Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ Review – the OG “Pro”

No there is no single definition for the “pro” that everyone uses as a tag on their phones’ boxes. It could mean anything in the mid range, but when it comes to flagship devices, the “Pro” tag is definitely meant to target the professional. Increased productivity is the goal here. Can we do everything we do on the phone, fast and quick? Because, for a professional, the phone needs to get out of the way, not stand in the way. So now the question becomes, which is the best “Pro” device in the market that lets you do this? Enter the 10th generation of a device that pretty much created this segment – the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+. It’s built for the creative professional and is geared towards productivity. Has Samsung perfected the Pro device? Let’s find out in the review.

Design and Build – Slab from the future

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ is an absolute stunner when it comes to design. Take it from me, this is by no means an exaggeration and you will agree with me once you take a look at it in person. It is, honestly, one of the most futuristic pieces of slabs I’ve come across in recent times. There are reasons why it evokes such a reaction. First, the boxy shape is a departure from the curved corners that we have been used to, in other phones including Samsung’s own. This design brings a feel of solidity just through looks and then the organic feel is brought in with the curved screen that just melts on the sides. Eventhough this is nothing new for Samsung, there is something unique about the combination of sharp corners and the curved glass edge screen AND yes, the thinnest bezels I have seen in an Android smartphone. Absolute stunner is by no means an exaggeration.

The materials used are metal and glass, as we would expect from a premium flagship device. The top and the bottom parts of the Note 10+ are flat which is the exact opposite of how the phone is built on its sides. This kind of a design evokes a bit of nostalgia, as it reminded me a bit of the N8 which had a flat top and bottom with curved sides, then the N9 and the Lumia 800. All from Nokia, once the masters of phone design. It is wonderful to see this aesthetic in the Galaxy Note 10+, a truly unique direction that hopefully continues after the 10th generation of this series. Might as well add that the mechanism for accessing the S-Pen is also well designed and built, with the S-Pen itself feeling really sturdy. I have used a lot of styluses and this one’s easily right there among the best when it comes to design and built quality. More on the S-Pen later.

Dynamic AMOLED – Infinity TV in your hands

This year, I’m sure you’ve heard, there are two Note 10s. The Note 10+ is at 6.8 inches, a good 0.5 inches (12.77mm) in diagonal more than the smaller Note 10. Another key difference in the display is the resolution, which is rated at Quad HD+ for the Note 10+ while the Note 10 will stick to a full HD one. If you have previously used ANY display from Samsung’s flagship S series or Note series, you can guess how great the display is already. But for the benefit of new users, let me just say, the display is wow. Not just wow, but Infinity wow. First and foremost, the thinnest bezels I’ve seen on any smartphone. This makes the display look like a razor thin-bezel high end TV from Samsung. The curved edges make it even better, making the display look like it doesn’t even have bezels on the sides when you look at it from the front. And then there is the new Infinity-O design which, even when it is bang right in the middle of the screen, manages to easily vanish amidst content.

498 PPI is no small matter. This is not only the crispiest screen you’ll use but also the most vivid one, with HDR10+. It is seriously like a new generation TV in your hands when you start watching content, just unbelievably bright, colorful, crisp and all the adjectives that you would associate with a great display that has an almost perfect viewing experience. But with such a big display, the concern of phone size is valid. It’s a big phone, even for my big hands but thanks to OneUI, Samsung’s latest well-designed custom skin over Android, all the UI controls are well within reach. In my time with the device, I watched a lot of video which is why I keep repeating it is a TV-like experience in your hands. With one of the loudest but not necessarily the highest quality speakers I’ve heard on a flagship, even group watch sessions were possible. Almost everyone I showed the phone were awestruck with how great the display was. Safe to say, with the Note 10+ you will be carrying a Infinity TV in your hands and that’s great if you are into multimedia consumption like me.

Camera – Versatile and Stable

In the camera department, the Note 10+ remains a strong competitor to the Pixels and the iPhones of this world. The versatility of a triple camera system is unmatched when it comes to framing for different kinds of subjects and scenes meanwhile the videos gain an amount of stability that will put expensive gimbals to shame. We are living in the age of smartphone photography and no doubt, the Note 10+ continues the great precedents set by the previous generation. Retaining the same dual aperture dual pixel 12 MP normal wide angle lens plus an ultra wide at 16MP plus a telephoto 2x at 12MP and additionally there is a VGA Depth Vision sensor which is a basically a time of flight sensor for calculating depth with a higher accuracy. It’s useful for AR. So let’s take a look at the samples –

This set of samples is all about showcasing the versatility of the camera system. All the photos were sharp and clear with a balanced output in terms of saturation and dynamic range. I definitely enjoyed clicking these pictures and checking them out on that gorgeous display. But at the same time I was skeptical whether the photos looked great only on the AMOLED screen but am happy to report that they look exactly the same on my PC with a calibrated LCD too. Just great pictures you can click and save with ease. The Note 10+ does not disappoint in good light. What about low light and selfies?

In low light, the dual aperture definitely helps in bringing up the light but thanks to the new Night Mode the highlights are kept under control as well, which is a welcome addition to the capable super low light camera on the Note 10+. Selfies are very good on the 10MP dual pixel front facing camera but overexposure is a problem which sometimes makes the experience a bit unpleasant, but the quality is great nevertheless.

