Galaxy Note 10 Plus review: the luxury phone

(slow music)
This is the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus.
You know the Note, right?
It was the first big phone,
but now every phone is big.
Then, it was the most powerful big phone.
But nearly all big
Android phones have really
great specs now. So
what’s left for the Note?
Samsung will tell you
that there are a bunch
of things. But really,
there’s just one thing:
the S Pen,
the stylus.
See, the Note starts at
which is hundreds of dollars more
than comparable phones,
even phones that Samsung makes.
So you have to ask yourself:
how badly do you want this stylus?
(upbeat music)
Now, before we get too
far into this review,
I know that the Note is about more
than just having a stylus.
Is there something you
want in a smartphone?
Because this thing has it:
a massive screen, top-flight specs,
all-day battery, good cameras, DeX,
beautiful looks, a depth sensor for AR.
Except for the fact that it’s missing
a headphone jack,
this really is the everything phone.
It’s even giving you
a choice of two sizes.
This larger Note 10 Plus
and then a smaller, regular Note 10.
Now, we haven’t had time to fully review
the smaller Note,
but if you’re not a spec hypebeast,
I think it might be more
interesting for you.
It’s not that much
bigger than a Galaxy S10,
and I bet most people wouldn’t miss
the extra RAM and battery life
that you get on the big Note 10.
Really, though,
this Note 10 Plus is the true Note.
It’s about the same size
as last year’s Note 9,
and that size is big.
It has a 6.8-inch HD+ AMOLED screen,
and it is beautiful.
The Note’s display might not have a high
refresh rate that you can
get on the OnePlus 7 Pro,
but that’s literally the only thing
that’s missing from it.
It is bright and color-accurate,
and it goes all the way
to the edge of the phone.
This thing looks like
the future in the way
that most phones do not.
The screen will spoil you.
It’s also the true Note
because it’s the one with the best specs.
But again, beefy specs don’t set
the Note apart anymore —
not the way they used to.
So let’s talk about the stylus.
(upbeat music)
Samsung added a gyroscope
and an accelerometer
to it so you can wave it around to control
the camera and maybe
other apps eventually.
What you do is you hold the button down,
and then you make these little gestures.
And then the camera does stuff
like zoom in or switch
modes or take a photo.
It’s neat, I guess, but, you know,
it’s kind of a gimmick.
The other thing that’s pretty gimmicky
but stupid fun, is AR Doodles.
So in the first mode, you
can draw on people’s faces,
and the mustaches and beards and horns
or whatever
stay pinned to their faces when you
or they move around,
and it works pretty well.
But the one I really enjoy is doing it
in the “Everywhere” mode.
It lets you draw shapes
in, like, arbitrary space,
and they stay pinned to where
you were drawing them pretty well.
It’s not quite as good as Tilt Brush,
but it’s way better than I expected.
Now, I enjoyed both of
these things quite a lot,
but if anybody uses this
more than three times,
I would be completely shocked.
Now, the real upgrade for the stylus
is actually in the software
on the phone itself in Samsung Notes.
You can quickly take
a note without turning
the phone on, just like before,
but now, those handwritten
notes are searchable,
and you can extract the text
out of them via OCR.
It works way better than I expected,
even with my garbage handwriting.
There are a million other things
that this stylus does.
It can magnify stuff on the screen.
It can make an app into
a weird little picture-in-picture
box that you can hover over.
It is also the best
screenshot drawing thing
that you can get on a phone.
At this point, you’re either
giddy with excitement
over this little stick,
or you’re shrugging.
And that’s fair. I mean, look.
Here are the only important reasons
to spend hundreds of dollars more
for the Note 10 Plus over
the Galaxy S10 Plus:
slightly bigger screen,
slightly bigger battery
with slightly faster charging,
and the stylus. That’s it.
Okay so, there are a bunch of other things
that the Note can do, and I’m going
to get into all of them.
But before that, I have to admit,
there’s one other thing
about the Note 10 Plus
that I really like besides the stylus.
It’s just really nice.
It’s like a luxury object,
like a Rolex or an Eames chair.
You’re paying more for the brand name
and just for how well-made this object is.
I mean, Samsung has poured everything
that it has learned about making hardware
into the Note 10 Plus.
The glass curves and melts
into the middle rail.
The screen goes fully edge to edge,
and the fingerprint sensor
is underneath the screen.
The stylus is unibody now, and, hell,
Samsung even made the ports line up.
Just as a physical object,
there is no more beautiful
or well-made phone.
And if you care about
having the nicest thing,
this is it.
Now, the cameras are essentially unchanged
from the Galaxy S10, which means
that they’re really good.
Now, this is the part
where you expect me to say
that the Pixel 3 is slightly better,
and, well, it is and it isn’t.
In challenging or low-light situations,
or if you really start pixel-peeping, yes,
the Pixel 3 is better. But the Note 10
has a telephoto and
an ultrawide lens,
and the camera app
actually launches faster.
So as a whole package,
I actually enjoy using this more,
at least in good light.
This wide angle is fun, right?
The answer is yes. Yes, it is.
Now, the Note 10 Plus also is probably
the very best Android
phone for taking video,
but that doesn’t mean that it holds up
to an iPhone XS.
