy S line, but that has never been seen in the Note range. Thus, Samsung brings us two options of its phablet, although here it becomes difficult to talk about a compact model, we have a large one and an even bigger one.
The Note 10 has a 6.3-inch screen while the Note 10+ rises to 6.8 inches. I already tell you that, after testing them, neither of them can qualify as compact. However, we must recognize that the compaction work is superb and makes (almost) the entire front screen. They are not comfortable terminals for use with one hand (like most high ranges) but it is surprising that they have managed to put those panels as wide in the smallest possible bottle.
Neither is small, but the compaction work is superb and makes (almost) the entire front screen.
The design maintains Samsung’s DNA but adapts it to that much more rectangular shape usual in the Note range. The side and upper frames maintain the same width, while the lower one is a little wider, but it is a minimal difference that does not blur the ‘all-screen’ effect.
For the front camera, the solution has been the hole on the screen, but this time they have placed it in the center to save more symmetry. It may seem that the corner is a better location for the camera to be less intrusive, but a priori the central placement did not give me the sensation of being in the way at all and bothers the same as the other option.
And since we talk about the front, let’s talk about the screens. Samsung once again bets on Dynamic AMOLED panels for its new high-end, both compatible with HDR10 +. The main difference is, as we have seen, the size, but there is another: the resolution.
For the first time, Samsung cuts the resolution of the normal model (no plus) and leaves it in FullHD +, while the Note 10+ stays with the usual QHD +. However, I have to say that the difference in sharpness is hardly noticeable to the natural and only the most demanding could find a problem at this point. In addition, in the absence of testing them in more environments, both screens boast a very high brightness level and great contrast.
Continuing with the design, the one on the back there are changes that move a little away from that Samsung DNA. The Note 10 leave the horizontal placement and now place the cameras vertically in the upper left corner, much like what we have seen in terminals such as iPhone XS or Huawei P30 Pro. Also comment that the camera protrudes from the chassis, although not too much.
Regarding the material, Samsung is committed to a metal and glass structure covering both sides. As always, glass is a magnet for footprints, especially in the Aura Glow model that looks almost like a mirror and also in black.
Before closing this section, two details that we appreciate in its design and that are, at least, curious. The first is that there is no Bixby button, but everything has been integrated into the power key. Now, to invoke the wizard we just have to press and hold.
Two details of the design that are, at least, curious: there is no Bixby button or headphone port.
The second detail that attracts attention is the absence of a minijack. Samsung was one of the brands that had maintained this port while others eliminated it in its high-end. Well, it isn’t anymore. Goodbye, minijack.
The S Pen has renewed once again, now with gestures
The S Pen is the accessory that has made the Note series a different bet focused mainly on areas such as productivity or artistic creation. Last year Samsung announced the S Pen with Bluetooth and introduced new features such as photo shooting with the pencil. This year it is the turn of AR gestures.
The theory is that, by keeping the S Pen button, we can control some apps by gesturing in the air. For example, in the gallery, we can pass photos by moving the S Pen sideways or see the details of the photo by moving it up. In the camera, if we draw a circle in the air we can control the zoom.
And how does it work in practice? Well, it works, but it’s hard to get the hang of it. When pressing the button, an icon appears indicating that it has detected the S Pen but in the first attempts I did not get it to detect the gesture made. The trick is to press the button only at the moment we perform the gesture and then release.
Beyond the operation, the question that I still ask myself today is whether they have real utility. It may be good to take a selfie or slide the devices of a presentation, but beyond that, I do not think we are facing a great innovation. We will leave doubts in the in-depth analysis.
Finally, there are some new developments at the software level related to the S Pen, such as the Samsung Notes app that has improved handwriting scanning and added more colors. Another change is that now the menu that opens when taking out the S Pen is in the form of a list and is no longer a semicircle as before.
More power, more memory … more of everything
The new Note range debuts the Exynos 9825 processor, the first from Samsung manufactured with the 7 nm process that promises more power while being more energy-efficient. The Note 10 also features the steam chamber cooling system and software functions focused on boosting performance like Game Booster or Intelligent Performance.
With regard to memory, this generation replicates the S10 offer and the Note 10+ has 12 GB of RAM while the Note 10 stays at 8 GB. The internal capacity is 256 GB with a 512 GB option for the most advanced version of the Note 10+. Another point to note is that, while the plus version has MicroSD support, the Note 10 does not include it despite having less memory.
