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Why the Galaxy Note 10 (not the Plus) is the one to buy

Galaxy Note 10 in red
Galaxy Note 10 in red (Image credit: Android Central)

Here's some inside baseball for you: before the Galaxy Note 10 was officially unveiled, I attended three press briefings as a cameraman, shooting for the various sites across Mobile Nations. That amounted to roughly five hours with both the Note 10 and 10+, meaning that I've probably spent more time with the phones than anyone else outside of Samsung's payroll.

Since their announcement at Samsung Unpacked, the Galaxy Note 10 and 10+ have become possibly the most controversial devices in the series since the explosive Note 7, thanks to the removal of "legacy" features (if you can call them that) like the headphone jack and, in the case of the smaller phone, the microSD slot. But in spite of that, the biggest change that drew me into the smaller Note during my briefings was, well, just how small it really is.

I'm tired of giant phones. The Note 10 feels perfect in my hands.

I've been using the Xperia 1 daily since reviewing it last month, and part of the reason for that is because of just how much screen I get without the phone feeling huge, thanks to the extra-tall 21:9 aspect ratio. It's narrow enough that I can still get away with using it one-handed (so long as I don't need to reach the top of the screen), which is something that's usually reserved for smaller phones like my previous daily phone, the Pixel 3.

The Galaxy Note 10 isn't quite as narrow as the Xperia 1, with a slightly shorter, wider 19:9 aspect ratio, but the bezels are so tight around the 6.3-inch display that the phone isn't much bigger physically than the Galaxy S10 — or even the Pixel 3, for that matter. I've been saying it since the first time I held the Note 10: Samsung is finally bringing the benefits of the S Pen to a relatively small phone that just about anyone could comfortably use.

As you might expect, that size doesn't come without its compromises. On top of the removal of the headphone jack and microSD card, you also get a smaller 3500mAh battery on the Note 10 (for reference, the Note 10+ has a 4300mAh cell), and the display maxes out at 1080p. But that lower resolution should lead to slightly less battery drain, at least in theory, and well, I lived with the horrendous battery life of the Pixel 3 for months. Anything has to be better.

I can empathize with those for whom the smaller Note 10's trade-offs are too much to live with, especially for the whopping $950 Samsung is commanding, but I'm personally not bothered too much by them. I haven't used wired headphones in years, and Samsung at least packages in its AKG earbuds, newly brandished with a USB-C connector — though would including the $15 headphone adapter (opens in new tab) have been too much to ask for? I can't remember the last time I've used removable storage either, and 256GB is more than enough for my needs.

I know not everyone will agree, but the Note 10's lack of a headphone jack and microSD slot don't bother me.

This isn't meant to be an apology piece for Samsung, nor am I trying to justify the high price tag on what's frankly not a great deal against Samsung's other flagships like the Galaxy S10 and S10+. Without having used one extensively myself, I have no way of knowing how well the Note 10's 3500mAh battery will hold up under heavy use, nor can I comment on the performance differences against the Note 10+, which has 50% more RAM. I'm just tired of giant phones, and as I write this out with a Note 10+ review unit sitting on my desk, I can't wait to give the smaller Note 10 a go.

That being said, I'm also excited to spend the next week or so with the Galaxy Note 10+. It's bigger than I prefer, but thanks to its tight bezels, it's still manageable (never thought I'd say that about a nearly 7-inch device), and in addition to the larger battery and extra RAM, it has two extra sensors next to the camera array that aid in depth-sensing. This supposedly aids in the Note 10+'s newly improved portrait video mode, along with some AR-related features like the ability to scan real-world objects into 3D models. Definitely excited to give all of that a whirl.

If you're interested in either size of the Note 10, keep an eye on the Android Central home page over the next few days. Andrew and I both have Note 10+ units in hand, and we'll be writing all about our experiences with the phone leading up to the full written and video reviews next week.

Hayato was a product reviewer and video editor for Android Central.

