A smartphone with a built-in stylus? A massive 5.3 inch screen? That’s the device that Samsung launched way back in 2011 as the Galaxy Note. Fast forward to 2019 and the ninth generation note is taking things to the next level.

In Brooklyn today, Samsung announced the Galaxy Note 10, and in a first for the model – a second variant called the Galaxy Note 10+.

As is obvious in the name, the “Plus” model is a larger device with a massive 6.8 inch screen – that compares to the 6.4 inch screen of the 2018 model Galaxy Note 9.

The “standard” Note 10 is smaller at 6.3 inches and there’s a very clear reason for this shift to a dual-device lineup: Growing the category.

Category growth is good for Samsung because they are the only company in the market, so by introducing a device that’s comparable in size to the Galaxy S10+ but with the “note” features like S-Pen they are enticing people up from the “S” range into the “Note” range, while making the Note 10+ the biggest Galaxy Phone (just 0.1 inches bigger than the Galaxy S10 5G) there’s a definite satisfaction for purist Note fans.

And they really are fans. Samsung know that 82% of Note customers believe owning the latest tech is important, and that most of them don’t work a 9-5 desk job – which is why the Note is aimed at on-the-go work efficiency.

How’s it look?

Design wise this is a stunner, a very new look for Galaxy, a design that still reminds me a touch of the Sony Xperia XZ Premium from a few years back – from the reflective backing to the overall form factor.

Turning the Note 10 on and you see a massive screen which is accentuated by it’s presence in the device – the Note 10+ has an impressive 94% screen to body ratio, and uses the S10 style “hole punch” or “Infinity O display” for the single front-facing camera.

The screen is AMOLED and capable fo HDR10+ which at this size is actually quite useful as it’s easily a movie viewing screen for those on the go.

While it comes in a range of colours globally, Australia’s hero colour will be Aura Glow – which frankly I can’t describe – it’s a pearl white, then it’s an orange, then it’s a purple because it changes in the light and looks stunning.

This will be paired with the Aura Black in our market.

Taking Notes

In all honesty, you’d hope that taking notes was the primary feature of the Note right? That’s it’s name after all – but as someone who’s suffered from the “I have rubbish handwriting so don’t want to use the S-Pen” every time I’ve tested the Note devices – the Note 10 could be a game changer.

Some nice tweaks allow you to adjust your handwriting after the fact – so once you’ve written a note you can highlight a handwritten word and change the colour of that text, or even the thickness of the pen stroke. Really nice.

But it’s the handwriting recognition that is most impressive. This Note 10 is capable of digitising your handwriting in just seconds.

I tested it.

It works.

And my hand writing is nothing to write home about. My year 3 teacher at Humpybong State School told my mum that my handwriting resembled a spider with ink on all eight legs crawling across the page. It hasn’t improved.

Once you choose to digitise the handwriting, you can export that text as a Word Document or a PDF – really damn cool.

The S-Pen

You can’t do all the writing without the included S-Pen which is the star feature of the Note devices as it’s the most unique aspect of the range.

Last year it was improved to a new level adding a low-energy Bluetooth connectivity so the S-Pen could be used as a controller for presentations and more.

On the Galaxy Note 10 and 10+ the S-Pen can be used to navigate apps too.

In the camera app you can use a swipe action up and down to switch from front to rear camera, or left and right action to switch between camera modes.

My first reaction was – ahh, yep, you can do that by swiping the screen. But now imagine the phone on a tripod and you’re doing a remote shutter. Now you can switch between modes and other functions not bad at all.

Desktop PC Connectivity – DeX

I’ve loved the idea of DeX from the get-go. Plug your phone into a dock and turn it into a PC. That evolved into just plug your phone into a screen and use it as a PC.

Now, you can plug your phone into a PC (or Mac) and DeX is an app or window within your standard desktop environment. This means using your Note 10 as an app within your Desktop – in a full desktop within desktop mode.

Copy and Paste between your PC and Phone, even take and make calls and messages on your PC.

While the Note 10 could certainly be your computer, this DeX integration with existing PCs is the ideal way to take advantage of the content on your Note 10 within your normal workflow.

Camera & Video

There’s a triple lens camera on both Note 10’s, while the Note 10+ gets an additional Time of Flight sensor/lens for the best performance in depth effects.

But the features coming to Note 10 cameras are available on both devices.

They include Live Focus mode in Video (giving you that background blur effect on videos not just photos), the ability to “Zoom” audio too – which means audio will more closely represent the picture when you’re zooming in for video recordings.

Image stabilisation is available in videos too with “Action Video” adding a super-steady flow to your high action videos, and for video users there’s one critical and brilliant addition – Edit Video.

Something Apple has done very well for a very Long time, is finally built-into a powerful Android device.

Add clips, change transitions, trim clips and export videos as movies. Easy done – and if you need something more advanced, Adobe Rush is also available on Galaxy Note 10 as an additional download.

Augmented Reality Video “Doodles”

Every new phone launch has a fancy fun feature. From AR Emoji’s to Memojis, there have been plenty over the years.

The Galaxy Note 10 introduces “AR Doodle”. On the screen of the Note 10 in Video Mode you can use the S-Pen to draw on the screen. Whatever you draw appears and stays on screen in Augmented Reality brilliance.

Draw a beard, or draw a crown on someone’s head – and when they move around, the crown or beard stay stuck to their head.

Works really well – and is a lot of fun!

Quiet Courage

Shhh… They won’t make a big deal about it – but there’s no headphone jack. Yep, Bluetooth baby – and in the box is a USB-C to 3.5mm adaptor. Relax.

Under the hood

The note 10 has a 3500mAh battery, while the Note 10+ packs a 4300mAh battery. That’s mega.

And you can power a full day of usage in 30 minutes with a whopping 45Watt fast-charging.

Fingerprint biometrics is under the screen, while both devices are IP68 rated.

Note 10 will come with 8GB RAM and 256GB storage, while the Note 10+ packs 12GB RAM with 256 or 512GB storage.

Tell ’em the price

Aussie pricing has the Note 10 starting at $1,499, while the 256GB Note 10+ is $1,699 and the 512GB variant of the Note 10+ which is also 5G enabled will set you back $1,999.

As always with the big devices, Samsung has a pre-order incentive too.

If you pre-order the Galaxy Note 10, Note 10+ or Note 10+ 5G from participating retailers you will receive a bonus pair of AKG Wireless Headphones (N700NCM2) valued at RRP$499 (our full review soon : Spoiler – awesome). 

Pre orders start today and both devices go on sale 23rd August.

Trevor Long travelled to New York as a guest of Samsung Australia – for full details of our commercial disclosures, click here.