The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus is the best that Samsung has to offer in 2019. Especially if you're judging that by its price – and not counting 5G and foldable phones. It's the most expensive smartphone besides a 5G model of the Galaxy S10 or Note 10 Plus, and the Galaxy Fold. So it better be the best that Samsung has this year. And well, it definitely seems like it.
Saying this is the best display sounds like a broken record
Twice a year, when Samsung puts out its latest and greatest flagship smartphone, DisplayMate comes out and tells us that it is the best display on a smartphone ever. We can see that with our own eyes as well, but it's good to have that data to back up our claims. So to say that this is the best display, makes us sound like a broken record. We said that about the Galaxy S10, the Galaxy Note 9, the Galaxy S9 and so forth. Samsung always keeps its best AMOLED displays for its own phones. And, who can blame them. They are the ones making these displays after all.
Samsung also does a really good job at calibrating the displays it uses on its smartphones. Which, believe it or not, goes a really long way in making a good panel, a great panel.
The edges are also not as dramatic as the Galaxy S10 series. This means that you can actually use the phone without a case and not run into accidental touches.
This display is vivid. The colors really punch on this panel, all while not being overly saturated. That's a problem that Samsung had faced for a while. Having a very saturated display, leading many to see inaccurate colors when watching videos or taking pictures with the camera. Now it is still a tiny bit on the saturated side, but not too much. You can of course, change how the display looks in the settings.
When it comes to brightness, you won't have a single problem seeing this outside. I've used it several days outside in direct sunlight, and never had an issue with being able to see the display. This is something that Samsung has excelled at now for the past few flagship releases, while its competitors still have trouble getting their phones that bright.
For media consumption, this is going to be the best display that you can get on a phone. Watching a 4K video on YouTube is an absolute treat. Especially after you've pinched in so that the video fills the entire display. It really doesn't get any better. There is that tiny camera hole at the top of the display, but that really doesn't get in the way for the most part. In fact, after a couple of hours, I completely forgot it was even there.
A big beautiful display is nice, but you're going to need a beefy battery to keep the phone running all day long. And thankfully, Samsung has equipped the Galaxy Note 10 Plus with a 4300mAh capacity battery. That's about 300mAh larger than the Galaxy Note 9, and about 100mAh larger than the Galaxy S10 Plus. But the size of the battery doesn't always mean great battery life. However with the Galaxy Note 10 Plus, you are going to get some really good battery life.
During the review, we've been using the Galaxy Note 10 Plus on WQHD+ resolution (that's the full 3040×1440 resolution), even though it defaults to full HD+. And we've been able to get between four and six hours of on-screen time, depending on what it was used for that day, consistently. We also haven't been able to fully kill this phone in a single day. It's usually close to 20-percent at the lowest, around the time I get into bed.
For a large 6.8-inch QHD+ display with a 4300mAh capacity battery, that is actually pretty good. I'd guess that if you dropped it down to FHD+, you could probably get another two hours or more, of on-screen time. That's not bad at all.
Charging is pretty fast. Especially if you're coming from another Samsung smartphone. Now, Samsung only includes the. 25W charger in the box. That's still plenty fast, but it also supports up to 45W charging speeds. Samsung will be selling that charger for $50. And despite what I said before, that's the charger you should buy. Samsung is using USB-C PD here, but it is also using PPS. So it's a bit more complicated than simply using a USB-C PD charger capable of 45W or faster, to charge your Galaxy Note 10 Plus at the fastest speeds possible.
Samsung should have included that in the box, considering this is an $1100 smartphone. But at least you do get a faster 25W charger in the box. Which is likely what most people will stick with. As it can still fully charge the Galaxy Note 10 Plus in just over an hour – our times were right around 65 minutes to go from zero to 100-percent.
Samsung's aura is glowing
These days, the build of a smartphone is pretty good. No matter who made your smartphone. Whether that's LG, Samsung, Motorola, HTC, Xiaomi or someone else. Chances are, it's a really good looking phone and feels great in the hand. It's no different with the Galaxy Note 10 Plus. Despite the larger size of the Galaxy Note 10 Plus, it still feels really good in the hand. But you'll definitely want a case. It's very slippery.
Where Samsung differs, though, from the competition. Is with its colorways. This year, Samsung introduced a new color for the Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10 Plus that has everyone talking. It's the Aura Glow.
This color looks like a mirror, basically. Which means it's going to be tough to keep clean. But depending on how the light hits it, it can also be orange, red, blue, purple, green, or all of the above at the same time. It really looks pretty awesome – when there's no fingerprints on the back, that can be seen. This is the one time that I would recommend a clear case over just about any other case that is available for the Galaxy Note 10 Plus. That way you can still see this amazing Aura Glow color.
