Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ Australian review (2019)

Growing Pains

Samsung Galaxy Note 10+
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10+
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10+
  • Expert Rating

    4.25 / 5

Pros

  • S-Pen
  • Dynamic AMOLED display
  • High-end performance

Cons

  • Camera can't compete with Pixel
  • Battery life still way less than it should be

Bottom Line

If you're the person who's entire life revolves around their phone and like the idea of investing in making that experience the best it can be, you'll get a lot out of what the Note 10+ offers.

Would you buy this?

  • Price

    $ 1,699.00 (AUD)

Should I buy the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ (2019)?

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ isn’t a phone for everyone. If you’re after something with a better camera, it’s not going to be hard to find something. If you need a better battery, same deal. 

However, if you're the person who's entire life revolves around their phone and like the idea of investing in making that experience the best it can be, you'll get a lot out of what the Note 10+ offers. It doesn't quite live up to Samsung's ambition of making a phone so powerful that it can replace your laptop but it's still miles ahead of almost everything else.

Price when reviewed

In Australia, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ commands a starting price of AU$1699.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ (2019) full review

This year’s Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+ have plenty in common with their predecessors but there’s a willingness to experiment and expand the foundations of what the Note series is about that makes this year’s iteration particularly compelling.

The screen on the Note 10+ is gorgeous, the S-Pen is a delight and DeX continues to inch closer towards what you’d want it to be. The device boasts a 6.8-inch WQHD+ Dynamic AMOLED display, an in-screen fingerprint sensor, IP68 water resistance, 2D face unlock, wireless charging, expandable storage and dual Dolby Atmos speakers. 

Unfortunately, battery life and camera quality remain the weak links in the chain. The Samsung Note 10+ is a polished, premium device that delivers stellar performance but it does little to close the gaps in the areas where last year’s Note 9 fell short. 

Price

In Australia, you can buy the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ for as little as AU$1699. The regular Note 10 is also available for AU$1499 and the 5G-enabled Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ 5G is available for AU$1999.

You can find all three through the following:

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ is also available on any postpaid mobile plans through Telstra, Optus and others. Check out the widget below for more.

Design - Look, Feel, Features and Camera

Credit: Samsung

If you’ve any experience with either the Note 8 (review here) or last year’s Note 9 (review here), there’s a lot about the Note 10+ that you’re going to find familiar. 

Like those devices, the Note 10+ is the phone that Samsung go all-out on. It’s got pretty much everything you could ask for: an in-screen fingerprint sensor, IP68 water resistance, 2D face unlock, wireless charging, expandable storage and dual Dolby Atmos speakers.

In size, it’s also Samsung’s largest Note yet with a 6.8-inch WQHD+ Dynamic AMOLED display. 

Like the S10, the Note 10 and Note 10+ features a hole-punch notch - which contains a 10-megapixel front-facing selfie camera. For more on notches and an explanation of just what to expect from a holepunch notch, check out our guide to smartphone notches by clicking here.

Importantly and unlike the S10’s notch and the double-notch on the S10+, the notch on the Note 10+ sits directly in the center of the screen. Your mileage may vary but I found this design quirk a lot more inconspicuous by comparison to Samsung’s last set of flagships. 

A notch is still a notch but, as far as notches go, the one of the Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10 + is relatively inoffensive. After a while, your brain just kind of stops seeing it. It helps that the Note’s display is as detailed and colorful as it is. 

There are certainly drawbacks to the form-factor and the battery life but as far as the viewing experience goes, the Note 10+ is more-or-less as good as it gets. The only times I found where having a screen this bright and crisp wasn’t super-useful was you're trying to use one in the dark. In these situations and even on the lower brightness settings, the Note 10+'s can be almost blinding. 

In line with previous Note devices, the build quality and design of the Note 10+ leaves little to be desired. As is tradition at this point, it manages a deft balance of being a big phone that feels much slimmer than it actually is. 

That being said, I found that the increase in screen size did sometimes make it a bit uncomfortable to use one-handed. The curved edges on the Note’s Infinity-O display are also still a little sensitive and prone to accidental touches. If you want to protect your Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ with a quality case, click here.

Credit: Samsung

The backside of the Note 10+ is almost as pretty as the front of the device. The Aura Glow color on offer is closer to something like an oil spill and certain to attract plenty of smudged fingerprints. Still, there’s nothing quite like it out there and, if you’re after a phone that’s as eye-catching as it is powerful, the holographic luster here is going to be more than up to the task.

And while there’s plenty about the Note 10 and Note 10+ that’s familiar, there are a few key changes that Samsung has made. 

