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Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus review

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The Galaxy Note 10 Plus mixes premier Samsung flagship features, its signature S Pen stylus, and one of the biggest batteries on the market. Here’s our review.
Meet the 6.8-inch Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus, which is here to prove us wrong whenever we collectively think «Wow, phone screens can’t get any bigger, can they?» Oh, they can, a fact subsequently proven by the 6.9-inch Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra and maybe soon by the Galaxy Note 20 too.
With its massive screen size, the Note 10 Plus is a massive Samsung phone with an equally sizable price that is quite a bit larger than the Galaxy Note 10. But it’s easy to fall in love with the screen and Aura Glow glass back if you’re into over-the-top smartphone opulence. It’s both class-leading and classy looking.
Of course, today’s best phones all have big screens, including several from Samsung. So the new Note 10 Plus goes beyond what the S10 Plus provided six months before, and even the Galaxy S20 after, touting the handy, Note-exclusive S Pen with new wand-like gesture control tricks.
Screens at these sizes are begging for a stylus, and when we called the S10 Plus the «almost-everything-included Samsung phone» this is what we meant. But there has to be more than that, and the Note 10 Plus mostly delivers.
Its five cameras offer a ‘Live Focus’ portrait mode with fun-to-use filters. Although the Pixel 3 beats Samsung’s main cameras in low light, the selective black-and-white Color Point and Big Circles filters took our selfie game to the next level. The Note 10 Plus has the best selfie camera we’ve ever tested.
Samsung goes a step further with ideas we didn’t need, though. Live Focus Video makes sense on paper, but test it just once and you’ll realize you don’t actually want distracting background blurring effects in your videos. The same goes for AR Doodle – neat to use once but highly unnecessary. It’s this year’s AR Emoji/Animoji.
You’ll find these features and a stylus on the «normal» 6.4-inch Note 10, which has a more one-hand-friendly screen and cheaper price. But exclusive to Note 10 Plus are faster specs, a microSD card slot, bigger battery, and ultra-fast charging speeds.
Both 2019 Note phones are missing one thing: a traditional 3.5mm headphone jack. Samsung finally caved to the critically unpopular trend in an effort to make its phones thinner and pack in a bigger battery.
Now, we’ll level with you on this luxury handset. What you’re getting for your money is a great camera in your pocket – but it’s actually not the best camera phone. And it’s fast – although, technically, it’s not the fastest phone you can buy, either.
Forget all of that – the rankings, they, don’t matter: the Note 10 is Samsung’s best phone and, most importantly, the most fun we’ve had using a smartphone in 2019. This may be Samsung’s last great phone before the Galaxy Fold revolution.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus release date was Friday, August 23 after being announced on August 7, and you’ll pay more for S Pen-included smartphone than pretty much any other Android handset.
It costs $1,099 / £999 / AU$1,699, price matching the iPhone XS Max in most regions. Keep in mind, that’s for the 256GB internal storage version (while Apple starts at a measly 64GB), and Samsung offers a bigger screen, the S Pen, and microSD card slot.
There is a 512GB version of the Note 10 Plus, but it’s $1,199 and so far exclusive to the US. American carriers are selling the Note 10 Plus at an average of $45 a month over two years, while the Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G edition starts at $1,299 and is exclusive to Verizon.
Smartphones with big screens are more common now, chipping away at the value of the Note 10 Plus. However, none of them utilize a stylus, so Samsung has locked up that market.
The 6.8-inch Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus screen is so big that we’re kind of craving the innovation of the Samsung Galaxy Fold and other foldable phones.
It takes up the entire front of the phone and then some, with an edge-to-edge design that has pixels spilling over the left and right sides. The curved display comes to a fine point, making it satisfyingly sharp in more ways than one.
Samsung’s use of punchy colors, a pixel-dense Quad HD+ resolution, and high peak brightness have always made its Super AMOLED screens look superb. It’s just now maximized to seem extra immersive and worth all of that hand stretching.
Okay, the Note 10 Plus display doesn’t have a fluid, silky smooth 90Hz screen refresh rate seen in the OnePlus 7 Pro. And its curved edges do produce false touches if you tightly wrap your hand around screen. But no other phone has this good of a screen.
6.8 inches makes it sound almost too big – bigger than a 6.5-inch iPhone, right? Well, not really. Its width and girth are a fraction of a millimeter smaller than the iPhone XS Max if you measure it out, and it weighs less. It’s only a few millimeters taller.
Samsung’s bigger-screen, smaller-body trick is that it uses a center-aligned punch hole to embed the front camera into the display. It’s 26% smaller than the top-right S10 camera hole and less intrusive than Apple’s ‘notch.’ We found it easy to ignore when watching Netflix.
False touches or not, you will want to hold onto the behemoth Note 10 Plus tightly. It can be slippery and extend beyond your natural grip. It’s just that big.
We have a love-hate relationship with the Aura Glow color, too. Not only is it hard to wield the glass back and slick aluminum frame without a case, it smudges so badly.
But get this mirrored finish in the right light and it has a memorizing rainbow effect, making the Note 10 Plus – literally – your new favorite shiny toy.

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