  • I pre-ordered the Note 10. The plus for me was just too big. I pocket carry, and my Note 9 was just too large.
    I understand the tradeoffs, but I seriously doubt whether the 1080p screen will be that noticable, if at all. The smaller form factor was a good choice for Samsung to offer.
  • I applaud Samsung for choice bringing opportunity to Galaxy Note users that's where it ends. The Galaxy Note Plus is the only Note to buy bottom line yearly Note users will buy the Note10Plus. My Note10Plus will be joining my Note9, Oneplus7pro, and oneplus6t at home base August 23rd can't wait.
  • Same, Note 10 incoming and looking forward to it!
  • Fake news. The Note 10 is garbage. The plus variant is the real Note. You're better off with an S10+ at a reduced price than a Note 10.
  • You don' don't understand what 'fake news' means, do you
  • Fake news? Lmao you weird. But you're right about getting an S10+ at a discounted price of a note 10
  • It's not fake just because you disagree with it ;)
  • It can't be fake news if it's an opinion. Also people who want an S-Pen and more software features can't just go and buy an S10+.
  • Agreed. I hate when people say just get an S10+ at a reduced price. It's not the same phone. No matter the price, the S series does NOTHING for people who require the extras the Spen brings. S line and Note line aren't the same. Similar, but not the same.
  • Personally, I'm happy about the smaller size of the N10, not that I can afford it now lol but I've been one of the few waiting for years for this. I love then s pen so I'll always be a Note addict but frankly my N9 feels too large for my petite hands and I have to carry a purse everywhere cos it won't fit my pockets. And yes I hate when people say get the S bla bla. No! I'm a note user and the S series are not for me thank you!
  • I love giant phones. Especially a Note! Note 10+ for me any day. The regular Note 10 is a shame to even be called a Note IMO..
  • I had a Note 8 and will be upgrading my Note 9 to a Note 10+, so I am not tired of a larger phone. I would prefer a larger still, if it were available and otherwise practicable. I will keep my eye out for the Samsung Fold. But a significant part of the appeal of the larger screens of the Fold will be lost without the S-Pen. The S-Pen is the reason its Note 10+ or bust for me, as the "smaller" Note 10 will be a relatively cramped stylus experience. Take a look at the image that accompanies this article. You can see the physical limitations on the utility. I am keenly interested in the stylus-input advances in the new Notes but I expect that the improvements will make me wish for even more screen real estate.
  • "This isn't meant to be an apology piece for Samsung, nor am I trying to justify the high price tag on what's frankly not a great deal against Samsung's other flagships like the Galaxy S10 and S10+." Then I can't imagine what you'd write if it was. Also, the Note 10 is way oversized. The only phone Samsung currently has with an acceptable size for people with more than a computing device and no Freudian complex that leads them to overcompensate with a phone,, is the S10e.
    And even that should have been smaller (a 5" or 5.5" screen would have been better).
  • You are overthinking it WAAAYY too much man. People just like big phones because it's more screen realestate for games, video, media consumption. Stay off the pyscho-analysis subreddits for a while lmao.
  • It may be oversized for you, but you don't speak for every user. More users want larger screens than want smaller screens.
  • I want a larger phone because my dick is small? Nice projection there bud. No i just like having a screen thats bigger. I dont carry it in my pocket so thats not a problem. My eyesight is fine i dont wear glasses or anything so its like i need to see bigger letters, i just like having a screen to fit more **** on. if a woman bought a note 10+ is she also compensating for her small penis?
  • Disclaimer: I'm going from a Note8 to the 10+ 512GB. But, I am starting to like the smaller N10 more and more. I do like the smaller form factor, but I also like a lot of the little extras that the 10+ has to offer. I'm planning for the long game, and when the S11 releases, I am going to look for a Note10 at a discount as a backup device. And if the Note11 is enticing enough, I will use one of the Note10 devices to trade in, which ever gives me the better value.
  • The base model note10 is a bust. Why does this phone even exist? A 1080p display in a note phone huh? No jack & no micro s/d, yikes. Then the price, 1,000 dollars? Not for my $$. I'll take my s10+ all day long. It's simply a pleasure to use. Plus it incorporates all the premium features!
  • Going with the 10+ coming from a Note 8. Form factor is the same, just screen size has increased. I just got my case from Spigen today and it's the same size as my Spigen for my Note 8. SD Card was the deciding factor for me.
  • Note 10 is a huge down grade.. Battery, microSD support, smaller screen, these are the most important things to upgrade.. Not take away. If it's too big.. Get a S10 plus.. Better internals, less money.
  • I'm (im)patiently waiting for my Note10 to arrive. I currently have an OtterBox Defender in my toolbox at work, and if it wasn't for the buttons on the Note8, I'd be able to pop my Note8 in through the opening. That Note10 is a huge bitçh!
