Samsung Galaxy Note10+ review
Samsung's One UI on top of Android 9.0 Pie
As usual, the Galaxy Note-series run on Samsung's custom skin on top of Android OS 9.0. This time around, the Note10+ comes with the company's One UI that was introduced with the Galaxy S10-series. The new UI focuses on the one-handed operation and simplifies the whole user experience although, simplifying Samsung's feature-packed software is a really tough job.
The one-handed use, however, is significantly improved with the One UI, especially in a tall aspect ratio like this one - you can swipe down in almost every menu and the UI elements will often drop down to the bottom half of the display for easier reaching. The same goes for the notification shade - swiping twice will bring the quick toggles within thumb's reach. Still, some UI items require you to stretch your thumb to the top of the screen which is less than ideal so there is still room for improvement.
Feature-wise, the Note10+ isn't all that different from the S10+, except for the S-Pen, of course. We will try to cover the most interesting and perhaps useful functions but keep in mind, the One UI software offers plenty of customizations and it's impossible to go through everything.
Since the screen is one of the centerpiece features of all flagship Galaxy phones, One UI offers plenty of features to play around with. You will find Blue light filter, Night mode (relatively new feature to Galaxy phones), screen calibration, screen resolution adjustment (you can go as low as 720p and as high as 1440p) and Edge screen. The latter is a well-known long-standing feature that gives you quick access to apps, actions, tools, etc. with a single swipe from the edge of the screen. In the Edge screen sub-menu, you will also find Edge lighting - it lights up the edge of the screen for notifications and as you've probably guessed, there are tons of options and styles to choose from.
Interestingly, the Always-on display isn't in the Display sub-menu. Samsung tucked it away in the Lock screen menu. There are different styles and behaviors to play around with. We are happy to see Samsung introducing the tap-to-wake option - a single tap on the screen shows the clock and notifications but more importantly, lights up the fingerprint area. Samsung must have added it as an option somewhere along the way because it was previously unavailable to the S10 lineup. Still, it takes too much time to light it up - once you touch the screen, it usually takes between one to two seconds for the fingerprint area to show up on the screen.
It's especially useful when the phone is lying on your desk and you either need to check for notifications or you want to unlock the phone without guessing where exactly the fingerprint is. Since the scanner is pretty small and takes a small surface of the screen, you need to be pretty accurate when placing your finger.
And while we are on the subject, let's discuss the fingerprint reader performance. It's fast and reliable (kind of). We got more false readings than we would like to but it does read pretty snappy.
One complaint we have is that the unlock animation takes a little more time than it should and serves as a bottleneck.
The lift to wake function, especially when lifting it off the table as opposed to out of a pocket, doesn't work very reliably so there are a lot of times when you have to guess where the fingerprint is. After using the phone for a while, you start to get used to the positioning and no visual hints are needed anymore. The overall placement of the fingerprint is quite convenient as well - it's easy to reach and comes naturally from the get-go.
As an alternative to the fingerprint, the phone also supports face unlock. It's quite fast and consistent but it's not as secure as on the Mate 20 Pro or the iPhone, for example. It uses only the front-facing camera and software to read your face. And if you are a privacy freak, there's an option in the Fingerprint settings menu just for you. You can turn off the Faster recognition toggle - you will be trading better security with more readings for speed with less readings.
Moving over to the Device care section, we find information and preferences about the battery, storage, memory and security. You are greeted with a big Optimize button that clears background apps and scans for suspicious behavior. The three dots menu in the upper right corner reveals several other options like Auto optimization. You can set a schedule and the phone will run the optimization process automatically. There's also an App issue history sub-menu that helps you keep track of the problematic apps.
Tapping on the Battery icon will take you to the familiar battery menu where you can see what drains the battery the most - apps, screen, other hardware, etc. There are also a couple of power modes - High performance, Optimized, Medium power-saving and Maximum power saving. The names of the modes are pretty self-explanatory. And if you don't want to be bothered with switching power modes back and forth, just toggle the Adaptive power-saving feature and let the system decide which power mode is the best depending on your usage patterns. We assume it will turn on High performance while you are playing games and switch it back to one of the other more efficient modes to save up some juice, especially when the battery is low.
The three-dot icon in the upper-right corner of the screen will take you deeper into the battery customization options. There's the app power management and automatic optimization when you aren't using the phone as much. As usual, Samsung has provided the option to opt-out of the fast charging feature. It's set to on by default but if you don't need fast charging, you can turn it off.
Since the dedicated Bixby button is gone, the power key takes over here. The good news is that you can assign the double press to launch the camera or open an app while the "press and hold" are limited to waking Bixby and powering off the device. Some advanced syncing options with your Windows PC and other Galaxy devices are in tow.
If you are not a fan of the One UI animations, you can cut off some of them and potentially speed up the navigation through menus. Screen recorder and screenshot settings are available as well. And we suggest taking the time to get familiar with all the motions and gestures available. The palm swipe to capture a screenshot is a fun gesture in case you find the standard volume key + power button combination harder to execute now that the keys are on the same side.
If you are familiar with the S Pen from previous Notes, you'd find it easy to use it. As always, there are a couple of new features that come with the new Note. The first that spring to mind are the new camera gestures - we talk about them in detail in our camera section of the review. Playing around a bit more with Samsung's Notes, we see a battery status of the S-Pen popping up in the upper-right corner of the screen as well as the so-called AR doodle. What it does, it uses the 3D ToF sensor to pick up a face and then you can start drawing on top. The software then keeps track of the subject's face even when it exits the frame and returns back. It's a fun feature to play around with but not necessarily a useful one.
The hand-written text recognition, however, is something to behold. Samsung specifically boasted about the new algorithm recognition and we can see why. Even someone with not the best hand-writing skills, the software is able to pick it up quite accurately - Capitalization, color, everything. It's also easier to access, not like in the Note9 where you'd have to dig a bit deeper to summon it.
A new Write on calendar feature has made an appearance but we couldn't find the proper way to use it. It does exactly what the name says - you write on top of the calendar and that's pretty much it.
With everything else out of the way, let's address the elephant in the room - the screen hole. In some way, the centered punch-hole is better than the off-centered solution on the Galaxy S10 family since it doesn't get in the way of the usual location for the status icons. However, it does get in the way when watching full-screen videos. To be honest, we don't see the centered hole as a better alternative to minimalist notches. Maybe from an aesthetic point of view but not from a usability standpoint. So when watching content or playing games, the off-centered hole might be a better solution but as general usability, the Note10+'s small hole doesn't get in the way and it's really hard to notice from day to day use. To Samsung's credit, the engineers did a pretty good job trimming the circle around.
- Abdelrahman UAE
The phone is still working well except the battery 🔋 After two years of using, now I can charge the phone for three times per day.
- 11 Jan 2022
My Galaxy note 10+ has a chronic problem of loosing network. It started 1 year after buying the phone. It was repaired by an approved samsung care repair center. Few times after repair, the problem came again. This is the 4th time I'm experienc...
- 05 Jan 2022
Mine is still android 12
- 27 Dec 2021