- 1. Introduction & Specs
- 2. Design & Build
- 3. Display & Audio
- 4. Software
- 5. Camera & SPen
- 6. Performance, Battery Life, Miscellaneous
- 7. Conclusion & Pricing
Design & Build
There’s no debate, the Note10+ is an absolutely stunning piece of hardware. I’ve had the chance to review both the Aura Glow and Aura White models, and they are both beautiful in their own way; the Glow is the physical embodiment of a psychedelic acid trip, while the White is an understated elegance. Interestingly, the colour of the included AKG earphones and charger are white for the White Note10+ and black for the Glow.
Whichever colour you choose, the build quality is Samsung at its most refined, with glass and metal melting seamlessly together, and the nerdy horizontal camera layout of the Galaxy S10 series giving way to a much more charming vertical placement. However, this particular improvement in looks does come at a minor price, seemingly overlooked by Samsung’s engineers – the Note10+ rocks about on the table when one writes on it with the SPen due to the non-central placement of the camera bump. It is ironically something which wouldn’t matter on literally any other phone, and isn’t a major issue, but it is nonetheless an annoyance which I’ve noticed.
The feel in the hand is solid, and I have a personal penchant for the Note series’ blockier design with its squared-off corners and flat top and bottom edges (it leaves me nostalgic for old Nokias and Sonys), but there will be many who would prefer the more ergonomic rounded corners of something like the Galaxy S10, since those would not poke into the palm of the hand.
Aside from the fact that the Note10+ looks and feels amazing, there are other tiny technical feats over last year’s generation of Note – it’s lighter and nearly a millimetre thinner, while having a much larger edge-to-edge screen (6.8” vs 6.4”), and a larger battery (4300mAh vs 4000mAh).
The main issue that I had with the build of this year’s Note is that the large curved screen makes it a challenge to reach across it one-handed without touching something else by accident. Oftentimes I would accidentally tap ‘p’ on the keyboard when reaching for a ‘q’, or tap on an item on the screen when trying to swipe in from the left edge to open the hamburger menu in the Play Store. To be fair, this is not a fault of the Note but rather an inherent characteristic of it; as much as I would want to use the Note10+ one-handed, it is intended as a two-handed phone, and as long as you keep your expectations in line with this being a two-handed device, everything is fine.
One final thing to note about the hardware is that all the buttons are now on the left-hand side of the device, as Samsung has decided to merge the power button and the Bixby button into a single button which it calls the “side key”. By default, a double press launches the camera (as it should), but a press and hold launches Bixby. Samsung’s workaround to this is to make the power menu accessible from the notification panel, but you can also opt to change this in Settings so that the side key functions as a regular power button, effectively disabling Bixby. The physical implication of having the power button on the left side of the device is that right-handed users now have to shift the phone in a way that makes the button accessible to their right index or middle finger every time they want to sleep or wake the phone. It was a strange inconvenience at first, but quickly became something I got used to.