Samsung has finally taken the wraps off the Galaxy Note 10 and 10+. This is the first time Samsung has released a pair of Note devices, mirroring the way it handles the annual Galaxy S refresh. That’s not the only change, though. These are also the first Samsung phones without headphone jacks, and Samsung has added even more features to the S Pen.
Bigger, mostly better hardware
The Note 10 and 10+ have a Snapdragon 855 chip and the fastest-available UFS 3.0 storage. The Note 10 comes with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, but the Note 10+ bumps that to 12GB and either 256 or 512GB.
The Note 10 is the smaller of the two phones, but it’s still gigantic with its 6.3-inch 1080p OLED panel. The Note 10+ has a 6.8-inch 1440p OLED. Samsung is sticking with the hole-punch “Infinity-O” display, but the Note phones have a single front-facing camera centered in the middle of the status bar area. The hole is apparently a quarter the size of the one on the Galaxy S10. The display has the same ultrasonic fingerprint sensor as the GS10.
There are three cameras on the back: a 12MP main sensor with an adjustable aperture, a 12MP 2x telephoto sensor, and a 16MP ultra-wide angle shooter. There’s one more sensor back there that doesn’t qualify as a camera. The time-of-flight (TOF) sensor can measure the distance to objects, but Samsung is only using it for camera AR effects and rudimentary 3D scanning.
The Note 10 and 10+ have curved displays, but the curve is closer to the edge than the Galaxy S phones. That provides more surface area for the S Pen. Speaking of, the S Pen now has an accelerometer and gyroscope inside, allowing it to recognize movement. That means you can use gestures (called Air Actions) to control the phone, but Samsung has only implemented motion controls in the camera and YouTube so far. There’s an SDK that developers can use to add S Pen gestures to apps. There’s still Bluetooth as well, which lets you take photos, launch, apps and so on. The S Pen charges in a few seconds when inserted into the slot on the phone.
Samsung moved the power button to the left edge of the device, which is unusual. Equally odd is the company’s decision to remove the headphone jack from both phones. The Note series is usually the “kitchen sink” phone, but it’s lacking here. There’s also no microSD card slot on the smaller Note 10.
Naturally, the smaller phone has a smaller battery — 3,500 vs. 4,300mAh. When the time comes to recharge, Samsung has finally upgraded its charger specs. The Note 10 can do 12W wirelessly, and the Note 10+ can do 15W. With a USB cable, the Note 10+ can do up to 45W. However, the stock charger is only 25W for both phones. You’ll need a high-power USB-PD charger to get the best possible speed on the Note 10+.
New software tricks
The Note 10 runs Android 9 Pie out of the box with Samsung’s customary One UI on top. It’s basically the same software loadout as the Galaxy S10 with a few small additions for the S Pen and a handful of new features.
The TOF sensor enables a new feature called AR Doodle, which lets you draw on objects in the real world via the camera viewfinder. When shooting videos, you’ll be able to tweak them with Samsung’s all-new editing app. There’s also support for Adobe Rush.
Samsung’s DeX interface for PC-like functionality is getting an overhaul. Previously, you needed a dock or USB to HDMI cable. Now, you can use DeX with a regular USB cable on your computer. The usefulness of this feature is a bit suspect, though. You already have a real computer — why run DeX in a window? It is at least a way to play mobile games on your PC.
On the flip side, Samsung is rolling out a local game streaming utility with the Note 10. It’s called Play Galaxy Link, and it will let you stream games from your PC to the Note 10 and 10+.
When you can get it
The Note 10 will cost $949, and the Note 10+ starts at $1,099. Both phones will be available for pre-order starting tomorrow from Samsung. Carriers will announce their own pre-orders soon as well. It you pre-order from Samsung, you’ll get $100-150 in Samsung credit to purchase accessories, too.
There is a 5G version of the Note 10, but it’s not a completely separate piece of hardware like the Galaxy S10 5G. The Note 10 and 10+ 5G are the same phones as the LTE variants with an additional 5G radio and antennas. The phones officially launch on August 23rd. The Note 10 5G will be a Verizon exclusive at launch but will come to other carriers later.