One of the big new features for the Note10+ is the S Pen “Air Actions”, which allow you to control the phone with the stylus from a distance. At launch Air Actions are super handy in the camera app if you’re trying to take a selfie from a distance, but other than that it’s just a fun gimmick for now.
Speaking of gimmicks, AR Doodles — drawing in the camera app and then having that persist in space on AR and videos — is really cool. It’s an extremely powerful bit of tech doing something utterly pointless, yet fun, which is always delightful.
In general, the quad camera is excellent. It’s got ultra-wide 16MP, wide-angle 12MP and telephoto 12MP lenses, and a time of flight camera for 3D mapping. Night mode shots looked very good, and you almost have to try to take a bad photo. I found it captured good drama in the sky, and even though there aren’t a lot of differences between the Note10+ and the S10+ camera array the changes under the hood make this rear camera better to use. The front camera (10MP) is also better placed in the top centre and less intrusive than the S10+ camera.
As far as security goes, the in-display fingerprint scanner is nice and sensitive, and seems a bit quicker than the S10+ sensor. That said, the face unlock is so fast that I often don’t get a chance to put my thumb on the sensor before it’s already unlocked.
The biggest adjustment on the phone is the removal of the lock/power button on the right. It’s all in the Bixby button on the left now. It took me a couple of days to stop trying to press it on the right, but it’s just fine on the left. All three people who use and enjoy Bixby will be a little irked by the complication of one button doing everything, but turn the assistant off and it works just like the old lock button.
Battery life is very good, though perhaps not as great as the S10+. There have been a couple of nights where I didn’t need to charge the phone at all, and genuinely did get a full day’s charge from half an hour on my laptop charger in the morning.
In Australia the phone is be available in two colours: Aura Black (black, but shiny), and Aura Glow (think of a rainbow unicorn horn in a house of mirrors). My review unit is Aura Glow, and it’s a beautiful prism of mirrors that I am still mesmerised by, and constantly cleaning the fingerprints off. It looks ugly and dirty very quickly and easily.
If you’re keen for a 5G Samsung phone, even though there isn’t much network coverage for it yet, the Note10+ 5G goes for $1999 which is the same price as the S10 5G.
The Note10+ 5G has near-identical specs to the Note10+; it’s a smidge heavier, bumps storage to 512GB and of course can connect to next-gen wireless networks. We haven’t had a chance to test the 5G version yet, so can’t say for sure if the more advanced antenna affects performance or battery life.
Meanwhile, if you want to save a bit of money, the Note10 (with no +) goes for $1499. It doesn’t have a microSD card reader so you’re stuck with 256GB internal, it has a smaller 6.3-inch screen at full HD resolution and only 8GB of RAM.
In the end, the Note10+ is a powerful phone, with an impressive battery life and camera, even if it might not be the best in class in all those categories. It’s designed for professionals, gamers and social media addicts who need more out of their device than most.If you need a big, powerful phone with a stylus, the Note10+ should be at the top of your list.
Alice is a freelance journalist, producer and presenter.