Hands-On with Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10 Plus

Today’s the day, folks. Samsung has finally unveiled the new Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10 Plus. I’m at Samsung’s event right now and I just went hands-on with both phones. Here’s what’s good.

The Specs

First things first, let’s get the specs out of the way. Samsung is including a 6.3-inch Full HD+ Super AMOLED display on the standard Note 10, while the larger Note 10 Plus gets a gigantic 6.8-inch Quad HD+ Super AMOLED display. Under the hood, you’ll find a flagship Snapdragon 855 processor, 8 or 12GB of RAM, a 3,400mAh battery in the Note 10, and a 4,300mAh battery in the Note 10 Plus. There’s also Bluetooth 5.0 and 5G compatibility thanks to the new Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G.

A Premium Feel, As Always

Samsung never fails to include premium feels with their phones. And that’s what you get with the newest Notes. They’re covered in glass, and boy are they slippery. There’s metal around the edges to add a touch a grip, but there isn’t much. This is one of those phones you’ll wanna buy a case for.

Then again, I’ll have to review the phone before I make any concrete judgments.

With the Note 10, there’s no headphone jack. That kinda sucks, but what did you expect? A $1,000 phone with a headphone jack in 2019?

There’s another thing missing this year, and that’s the Bixby button. Generations of both the Galaxy S and Note lines have included this useless key that did nothing but summon the crummy alternative Samsung built to compete with the Google Assistant. Admittedly, Bixby has gotten better over the years, but it’s nowhere near the levels of sheer brilliance the Assistant brings to the table.

In a nutshell, I’m glad it’s gone.

The bottom of the phone includes a USB-C port, while a speaker grille lives next to it. This speaker pairs with the earpiece on the Note 10 and Note 10 Plus for stereo separation.

Gorgeous Screen, As Expected

Samsung never fails to implement a gorgeous screen on its flagship devices, and the Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10 Plus are no exceptions. These phones have some of the best displays around. Colors pop, saturation is vibrant, and brightness should suffice for both indoor and outdoor usage. The addition of the microscopic notch at the top should add to the immersive nature of these panels.

Admittedly, I didn’t get to spend very much time with the displays, but at least in my brief moments with the phones, I was impressed.

Speedy Gonzales

Like I said earlier, the Note 10 comes with a flagship processor, and when you use the phone, you can tell. This thing is fast. I only messed around with a few pre-installed apps and flicked around with the camera, but I could already tell it was speedy enough for everyday tasks. Usually, when you combine a Snapdragon 855 and up to 12GB of RAM, you get a pretty solid experience.

Cool Camera Gimmicks Features

Onstage, Samsung did their usual dance of new camera features. They debuted them alongside the new 16MP main, 12MP telephoto, and 16MP ultra-wide sensors. They do what you’d expect (take normal photos, take close-up photos, take ultra-wide landscape photos), but it’s the new features Samsung loaded on that are making the press rounds.

For starters, Samsung is including professional camera settings for videos, much like they do for photos. They’re also introducing a new video setting that adds a portrait-style bokeh to the background. You can select different versions of the bokeh feature as well. In my very early testing, it seems to work okay, but I won’t know if it’s worth using until I use it more extensively.

Then there’s AR Doodle which is a bit of a gimmick. I’m sure there’s gonna be people who use it, but it’s not very practical.

Essentially, AR Doodle let’s you’d draw on subjects that you’re taking a photo or video of. The doodles then follow your subject wherever they move. I tried it and it works well enough for what it is, but like I said, I’m not entirely sure that a lot of people will use it other than those who like camera gimmicks. Samsung also added a 3D scanner to the Note 10 which literally lets you take 3D scans of objects. These objects can also be used in AR and can track your motion. Again, not very practical, but it’s there.

S Pen Upgrades

With any new Galaxy Note phone, Samsung updates the features of the S Pen, the included stylus that lives at the bottom of the phone. With the Note 10 this year, the S Pen can act similarly to a magic wand by allowing you to use air gestures to control certain aspects of the phone. The best example was switching between camera modes while your phone is on a tripod.

Because of the amount of chaos at this event, I didn’t get a chance to play with this feature. But as you can imagine, this feature’s probably gonna come in handy more often than not. I know a lot of people who swear by this stylus, and with these features, there’s no way they aren’t going crazy right about now.

My Initial Read

With the Galaxy Note 10, there’s plenty of light iteration between it and the Note 9. The screen’s a bit bigger, the battery is around the same size, the processor got an average bump. Then there’s another camera that performs a function we’ve seen before along with S Pen upgrades that don’t go crazy on the feature set.

Admittedly, the flashy colors and the excitement of the event left me feeling impressed when it comes to the Note 10. After all, it’s remarkable what phone companies have been able to accomplish over the past decade. But when looking back on what last year brought to the table, this year’s phones do seem a bit bland, even though they’re gonna pave the way for smartphones moving forward.