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Samsung Galaxy Note 11: What could improve the flagship phablet?

It’s just a matter of months since the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 was released, but we’ve already jotted down our wishlist for next year’s sequel.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 won 4 stars out of 5 in our review, and while that score is certainly respectable, we can’t help but think that the leading Android manufacturer would have hoped for nothing less than the full five stars. We praised the sheer power of the device, plus the versatility of the cameras and the unique S-Pen stylus — but that still left room for several potential improvements with this next year’s Note, and in the following article, identified the top priorites for Samsung to fix.

Related: Best phones 2019

Samsung Galaxy Note 11 – Camera

The Galaxy Note 10’s triple camera was almost identical to that of the Samsung Galaxy S10, which first saw the light of day about six months earlier. The specifications are as follows: the main 12-megapixel camera is accompanied by a 12-megapixel telephoto sensor with 2x zoom, and a 16-megapixel ultrawide lens. This set-up reliably delivered a versatile photographic experience, but the standard just doesn’t quite match up to the likes of the Huawei P30 Pro, and the Google Pixel 4.

Of the new camera features, there was one in particular that failed to impress, called the Live Focus “bokeh” mode for video. We found that it did a “shoddy job” of emphasising the subject’s face in sharp relief against the background — so if Samsung is going to tout any new AI camera features for its new handset, then we hope that they can live up to the pre-release hype this time.

Related: Best camera phones 2019

Samsung Galaxy Note 11 – Battery Life

Unfortunately we found the battery life on the Galaxy Note 10 to be pretty underwhelming. Despite clocking in at 3500mAh, the capacity wasn’t sufficient for such a thirsty powerhouse, and sometimes discovered the device flatlining by the end of the day. This shortcoming was particularly disappointing given that the Note series has previously earned a good reputation for its formidable powers of endurance.

The Galaxy Note 10 Plus at least raised the bar when compared to its junior sibling, thanks to a 4000mAh battery that managed to get us through the day; but we still weren’t stunned by its longevity either. Next year we’d like to see this specification boosted so that it can compare favourably to the likes of the Huawei Mate 30 Pro.

Related: Samsung Galaxy Note 10 vs Galaxy Note 9

Samsung Galaxy Note 11 – Screen

A few recent new flagships have boasted an enhanced display refresh rate, which helps to make the screen appear smoother as you scroll. Both the OnePlus 7T Pro and the Google Pixel 4 delivered refresh rates of 90Hz, which is a significant improvement on the long-held industry-standard of 60Hz, to such an extent that we found it difficult to switch back again after the experience. We hope (and expect) to see Samsung up this aspect of its game with the Note 11; in fact the device could even go a stage further and match specialist gaming phones like the Asus ROG Phone 2 and Razer Phone 2 with a stunning 120Hz refresh rate. Seeing as this specification is known to be supported by Samsung’s latest Exynos 990 chipset, that’s not as unlikely as you might think.

Samsung Galaxy Note 11 – Features

When it comes to auxiliary hardware features, the Galaxy Note 10 arguably made a step backwards in comparison to the S10 or even the previous year’s Note 9. The 3.5mm headphone jack was gone from both the Plus and the standard versions, while the Micro SD card slot was only to be found on the Plus variant. Seeing as each year’s Galaxy Note is intended to be a feature-packed, veritable Swiss army knife of a smartphone, we were disappointed by this loss of flexibility (but must confess that we weren’t terribly surprised given general market trends). Ideally we’d like to see these features return to the Note 11 next year… but we have a sinking feeling that they’re good for good.