Samsung on Wednesday unveiled the latest versions of its top-flight smartphone, the Galaxy Note10 and Note10 Plus. Available Aug. 23 for $949 and $1,099, respectively, the Note10 and Note10 Plus are Samsung's most feature-packed phones to-date. The company is also set to release a 5G version of the Note10 Plus, though pricing hasn't been announced.
The new Notes will serve as a solid test of whether the tech giant can put the failed launch of its Galaxy Fold foldable smartphone in the rearview mirror. That handset, which is set to be relaunched this fall, suffered from issues related to its unique design, causing the South Korea-based company to keep the phone off the market well after it was set to be released.
The Note10 and 10 Plus stick to Samsung's safe, single-screen design formula, but add a few new tricks that make the handsets interesting in their own right.
Bigger and bigger-er
Samsung's Note line has always been about big screens and its S Pen stylus. But as smartphones makers and consumers have embraced larger phones, Samsung has had to lean more on the S Pen to pull its weight as the Note's selling point.
For instance, the Note10's screen measures 6.3 inches, while the Note10 Plus's measures 6.8 inches. The Galaxy S10's screen is 6.1 inches and the S10 Plus's is 6.4 inches. The difference between the S10 Plus and standard Note10 is negligible as far as size goes. The Note 10 was also more comfortable to hold than the Note10 Plus, which was a bit too tall for my liking.
Like the S10 and S10 Plus, both the Note10 and Note10 Plus feature Samsung's new Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O display. That screen, which cascades over the edges of both phones, features a single camera opening at its top rather than the notch-style, front-facing camera found on the iPhone. It'll be interesting to see how videos look when watching them on this display.
As far as resolution goes, the standard Note10 gets a full HD screen, while the Note10 Plus gets a QHD+ panel. The lack of a QHD+ screen on the Note10 might be a turn-off to some users, especially given the phone's price, though I didn't really see any appreciable difference in image quality between the two phones.
S Pen additions
With size less of a distinguishing factor for the Note line, Samsung has been stepping up the functionality of the S Pen stylus in recent years. Last year, the company added a feature that turned the S Pen into a remote for the phone's camera app, making it ideal for tripod use.
This time around, the company has enabled the ability to swipe through settings in the camera app, zoom in, and change between the front-facing and rear-faca by holding down the stylus's button and waving it in the air.
That's all well and good if you've got your phone on a stand, but it's not going to be something most users find themselves frequently using. What Note owners will take advantage of is the new ability to scribble a note and then convert it into an editable Microsoft Word file.
Yes, you can finally take notes and put them to use via Microsoft Word. You can even share your Word document with coworkers just as you would a standard doc. This feature alone makes the S Pen far more useful than it's ever been. The Note 10's handwriting recognition is also pretty spot on-even for someone like me with particularly poor handwriting.
More productivity and gaming
The Note 10 also brings along a slew of new productivity features. The company's DeX PC link has been enhanced to let users connect their phones to their computers via a USB cable rather than an HDMI cable like previous versions of the app required.
DeX lets you essentially use your phone as a pseudo-desktop by connecting it to a computer. The idea is to give users easier access to their phone apps and help them take advantage of apps that might benefit from a PC's larger display.
It also makes moving files between your phone and PC mercifully easier. Previously, moving files was an incredibly annoying procedure, but with DeX it's just a few quick clicks. It's also just plain easier to connect now thanks to the fact that you only need a USB cable and no other extra peripherals.
Samsung's Link to Windows app also makes it easier for you to get text messages from your Note sent to your PC. It's similar to how Apple's iMessages can move between your iPhone, Mac, or iPad.
Of course, the feature that I care most about as far as the Note 10 goes is the ability to stream games from your PC to your handset. To do this, you remotely connected to your PC from your Note via either Wi-Fi or a cellular connection. You can then play games from services like Steam without issue. If you're playing over cellular, though, you'll have to ensure you've got a speedy connection, or your games will lag.
Familiar cameras and impressive specs
The Note10 and Note10 Plus get the same cameras found on Samsung's Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus. That includes a wide-angle lens, a telephoto lens and a standard lens. The Note10 Plus, however, also gets a depth-sensing camera that's meant for use with augmented reality apps.
Inside, the Note10 and Note10 Plus get Qualcomm's 8-core Snapdragon 855 processor. The Note10 also gets 8GB of RAM and 256GB of onboard storage, while the Note10 Plus gets 12GB of RAM and the option of up to 512GB of storage. The Note10 Plus also gets a microSD card slot, something the Note10 lacks.
Samsung said it wanted to make battery life a major priority for the Note10 and Note10 Plus, so it has outfitted the phones with 3,500mAh and 4,300mAh units, respectively. That means both Notes will easily get you through the day and provide you with a little extra power to use their wireless power technology to charge up you other devices.
Pre-orders for the Note10 and Note10 Plus kick off Aug. 8.
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Email Daniel Howley at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.