Topping the performance and capabilities of the Galaxy Note9 that was released last year is a darned tall order but Samsung’s spanking new Galaxy Note10+ has done that and more, taking its capabilities up by several notches with an emphasis on their cameras and their vaunted S Pen stylus.
Externally, the Galaxy Note10+ manages to not only be slightly slimmer than its predecessor the Galaxy Note9 by 0.9mm but it is also lighter too by 5g. It doesn’t sound like much on paper but these small savings in weight and size are apparent especially when you place both phones side by side.
What’s in the box for the Samsung Galaxy Note10+
While the Galaxy Note10+ is an upgrade in almost every aspect of performance and design, it does backtrack in one particular area: it lacks a 3.5mm audio jack so you’ll have to opt for a pair of wireless headphones like Samsung’s Galaxy Buds or the bundled Type-C AKG headphones.
Our review unit is of European origin, and is functionally identical with an Exynos 9825 processor albeit it comes with a slightly different set of accessories, in particular two additional dongles that allow for access to USB Type-A ports like flash drives and another to make use of hardware with microUSB ports.
Malaysian sets lack these two dongles and instead trade them in for a TPU protective casing. For more details on the differences swing by our feature here.
The rest of the kit available in the box are common to any Galaxy Note10 series package across almost any continent include a set of Type-C AKG earphones, a pair of tweezers and spare nibs for the S Pen stylus, a Type-C charging cable and a 25W USB charger with prongs adapted for the intended market.
While our test unit has a rounded dual prong set of pins, local Malaysia units have a squared triple prong set of pins for our plug points. The lack of the additional dongles with the Galaxy Note 10+ is not a scarlet letter so to speak as what has been omitted aren’t essential towards the utility or functionality of the phone.
Galaxy Note10+ Build and Design
Accessories aside, the Galaxy Note10+ is an exceptionally refined successor to last year’s Note9. They’ve managed to shave the bezels down even further to ensure that the front of the phone consists almost entirely of prime touchscreen real estate save for a centreline punch hole for the selfie camera.
Dubbed the Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O display, the Galaxy Note10+’s massive touchscreen is even larger than its predecessor at 6.8-inches while boasting of a crisp 3,840 x 1,440 pixels in a tall 19:9 aspect ratio along with a higher peak luminance of 1,200 nits and an improved display contrast ratio of 2,000,000:1. To further ensure a seamless look, they’ve integrated an under-display fingerprint reader in the lower portion of the screen for authentication duties. The top actually has a speaker grille just above the display and the centre-mounted selfie camera but it’s almost imperceptible except with extremely close scrutiny.
On top of being slimmer and slightly lighter than the Galaxy Note9, the Galaxy Note10+ has a remapped button layout along with less buttons than its predecessor.
Rather than buttons on the left and right of the phone, the new button layout has everything placed on the left side. They have also ditched the oft maligned Bixby button too and have consolidated everything into just a volume rocker and power button.
A long press on the power button summons Bixby while the usual double tap on the power button fires up the camera. Turning the phone off requires you to hold volume down and the power button. It’s an unusual setup that takes some getting used to but it’s nothing that a bit of practice won’t fix.
The right side of the Galaxy Note10+ is otherwise bare with the base sporting one of a matching pair of speakers for the Note10+ along with a Type-C charging port and the S Pen stylus well. The top of the phone hosts the hybrid SIM card port along with a tiny hole for the second speaker that presumably acts as an echo chamber of sorts and as the audio pickup when taking calls, making it one of the few phones to have a stereo speaker setup.
The backplate of the Galaxy Note10+ consists of an exceptionally premium finish made of glass and aluminium. Of note here is that Samsung has managed to shave down the typical bulge prevalent in many camera arrays down to a mere sliver in the Galaxy Note10+ such that it’s almost flat when laid on a table.
Our test unit comes in a very unique shade that they’ve dubbed Aura Glow. Depending on how the light catches the finish, it can have a mirrored silver sheen or a brilliant looking rainbow-hued finish especially under direct sunlight. Unfortunately it’s also a fingerprint magnet and even casual handling will leave smears all over the finish.
In terms of specifications, the Galaxy Note10+ for Malaysia comes with Samsung’s own high-powered Exynos 9825 octacore processor paired with 12GB RAM and either 256GB or 512GB of storage depending on which variant you invest in.
Finish and lack of an audio jack aside, the Galaxy Note 10+ boasts of exceptional craftsmanship in every aspect of its design. The moment you lift it out of its packaging, you can appreciate the exceptional build quality that Samsung has invested in the phone.
Even with the tall form factor, the Galaxy Note10+ proved to be rather easy to wield one handed on account of the slim bezels, smoothly rounded curves and even heft. The fact that they have managed this feat while cramming in a larger battery and retained the IP68 water resistance of the Galaxy Note9 is an impressive feat of engineering indeed.
At first blush, the Galaxy Note10+ looks extremely promising indeed with no corners cut in its design though the lack of an audio jack is a bit of a sore point. Don’t miss our full-on review where we deep-dive into the Galaxy Note10+’s performance, camera capabilities, battery life and how it handles in the field. Stat tuned!
*Review unit courtesy of Samsung Malaysia. To purchase the Galaxy Note10+ swing by their official page here.