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Samsung Galaxy Note 20 vs Note 10: Is it worth upgrading?

Stylus fans rejoice, the new Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra have been announced. But, is it worth upgrading from the Galaxy Note 10 if you forked out your hard-earned cash last year?

The Note series is going through somewhat of a transition period, with “Plus” and, now, “Ultra” versions of the device usurping the standard model. Nevertheless, both the Note 20 and Note 10 offered (mostly) top-notch specs on their respective launch days.

Both devices come with hang-ups – from big decisions relating to camera, battery life and challenging price points. Let’s dive into it to see if the Note 10 is still a worthy daily driver or if the Note 20 is a can’t miss for 2020.

Related: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra review: hands on

A gray-black Predator monitor standing on right displaying plain blue screen

Galaxy Note 10

1. Note 10 actually has a more premium design

Note 20 and Note 10 offer little variation when it comes to design and, to be honest, it’d be easy to confuse the two – especially from the front. However, hold them in your hand and you may need to be forgiven for thinking the Note 10 is the newer model.

This all comes down to one factor – plastic. For Note 20, Samsung has opted to have a plastic back. Both the Galaxy S-series and Note range has featured a glass front and back with a metal trim for many years now, making this a strange regression.

The change is especially daunting given the price point of the Note 10 and Note 20 is almost identical – meaning you’ll be getting a device with a less premium feel for your money this time around.


Related: Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus

A white Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra's top half back panel viewA white Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra laid upside down on a notebook

2. You’ll get the latest Exynos chip on the Note 20

When buying a new model of a phone, you are always like to get a more modern and powerful processor and Note 20 is no different.

While Note 10 was sporting the Exynos 9825, Note 20 gets the new Exynos 990. The Exynos 990 is sure to get you industry-leading performance with the new Note – even if it isn’t the latest Snapdragon – but that doesn’t rule out Note 10.

For our review of Note 10, we called it “an absolute beast” when it comes to performance – meaning the difference might not be worth the upgrade.

3. Battery life has received a big bump

There aren’t many areas in which Note 20 trounces Note 10 but battery life is one of the few. Note 10 sports a rather measly 3500mAh battery while Samsung has managed to cram 4300 of its best mAh into the new Note 20.

It really is a difference that can’t be ignored, especially when the rest of the specs of Note 20 aren’t that enhanced from the previous year. The lack of progression in other areas is, strangely, a positive for battery life as the difference is sure to be noticeable with little in the way of new features to sap life from the Note 20.

4. Samsung may have fixed Space Zoom on the Note 20

It may not be as glaring a difference as battery life but, for camera fans, Note 20 might have fixed the sins of the Galaxy S20 Ultra.

Note 10 came equipped with a 12-megapixel main sensor, 16-megapixel ultra-wide sensor and a 12-megapixel telephoto camera with 2x optical zoom. 

Note 20 tells quite a different story – featuring a 12-megapixel main sensor, 12-megapixel ultra-wide and a whopping 64-megapixel telephoto. The telephoto is the sensor set to make all the difference, with its 3x hybrid optical zoom and 30x Space Zoom. With the enhanced optical zoom and more sensible take on Space Zoom, Note 20 should take the lead over the middle-of-the-road Note 10 camera.

Related: Best phones

5. Which device is better value for money?

The transition between Note 20 and Note 10 has been a rather unique one for the industry, with some internal features giving the new phone the clear lead but others making an upgrade a hard sell for those already sporting a Note 10.

Related: Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus

Note 20 is set to start at £849, with the base model not coming with new 5G tech. £849 is a competitive flagship price and its disappointing to see Samsung ditch the premium glass and metal design already featured on the Note 10 – a device that you will now be able to get for a couple of hundred pounds less.

Nevertheless, Note 20 comes with Samsung’s latest camera tech, much-improved battery capacity and the latest processor.

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