First look at the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 & 10+: Why they're worth preordering

Jacob Krol, CNN Underscored
Updated Thu August 8, 2019

Story highlights

  • Samsung's Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+ go up for preorders Aug. 8 and officially land on Aug. 23
  • For 2019, there are two Notes that still deliver the expected performance and the power of S-Pen

Today Samsung announced that we are officially getting two new Galaxy Notes: the Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+. With these releases, Samsung is solving the age-old problem of size with the Note. There are now multiple options for you to pick from. It's all about the choice, this way if you want a device with the S-Pen and the performance, there's an model to fill that need.

You get a 6.3-inch display on the Note 10 and a 6.8-inch display on the Note 10+. Both of these come with Super AMOLED Infinity-O displays and feature a tiny pinhole selfie camera located square-center at the top. Those specs are mostly the same across both sizes.

Let's talk pricing and availability

The Note 10 and Note 10+ will officially launch on August 23, but pre-orders are open now. Samsung's Galaxy Note 10 will start at $949.99 for 256GB of storage with 8GB of RAM. The Note 10+ is a bit more at $1,099.99 with 256GB of storage and 12GBs of RAM.

If you pre-order through August 22, you can score a $100 credit to Samsung with a Note 10, or a $150 credit with a Note 10+. Samsung is also offering various bundles for the Note 10 or Note 10+ that include fast chargers or even a Galaxy Watch. New users will get 6 months subscription to Spotify Premium once you get your new Galaxy Note. Let's break down the models.

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10 with 256 GB in Aura Glow ($949.99; samsung.com)
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10 with 256 GB in Aura White ($949.99; samsung.com)
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10 with 256 GB in Aura Black ($949.99; samsung.com)
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ with 256 GB in Aura Glow ($1,099.99; samsung.com)
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ with 256 GB in Aura White ($1,099.99; samsung.com)
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ with 256 GB in Aura Black ($1,099.99; samsung.com)
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ with 256 GB in Aura Blue ($1,099.99; samsung.com)
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ with 512 GB in Aura Glow ($1,199.99; samsung.com)
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ with 512 GB in Aura White ($1,199.99; samsung.com)
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ with 512 GB in Aura Black ($1,199.99; samsung.com)
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ with 512 GB in Aura Blue ($1,199.99; samsung.com)

The S-Pen has new air actions and is lighter

Samsung's S-Pen is of course, what makes a Galaxy Note a Note. This smart stylus allows you to turn your phone into a notepad, artist drawing board, or even just a doodler. You can use it to navigate the device, play games with precision and edit photos. It's really another interface to control the Galaxy Note, and as expected, we got some updates to it this year.

If you saw last week's new Galaxy Tab S6, you got a bit of a sneak peek. A new set of Air Actions are arriving on the S-Pen in Note 10 and Note 10+.The button on the S-Pen gives you control of several features on the phone. You can use it to take a selfie, open an app, and several other functions. Even better, Note 10 and 10+ can convert handwriting from the S-Pen into typed text out of the box.

For starters, it's a bit lighter. The color of the S-Pen will match that of your Note 10 or Note 10+ as well. From my first impression, it still feels like an S-Pen. It's not a full redesign with new feature sets, but an upgrade to what already works.

Infinity-O with a fingerprint sensor

All experiences should look great on the 6.3-inch or 6.8-inch Super AMOLED Infinity-O display. Both of these are HDR 10+ certified and rated for Dolby Vision. The resolution is respectively 2280 X 1080 with 401 pixels per inch and 3040 X 1440 with 498 pixels per inch. During my hands-on time, I was impressed with the vibrancy of the screen, and the contrast was able to display some pretty dark blacks.

I'm looking forward to diving deeper into this and seeing how the new location for the Infinity-O hole stacks up.

Down towards the center of the lower half of the device, you'll find an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor. This is the same technology we saw on the S10 and S10+, so Samsung is likely installing screen protectors from the get go.. Keep in mind that results may vary in the beginning, and it will get better with time as Samsung pushes out updates. You can also use the front-facing lens for facial recognition, but this isn't truly biometric.

