First look at the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 & 10+: Why they’re worth preordering

Story highlights

  • Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+ go up for preorders Aug. 8 and officially land on Aug. 23
  • For 2019, there are two Notes that still deliver the expected performance and the power of S-Pen

Well, we’re officially getting two new Samsung Galaxy Notes. It’s time to meet the Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+. And yes, Samsung is solving the age-old problem of size with the Note. Many potential users might have thought the size was too big, but now you can pick.

You get a 6.3-inch display on the Note 10 and a 6.8-inch display on the Note 10+. Both of these are Super AMOLED Infinity-O displays and they feature a tiny pinhole selfie camera that’s square center at the top. Even better news, the specs are mostly the same across both sizes.

Let’s talk pricing and availability

The Note 10 and Note 10+ will officially launch on Aug. 23, but preorders start on Aug. 8. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10 will start at $949.99 for 256 GB of storage with 8 GB of RAM. The Note 10+ is $1,099.99 with 256 GB of storage and 12 GBs of RAM.

If you preorder through Aug. 22, you can score a $100 Samsung credit with a Note 10 or a $150 credit with a Note 10+. Samsung will also be offering bundles to score a Note 10 or Note 10+ with fast chargers or even a Galaxy Watch. Eligible users will get six months free of Spotify Premium once you get your new Galaxy Note. Let’s break down the models.

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10 with 256 GB in Aura Glow ($949.99;
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10 with 256 GB in Aura White ($949.99;
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10 with 256 GB in Aura Black ($949.99;
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ with 256 GB in Aura Glow ($1,099.99;
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ with 256 GB in Aura White ($1,099.99;
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ with 256 GB in Aura Black ($1,099.99;
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ with 256 GB in Aura Blue ($1,099.99;
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ with 512 GB in Aura Glow
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ with 512 GB in Aura White
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ with 512 GB in Aura Black
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ with 512 GB in Aura Blue

The S-Pen has new air actions and is lighter

Samsung’s S-Pen is, of course, what makes a Galaxy Note a Note. This smart stylus allows you to turn your phone into a notepad, artist drawing board or just a doodler. You can use it to navigate the device, play games with precision and edit photos. It’s really another interface to control the Galaxy Note, and as expected, there are updates.

If you saw last week’s new Galaxy Tab S6, you got a bit of a sneak peek. A new set of Air Actions are arriving on the S-Pen in Note 10 and Note 10+. By clicking the button on the S-Pen or holding it in, you’ll be able to control features of the phone,like taking a selfie, opening an app or even more concrete ones. Even better, Note 10 and 10+ can convert handwriting from the S-Pen into typed text.

It’s a bit lighter, and supposedly weighted a bit better. The color of the S-Pen will match that of your Note 10 or Note 10+ as well. I got a general feel for it and it still feels like an S-Pen. It’s not a full redesign with new feature sets, but instead, Samsung is sticking with what works.

Infinity-O with a fingerprint sensor

All experiences should look great on the 6.3-inch or 6.8-inch Super AMOLED Infinity-O display. Both of these are HDR 10+ certified and rated for Dolby Vision. The resolution is respectively 2280×1080 with 401 pixels per inch and 3040×1440 with 498 pixels per inch. During my hands-on time, I was impressed with the vibrancy of the screen and contrast was able to display some pretty dark blacks.

I’m looking forward to diving deeper into this and seeing how the new location for the Infinity-O hole stacks up.

And looking down toward the center of the lower half, you’ll find an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor. This is the same technology we saw on the S10 and S10+, so you’ll likely get a screen protector over the display of the Note. Keep in mind that results may vary in the beginning, and it will get better with time. Samsung can also push out updates to improve performance. You can also use the front-facing lens for facial recognition, but this isn’t truly biometric.

High-performance specs

These are both flagships in every way, and like the Galaxy S10 and S10+, these share specs. Both of these are running Android 9.0 with Samsung’s One UI. This new interface first premiered on the S10 family and offers a lighter experience. It shows a resurgence in both hardware and software teams working to create a device that stands out.

Powering the experience will be a zippy 64-bit octa-core processor with either 8 GB or 12 GB of RAM depending on the model you opt for. A Note 10 features 8 GB while the Note 10+ gets 12 GB of RAM. Either way, Samsung is still making tweaks in the software to ensure a smooth experience. The OS can intelligently devote resources as well. With a new game mode, you can get better performance when playing Fortnite on mobile or other high task operations.

The camera setup may look a bit familiar on both of these phones. The back features three lenses stacked vertically, in a design choice that’s similar to the iPhone XS or XS Max. A 16-megapixel ultra-wide, a 12-megapixel wide-angle and a 12-megapixel telephoto are on board. This is the same setup as the S10 and S10+, so we’re expecting these to perform just as well. You also get Samsung’s built-in night mode, which helps take excellent shots in low light. However, new features actually lie in the video recording section. Sure, you can record at up to UHD resolution, but you can now create a bokeh effect with Live Focus Video and a Zoom-In Mic creates the effect of a boom microphone for enhanced audio.

On the front that Infinity-O pinhole holds a 10-megapixel autofocus lens with an 80-degree viewing angle. It should be great for capturing selfies and shots with more than one person. Both the front and back cameras can handle portrait mode as well.

AR Doodle is an interesting new and fun software feature that works on both cameras. You can draw a funny hat, or really anything, and have it snap to a face or body. You can record a video with it or even snap a picture for sharing.

Large batteries and ultra-fast charging

Samsung has come a long way with battery tech and a lot is going on with the Note 10 and 10+. You get a 3,500mAh or 4,300mAh battery inside, depending on the phone, and with Samsung’s intelligent battery controlling software, you’ll likely get a full day of use.

And the really cool news is that both the Note 10 and 10+ support fast charging via a cord or wirelessly. In the box, you’ll get a 25-watt fast charge, and you can even upgrade to a 45-watt for the Note 10+. This is pretty impressive and should deliver ultra-fast charging. Think nearly filling the battery all the way in just about 30 minutes.

And, yes, wireless power share is back. The technology that reverses the wireless charging coils allows you to charge other Qi-enabled devices. Just don’t expect it to be the fastest experience.

Removing the audio jack

Yes, you read that right. The Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+ are one-port devices. You’ll only find a USB-C port on the bottom and no headphone jack. Samsung was one of the last big OEMs to keep this wired listening port, and while the S10 family still has it, the Note line no longer does. You will get a pair of USB-C earbuds in the box, and of course, Samsung makes Galaxy Buds.

Final thoughts from first impressions

Simply put, the Note 10 and 10+ are unquestionably coming off as rock stars, from first impressions. It’s also refreshing to see the smaller model come in at at $949, solving the issue that the Note was too big. And it’s luckily an even playing field with nearly the same specs and hardware being used across the board.

The sleek aluminum and glass design not only comes in fun colors and is IP68 rated, but it contains a powerhouse of hardware. Samsung’s choice of an octa-core processor with either 8 GB or 12 GB of RAM will provide a zippy experience. And Samsung’s One UI is back and continuing a lighter experience with customizations will be smooth.

I think it’s safe to say that the Note 10 and Note 10+ are worthy devices and I’m looking forward to thoroughly reviewing them. But you’re also safe preordering to score a $100 Samsung credit for the Note 10 or a $150 credit for the Note 10+. You can put it toward helpful new accessories, including a 45-watt ultra-fast charger.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailers’ listed prices at the time of publication.

This article originally appeared here