Galaxy Note 10 Plus has the best camera….for now
Samsung continues to show how good it is with cameras. Taking the top spot on DxOMark's list now, with the Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G. But there are some heavy hitters coming in the next few months – Pixel 4, Huawei Mate 30, and others – meaning that it might not be the "best camera" for long. And considering how some modes just aren't up to par on the Galaxy Note 10 Plus, that won't be a big surprise. But we'll talk about that more in the "bad review".
For the most part, the Galaxy Note 10 Plus' camera is pretty good. Especially if you're just shooting on auto. Pull out your phone, open the camera app and press the shutter. You'll get some really great pictures from this camera. Having the telephoto, wide and ultra-wide angle sensors on the back are really nice to have. Allowing you to get virtually any shot you want. Switching between the three are also very quick. And with the addition of the Time of Flight sensor, you're getting even better bokeh effects on these images.
The new Live Focus Video feature is pretty good. It does use a lot of fake bokeh though, so it may not be everyone's cup of tea.
Samsung's dedicated Night Mode is here by default, which is a good look. And it does quite well with pictures in darker rooms or at night. It's not quite on the same level as Google's Night Sight on the Pixel, but it is probably about the closest that you'll find.
Overall, Samsung's camera is good, but I wouldn't call it great. It will definitely be exciting to see how it stands up to the upcoming onslaught of flagship smartphones in the next two months though. And to see whether or not it can hold onto that top spot.
One UI is now one of the best skins in the game
If you're like me, you probably remember back when Samsung's skin (called "Touchwiz" back then) was one of the most hated skins in the Android world. In fact, I was one of the ones that would say how bad it was, quite often. My how things have changed in the past few years. One UI, which is the overhaul of Samsung's skin that is overtop of Android, has gotten really good.
It's no longer slow and sluggish like Touchwiz had been for so many years. It can be a bit slow, considering it does have more bloat than stock Android. But it really doesn't slow down the performance of the Galaxy Note 10 Plus at all. Of course, having 12GB of RAM definitely helps with that. One UI has also added some really useful features, and makes the Galaxy Note 10 Plus look really good.
One of the new features that Samsung added with the Galaxy Note 10 line this year is "Link To Windows". And this is part of its new partnership with Microsoft, that's really taking affect starting with the Galaxy Note 10. This new feature is actually really nice to have. Just toggle this on, in the quick settings in the notification pull down, and you'll be able to get all of your text messages and phone calls on your desktop. That is of course if you are using Windows.
Now what I really like about Link to Windows is the fact that it is super simple to turn on, after the first setup. Unlike some other services that offer similar features, where you need to confirm your device every time, the Galaxy Note 10 will remember your computer and when you flip that toggle on, it connects automatically. So it's something you could actually use everyday while you're at work.
One UI is "one of the best" skins out there, many would still say that Oxygen OS is the best. And well, I can't blame anyone that says that. Seeing as Oxygen OS is much lighterweight and it is also much faster. But One UI has continued to improve and will likely get even better when version 2.0 comes next year with the Galaxy S11.
The S-Pen has some major tricks up its sleeve, this year
Last year, Samsung decided to add Bluetooth to the S-Pen. That was a "oh that's cool" moment, and Samsung added a few features to utilize the Bluetooth inside, but it wasn't a "wow" moment. Fast forward to 2019, and the S-Pen has gotten some pretty amazing features. Thanks in part to the Bluetooth connectivity.
One of the bigger features this year is Air Actions. These might sound familiar. They are similar to what LG did with the G8 ThinQ earlier this year. But instead of using a ToF sensor on the front, it's simply using the front facing camera and the button on the S-Pen. Gesturing with the S-Pen and pressing the button at the same time, you can quickly flip the camera from the front to the rear. Gesturing side-to-side will let you switch between modes, and you can still take a photo by clicking the button.
To be honest, when I was first using this feature, I took a lot of pictures by accident, trying to use the Air Actions. They do have a small learning curve. But after a few minutes, it gets pretty easy to use them.
AR Doodle is another feature that Samsung has added with the Galaxy Note 10 line this year. It isn't inside the camera app, even though it uses the camera app. So to access it, you'll need to pull out the S-Pen and then tap on the "AR Doodle" option. Essentially, it allows you to draw things on people or things, that you see in the camera. So if you're recording a person in front of you, there is the option to draw a moustache on them, or something similar. And it's 3D, so you can move around the person and it'll still be there.
