A note to the reader: I originally wrote this review in November 2019; the content herein was migrated from my previous blog site.
I purchased an unlocked Galaxy Note 10+ at full retail price shortly after they were available in stores. I did a fair amount of my own research prior to purchasing, but as a previous owner of two other Samsung Galaxy Note phones, I was looking forward to again returning to a platform that I’ve really loved in the past.
There are 5 major components to any smartphone that should be considered as part of any review. Here is a quick recap of those components for the Note 10+.
Samsung has been driving the “Infinity Edge” display on its Note and S-series phones for the last few years, which has a very distinct cosmetic presentation on the Note 10+. With a full glass front and back that wrap to the sides of the phone, separated by a small strip of stainless steel, this phone reeks of high-class and expensive-looking design cues. Near-flat tops and bottoms with softer, rounded edges make it a very comfortable phone to hold, but keep in mind that’s only when it doesn’t have a case on it (which, by the way, you’ll want to have at least one at regular access unless you like flushing money down the toilet). It is a truly beautiful phone, and the Aura Glow color is so much more compelling in person than it is in any picture or video you may have see online. Get to the store and see one of these for yourself.
The Note 10+ has a high end processor (not the newest, but close enough) paired with 12GB of RAM. The processor is expected—but the RAM, well, 12GB is a lot…it’s more than many home and work computers that are widely used today. And, it’s only a phone. So, to say that this phone CRUISES through normal tasks is an under statement.
Another key component of performance for smart phones come in the area of security and accessibility: how easily, quickly and securely can you unlock your phone? Samsung brings the in-screen fingerprint sensor from the S10, and it performs well, although is far from snappy when compared to a traditional fingerprint sensor. I registered the same finger multiple times in the settings which definitely improves the rate of success.
And finally, you can’t talk about the Note without talking about the S-Pen. Some gestures have been added that allow for basic navigation of photos and videos, as well as some interesting gimmicks inside the camera; and while these gestures are really cool, they aren’t particularly useful beyond party tricks. Otherwise, it’s the same old S-Pen—and that shouldn’t be read as a negative statement; it is a great tool and truly a unique component of this phone.
What about the screen? It’s big. It’s beautiful. It’s bright. And, it doesn’t destroy the battery (more on that later). If you don’t like curved screen edges, you probably won’t be happy with it—otherwise, there is very little, if anything, to complain about. You may not like the pin hole camera, but as with any other notch (rain drop, “George Jefferson,” pin hole, or offset oval), you tend to adjust to it relatively quickly, and it disappears into the background in most apps.
Samsung, Google and Apple always make up the widely-accepted “top 3” cameras in the cell phone industry, and the Note’s camera is no exception to this tendency. Of course, image quality has a significant subjective component, but the images produced by the Note’s camera system are sharp and clean. The settings also offer a lot of customization to shutter speed, ISO and white balance, so even amateur photographers should be content with the options.
This battery is an absolute beast. With limited use, I can get nearly two days between charges, and the included fast charger tops up the battery very quickly. Add wireless charging AND reverse wireless charging, you’ve got an amazing battery setup on the Note.
Wrapping this up—this phone is stellar in every category, but it comes at a price—$1100 for the base model. Whether or not that $1100 is worth the cost is largely subjective, however, I have no hesitation in recommending this phone if it’s in your budget.