The Galaxy Note 10 is the first Note series from Samsung to have a "Plus" model, and with the new model comes the million-dollar question: how are sales? Samsung says there's no need to worry: the Galaxy Note 10 series has outsold its predecessor, the Galaxy Note 9.
Samsung didn't release any official breakdown of the Galaxy Note 10 sales versus those of the Galaxy Note 9, so there aren't any specific numbers to report. Samsung made the declaration in a press statement yesterday regarding its Q3 2019 financial report.
What explains the Galaxy Note 10's sales success?
Galaxy Note 10 offers two models as opposed to the Galaxy Note 9's one model
Many analysts estimate that Samsung's success in the Galaxy Note 10 series comes from offering more than one Note model, a practice that Samsung hasn't done since offering the Galaxy Note Edge alongside the Galaxy Note 4 back in 2014. The Galaxy Note Edge was more inexpensive than the Galaxy Note 10 Plus, but times have changed in the smartphone industry. There was a time when the $1,000 phone would be met with instant resistance, but that's not the case anymore. As phone prices rise, with more cameras, features, and bigger batteries, consumers have come to expect price increases — even if they don't want to foot the bill.
This year's Galaxy Note 10 Plus was also met with a Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G model costing around $1,300-$1,400, giving customers who want early 5G access the option. Even the microSD card slot, a coveted feature of Samsung Galaxy smartphones, appeared only on the Galaxy Note 10 Plus model this year, a new strategy to make customers pay more for the "plus" experience.
By introducing two models (three if you count the Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G), Samsung is now giving Galaxy Note customers more choice in the type of device they want and are willing to pay for. The strategy has worked well with Samsung's Galaxy S10 series; Galaxy Note customers prove just as welcoming over choice and price as Galaxy S10 customers. Android customers as a whole are committed to choice; it's a part of Android's mobile DNA, and Samsung knows its customer base all too well.
Galaxy Note 8 upgrades
Another reason pertaining to the Galaxy Note 10 sales success would have to be the Galaxy Note 8 upgrades: that is, Galaxy Note 8 customers who were prepared for their two-year upgrade cycle.
The Galaxy Note 8 arrived just after the ill-fated Galaxy Note 7, a device that had all the marks of success but suddenly started exploding left and right with individual customers. Samsung had to recall the device twice, then quickly pull it from the market. Although the company re-released it as the Galaxy Note FE, the Galaxy Note 7 (even with the new name, "Fan Edition") was banned from airports, airplanes, commercial transportation, and from a number of public places after Samsung pulled the plug on the device. The Galaxy Note 7 released as the Note FE never made it back to the US after it was recalled the second time.
When Samsung announced the Galaxy Note 8, it was a rather average, "meh" device in the Galaxy Note line, but the news surrounding it was not its average spec sheet (average for flagships, mind you) but rather, the fact that it had a small enough battery that wouldn't bulge and/or explode in buyers' pockets or purses.
And yet, the Galaxy Note 8, following the Galaxy Note 7, was nothing more than a "safe" device. It had a 3,300mAh battery to the Galaxy Note 7's 3,500mAh battery, a downsize for the sake of preventing the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco all over again. And with all the changes in the Galaxy Note 7's S Pen experience, Samsung didn't release much in the way of exceptional in the Galaxy Note 8.
Galaxy Note 8 customers have now owned their handsets for two years, and with Android system updates being limited to two years (security patches to three), many Note 8 users are now ready to trade in their "safe" phones for Samsung's newest and shiniest. And that makes sense, considering the Galaxy Note 10+, for example, offers 1,000mAh more than the Galaxy Note 8 (4,300mAh for the Note 10 Plus versus the 3,300mAh battery for the Galaxy Note 8). Whereas Galaxy Note 9 customers have a 4,000mAh battery in their handsets, Galaxy Note 8 customers likely have underwhelming battery life at this point. Samsung's placement of more battery in the "Plus" model is also likely to have encouraged the expensive upgrades.
Samsung's $600 trade-in promo
Samsung's $600 trade-in promo is also another likely contributor to the company's Note 10 sales success. After all, a number of handsets could be traded in for up to $600 off the Galaxy Note 10 and Galaxy Note 10 Plus, putting their prices far within the price bracket most customers can live with. Buyers of other more recent flagship models could have been tempted to pull the proverbial trigger on Samsung's Galaxy Note 10 series because of Samsung's promo.
Samsung added consumer features outside the S Pen
While Galaxy Note users love the S Pen (or are known for loving it), it's not a secret that most of Samsung's customer base doesn't. This explains the gargantuan Galaxy S sales Samsung receives every year that, in sheer size alone, outman the Galaxy Note series sales. Samsung could sell 50 million Galaxy S phones a year as opposed to maybe 9-10 million Galaxy Note phones. The S Pen is an excellent feature to the smartphone experience, and certainly has its place, though a number of customers aren't interested in it.
With the Galaxy Note 9, Samsung did everything it could to encourage Galaxy Note 7 users to upgrade, bringing a slew of new features to the coveted S Pen that any diehard Galaxy Note fan would love. With the Galaxy Note 10, Samsung thought a bit outside of the "diehard Note Fan" box and added new features outside the S Pen, such as the "Zoom In On Sound" feature that lets you pinch to zoom to increase a video's audio sound, and Zoom In Mic to increase video recording capabilities. Samsung also increased its cameras, giving Note buyers a triple rear camera experience with video bokeh and full-editing camera capabilities right on the Galaxy Note 10. Consumers love quality selfies, and professional photographers love the added cameras and camera features. Even without the S Pen, customers would still want to upgrade because of these features.
Samsung's Galaxy Note 10 has done well because of added choices, two-year Galaxy Note 8 upgrades, and Samsung's decision to make customers get more of their long-time coveted features (such as the microSD card slot and larger battery) on the Galaxy Note 10 Plus model instead of the regular Galaxy Note 10.
Keep in mind too, we still don't know the exact sales figures of the Galaxy Note 10. We know that the Galaxy Note 9 sold 9.6 million units. The Galaxy Note 10 series could have outsold the Galaxy Note 9 by a few hundred thousand units, and while that would still be a numerical success, it wouldn't be much to write home about. So we still don't know the full outcome of the Galaxy Note 10 sales performance.
The Galaxy Note 10 series is the best of Samsung and right at the very upper echelon of the Android flagships for 2019. Few Android flagships can match it. Samsung's strong brand name, its phone success in general, and the Galaxy Note 10 series itself have all contributed to strong Galaxy Note 10 sales. Whether those Galaxy Note 10 sales really blow the Galaxy Note 9's out of the water is a matter of wait and see.