So Samsung has added a few new features
to make video better.
The first is Live Focus,
which blurs the background in video,
and it’s bad. Don’t use it.
They’ve also slightly improved
video stabilization.
I really like the other thing they put in,
which is a bare-bones video editor.
It’s actually not bad.
It’s almost what I wish
iMovie was on the iPhone.
And using a stylus to
edit video on a phone
is way easier than using
your big fat fingers.
The last thing is a zoom mic option,
which tries to make the
audio from the thing
that you’re zoomed in
on louder than the audio
that’s near the phone,
and it works… sort of.
I don’t know. It’s not magic.
Here, check it out.
Becca is speaking.
H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P…
And I’m speaking at the same time.
Q, R, S, T, U, V…
And now we’re zooming in on her,
and I’m continuing to speak.
W, X, Y, and Z…
While she continues to speak.
A, B, C, D, E, F, G…
And I’m also speaking.
H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P…
And then we zoom away from her.
Q, R, S, T, U, V…
She is speaking.
W, X, Y and Z…
And now we should hear my voice more
than her voice.
A, B, C, D, E, F, G…
She’s just getting
really tired of saying
the alphabet.
Now we come to the part where I talk
about a bunch of Samsung features
because there are a lot
of Samsung features.
Let’s start with DeX, which is that thing
that you plug your phone into a monitor,
and then it turns it into a mini computer.
It works in a whole new way this year,
exclusively on the Note 10.
There is now a DeX app
for both Windows and Mac
that lets you have a window for doing all
of your phone stuff
right on your computer,
which is the thing that you actually carry
with you instead of a,
you know, rando monitor.
DeX is okay. It’s not super fast,
but it is a really
convenient way to do texting
directly from your computer,
or drag and drop files between your phone
and your computer. But it’s
much better in theory
than it is in execution.
You see, the thing is —
actually, you know what?
I have a lot of things to say about DeX
and this whole dream
of making your phone
into your computer, so I’m going to do
another video on that next week.
For this review, what you should know
is that it could be useful in a pinch,
but it’s definitely not a reason
to buy this phone.
All right, what else has Samsung packed
into this thing? Well, a ton actually.
There is a depth camera in the back here
that can measure the size of stuff
and eventually is going to let you scan
3D objects and put them into your own AR.
I didn’t get to test that,
but I wouldn’t expect
the quality is going to be great.
There’s also a new
version of their game mode
that makes it easier to tweak settings
and also grab screenshots.
There’s just also a million other
Samsung settings with a lock screen
and the edge panel and all the rest.
And then there’s Bixby.
Bixby’s still here, but Samsung did get rid
of the dedicated button for it.
It’s built into the power button,
but actually understanding what’s going
to happen when you press the power button
gets a little bit
complicated, even with the new
configuration settings.
And also, you know,
Bixby still isn’t good,
which means you’re going to still end up
using Google Assistant instead.
Samsung has also partnered
with Microsoft, and so
there’s a bunch of
Microsoft stuff in here.
It links up to the Your
Phone app on Windows,
and Microsoft smartphone
apps are preinstalled.
And by the way, that
means that there are now
three email apps on this
thing out of the box:
Gmail, Samsung mail, and Outlook. Cool.
Samsung has gotten better
at software with One UI,
and I don’t hate it anymore. But
you do have to learn a
bunch of Samsung ways
of doing things and have
to deal with choosing
between Samsung apps or Google apps
or, now, Microsoft apps.
For experts, it’s totally manageable.
But for everybody else,
it’s a real hassle.
And of course, Samsung takes way too long
to get the full version
upgrades of Android
pushed out its devices.
It’s doing security updates faster now,
and One UI does so much
that you might not be sad
about not getting
Android Q right away, but
it’s still annoying.
(upbeat music)
There’s so much stuff in the Note 10 Plus
that it’s dizzying, and Samsung software
just barely manages to contain it all
and keep it comprehensible.
It really does have everything…
except a headphone jack.
And I really like some of it and I also
hate some of it, but
none of it is the reason
to either buy or skip this phone.
See, the Note 10 Plus is a smartphone
that goes to 11 for
But again, there are Android phones
and even Samsung phones
that cost hundreds of
dollars less and get you
nearly all the way there.
The OnePlus 7 Pro is still amazing,
and the Pixel 4 is only a
couple of months away.
Plus, the Galaxy S10 Plus is not
all that different from this thing.
Look, some people just
want the nicest thing,
and this, very clearly,
is the very nicest
Android phone by far.
I love how luxurious the hardware is.
I mean, look at this color.
But I can’t say it’s
a great reason to buy
this phone, so it really comes down
to this little thing: the S Pen.
The thing is, though,
unless you really want a stylus,
I don’t think it’s worth spending
the extra money for the Note 10 Plus.
Hey, everybody. Thank you
so much for watching.
I’m really excited I got
to just review a phone
instead of talk about
the future of computers,
but I’m going to talk about the future
of computers next week because I’m making
the DeX video. So let
me know in the comments
what you think of DeX
and what your questions are about it,
and we’ll see you next week.

