Great battery life and a wide mix of features including a stylus for writing on the display make it a top handset.

Todd R. Weiss

December 20, 2019

7 Min Read
Samsung Note10+

In early 2016, HP unveiled its then-innovative smartphone, the HP Elite X3, which the company touted as essentially a computer in your hand that could be connected to a Windows PC and used as a true business work environment.

I was so excited about the possibilities of the smartphone that I gushed about it for eWEEK. “The HP Elite x3 could be the smartphone of my dreams because it could actually, possibly, potentially be the first handset I can buy to serve as not only a phone but as a PC, enabling me to do my work anywhere,” I wrote.

Not long after, I was disappointed when the Elite XP3, which was a Windows phone, lost support when Microsoft dropped its Windows phone initiative. I was back to square one after using a series of perfectly competent phones, mostly from Samsung. The phones were fine, but none allowed you to do your work in sync with your laptop or desktop PC.

Then earlier this year I saw Samsung’s latest stylus-equipped Galaxy Note10+ phone and its two sisters, the smaller 6.3-inch standard Note10 and the 6.8-inch Note10+ 5G, and I got those desktop-in-your-hand dreams all over again. The Galaxy Note10 family is impressive.

I’ve been using a Samsung Note10+ handset for the last several months and have found it to be a capable phone and business tool in most ways, though it does have some shortcomings as well.

The Positives

From the start of my review, I absolutely loved the large, bright 6.8-inch quad HD Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O display (3040 x 1440 resolution, 498ppi) and its edge-to-edge screen layout. It is clear, distinctive and works well in all kinds of lighting situations.

I also love one of the Note family’s greatest features since it was launched in 2011 – the built-in removable S-Pen stylus which lets users “write” on the display and capture their work for use in documents, emails and more. Today’s S-Pen stylus has gained even more features and capabilities, including easier ways to use it to capture and create unique content. The flexibility and creativity it offers to users is game-changing, especially when you realize that it’s not just a fad. but is a real business tool you can carry with you all the time. I at first thought it was just for show, but its true value became more evident as I used it to make notes and then sent them to myself via email. It was that computer-in-your-hand idea again.

The Note10+ has superfast charging and the longest battery life of any smartphone I have used since the genre began officially in 2007 with the first Apple iPhone. I can use the phone all day and still have 60% of its battery life remaining by late evening, or I can use it more heavily for things like GPS and Google Maps and still have 20% life left without recharging during the day. With its 4,300mAh battery, that is…

… very impressive, and no other phone I have used in the last 10 years has given me that kind of battery performance. I even stopped carrying a battery backup charger pack on business trips when using the Note10+.

This phone is also well engineered, from software to hardware. No more do I have annoying smartphone lockups that require soft restarts to get the phone to react to inputs like the ones I have experienced on many other devices. That’s very much appreciated.

The Note10+ has four main cameras compared to the previous Note9 model. Included are a 16-megapixel camera with an ultra-wide F2.2 lens, a 12-MP camera with an autofocus ultra-wide angle lens, a 12MP camera with a telephoto lens and a VGA DepthVision camera that can help map rooms for planning layouts and other activities. Also included is a 10MP front camera. The cameras are mostly good, but I still can’t get a Samsung Galaxy smartphone camera to capture great, properly lighted images at concerts where the stage is far from me in a dim venue. My old iPhone 4S captured incredible images at concerts that I still can’t replicate with any other brand of modern smartphone, and that frustrates me.

Also appreciated is the Samsung DeX feature, which uses software to allow the user to connect the Note10+ to their laptop and desktop PC via a USB cable and get real work completed or easily transferred from one to the other. It takes some time to discover and learn all of its capabilities, but it does advance the idea of using a smartphone as part of your work device arsenal on a regular basis.

The phone now has standard built-in professional video capabilities if you need to do some video work on the road and all you have is your phone. This can be handy for road warriors and put a great and useful tool into their hands in a pinch.

The Shortcomings

The Note10+ is noticeably heavier than other smartphones, which is expected because it is larger and carries a larger battery as well. Hey, you can’t have everything, and the weight penalty is a trade-off one must make to have a huge display and all-day battery life. I do, however, worry about the weight when I hold my Note10+ over my face to read it while reclining. I always think about how it would hurt me or knock out a tooth if I dropped it on myself.  So, be sure to use care when handling your Note10+ when reclining. Or don’t worry about things as much as I apparently do.

The handset incorporates a Corning Gorilla Glass 6 display cover for durability, but my phone quickly developed what looks like two small delaminated “bubbles” on the front display. The screen also seems to scratch easily, causing crazing and hazing marks, which are most visible when the display is in sleep mode. When lit up, I can still see the “bubbles,” but the screen has no…

…other discolorations. Because you can’t use a traditional flat screen protector on the Note10+ due to the curved edges on the display, I haven’t found a way to protect it better. There are brush-on products which supposedly dry to a hard, durable surface when spread across the display, but I didn’t want to try them due to their permanence in case I didn’t like it.

I also tried out a UAG brand Monarch Series protective case for the Note10+, which I have found to add a good degree of protection to the expensive and slippery handset. But using the case does make it more critical to position the phone just so on your ear to be able to hear calls adequately. For some reason, I find the Note10+ harder to hear on than past smartphones I have used.

I also had trouble sometimes connecting to Wi-Fi networks when flying for work. I always fly United and I often have to ask if the Wi-Fi network is working because the Note10+ will not find the network. Other passengers and crew members don’t always experience the same problem, so I am left to wonder if it is the antenna in the device. United’s Wi-Fi is unreliable enough much of the time, but when I want to use it, it would be nice if my phone cooperated.

The lack of a standard 3.5 mm headphone jack is annoying, but Samsung does include a pair of earbuds with the proper USB-C connector for the phone. The problem is, it uses the charging port, so you can either charge or use the earbuds, but not both at the same time. Again, that is a trade-off. Of course, with such great battery life, you won’t need to charge it as much. This is still a notable conundrum to consider when shopping for a smartphone.

Overall Impressions

Priced at about $1,100, this is not an inexpensive smartphone, but neither are most other premium devices. But the Samsung Galaxy Note10+ fulfills many needs for business users, from ultra-long battery life to powerful features that deliver business benefits, especially on the road.

The Note10+ may not literally be a computer in your pocket yet, but it continues to drive that goal forward in a reliable, quality product that offers good value and delivers on many of the most critical needs of business users.

I really like this phone and find it to be the best smartphone I have used so far. And that’s saying something after testing a wide range of devices for IT publications over the last 19 years.

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About the Author(s)

Todd R. Weiss

Todd R. Weiss is an award-winning technology journalist who covers open source and Linux, cloud service providers, cloud computing, virtualization, containers and microservices, mobile devices, security, enterprise applications, enterprise IT, software development and QA, IoT and more. He has worked previously as a staff writer for Computerworld and, covering a wide variety of IT beats. He spends his spare time working on a book about an unheralded member of the 1957 Milwaukee Braves, watching classic Humphrey Bogart movies and collecting toy taxis from around the world.

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