  • Don't you guys get it by now? The Note 10 is the 'budget premium' version of the Note 10+. If it makes you feel better, the Note 10+ is the successor to the Note 9. Features have to be removed, and corners have to be cut in order to bring the price down. If you don't like the trade-offs, you're not the intended target customers. Buy the Note 10+ or something else which tickles your fancy. Refer also to iPhone XR, Pixel 3a, Galaxy S10e, OnePlus 7 etc. Why budget premium phones, you might ask. Sales of the top-of-the-line flagship phones are declining, cheap budget/midrange Chinese phones are eating into market share. It is now necessary to make cheaper versions of the same flagship phones to compete. Just having your own midrange phones e.g. Samsung Galaxy A-series isn't enough to compete.
  • The problem is the Note 10 is misnamed. It is a budget version and should be named as such. As you imply the Note+ is the successor to the Note 9.
  • I don't understand this article. If the s10+ didn't exist, I could see reasons why people might want to get the smaller note. If the stylus is the reason you'd buy a Note 10 over an s10+, then I'd argue that using a stylus is better the more screen you have, and the Note 10+ makes a lot more sense. The battery life on the s10 is not great, and I'm willing to bet the Note 10 will have similar or worse battery life just based on capacity and screen size. I've said it once, I'll say it again: I don't understand why the Note 10 exists. I get the Note 10+, but you take the + away, and the phone is just not worth it.
  • I've ordered both the 10 & 10+. I always have multiple phones anyway, usually swap to a smaller one when I get tired of having a huge phone and vice versa so having a smaller version of the same phone sounds good to me; I had that with the Pixel 3, both reg and xl (trading in a Pixel 3 and S10 for $600 off each one)...but, once I get them I may end up returning one, will use each for a few days before deciding for sure. Battery life is most important to me (between the two) and on my s10 it doesn't get me through a full day, so not sure about the reg 10. But, I don't care about micro SD as 256gb is WAY MORE than I'll ever need and I never use the headphone jack anyway. 1080p isn't a big concern for me either as I literally cannot tell the difference when I switch my S10 from fhd to qhd and back. Depth sensing isn't a big deal to me either as the only portrait shots I do are from the front camera anyway. And last but not least, I prefer as much ram as possible, but 8gb really is plenty for my use. We'll see. The authors comments here have merit though. There are plenty of folks who would like an s pen but don't like big phones so the little one could do well. I do however think the price is too high for the reg note, should have been no more than $ in deal & $100 credit off sets that though, for now. Samsung really botched the naming of them though, they should have done the S10 naming scheme here and been the Note 10e and Note 10 as the plus is obviously the real successor.
  • Everyone is completely missing the point on the primary reason this phone exists. They upgraded the note 9 to the note 10 plus. The note 10 plus is exactly what it should be except it should be priced at $999. So what the geniuses did is they gave us a $950 and a $1099 one. See what they did? They made people content spending way more on the note 10 plus JUST by putting the inferior one at $950. They want you to buy the 10 plus that is why the regular exists and if they get a couple weirdos that think they want a stylus on a smaller form factor along the way then great!
    Just ignore the fact that the regular note 10 exists and instead you'll be frustrated that they jacked the price this year AND took away the headphone jack. What for 100mah worth of battery we have over the s10 plus?
  • Get out of my head Andrew :) but I totally agree
  • "They made people content spending way more on the note 10 plus JUST by putting the inferior one at $950." You summed it up nicely.
  • Passing on both, so overpriced.
  • Yes, but when u consider the trade-in, it's cheap
  • Nonsense! It's articles like this that encourage stupid decisions from Samsung. Call them out when they mess up. They messed up! The Note 10 should not exist, and the Note 10+ which is the legitimate upgrade to last year's model isn't a $1099 phone either. Unfortunately for me, I'm an S-Pen user and there isn't an alternative to it.
  • No one is even talking about how much they went up in price!
  • What doesn't go up in price? Every commodity does
  • I am not interested in 10+, I want Note 10
  • Sales, or lack thereof, will be the final word.
  • You know, it's kinda weird talking about how nice big a screen is, when your screen is mostly empty space. Is there something that 0.3 inch allows you to do that you can't without it, especially since we know it's not for media content with that hole in the way.
  • Give it a few weeks after launch, and both phones will drop in price, just like the Note9 did last year, and the Note8 before it. Yes, the prices are higher than ast year. But everyone was saying the same thing about the price N9 over N8. This price Jack didnt happen all of a sudden.
  • Serkle K, Drops in price later wont match the currentpre-order discount price. I got $300 off each Note10+ and $200 in accessories on two of them, $150 on the third (two of family replied to Samsungs extra $50 pre-order offer)
  • Also pre-ordered Note 10. I don't want Note 10+ even for free :)) it feels such a relieve to switch back to smaller phones from Pixel XL and Pixel 2 XL to Pixel 3.
  • You can go back to the note 4 and still get a qhd display. 1080p is a budget specification. Samsung is trying to sell a budget phone for almost $1000 for what, an s-pen? I personally love the s-pen, but nowhere near that much. I have been asking for a smaller Note for years and I should have known that it would come with comprises that are a total deal breaker. It's like Samsung likes to get me excited, only to dash my hopes. What an Apple - like move. SMFH