100 thoughts on “Galaxy Note 10 Plus review: the luxury phone

  1. Man I wish the speakers sounded better ,in the 10 plus,they said they had to compromise the sound for the hidden speakers,and that hole in the phone.

  2. I had all galaxy note phones, except 5 and 7 (for obvious reasons). The main reason why I am still in a note line is the S Pen and Dex mode. I just bought note 10+ 512gb and I have reached the upper limit price I am willing to pay for a smartphone. If the next Note phone comes even more expensive, I will stick with the note 10 or finally will left the Note line.

  3. My doubt is that for how many years Samsung will give android updates for this phone? They are very lazy in giving android updates. Also they completely ignore their 2 year old models for updates.

  4. Some people like me, who has early onset severe arthritis in the hands or other probems is getting saved by the note series, the S-pen is a true blessing, and this aspect NEVER gets mentioned. If my hands are stiff on a bad day, I just clutch the pen between my fingers. I wish that more brands would release stylus phones since the note series is a liiiiittle bit expensive for people who is so I'll that they are on disability. I'm lucky that I can afford one.

  5. perfectly happy with my S5 (removable battery!) and running SideSync on my win7 pro. its like having the phone on my computer, great for text and running Gmouse 😉

  6. Dieter bohn has transformed the verge from meh reviewing tech platform to one my go-tos. He has the perfecting narrating style with the slick visuals to keep you watching for the full ten mins. Keep up the good work and don't lose him.

  7. Everyone is saying the big con is the missing headphone jack but I don't see anybody talking about the lack of the heart rate sensor I used to use that all the time and it's not on the Note 10 or plus anymore, ??

  8. This phone has menus for days. Ridiculous amount of settings. I'll be keeping this for many years. Business write off

  9. For me it's not the pen. I dont care about price. I care about power. I care about size. I care about battery life. Screen quality. The Note 10+ does it all. I still love my work phone (V50) but this time Samsung is my daily driver. Also haptics are OFF THE CHAIN. Texting is a joy. I've never been able to text faster. Highly recommend it.

  10. In terms of camera quality, please advise me which Samsung is the best to get? I don't really care about the appearance of the cover phone or how it's being design. Camera is the most I want.

