Samsung knows it needs to do something to sell more phones and that’s why it’s released two variants of the new Galaxy Note. For the first time, its flagship phablet with built-in stylus comes in two sizes: a 6.3-inch Note10 and 6.8-inch Note10+.
The lower-specced Note10 model has a lower-resolution screen, less RAM, no expandable storage, a smaller battery capacity and no depth sensor camera.
The focus of this review is the larger 6.8-inch device, which, admittedly, is huge to carry around. When compared to last year’s 6.4-inch Note9, they are nearly identical in size but the 10+ is thinner.
Samsung’s edge-to-edge screen and “Infinity-O” (camera cutout) display has resulted in the best-looking screen I’ve seen on a smartphone. Flip it to the back and the change is instantly recognisable, with a vertical row of lenses, compared to the previous horizontal and centered look, which feels dated now.
Our review unit is in the colour “aura glow” and it needs to be seen in real life to be appreciated. The silver polished glass — a fingerprint magnet — appears in whatever shade it catches the light. A conversation starter, for sure.
Under the bonnet is the Exynos 9825 octa-core processor, 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage (baseline), expandable up to 1TB. It has a USB-C port, but an audio jack is notably absent. A pair of USB-C AKG earphones is included in the box.
The Note10+ is blazing fast; it didn’t lag or freeze when I used it all day at a car launch, shot pictures and videos, and then proceeded to edit a video and upload it the same day. I found this situation to be quite an accurate test of my day and yet the phone soldiered on.
The S-Pen stylus now has a gyroscope and supports “Air Actions”, which let you swipe between photos in the gallery, flip and change camera modes, or adjust the volume. All these functions are quicker with my hand, to be honest.
If you use the stylus to scribble handwritten notes, the phone can now read these and convert them to text. I wrote a bit untidily to test this and it worked well. The text can then be exported as a Word or PDF document.
The new quad camera setup has a 16-megapixel ultra-wide lens, a 12MP wide-angle, 12MP telephoto and depth sensor; the front-facing camera is also 12MP.
The cameras are really good, even though the photos look a bit spruced up. I have become used to wide angle shots; regular mode feels like there’s something missing. Night mode pics are also great. It also shoots in 4K with audio zoom and at playback you can hear the sound is louder at the zoomed frames.
“Live Focus” lets you take photos with various effects, like a black and white background, which is great when you want to take a selfie and others are in your shot. This mode doesn’t work as well with video when the background is blurred because it just looks weird.
“AR Doodle” lets you scribble over people and objects first, and then lets you record videos after with the effects still in place, a fun-at-first feature but not something you’d use often.
The new native video-editing functionality is great but still limited. For example, the caption tool has only one font option, and I’m all about customisation so I hope a software update changes that.
When it comes to accessing content on the device, DeX (desktop experience) has been tweaked to now work simply with a USB cable on both PC and Mac via the app. You can use select apps on the phone within your desktop environment, which is great. You can also drag and drop files.
The Note10+ supports streaming games from a PC, and supports Discord, a gaming chatting app.
The 4 300mAh battery is ample: I never felt like it let me down by the end of the day, and even pushed through two days on it. It’s a true workhorse.
The Note was always a business-focused, power-user handset with a loyal fan base due to the stylus that enabled working on the go. The new model, though, is meant to appeal to a wider and dare I say more mainstream audience. Now, along with the unique colour, it is clearly meant to attract fashionistas, budding movie makers, gamers and content creators.
Everything about the Note10+ is premium, from screen to design, including the price, which comes in at a whopping R23 000.
Before you part with those hard-earned Randelas, you might want to wait for the new Huawei Mate 30 Pro being unveiled next week. But given what is happening with the US and Huawei, Samsung may just have the upper hand here in this fight. — © 2019 NewsCentral Media