At their Galaxy Unpacked event earlier today (read: 4am in Singapore time), Samsung unveiled not one, but two versions of their Galaxy Note 10.
And while Vulcan Post didn’t manage to attend the event in New York, we did manage to get a hands-on preview of the phones ahead of their release later this month.
As is the case with most tech releases there’s a lot of information to sift through, so here’s the lowdown of everything you need to know:
A Note-Worthy Change
While the “Plus” moniker traditionally denotes (heh) the…well, plus-sized version of a phone, Samsung has flipped that idea on its head this year. Measuring at 6.39 inches, the Note 10+ is essentially the same size as the 6.37-inch Note 9, while the “classic” Note 10 now sports a smaller, 5.94-inch form factor that’s actually smaller than its little brother, the Galaxy S10.
Despite being the same size as its predecessor, however, the Note 10+ boasts a 6.8-inch AMOLED display — the largest screen on a Note to date — while the Note 10’s screen measures at 6.3 inches (also AMOLED, btw). Samsung has impressively increased screen size without changing the phone’s physical dimensions, resulting in the most bezel-less display we’ve seen on a smartphone thus far.
One of the biggest controversies surrounding the Note 10 in the lead up to its release was the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack, and the rumours are — depending on your stance on wireless headphones — unfortunately true. Yup, after endlessly mocking Apple for doing the same with the iPhone X, all wired connections now go through the phone’s USB-C port.
Performance-wise, both the Note 10 and Note10+ are equipped with Samsung’s latest 7nm Exynos 9825 processor, and come with 8GB and 12GB of RAM respectively. As you might expect from a top-of-the-line processor performance and navigation is quick and responsive, and you shouldn’t find anything to complain about here.
Battery life, on the other hand, is a little more interesting — the Note 10 is equipped with a 3,500 mAH battery, which is actually smaller than the Note 9’s 4,000 mAh one. The Note 10+, however, shows an improvement with its 4,300 mAh battery, and both phones come with the Samsung trifecta of wireless charging, fast charging and wireless powershare.
If you’re feeling a little confused by the new naming conventions (we know we were) and wondering why the Note 10 has lower specs than the Note 9, here’s the TL;DR – the Note 10+ should be considered the “true” successor to the Note 9, while the Note 10 is an new, budget-ish offering that fits Note-level performance into a smaller form factor.
Your New Pen Pal
The S Pen is the Note series’ signature feature, so it’s no surprise that Samsung has added some new features to it.
The most significant addition here is something called “air actions”, which allow you to wave the S Pen like an orchestra conductor to perform actions on the phone without even touching it. This opens up a wealth of possibilities, such as navigating through your phone and switching from the rear camera to the front, to name a few.
And if you’re the kind of person who prefers handwritten notes as opposed to typing them out on a keyboard, here’s another feature you’ll want to take…um, note of — Samsung Notes is now intelligent enough to convert your handwriting into a text file, which can then be exported into programs like Microsoft Word.
Speaking of the camera, the Note 10 and Note 10+ come with triple (12MP Wide, 16MP Ultra-wide, 12MP Telephoto) and quad (12MP Wide, 16MP Ultra-wide, 12MP Telephoto and VGA DepthVision) systems respectively.
Apart from the new DepthVision camera that’s the exact same camera setup as the S10+, which actually isn’t a bad thing when you consider that it currently ranks 7th on DxOMark’s smartphone camera rankings.
Based on our (very) short test with the Note 10 and Note 10+, photos came out crisp and vibrant, but what’s more interesting is the upgrades Samsung has made to video.
In addition to transitions and subtitles, the “Live Focus Video” feature allows you to create various depth-of-field effects to make your recordings more professional and #aesthetic, and the option to add filters — while not as robust as what Apple will roll out with the upcoming iOS13 — means that you can perform basic colour correction straight from your phone.
Pricing and Availability
Both the Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+ will be released on the 24th of August, and will be available at Samsung Experience Stores, telcos, and major electronics retailers such as Courts, Harvey Norman and Lazada.
Price-wise, the Note 10 — which comes in a single 256GB configuration — will retail for S$1,398, while the Note 10+ comes in at S$1,598 and S$1,898 for the 256GB and 512GB versions respectively.
Pre-orders actually start today, and as usual Samsung is offering some sweet freebies to early adopters — The Note 10 comes with a pair of Galaxy Buds worth S$238 and 10,000 mAh battery back worth S$98, while the Note 10+ entitles you to a free upgrade to the 512GB version (woah) along with the aforementioned battery pack.
Looking at the specs, we’re actually not too sure where the Note 10 fits in today’s smartphone arena — with phone displays getting increasingly bigger the Note series doesn’t dominate the screen game the way it used to, and other than the S Pen it doesn’t seem that different from the Galaxy S10 either.
Another thing to consider is price — the less powerful Note 10 already comes in at S$1,398, which is the exact same price as the P30 Pro, Huawei’s top-tier flagship smartphone (until the upcoming Mate 30 comes round, at least). A new smartphone should ideally catapult itself to the top of the smartphone pack, but on first impression the Note 10 unfortunately doesn’t seem to reach those heights.
But first impressions are exactly that — first impressions — and our opinion of the Note 10 might very well change once we get to use it in a real-life setting. Who knows?
Header Image Credit: Vulcan Post