Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ vs. Galaxy Note 9: Should you upgrade?

Galaxy Note 10+ vs. Galaxy Note 9
Galaxy Note 10+ vs. Galaxy Note 9 (Image credit: Android Central)

Galaxy Note 10+

Samsung Galaxy Note 10+

The Galaxy Note 10+ comes with a few key upgrades that make it stand out. There's a massive 6.8-inch QHD+ display with razor-thin bezels, Snapdragon 855, a new S Pen with air gestures, and 4,300mAh battery. Then there's 45W wired charging, 15W wireless charging, and four cameras at the back. Combine all that with the latest internal hardware available today and you get a fantastic phone for the latter half of 2019.

Galaxy Note 10+

Time to upgrade

Stunning new design
More capable S Pen
45W wired charging/15W wireless
Top-notch performance
MicroSD slot
No headphone jack

Galaxy Note 9

Galaxy Note 9

The Galaxy Note 9 is now showing its age, and the phone doesn't hold up particularly well in 2020. Wired charging is limited to 15W and you don't get that edge-to-edge display that Samsung has perfected in 2019. That said, the Note 9 has a headphone jack, all-day battery life, and it nails the fundamentals. Unless you get a great deal on it, you're better off picking up the Note 10+.

Galaxy Note 9

Showing its age

Headphone jack
S Pen
All-day battery life
Hardware is still decent
Bixby button is annoying
Wired charging limited to 15W

Need the latest? Get the S20

Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S20 series earlier in 2020, so if you're looking for the latest that the brand has to offer, take a look at our Galaxy S20 coverage.

If you want a stylus, the Note 10+ is still a fantastic choice in 2020, but the Galaxy S20 has a 120Hz panel, and that makes a lot of difference in day-to-day use. You also get better cameras, so if you're in the market for a flagship in 2020, you may want to consider the Galaxy S20 or S20+.

How do you improve a phone that's already one of the best available? That's the question Samsung faces every year with the Note series. The Note 9 stood out for its stunning AMOLED display, top-notch performance, and solid reliability, and the Note 10+ builds on that formula while offering exciting new features. There's faster wired and wireless charging, a new design with even thinner bezels, updated hardware, a bigger battery, a new S Pen, and so much more.

What's the difference between the Note 10+ and the Note 9?

The Galaxy Note 10+ sports a massive 6.8-inch QHD+ display that's rated for HDR10+, with Samsung calling it the Cinematic Infinity Display. That's 0.4 inches larger than the screen on the Note 9, but the Note 10+ is just 0.4mm taller and 0.6mm wider. Samsung was able to achieve this by trimming the bezels considerably — there are barely any bezels at the top and bottom — and like the Galaxy S10 series, the front camera is integrated into the display, but it's now centered.

45W wired charging, 12GB of RAM, and an even better display, but you're missing out on the headphone jack.

Samsung has touted display improvements with every generation of flagships, and that's the case with the Note 10+ as well. The Dynamic AMOLED display on the device has increased brightness and a wider color range, making it the absolute best display on any phone today.

The Note 10+ also has a larger 4300mAh battery — versus the 4,000mAh unit on the Note 9 — and for the first time in over three years, Samsung is overhauling its charging tech. The Note 10+ has 45W wired charging over USB-C PD3.0, putting it on par with the likes of OPPO and Huawei in this area. You also get 15W wireless charging, and the ability to charge other devices wirelessly via Wireless PowerShare. Samsung is bundling a 25W charger in the box, but you'll be able to use any 45W PD charger on the market today to unlock the charging speeds. The Note 9, meanwhile, is limited to 15W over wired, and 10W wireless.

Then there's the storage: the base variant of the Note 10+ has 256GB of storage as standard, and there's also a 512GB option. Both models come with 12GB of RAM as standard, double that of the base variant of the Note 9. The MicroSD slot is also intact on the Note 10+, so you can further extend the storage should you wish to do so.

The S Pen continues to be a differentiator for the Note series, and it's better than ever on the Note 10+.

For all the improvements on offer, there is a key feature missing from the Note 10+: a headphone jack. Samsung has held out longer than other manufacturers, but with the Note 10+, it is also ditching the analog jack in favor of USB-C audio. The lack of a headphone jack is going to be a dealbreaker for a lot of potential customers — particularly given that the Note series is targeted at power users.

