Samsung’s new powerhouse can dazzle you with its specs and features, and of course, the S-Pen
In its 10th iteration (ideally it should be nine, given one just exploded), Samsung’s Note series is an iconoclast. The smartphones defined by massive screens have been a mainstay for the brand, driving sales in the premium segment. Launching two models this year, Samsung has introduced a plus range taking screen size to 6.8 inches. While the Note 10 carries a 6.3-inch screen size, the plus model comes loaded with a 6.8-inch screen (practically a tablet).
Samsung is known for its design, and it seems to have outdone itself in this department. The Note10+ is bigger, slimmer and thinner than its previous iterations. The Aura Glow version is just drool-worthy. Given how companies were using dual or three colour gradients, Samsung has given a rainbow. The phone dazzles under light, but is not smudge-proof. The only problem is the button placement. Given it is a big phone, one should not complain about the two-handed operation, but the power and volume buttons are placed on the left side. Most of us are accustomed to holding the phone from the fag end; so you have to slide your palm each time to power the phone or operate the volume buttons.
At 6.8 inches, AMOLED display with a 3040X1440 resolution, there is not much more you can ask for. The colours are vivid, and the blacks are great. Where it works best is high resolution. While you do not need the phone to always operate at high-intensity, it is nice to switch on the QuadHD+ resolution for viewing or gameplay.
The facial recognition is nifty but the fingerprint scanner is below par. The scanner is slower than OnePlus’s flagship. Although I did find a fix around it by registering multiple iterations, the response was still not fast enough. More important, the refresh rate for the phone at 60 Hz is meagre. Most tablets come with a 120 Hz refresh rate and OnePlus, which is one-third the price of Note, offers 90Hz.
Equipped with Dolby Atmos settings the Note10+ has one of the best speakers and sound settings. Atmos may not work everywhere—playing songs from music apps only increased bass and volume—but with Atmos content it worked great. On the other hand, Samsung removing the headphone jack is a bit disappointing. The AKG headphones in the box are also neither ergonomically designed nor top quality.
Samsung has not disappointed with its S-pen this time also. Samsung Notes is a nifty feature and works well with the new S-pen. The pen has a smooth flow, and the quality of notes is terrific. Even the colouring feature is exciting with the pen working excellently in each of the use cases. While keyboards and handwriting detection, especially the placing— somehow I ended up accidentally touching the lower panel—still need improvement, these are minor issues. Air commands worked well with the S-Pen feature, but how frequently will anyone use them? More important, there were severe lags in all these gestures. Another problematic feature is the selection for text conversion. Not nitpicking, but the drag-and-slide model is irritating.
Although the camera in Note10+ is a marked improvement over Note 9, Samsung has introduced another depth camera for bokeh mode. Despite these improvements, it still isn’t as good. Google and Huawei perform better in this case. The live video focus is interesting, but with the camera losing out in other specs, it cannot be the feature that enhances the experience. While AR Doodle and 3D scanner app is exciting, it does not offer much in terms of experience. The 3D scanner was a better feature, but its use cases are limited. The front camera is a bigger disappointment. The colours are off, and pictures are not that exact. The night mode is an excellent addition, but should have been better.
Note10+ with its 4,300 mAh battery performs better than most premium segment phones. The phone had a battery life of 12 hours with moderate use, this reduced to 10 hours with reasonable use and high screen resolution. With gaming and heavy use battery life did not go below 7 hours – indeed, a plus for the Note category. Charging was another top notch feature. The 25W charger ensured that the phone got charged in just over an hour’s time.
This may not be Samsung’s fault, but the user interface for Android phones is still below Apple’s offerings. Although Samsung has made improvements in terms of operability, the system is plain vanilla. The drop-down dock, for instance, now covers a large part of the screen, but most of the transition still reeks of the older generation.
This is where Note10+ holds more weight than its competitors. The phone does not heat up, and the 12GB RAM ensures that gameplay is smooth. Similarly, the phone efficiently handles binge-watching. The raw power of the processor ensures that multitasking is smooth. With multiple tabs open, the phone does not show any lag, though I loaded only 30GB of data. Another critical feature is DeX, which converts the phone into a desktop. While DeX has undoubtedly improved and link to Windows feature works well, there are still some lags.
At Rs 79,999 (Samsung has bundled it with offers and cashback), Galaxy Note10+ (256GB) is a pricey acquisition. For those looking to enter the premium segment, it certainly offers a lot. If one looks at the camera, it is not as good as its competitors, but in terms of sheer power, Samsung does beat the rest. And, then there is the S-Pen. Note9 users do not need to rush for an upgrade unless they want a bigger screen and better watching experience. For Note8 and below, it is undoubtedly a notch above. If you are an avid movie fan, love playing games and can find office utility, Note10+ is your best bet, that is, if you can spare the money.