Samsung’s keenly anticipated Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus devices are here. That’s right, Samsung has gone down the same route it did with the Galaxy S10 series and launched multiple tiers of the latest Note line. The standard Note 10 doesn’t pack quite as much clout as its ‘Plus’-branded sibling, so is it still worth picking over the equivalent (but more affordable) Galaxy S10?
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 vs Samsung Galaxy S10 – Harder lines or softer curves?
The Note 10 and the S10 are clearly related, but there are a few visual differences. Both handsets feature what Samsung calls the “Infinity-O” display. Essentially, this is the company’s brand name for the hole-punch camera design that was championed by the Honor View 20 at the start of 2019.
On the S10 there’s a single 10-megapixel sensor set into the top-right corner of the screen; on the Note 10, the equivalent 10-megapixel sensor is positioned centrally.
While both phones boast displays with curved edges and back panels formed from curved glass, the metal frame that’s sandwiched between the two is noticeably slimmer on the new Note. The phone’s glass front and rear almost meet, save for a sliver of metal running between them; there’s far more metalwork visible when viewing the S10 side-on.
What’s more, the Note 10’s top and bottom edge are essentially flat, giving the phone a decidedly more squared-off appearance when viewed face on – alongside corners that jab into your palm a touch more.
This more aggressive silhouette is somewhat of a necessity for the Note, with the phablet’s all-important S Pen stylus sitting in a recess positioned close to the phone’s right edge. The S10 doesn’t have to worry about such physical constraints and, as such, has a curvier look and more comfortable feel.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 vs Samsung Galaxy S10 – Size or spectacle?
Alongside the addition of the S Pen on the Note and the extra functionality that comes as part of that experience, the Note is also larger than its “S” counterpart; although the size difference isn’t as big as you might expect.
The base Note 10’s screen is only 0.2in larger than the S10’s (and coincidentally, 0.1in smaller than the Galaxy S10 Plus’s). In an effort to create a greater distinction between the two 2019 Note variants, Samsung has dropped the base Note 10’s screen resolution to 2280 x 1080 – extended Full HD. This means that even if both phones used the same-sized screen, the S10 would boast the sharper picture by quite some margin.
Beyond resolution, the Note’s “Dynamic” AMOLED display is still top-notch, with HDR10+ support and an in-display ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, just like the S10 (although the Note’s fingerprint sensor is positioned a little higher up).
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 vs Samsung Galaxy S10 – Little has changed on the inside
The Note series is usually the bigger and beefier of Samsung’s flagships, but the gap between the Note 10 and S10 is the smallest it’s ever been.
In the US, both the Note 10 and S10 sport Qualcomm’s top Snapdragon 855 processor (paired with 8GB of RAM). In other regions including Europe, things are a little different.
Samsung has tweaked its own Exynos 9820 SoC, which lies at the heart of the Galaxy S10 line, resulting in the Exynos 9825 used by the Note 10. The main difference is that it’s built on a smaller process (at 7nm), meaning it’s now in line with Qualcomm’s equivalent 7nm chip (the 9820 measured 8nm).
This will hopefully result in more consistent power efficiency between the Snapdragon and Exynos versions of the Note, as users reported fairly stark differences in Exynos-powered S10s around launch, claiming that they didn’t last as long as their Qualcomm-powered counterparts.
|Samsung Galaxy Note 10||Samsung Galaxy S10|
|Dimensions||71.8 x 151 x 7.9mm||70.4 x 149.9 x 7.8mm|
|Display||6.3in Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O, 2280 x 1080, 401ppi, HDR10+||6.1in Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O, 3040 x 1440, 550ppi, HDR10+|
|Processor||Samsung Exynos 9825/Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 (market dependant)||Samsung Exynos 9820/Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 (market dependant)|
|Rear camera||Dual Pixel 12-megapixel OIS f/1.5 – f/2.4 AF
16-megapixel 123° ultra-wide f/2.2 FF
12-megapixel telephoto OIS f/2.1 AF
|Dual Pixel 12-megapixel OIS f/1.5 – f/2.4 AF
16-megapixel 123° ultra-wide f/2.2 FF
12-megapixel telephoto OIS f/2.4 AF
|Front camera||10-megapixel f/2.2||10-megapixel f/1.9|
|Battery||3500mAh/45W fast-charging (25W charging in-box)||3400mAh/15W fast-charging|
|Storage||256GB (non-expandable)||128/512GB (+ microSD expandable)|
|Security||In-display ultrasonic fingerprint sensor
2D face recognition
|In-display ultrasonic fingerprint sensor
2D face recognition
|Stylus||BLE, 10-hour battery, motion air gestures||None|
|Colours||Pink, Black, Aura Glow||Prism White, Prism Black, Prism Green, Prism Blue, Canary Yellow, Flamingo Pink, Cardinal Red, Smoke Blue|
You have the option of 128GB or 512GB with the S10, while the Note splits the difference and only comes with 256GB. Frustratingly, another casualty of Samsung’s drive to more distinctly differentiate the Note 10 and Note 10 Plus is that the former loses out on microSD expandable storage. The S10 retains this feature, so even if you opt for the more affordable, smaller-capacity model, you still have the option to expand internal space beyond that of the regular Note 10.
The camera setup on the new Note mirrors that versatile 12-/16-/12-megapixel combo on the back of the S10, with the only obvious tweak being some of the apertures at work. Beyond that, the most surprising similarity is their respective battery capacities.
Being the larger, heavier device, one would expect the Note 10 to boast the larger battery. While it technically does, it doesn’t do it by much, with only a 100mAh difference. With the potential of that new chipset and the lower screen resolution, we’re hoping that compound effect is that the Note 10 will last notably longer than the S10 – something we won’t really be able to gauge until we spend an extended period of time with the Note 10.
On the brighter side, the Note does possess far superior fast-charging capabilities compared to the S10, with support for whopping 45W recharge speeds. To muddy the water a little, though, Samsung includes a slower-rate 25W fast-charger in the box, expecting new Note owners to fork out extra if they want to recharge their phones at full speed.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 vs Samsung Galaxy S10 – Take note, Notetakers
If you place the Note 10 and the Note 10 Plus side by side, you get the impression that Samsung is pushing potential buyers towards the pricier device by clipping the base Note’s wings harder than it did with the S10 and S10 Plus.
As such, only those in desperate need of a new S Pen-toting phablet who can’t stretch for the Note 10 Plus should consider the Note 10. Otherwise, the Galaxy S10 offers a markedly similar experience with superior ergonomics, a more compact form, expandable storage and a lower price tag.