The Note 10+ is unmarked from its little brother with 12 GB of RAM and up to 512 GB capacity.
With the difference in size there is also a difference in the size of the batteries, but not only that. In addition to having a tighter battery (3,500 mAh), the Galaxy Note 10 does not come with a fast charge of 45W, while the Galaxy Note 10+ (4,300 mAh) does allow it with a special charger that is not included. What they do agree on is wireless charging, which Samsung also says is faster than the cable charging of Note 9.
Another point where the two models coincide is in the ultrasonic fingerprint reader located under the screen. In the touchdown, I was able to test it and the experience was very good, both in speed and accuracy. The unlocking area has not been increased but has been placed a little higher so that it is more comfortable to place the thumb and leads to fewer errors. In any case, the in-depth analysis will shed more light on this section that generated quite a controversy with the S10.
By the way, the Note 10 release a new Samsung DeX that allows us to connect the phone directly to the computer, not only to the screen as before. With DeX you can transfer files from the PC to the mobile and vice versa, the integration is much greater.
A set of cameras that focus on the video
If we look only at the specifications of their cameras, we see that Samsung is committed to a fairly continuous photographic set with respect to the S10. We have a triple camera configuration with an ultra-wide-angle sensor of 12 megapixels, an angular one of the same resolution but variable aperture f / 1.5-2.4 and a 16-megapixel telephoto. In addition, the Galaxy Note 10+ adds a fourth sensor responsible for measuring the depth of the scene, although they do not call it TOF but simply ‘depth sensor’.
During the contact, I was able to browse the different photographic options offered by your app, which by the way keeps the design known by previous versions, and also take a photo. It is necessary to test it in more environments to make a judgment, but we can get a good idea of what it offers us.
The zoom range from ultra-wide-angle to TV is somewhat adjusted since its tele lens only allows us to reach both magnifications. It matches when it comes to framing, but it is far from other proposals with much wider zooms.
This photo was taken with the main lens and the stage had abundant natural light; the perfect ingredients for the camera to look, and go if it does. The image is well exposed, with faithful tones and surprises with its sharpness and definition even when enlarging a cut to 100%. Very good work on the white balance to contain the yellow dominant of the bulb.
The portraits with the camera for selfies show a generalized loss of quality, both in detail and in the exhibition and, above all, the cut of the figure. However, it is a good result in the case of the front camera.
But while the photographic part has no notable changes, the video section does have some interesting additions. Perhaps the most striking of all is ‘Live Focus Video’, which is nothing more than the portrait mode or background blur applied to the videos. In the touchdown, I could prove it (unfortunately I could not extract the videos to show them) and the result is quite good, although we will have to see how it behaves in different light conditions. It also has an improved stabilizer and integrated video editor.
But what caught my attention was ‘Zoom in mic’, a function that enhances the sound of a specific point when we zoom in on it, canceling the surrounding noises. If a person is talking in a room with more people and we zoom, it is as if we also zoomed in with the microphones.
Good feelings, now double
Launching two flagships in the same year is nothing new, although Samsung was one of the first to start this trend with the Note. However, while at the beginning there were quite a few differences with the Galaxy S announced at the beginning of the year, there are more and more similarities between the two ranges.
The feeling of deja vu after this contact with the Note 10 is stronger than ever and is also fully intended. As I said at the beginning, it is the first time that Samsung brings us its phablet in two versions – the normal and the ‘plus’ – something that until now had only been seen in the Galaxy S. In addition, as in its brothers, there are also differences that distance the ‘plus’ model like more memory, QHD + screen or that fourth camera to record depth. That by the way, speaking of cameras, Samsung does not risk with new hardware and focuses on new software features that in turn focus on video.
The feeling of deja vu after this contact is stronger than ever. The S and Note ranges had never been so close.
The design is, together with the S Pen, the differential aspect. The Note 10 follows the same line of sight but with a more square shape and a front that stands as one of the best use of the panorama. It also continues to add functions to its famous touch pen that now executes gestures “in the air” and has more autonomy. The menus and functions related to the S Pen have also been improved, such as the Samsung Notes app. Thus, Samsung reminds us that productivity and creativity have been the vocations of the range from the beginning.
The contact with the Note 10 leaves us wanting to squeeze them further; that screen, its power or the software functions aim to give a lot of itself. However, we are also looking forward to seeing a stronger bet in other very important sections such as the camera.