This may sound like an easy one — and it is, once you know what to do — but with the power button pulling double duty as a Bixby button, taking screenshots on the Note 10 and Note 10 Plus is slightly different than other Android phones. The same key combination as most Android phones still applies — volume down and the power button — but instead of holding them down, you must simply press them and let go. You did it! This leaves you having to shut down the phone via a software key in the notification shade. Thankfully, you can eliminate Bixby from this equation, and have the power button open the shutdown menu from a long-press instead.
In the same menu, you can choose to change the double-press action from a camera shortcut to one for Bixby or any other installed app. This scans through installed apps, settings, files, your calendar, gallery, Spotify, and the Play Store, for relevant matches to your query, offering an option to search on Google, as well.
Pop-up view takes advantage of your large screen and makes select notifications more easily interactive. You can do this only for select apps or enable it for all of them. The Edge Panel is one of those things you may forget until you find yourself wishing you had a quick shortcut to frequently used apps or functions.
Tap and slide this out to open the panel, where you can access these shortcuts or customize them. Here you can even add multiple screens to access weather and reminders, which you can swipe through in a carousel with the same swipe-in motion used to open the Edge Panel. A new integration with Microsoft Word also enables you to export handwritten notes directly to a Word document where it will also be transcribed. Unfortunately, this appears to be done by two different services with varying results. In our testing, we found the notes to be transcribed more accurately within the Samsung Notes app than when being sent directly to Word.
Look for an icon that has a capital T paired with a little black box with a scribble and tap it. A text box will pop up with the writing converted, which you can then copy or save as converted.
The back of the phone looks elegant, with a vertical triple-camera system down the left side. Other than two flash LEDs and a depth camera, the back of the phone is totally clean. On my Aura Glow model, the phone refracts light to create some amazing colors. The sides of the phone have a much thinner aluminum frame than the Note 9 and even the S The glass wraps around the edges more, almost feeling like a solid extruded piece.
It looks nicer than a thicker metal frame, but from the moment I saw this phone I was worried about it breaking. Lo and behold, two days later, that became the case. My unit managed to slide off a table onto concrete from about four feet up and hit the bottom left corner, causing hairline fractures. Unfortunately, this is a necessary trade-off. Samsung likely used this glass-heavy design to maintain consistency with the 5G model, which needs more glass on the sides for its mmWave antennas to work.
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We saw nearly the same design on the Galaxy S10 5G. Currently, the state of USB-C headphones is abysmal, to put it lightly, and Bluetooth is still clunky. The fact that the headphone jack has become a mid-range feature is disgusting, and no one should be punished for not having the funds or preferring to not purchase expensive Bluetooth headphones.
The right side of the device is clear of any buttons or ports. Samsung instead opted to move the power button to the left side, right under the volume rockers. At first, I thought it would be hard to turn the device on and off, but I usually use the in-display fingerprint sensor anyway, and I can easily turn the device on and off with my index finger versus my thumb. Like most things, this took about a day to get used to, but then it felt completely normal. The standard model Galaxy Note 10 does not have microSD expansion.
Samsung has won 13 DisplayMate awards for the display on the Note 10 Plus, and I would say the awards are justified. As for the size, 6. This is probably due to the aspect ratio. Because the Note 10 Plus is effectively the same footprint as the Note 9 with more screen and less bezel, it feels familiar. I am using the default One UI launcher, which makes elements on the screen larger and easier to reach versus other launchers, so this may be part of why the screen feels so usable. I tried the Galaxy S10 Plus again after using the Note for a few days and it felt tiny by comparison. Funny how we adapt to these things.
Samsung has also put the same ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor that we saw in the Galaxy S10 series in this device. Where the S10 seemingly misread my fingerprint more than it read it correctly, the Note 10 Plus has had a much higher success rate. This may be attributed to the fact that Samsung moved the sensor higher on the display than it was on the S10 Plus, making it easier to press naturally. In benchmarks, the Galaxy Note 10 Plus scores well. In Geekbench it nabbed 3, and 10, for the single-core and multi-core tests, respectively versus the and scores on the Galaxy S10 Plus.
One day, I got 5 hours and 2 minutes of screen-on time. The next, I got 7 hours and 33 minutes. On average, if I unplugged my phone at around 9 am, it would be near dead by around midnight. I was hoping for a bigger battery though, since the screen is noticeably bigger than both the last Note and the Galaxy S10 Plus. Real-world testing got the device from 0 to percent in about 75 minutes, which can come in pretty handy when you need a quick jump. The placement of the camera array is also better in my opinion because you no longer get your index finger in wide shots. The overall quality of the Note 10 Plus camera is very similar to the Galaxy S10 Plus, but I feel Samsung has improved its processing a bit.
Color is very good and the HDR is far less dramatic. The Galaxy S10 Plus would raise the shadows and blacks of every shot extremely aggressively, and the Note 10 Plus does a better job of having more contrast in shots.
The wide camera is amazingly versatile. This can be fixed in post-production if you want to, but the camera is still very useful for getting more in the frame and making things feel large. The standard camera is the sharpest and has good color. It also has the widest potential aperture of the three cameras.
The telephoto camera also seems improved, probably from a software level. This is primarily used for making 3D models of objects. Samsung lets you manipulate these models in post, and even export them to software like Blender 3D. There is no Depth Vision camera on the smaller Galaxy Note Unfortunately, like other Samsung cameras, the Note 10 Plus struggles in low light.
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The Note 10 will leave the aperture open for a while to get enough light, which causes quite a bit of smearing if the subject is moving at all. The phone will also overdo contrast in low-light scenarios, blowing out highlights and crushing blacks and shadows. The front-facing camera on the Note 10 is very good. Images are sharp and have good color.
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Dynamic range is good and I think it looks even better than the rear cameras. This is surprising because Samsung had to make the aperture smaller on the Note 10 selfie camera than it was on the Galaxy Note 9. You can change the amount of blur with the slider. This works well, and I think it looks very natural. Glitch adds a 3D glitch effect to your photos, while color point keeps the subject in color and makes everything else black and white. These effects can also be used in video mode, and they work well.
Live focus video on the GalaxyNote10 works pretty well. Nice natural-ish bokeh. I dig the glitch. Unfortunately, video struggles in low-light just as much as photos do. Highlights are blown out and shadows are crushed. Also read: Huawei P30 Pro camera review: Next-level optics, low-light king. Full-size camera samples can be viewed here. When originally reviewing the Note 10 Plus, it was running Android 9 Pie.
1. Essential Android 10 update
There are multiple changes present in Android 10 and One UI 2. For the original review of the software, see below. This is a good sign since in the original review the Note 10 Plus was behind in updates by nearly a month. Screen elements are large and easy to reach, and there are nice features like scrolling screenshots and a built-in screen recorder. The one worry I have with this software is consistent updates.
Samsung may improve its update timeline, but it has not been the best at this historically. The biggest software updates coming to the Note 10 Plus are an enhanced Dex experience alongside a new partnership with Microsoft called Link to Windows. Dex now works with any computer with any USB cable. In a way, this defeats the point of Dex as something to replace your PC.
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Link to Widows is a toggle you can turn on and off in your notification shade. The feature allows you to receive texts, photos, and other notifications on your Windows PC. Using it to share photos is the most useful for me personally since I use Android Messages for web to handle text messages.