High-performance specs

These are both flagships in every way, and like the Galaxy S10 and S10+, the two Notes share specs. Both are running Android 9.0 with Samsung's One UI. This new interface first premiered on the S10 family and offers a less clunky experience. It shows a resurgence in both hardware and software teams working to create a device that stands out.

Powering the experience will be a zippy 64-bit octa-core processor with either 8GB or 12GB of RAM, depending on the model you opt for. A Note 10 features 8GB while the Note 10+ gets 12GBs of RAM. Either way, Samsung is still making tweaks to the software to ensure a smooth experience. The OS can intelligently devote resources as well. With a new game mode, you can get better performance when playing Fortnite on mobile or other high task options.

The camera setup looks familiar on both of these phones. The back features three lenses stacked vertically, a design similar to that of the iPhone XS or XS Max. A 16-megapixel ultra-wide, a 12-megapixel wide-angle and a 12-megapixel telephoto are onboard. This is the same setup as the S10 and S10+, so we' expect these to perform just as well. You also get Samsung's built-in night mode, which helps to get excellent shots in low light.

There are some new features in the video recording functionality, however. You can still record at up to UHD resolution, but you can now also create a bokeh effect with Live Focus Video (aka blurring out the background and keeping the focus on one person or item) and Zoom-In Mic creates the effect of a boom microphone for enhanced audio.

On the front, that Infinity-O pinhole holds a 10-megapixel autofocus lens with an 80-degree viewing angle. It should be great for capturing selfies and shots of more than one person. Both the front and back cameras can handle portrait mode as well.

AR Doodle is an interesting new software feature that works on both cameras. You can draw objects (like a funny hat or a mustache) and snap it to a face or body in a photo. You can also add Doodles to video.

Large batteries and ultra-fast charging

Samsung has come a long way with battery tech and a lot is going on with the Note 10 and 10+. Respectively you get a 3,500mAh or 4,300mAh battery inside, and with Samsung's intelligent battery controlling software, that should be enough fora full day of use.

Another bit of really cool news is that both the Note 10 and 10+ support fast charging both wirelessly or with a cord. In the box, you'll get a 25-watt fast charger, and you can upgrade to a 45-watt with the Note 10+. This is pretty impressive and should deliver ultra-fast charging, nearly filling the battery all the way in about 30-minutes.

Lastly, but certainly not least, Wireless Power Share is back. Yes, the technology that reverses the wireless charging coils on the back and enables you to charge other Qi-enabled devices on the back. Just don't expect that to be the fastest experience.

Bye-bye audio jack

Yes, you read that right. The Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+ are one port devices, with a USB-C port on the bottom and no headphone jack. Samsung was one of the last big OEMs to keep this wired listening port, and while the S10 family still has it, the Note line no longer does. You will get a pair of USB-C earbuds in the box, and of course, Samsung makes Galaxy Buds.

Final thoughts from first impressions

Simply put, the Note 10 and 10+ are unquestionably coming off as rockstars after first impressions. It's also refreshing to see the smaller model come in under $1,000 at $949. Samsung has also tackled the complaint that the Notefeels too big by offering the choice oftwo models. And it's luckily an even playing field with nearly the same specs and hardware being used across the board. It's in contrast to other brands like Apple which change up the hardware.

The sleek aluminum and glass design not only comes in fun colors and is IP68 (water and dust resistant) rated, but it contains a powerhouse of hardware. The octa-core processor with either 8GB or 12GBs of RAM will provide a zippy experience on the One UI, which provides a lighter experience with plenty of customization options.

We're fairly pleased with what we saw so far in the Note 10 and Note 10+, and I'm looking forward to thoroughly reviewing them before August 23. If you're already sold, now is the time to preordering to score a $100 Samsung credit for the Note 10 or a $150 credit for the Note 10+. You can put it towards some helpful new accessories and even a 45-watt ultra-fast charger.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailers' listed prices at the time of publication.