The S Pen has been the differentiating feature for the Note series for some time now, and on the Note 10+, Samsung is adding new capabilities. There's better handwriting to text — including the ability to export to Microsoft Word — and Air Actions, which let you control various actions without touching the display. Like the Note 9, you'll be able to use the S Pen on the Note 10+ to switch between the front and rear cameras and as a remote shutter button. The stylus also works with the built-in video editor, giving you fine-grained control.

The rest of the features are thankfully intact: Samsung Pay is back, and it continues to be an excellent digital payment service. IP68 dust and water resistance have been standard on Samsung flagships for some time, and that hasn't changed on the Note 10+.

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CategorySamsung Galaxy Note 10+Samsung Galaxy Note 9
Operating systemAndroid 9.0 PieOne UI 1.5Android 9.0 OreoOne UI 1.0
Display6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED, 3040x1440 (19.5:9)HDR10+6.4-inch Super AMOLED, 2960x1440 (18.5:9)Gorilla Glass 5
ChipsetSnapdragon 855Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (U.S., China)Exynos 9810 (ROW)
GPUAdreno 640Adreno 630Mali-G72 MP18
Storage256GB/512GB UFS3.0128GB/512GB UFS 2.1
MicroSD slotYesYes
Rear camera 112MP f/1.5-2.4, OIS77° FoV12MP f/1.5 or f/2.4, OIS
Rear camera 212MP, f/2.1, OIStelephoto 45° FoV12MP f/2.4 telephoto, OIS
Rear camera 316MP, f/2.2Wide-angle 123° FoVNone
Rear camera 4VGA f/1.4, 72° FoVNone
Front camera10MP, f/2.2, 80° FoVauto focus8MP f/1.7auto focus
ConnectivityWi-Fi ax MU-MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0 LE, NFC, GPSWi-Fi 802.11ac 2x2 MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0 LE, NFC, GPS
AudioUSB-CStereo speakers3.5mm jackStereo speakers
ChargingUSB-C PD3.0Fast charge (45W)USB-CFast charge (18W)
Water resistanceIP68IP68
SecurityIn-display fingerprint sensorFace unlockFingerprint sensorIris sensor
Dimensions162.3 x 77.2 x 7.9 mm196g161.9 x 76.4 x 8.8mm201g
ColorsAura Glow, Aura White, Aura Black, Aura BlueLavender purple, Ocean Blue, Midnight Black

Samsung is adding a few software features to the Note 10+: there's a native screen recorder that's ideal for recording game footage, and there's also a picture-in-picture mode that lets you add your reactions. You can also add annotations to the recording via the S Pen.

Samsung says the Note 10+ has the "world's slimmest vapor chamber," which is an oxymoron if ever there was one. However, the phone does have a Game Booster that will block notifications and free up all available resources when you're playing a game.

The Note 10+ has the same camera sensors as the Galaxy S10+, with a primary 12-megapixel sensor joined by a 12-megapixel telephoto and 16-megapixel wide-angle lens. There's also a fourth DepthVision module that takes a scan of an object and turns it into an animated 3D render. The camera sensor at the front is also getting an overhaul with a new 10MP module, and now offers Night Mode. Live Focus mode now works for videos as well, giving you that background blur effect so you can focus on a subject.

Should you upgrade to the Note 10+ from the Note 9?

Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ vs. Galaxy Note 9

Ultimately, choosing between the two phones is easy in 2020. If you're in the market for a new phone, just get the Note 10+.

The Note 10+ has much more to offer, making it an obvious upgrade pick.

The Note 10+ has a much more premium design with a gradient pattern at the back and an edge-to-edge screen, and you get double the amount of memory and internal storage. You also get an S Pen with more features, a larger 4300mAh battery, and 45W wired charging as well as 15W wireless charging and the ability to wirelessly charge other devices. There's also an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, Wi-Fi ax, Samsung Pay, and IP68 dust and water resistance.

The Note 10+ also has four cameras at the back and a 10-megapixel shooter upfront, with Live Focus for video and Night Mode coming to the front lens. The sheer number of features makes the Note 10+ an obvious choice for an upgrade, but it is annoying that there's no headphone jack anymore.

If you're looking to upgrade to a new phone, the Galaxy Note 10+ at $900 is the way to go.

Harish Jonnalagadda
Senior Editor - Asia

Harish Jonnalagadda is Android Central's Senior Editor of Asia. In his current role, he oversees the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, networking products, and AV gear. He has been testing phones for over a decade, and has extensive experience in mobile hardware and the global semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.