  11. Good and well done review except for the headphonejack comment.

    How many years does it have it pass to reviewers get over that fiasco? Samsung was the last big manufacturer to keep it alive. Its dead lets move on.

  12. Man these reviews are so bare bones… I really miss having techy people doing reviews and actually talking about specs.

    Instead I get these apple like descriptions on features…

  13. I purchased the Note 10 Plus. I loooove the battery life. Its unbelievable. I go all day without charging it. I have never had a phone I did not have to charge until I came home at night. Plus, the phone charges fully usually 47 min. Super fast!!! Love this phone.

  14. I just got the note 10 plus and it blows apple out of the park. To say that I'm impressed with Samsung's latest flagship phone is an understatement! (Coming from a former apple diehard fan). Android is where it's at now, trust me… no notch!

  15. I use the s10+, I'm not a pen user but the note10+ is simply gorgeous plus it's feature packed. For myself these two phones have no equal. The new Apple's are here but 64gb's of base storage is so 2016, no thanks Tim Apple!

  16. The time you most use the s pen is to take quick note when the screen is off, translate, take screenshot. That's it. Not too much use but when you stick with it, you can't get out ?

  17. Great video, the best review about this phone by a mile. I am an iphone user. I have the X but I am currently thinking about switching to the Note 10 plus. The iPhone 11 Pro has almost nothing new to offer for me. However, I am hessitant, I had a Note 4 years ago and that Samsung Android skin was a mess. The phone was not usable anymore after a few months. What do you guys think?

  18. I've been with this phone for 4 days after having iPhone for 6 years. I got so bored with iphone and tired. I saw this phone and I had to get my hands on it. The aura glow color is so beautiful the display is amazing. I love it so much

  19. That's why I love it. Variety my friend. I have the pleasure to chose between Window apps, google apps and Samsung apps. Did I mention I love this phone. Thx for the great review

  20. "most people wouldn't miss the extra RAM and battery life [of the larger Note]…. " Come on!!! Maybe not now that it's new but eventually, yeah, you will. RAM is good. Longevity of battery life is even better!

  21. Something tells me America is jealous of Samsung because their homegrown Apple is way down the lane when it comes to pure innovation.

  22. I bought the note 10 plus and I have no idea on when to use the pen . I'm a pastor so I do highlight a lot of notes ok n my sermons other then that idk how to use it

  23. Bixby has been good for years…you're just using it wrong if you think it's remotely the same as Google Assistant. Google Assistant is for web stuff, Bixby is for phone stuff.

  24. Not getting the latest Android is NOT a big deal anymore. The changes are extremely minor. The new gesture is the most noticeable change on my Pixel 2 compared to Android 9. Well, that, and the dozens of bugs and things that simply don't work. Android 10 is NOT ready for other phones. It's a buggy mess.

  25. I have a S10 5G phone purchased only 2 months ago. And now because of your video, I want to already change my phone. Thanks for your review. Awesome review!!

  26. hello sir, i want to buy note 10 plus. but there are 2 models one with ims service and without it. which one to buy ? i dont know what is IMS service

  27. hello sir, i want to buy note 10 plus. but there are 2 models one with ims service and without it. which one to buy ? i dont know what is IMS service

  28. I'm sorry: MISSING a headphone jack????!! ??
    – Why would that not be a major flaw?
    Am I out of the loop or something??? How would one listen to music in public spaces etc?

  29. What a beautiful way of explaining a great machine is much easier way…..Good job The Verge….I subscribed you.

  30. Thanks so much for a realistic review. I shall be returning to Note, having used an alternative for the past two years.

  31. I love it when Dieter Bohn does videos. He is so good at giving me information that I need, and makes that video more interesting. He's just so good. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

  32. I ABSOLUTELY love Dex. I sold my 4yr old slow iMac that i found infuriating and bought a curved Samsung display a 2.4ghz mouse and keyboard and I'm hooked. My phone is always my fastest computer. Notes always have great cameras and speed so I also sold my Sony a6000. Been on the note 8 since and it does everything I need. One advantage is not having a computer around the house that you have to worry about someone snooping into also 😉

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