The depth shots work great on both the rear camera and the front facing camera but what’s great about the Note 10+ is it can do depth focus in video as well. Here’ s a sample for you to understand the kind of effects it can pull off.

Here are some 960 fps Slow Mo samples

Some of the most stable videos I have shot on a smartphone, including demos of Audio Zoom feature –

As you can see, the Galaxy Note 10+ is no slouch when it comes to photography or videography. It’s solid competition for the Pixels and the iPhones but since Samsung is relying more on the hardware than computational photography, it feels like they are a bit behind. But from what I have seen, updates can work wonders on this hardware and I suggest you watch out for the kind of improvements that are on the way.

Performance and Battery Life – Fast and Furious

The saga of the Exynos chip continues with the Galaxy Note 10+’s Exynos 9825 chip, based on a 7nm fabrication process which has been changed from a FinFET process to a EUV (Extreme Ultra Violet) process for more efficiency of the cores (read more about the cores here). So let’s get to the point here – the Note 10+ is not just blazing fast, it has enough power to turn itself into a PC. If it can handle a high resolution screen on the phone AND a high resolution Windowed user interface on a second screen, using the amazing Dex mode, imagine the power it packs. Smartphones, especially in the top end these days have so much power that it sometimes goes unused. On the Note 10+ though, it is put to use thanks to the Dex mode and even the in-built video editor which uses the 12 core GPU to render out those frames without breaking a sweat. Again, it’s not just the CPU and the GPU, there’s 12 GB of RAM and UFS 3.0 as well. Speed is not going to be a problem with the Note 10+.

But on the battery side as well, it is full speed. Both in charging and, unfortunately discharging. Hear me out, the fast charger given inside the box, rated at 25W is crazy fast. It charges the Note 10+ to 100 in less than an hour but at the same time, while standby time is great and lasts for really long, when I am using the device for watching video or just using some app, or using the S-Pen, the battery starts draining fast. Yes, when I say fast it’s not crazy fast, but faster than what I expected. Usually with my moderate to heavy usage, I emptied the Note 10+ within a day with around 4-5 hours of screen-on-time. It is nowhere close to what I would expect from a 4,300 mAH capacity battery but since the fast charging works so great, it is a compromise that we can easily live with. It’s a productive phone no doubt, but always good to carry around the fast charger.

S-Pen – Gimmick or USP?

The large screen of the Note series and the S-Pen are inseparable since the first generation. Without the S-Pen the Note wouldn’t be a Note and without the large screen, the S-Pen would find no use. On the Note 10+, both of them come along so beautifully well with the latest generation of the S-Pen sporting its own battery and even a small accelerometer inside that can be used for waving commands at the screen like you are Harry Potter. This feature is definitely, as far as I am concerned, a gimmick. I tried using it but found it super clumsy for day to day usage, but it definitely is great show off material when you want to show your shiny new device off to your friends. What’s not a gimmick though, is the USP of the S-Pen, the tip that you use to actually do something on the screen.

The ability to take notes instantly by removing the stylus and writing on a black screen. The way you can write instantly on screenshots using the “screen write” feature. The amazing accuracy it offers when you dabble with art inside apps like Pen UP, taking inspiration from fellow artists to create paintings. I’m a big fan of the stylus, especially the S-Pen. Long time back, I had used it on a big screen Samsung tablet and now getting to use the latest generation S-Pen got all the creative juices flowing. It’s just an amazing tool to take notes, be productive, create art and generally, get work done. The S-Pen defined the Note series and it continues to do so, in much more advanced ways on the Note 10+. A big thumbs up to the team that has worked on it so hard to create this fluid creative experience on a portable device. Kudos.

Software and Conclusion

As I’ve said before, in my Galaxy A70 Review, Samsung One UI is the best custom Android skin you will use, period. It’s just so fast and fluid to use, it is designed with all the right ideas in mind, like reachability of all the major UI elements. The options for the kinds of customization, using the night mode to take advantage of the AMOLED screen. The always on display with its many different customizations. It’s just the best custom skin on Android. Only problem is you have to put up with some services which don’t work so great like Bixby. Every other service, like Knox security and Samsung Pay is an added advantage to an already great One UI. So minor annoyances aside, the software experience on the Galaxy Note 10+ will be one of the best, as you would expect from a flagship device.

So, after all that you have read, should you shell out 80k for a phone like the Galaxy Note 10+? In my opinion, yes. Who am I talking to here? Not someone who wants a budget phone or some gaming phone or some all rounded phone, I am talking to the creative professional who likes to get this done, fast and quick. Are you a designer? Are you a creator? Are you an artist? Are you the executive who likes to manage things on the go? Do you want to be the most productive person in your team? Are you the people’s manager who wants to be on top of things? Then you wouldn’t mind spending 80k on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+. Samsung has been making these devices for you and all the enthusiasts like us. Note 10+ – the OG Pro.

Author: Bharadwaj Chandramouli

Bharadwaj is a content creator who has been obsessed with technology since the early days of smartphones. He loves talking about tech, is a fan of good design and photography. You can follow him on Twitter @gadgetbuff_ to know what he's upto!