These are just a few of the features that Samsung has added to the S-Pen this year. Now while the AR Doodle may sound like a gimmick that you'll probably never use, the Air Actions are something you will likely use. Though, most of us will likely just use it to show off our phone to our friends and family.
The S-Pen is still a very important part of the Galaxy Note lineup. It's basically what makes a Galaxy Note a Galaxy Note smartphone. And that's no different here. It still has all of your favorite features like Screen Write Memo, the ability to hand-write Notes and much more. Now it can also identify your handwriting and convert your handwritten note into a Microsoft Word document. Samsung is using machine learning to make this better over time. But so far, it has been pretty accurate with the notes I've taken.
Gaming on the Galaxy Note 10 Plus is a treat
Big screen, great performance, plenty of RAM and a big beefy battery. That's the recipe for a great gaming performance on any phone. And that's the experience we've had with the Galaxy Note 10 Plus. No matter what game we fire up on this one, it gives us a really great experience.
Every game has been very fast and responsive. We have not needed to even worry about clearing out RAM to make sure it had enough RAM to run properly. Games also stay in the background, instead of needing to be redrawn when you go back to it. That's also a big thing that a lot of other phones have to deal with.
The Game Launcher is pretty cool to have, but I rarely used it. It will essentially bring all of the games installed on your Galaxy Note 10 Plus into one place. You can also set it to limit distractions and keep the on-screen buttons at bay. So that they don't get in the way of playing any games.
The other good thing about playing games on the Galaxy Note 10 Plus: there's plenty of space to store those games. The Galaxy Note 10 Plus comes with a base-line storage of 256GB. That's plenty of space to store many games on the phone, and there is also a micro SD card slot for adding more storage. However, most games cannot be stored on the micro SD card. Making that 256GB internal storage even more important.
Basically, gaming on the Galaxy Note 10 Plus is pretty great. The only thing we wish Samsung had done, was use the Snapdragon 855 Plus. As that new chipset is a minor upgrade over the Snapdragon 855, but it is more targeted at gaming capabilities.
Top of the line performance with Snapdragon 855 & 12GB of RAM
Benchmarks and performance on the Galaxy Note 10 Plus seems to be right in line with what we've seen with other Snapdragon 855-powered smartphones. Including the Galaxy S10 Plus. We've been using the Galaxy S10 Plus and Galaxy Note 10 Plus side-by-side for the past week, and performance is almost identical. Even with the Galaxy S10 Plus being a few months older and having less RAM. That's a good thing for the future. Especially those that are looking to get the Galaxy Note 10 Plus and hold onto it for a few years.
I still stand by the fact that I think 12GB is a bit overkill for RAM in a smartphone. Checking the stats in the Settings on my Galaxy Note 10 Plus review unit here, it has never had less than 3.5GB of free RAM available. Remember that unused RAM is wasted RAM and can actually cause your phone to use more battery. Now this could be from Samsung closing apps after they haven't been opened for a while, to help keep the battery going all day. But it doesn't seem to be as aggressive at closing apps as it was in the past.
The Snapdragon 855, 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage in the Galaxy Note 10 Plus means that you're going to get some really incredible performance as well as plenty of storage for storing all of your content. Especially with the newer faster storage included on the Galaxy Note 10 Plus. If you were worried about performance on the Galaxy Note 10 Plus, don't be. It's plenty fast, responsive and all-around a great experience. Now it may not "feel" as fast as some other phones, but that usually comes down to a placebo affect.
The Galaxy Note 10 Plus is the phone to buy
If you're looking for the best of the best, and you're not loyal to any one brand, then the Galaxy Note 10 Plus is going to be the best phone to buy right now. It is pretty pricey, starting at $1100 plus tax, but it's worth it. It's a phone that you'll be able to hold onto for a couple of years too. Especially with Samsung getting better and better with pushing out timely updates to its long list of smartphones.
The Galaxy Note 10 Plus checks off virtually every box that you can think of. It has great battery life, a big and vibrant display, a great camera and it has the S-Pen. There's not much missing. Though, if you do want to know what's missing, you can check out our bad review. Because there are a few bad things that are missing.
If you were waiting to buy the Galaxy Note 10 Plus, because you were interested in the Galaxy Fold, I wouldn't wait. While the Galaxy Fold is releasing next month, it's going to cost $1980 plus tax. That's a big jump from the Galaxy Note 10 Plus, and it's still going to have first-generation problems. Some problems we've already seen Samsung fix. I would not recommend waiting for the Galaxy Fold over the Galaxy Note 10 Plus.
You can purchase the Galaxy Note 10 Plus for $1099 right now. It's available at most major retailers and all US carriers too.