FIRST IMPRESSIONS | Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and 10 Plus smartphones

Samsung has just lifted the curtains on the latest members of their Note series — the Samsung Note 10 and 10 Plus. The new smartphones bring in new S-Pen features, a powerful set of camera modules, the largest phone display to date, and more connectivity options with a PC or Mac through Samsung DeX.

With more and more flagship contenders offering powerful internals, pro-grade lenses, and motorized mechanisms, Samsung has upped the ante to break away from the competition. The Note 10 features three different aspects that make it unique in 2019: size, desktop experience support, and the S-Pen.

The vanilla Galaxy Note 10 is a device from the Note series that is sized like a phone from the S-series, specifically, the S10. With the Plus version having a 6.8-inch dynamic Amoled display, compared to the Note 10’s 6.3-inch one, the Galaxy Note 10 has the power of a Note device but in a smaller form factor.

The display on the Note 10 is already in HDR10+ and can handle up to 16 million colors and has a resolution of 1080×2280, resulting in 19:9 aspect ratio. Under the display is an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor that is responsive and only recognizes 3D surfaces.

Both devices are compact, feature a steel frame sandwiched by Gorilla glass, and have a premium feel in the hand. Although it remains to be a magnet for fingerprints, especially the Aura Glow variant, the large-screen device is not bulky at all.

Multitasking and cross-platform data transfer, meanwhile, is addressed by Samsung DeX. With a simple USB cable, PC and Mac to phone and vise-versa transfer of photos and other files is made easy. Users can even take photos on their connected phone and it immediately reflects on the desktop in real-time.

Although the feature is only currently available in the Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10 Plus, Samsung is marketing the Samsung DeX as the amalgam of work and play. In the PC or Mac area, users will need to download the app and operate on Windows versions 7 and 10, as well as Mac OS 10.13 and up.

The familiar presence of the S-Pen brings in a new set of features that, although hardware-wise does not introduce much, makes the experience and convenience an improvement. At 3.04 grams, the stylus still has its predecessor’s Bluetooth Low Energy technology and a battery-acting capacitor but has added remote capabilities which make it seem more of a software-powered upgrade.

With a simple flick to six directions: up, down, left, right, clockwise, and counter clockwise, the user can pre-program the S-Pen to control apps like the camera, gallery, and others. By gesturing to the right, for example, users can shift from photo-taking to video-taking mode; flicking clockwise can activate the zoom-in feature. This was enabled by Samsung through a gyroscope and an accelerometer in the module.

For the Galaxy Note 10, there is a triple rear camera setup: the main lens, telephoto, and an ultra-wide one. The main camera is a 12MP f/1.5-2.4 lens with Dual Pixel Phase Detection Autofocus (PDAF) to capture action shots better. This feature is aided by the presence of Dual Optical Image Stabilization (OIS).

The upgrades in the camera include the presence of three microphones on the device, which enable the Audio Zoom feature that creates louder and clearer sounds when zooming in during video recording.

The AR doodle is also an eye-catcher since it lets users customize the stickers they use by simply drawing it with the S-Pen.

At the front side is a single 10MP selfie camera with Dual Pixel PDAF and an Auto-HDR feature. The omission of the Bixby button can easily be observed. The battery is a non-removable 3500 mAh capable of fast charging at 25W and can accommodate Reverse Wireless Charging.

Meanwhile, the Plus version has an additional rear lens making it a quad-camera setup, the addition being a Time of Flight (TOF) 3D VGA camera that enables better bokeh effects.

The device also has a larger 4300 mAh battery with fast charging capability at 45W. Just like Apple’s iPhone, Samsung has omitted the 3.5mm headphone jack in the new Note phones, but have NFC support and Type-C ports.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 with 256GB of ROM is priced at P53,990 while the Plus version with two storage options — 256GB and 512GB — retails at P60,990 and P72,990 respectively.

The Galaxy Note 10 Plus has three color options, Aura Glow, Aura White, and Aura black. The Galaxy Note 10, meanwhile, will be available in Aura Glow and Aura Black. Pre-orders are already available until Aug. 18 and will come with exclusive freebies like a Samsung Smart TV, free storage upgrade, and Galaxy Buds.

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