The good news is that the long-bemoaned Bixby button has finally been retired. You can still summon Samsung’s voice assistant using the power button or calling out the wake-word. The power and volume buttons have also been moved to the left edge. 

Unfortuantely, in bad news, the Note 10 and Note 10+ sees Samsung part ways with the headphone jack. This is disappointing to see. You’d think that the Note’s willingness to embrace being a big phone for power users might help justify keeping it around but alas. 

Credit: Samsung

Of course, you can’t really talk about the Galaxy Note 10 without talking about the S-Pen. While many of the things that used to make the Note series so unique have been gradually co-opted by the other flagship devices out there, it’s still mostly unchallenged when it comes to being the best stylus phone out there. Even if it’s not new, the ability to interact with your screen without occluding your vision of it that much is a small-but-meaningful advantage that the Note offers over every other flagship phone out there.

That continues to be the case with the Note 10+ though the improvements are more structural than experiential this time around. Samsung say they’ve improved the battery life on the stylus and introduced a new pinch-zoom function. 

There’s also new Air Action shortcuts, which allow for gesture-shortcuts using the S-Pen. For example, swiping upwards or downwards might modify the volume during music playback. It’s nothing particularly nuanced or precise but it does work as advertised and its a marked upgrade over the palm gestures stuff in the LG G8s ThinQ.

Perhaps the most interesting S-Pen related addition here is that Samsung are now allowing developers to use a new S-Pen SDK to create custom controls and shortcuts to suit more specific or complex needs. Time will tell whether this actually amounts to much but it is an intriguing development. 

I’m less razzed by the photography side of the equation. The Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ features a 16-megapixel ultra-wide (f/2.2) lens, 12-megapixel (f/1.5-f/2.4 with OIS) wide angle lens, a 12-megapixel (f/2.1 with OIS) telephoto lens and a f/1.4 VGA DepthVision camera. As previously mentioned, there’s also a 10-megapixel (f/2.2) front-facing camera.

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

Now, on paper, all of the above might sound pretty impressive. However, if you’ve been waiting for Samsung to catch up to Huawei and Google when it comes to cameras, I have some bad news. 

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

When it comes to taking photos and video content, the Note 10+ is predictable superb in the daytime but lacklustre by night. The camera setup here is powerful but it’s lacking in consistency, detail and nowhere near as versatile as some of its competition. 

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

After spending a few weeks being frustrated by the camera on the Note 10+, I'm honestly beginning to wonder what a modern definition of flagship optics look like. 

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

The Note 10+ has one of the highest price-tags I’ve seen on a smartphone this year and yet, for all that it costs, you’re just not getting the same calibre of photography experience you can find elsewhere. 

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

Used in darker environments, the amount of detail you’re missing out on is honestly staggering.

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

Live focus bokeh shots are often very dicey, the digital zoom is nowhere near as powerful as where Oppo, Huawei or Google are at and the Night Mode in the camera app just isn’t able to deliver the kind of results you’d hope it would either. 

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

The wide-angle lens is the exception to the rule here. I did manage to get some pretty good shots with it. You can get some really impressive results out of the Note’s camera but you have to work for it in a way that you don’t with a Pixel or a Huawei P30 Pro. The camera here lets you take great photos but the other options let you do that faster, more reliably and often with significantly better final results.

The other silver lining here is that I found the Note 10 was actually quite decent for shooting video content. Whenever I took footage, I was genuinely surprised how stable and clear it was.

 The audio zoom feature also works relatively well, though it won’t produce miracles on windy days. Since Samsung's Gallery app now includes a native video editor, it almost feels like you could totally get by using this smartphone to produce video content end-to-end. However, I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say you can do it seamlessly. 

It will be fascinating to see if Samsung double down on this in future devices and position Note as the phone so powerful it can be effectively used to edit and render video content. 

Apart from the camera and battery life, there are a few other shortcomings here that I’d hope Samsung look to address next time around. For one, it seems ridiculous to tout the 45W fast-charging the Note 10+ is capable of as a selling point and not just include a compliant charger in the box. 

Come on, Samsung. 

It’d also be nice to see Samsung finally up their game and offer the same kind of 3D face unlock you can find in other Android flagships. Even LG has 3D face unlock now, Samsung. Even LG. For more on 3D Face Unlock and how it compares to the 2D face unlock offered by the Note 10’s front-facing camera, check out our guide here.

The other thing I hope Samsung address with the Note 11 is 5G. The Note is for power users and early adopters. It’s the phone for those who want it all and that should include 5G as standard. For more on 5G connectivity, check out our guide here.

Next Page: Performance, Specs, Battery Life, Software, Benchmarks and The Bottom Line

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