  • What's the compromise? The best 1080p display on the market? I dont give a rats azz about 1440p, using my Pixel 3 and it's all good
  • I like how because the writer doesn't like the plus that means everyone feels the same way. I pre ordered the Note 10 plus. Because you are tired of big phone doesn't mean the population feels the same. I wish articles were less opinionated and just stick with the facts.
  • You do realize that any article on a phone review is an opinion, right? The facts, as you like to say, were laid out clearly enough (size of the phone, the screen, battery size, etc). The author has a preference though and hence why he made a case for the smaller note. If you read the entire article, that could change when he has more time with both sizes.
  • Pretty much identical size as Note 9, so why do I want smaller Note 10. This is just another article to "We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more."
  • I purposely avoid buying anything from all of the links on here..gets old.
  • I only wish they would make the Note wider than the S lines. Now they all look the same
  • That is my only complaint with my S10+
  • I was thinking that the note9 was the one to buy. Seriously though, the plus variant is the one to go for. Obs
  • First of all it's a's supposed to be big! Second the smaller version is a rip off for what you're getting. Good luck with that lol.
  • I'll take the Note 10+ ANY day over the Note 10. I don't care that it was $1350 after taxes for the 512gb variant. It's well worth the price.
  • I prefer the size of the Note 10 but won't be getting it now. Way too expensive. Note 10+ will be more popular so Note 10 price will drop much quicker. Google Pixel 4 and Huawei Mate 30 Pro due out later in the year which will also put price pressure on the Note 10. Will just wait a few months and get the phone for a more sensible price. Annoyed at the missing headphone jack and lack of NLED. I have a really good pair of wired headphones and I am not glued to my phone so find the NLED useful. I always wanted a Note device because the S-Pen would be very useful for me but found the recent devices too large so the Note 10 seemed ideal. Also I am sensitive to PWM on OLED screens. Huawei, Xiaomi, OnePlus have introduced DC Dimming option but , as far as I am aware, Samsung have not. Impossible to find the perfect phone.
  • The note 10+. Go big or go home.
  • "I attended three press briefings as a cameraman".... but now you're writing an article? The only person that can decide if the Note 10 is the perfect phone is each individual user.
  • Yes, yes, and yes. I totally agree with this article. I pre-ordered the regular Note 10 Aura Glow and I cannot wait to get my hands on it. Yes, the price is steep for specs you get with the Note 10, however, with Samsung's great trade-in program, I "only" had to pay $350 plus $100 credit which I spent toward the dual fast charging pad. Friends are also getting the regular Note 10 but waiting until the black Friday sales. But I doubt that the phone will be any cheaper than $700 to 800 range still. And I am sure Samsung trade-in program won't last that long so waiting for the Black Friday sales is not an option for me.
  • yes what you've mentioned that people should consider - the s10e, s10, s10+ all get the same trade-in value ($600), so if you're frequently upgrading, history seems to favour going for the cheaper model of the S series. I'm glad I got the s10 through the note 8 trade-in, which i'll probably now trade for the note (though I could've saved even more money it seems trading in for the s10e). I'll likely go for the Note 10 because you save $150 and then you can jump to the next note next year with less pain. These are depreciating assets and it seems there's a few ways to go about it based on Samsung's trade-in programs (though I'm curious what other people's thoughts are) a.) get the cheapest latest flagship and trade-in frequently ($600 for note 9)
    b.) wait til your phone value drops below $200 (like the Pixel) re: iPhones
    c.) switch from an older model iPhone which seems to hold more trade-in value (lol)
    d.) trade in from an XR which fetches $600 despite being a lot cheaper than the XS Max Carrier incentives here in Canada seem to be pretty lousy, so trading in to Samsung USA has been great value for us cross border shoppers. Tech is definitely evolving more slowly but with 12GB RAM I think we're just a few generations away from an all-in-one device that can be a laptop and phone. DeX is tantalizingly close to the dream; if only Google would get behind Samsung and encourage developers to make full fledged desktop DeX apps a thing.
  • Yes, I agree. I traded in my Note 8 to get S10e because the Note 8 was a bit too big for me. But with the Note 10, I don't think I will have that issue anymore. *cross fingers* If the Note 11 gets a 90hz screen, I am definitely trading in for it next year. lol
  • True that those with tiny hands dont fit large phones. Just ordered 3 Note 10+ for family. Great pre order discounts and Samsung accessory giveaways for a total of $500 on each phone! Dont listen to those who are not seriously shopping.
  • Same here i am getting 600$ for my S10e i got for 450$ at BestBuy on special, the Note 10 is costing me 295$ and i got 150$ more than i paid for the s10e so actually its costing me 150$
  • It's a no brainer considering the 600 for my Note 9. Getting a smaller note is something I've always wanted. Getting it with 100 bucks of free stuff making the deal about 345 for me using a cash back discover card. Wicked good deal.