/Hands on: Hands on: Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus review

Hands on: Hands on: Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus review

When it was announced in 2011, the Samsung Galaxy Note was considered a large-screen phone – it arguably kick-started the phablet trend – with its 5.3-inch display.

Now, in 2019, Samsung’s largest traditional phone is the Galaxy Note 10 Plus, with an expansive 6.8-inch display that fills your entire hand and will fill most pockets too – you may find that you need a decent-sized shoulder bag in order to carry this thing around comfortably.

Samsung’s largest-screen phone is the Galaxy Fold, which is finally expected to be released in September, but as that’s a folding device it’s arguably easier to pack away on your person.

Samsung has two versions of its latest Note handset, and this one is the bigger version. The standard Samsung Galaxy Note 10 has a 6.3-inch screen, while the Note 10 Plus is a good half-inch bigger, and has a few impressive specs such as more RAM and an additional DepthVision camera.

We’ve spent some time with the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus, and below are our first impressions of the new handset. 

Before we get started, check out our video hands on…

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus release date and price 

The Galaxy Note 10 Plus was announced on stage at Samsung’s Unpacked 2019 event, alongside the Galaxy Note 10. You won’t be able to get your hands on the Note 10 Plus until August 23, but pre-orders are now open all around the world.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus price is $1,099 (£999, AU$1,699) SIM-free for the 256GB version. There’s also a 512GB version which is available for $1,200, but that hasn’t isn’t available in the UK or Australia.

If you want access to 5G internet, you’ll also be able to buy a version called the Note 10 Plus 5G that costs $1,299 / £1,099 for 256GB of storage (not available in Australia) or $1,399 / £1,199 / AU$1,999 for the 512GB version.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 on the left, Galaxy Note 10 Plus on the right

(Image credit: TechRadar)

That’s a similar price to the iPhone XS Max in the US – and Apple’s phone is considered expensive. If you’re in the US and looking to save money, pre-ordering the Note 10 Plus will get you $150 credit at the Samsung store. 

In Australia, pre-ordering the new handset will get you the brand-new AKG N700 Wireless Headphones valued at AU$499 for free. It’s currently unclear whether the UK will have similar offers or not.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus design and display 

(Image credit: TechRadar)

First things first: you need to know that this is a very large phone. It’s likely to be the largest phone you’ll have ever used, with a 6.8-inch AMOLED Infinity-O display sporting a 3040 x 1440 (that’s QHD) resolution – that’s 498 pixels per inch, and it supports HDR10+ content too, so your Netflix shows, games, and other content should look eye-poppingly good.

The dimensions are 77 x 162 x 7.9mm, and the Note 10 is relatively light considering its size, tipping the scales at 196g. With rounded edges on its rear it sits comfortably in the hand – assuming you have big enough hands to hold it.

The back of the phone is made of glass, while the frame is made of metal, giving it a premium feel. It does feel quite delicate though, so if you’re prone to dropping your phone you may want to consider getting a case.

On the bottom edge you’ll find a USB-C connector alongside the slot for the S Pen, while on the right-hand edge are the volume rocker and power button.

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It’s worth noting there’s no Bixby button here, as you’ll find on other modern Samsung phones. Instead, Samsung has folded that functionality into the power button, so you can just hold it down for a few seconds to activate the voice assistant – it’s a similar experience to summoning Google Assistant or Siri on other smartphones.

The Note 10 is IP68 water and dust resistant, so you’ll be able to use this phone at the beach without worrying about it getting splashed, or having sand infiltrate the ports.

It’s a phone that feels high-end, but it’s also a large device that many will struggle to hold easily with one hand. If you’re happy to use your phone with two hands, you may find it okay but we did find it difficult to hold the Note 10 with one hand and use the S Pen comfortably.

This is something we’ll experiment with further for our full review, but it’s such a large device that you’re likely to only want to use the S-Pen stylus when you’re standing still, to ensure that you’ve got a solid grip on your pricey new acquisition.

As for colors, the Note 10 is available in Aura Glow (a blue to white gradient effect), Aura White and Aura Black, although whether all three colors are available in every market remains to be seen.

The display on the Note 10 Plus is vibrant, and likely to impress you when you first pick up the phone. All of the video we watched on the phone looked great with the QHD resolution, and it’s worth noting that this is a higher-spec display than the Full HD one on the Note 10.

As on the Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus, this is an Infinity-O display, so the front of the phone is all-screen, apart from a punch-hole cutout for the 10MP front-facing camera, at the top in the center. It looks unique, with most other phones opting for a notch or an off-center cutout, but it’s a look we’ve enjoyed.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 camera 

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The Galaxy Note 10 Plus has a similar camera setup to other recent Samsung phones at the moment. There’s a 16MP f/2.2 ultra-wide lens, 12MP regular lens and 12MP f/2.1 telephoto lens all working together.

The Note 10 Plus also gets a DepthVision camera, which is something that’s missing from the Galaxy Note 10. This is purely used for sensing depth, to distinguish between subjects and their background for bokeh and other effects.

A new feature called Live Focus Video allows you to apply bokeh effects to video clips as well as photos, along with other effects, such as turning the background behind your subject mono while they remain in color.

You can do this on the standard Note 10 too, but in our testing it worked better on the Note 10 Plus, likely thanks to the DepthVision camera – the Note 10 relies on software to create these effects.

Other new features include an augmented reality mode that enables you to draw on top of your video clips called AR Doodle, and a zoom-in mic feature that allows you to get clearer audio from specific parts of a scene while recording video.

We’ve haven’t had time to explore all of these features in detail, but we’ll be sure to fully check them out and report back in our full review.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 specs 

The S Pen on the Note 10 Plus has been upgraded, and now supports gesture controls. This allows you to control a number of Samsung apps, including the camera, remotely, without having to touch the phone.

Otherwise, the S Pen hasn’t changed much from the Note 9, but it retains its excellent responsiveness and Bluetooth compatibility, and it remains one of the core elements that make a Note phone worth considering.

You get 12GB of RAM on the Note 10 Plus, and the choice of 256GB or 512GB of built-in storage. There’s also microSD support up to 512GB, enabling you to up your storage to a massive (for a phone) 1TB, as with the Galaxy Note 9.

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It’s worth noting that 512GB microSD cards are remarkably expensive though, so this is only worth doing if you’re a real power user who needs that amount of space.

The battery on the Note 10 Plus is a 4,300mAh cell, but we’re currently unclear as to how this is expected to perform. We won’t know for sure until we’ve spent more time with the phone for our full review, but we’re hoping it’ll last around a day on a single charge.

Wireless charging is on hand, along with Samsung’s PowerShare feature, which allows you to use the Note 10 Plus itself as a wireless charger for other gadgets, such as smartwatches or your friend’s phone.

As with previous Samsung phones, the chipset you get inside your Galaxy Note 10 Plus will depend on where you are in the world. In the UK (and other unspecified countries) the handset is powered by Samsung’s newly announced Exynos 9825 chip, while if you’re in the US it’s the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855.

The Galaxy Note 10 Plus will also be available in a 5G variant to make the most of the nascent super-fast internet standard, but expect that to be even more expensive than this phone.

Early verdict 

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There are two main things to consider if you’re looking to buy the Galaxy Note 10 Plus. It’s a very large phone, so you’ll want to be sure that you can handle it – literally. It’s also very expensive.

That said, you get the S Pen stylus and a stunning screen, along with some impressive spec and feature upgrades over the standard Note 10, such as the 12GB of RAM, the option to have 1TB of storage, and extra camera smarts.