When it comes to high-end smartphones, Apple’s biggest rival is Samsung, which recently introduced two new so-called flagship phones. The Galaxy S10 and S10
Plus came out late June starting at about $900, and last week, Samsung and its carrier partners started shipping the new Galaxy Note 10 Plus, starting at $1,099.
The price is almost as astronomical as the Galaxy Plus’s 6.8-inch screen, but it’s in line with what Apple charges for its high-end phones. And, like many things we buy, you can probably get it for less.
AT&T loaned me a Note S10 Plus along with a trial account, but I plugged in the SIM card from my old phone to use the AT&T account I pay for. That way I could fully test this phone as if it were my own, taking and making calls and responding to text messages as well as all the other tasks one does with a smartphone.
Although a case could be made for the Galaxy Note 10 as a consumer device, it’s mostly a business phone, even capable of being used as a desktop computer thanks to its DEX integration with Windows and Mac PC that lets you use a USB cable to connect your phone or your PC and use your PC’s keyboard, mouse and monitor with the phone.
At first glance, Dex sounds silly. Why would you want to use your PC to access your phone, when you have access to all the Windows or Mac apps you can run on your PC? But there are some apps, such as Instagram, that are only available on phones, and there may be times you want the bigger screen and keyboard. Also, you may be using your phone for work – perhaps using Outlook or Microsoft Word for Android – and simply want to continue where you left off when you get to the office without having to sync your devices. But if you do want to sync, there are tools for that, too.
Another business tool – which some consumers will appreciate – is the stylus that comes with the Note that lets you draw or write directly on the screen. The Note 10 adds handwriting recognition so you can take notes on the phone’s screen and have them transcribed into actual text that you can include in documents or emails. I was able to get this to work, but in my case, it wasn’t a great experience. My handwriting is already bad – even when I’m at a desk with pen and paper. For me, writing on a phone screen was even more illegible, leading to lots of transcription errors. Still, when I slowed way down, I was able to write so that the app could read it, but I’d much rather type than write.
I did find the stylus useful when I had to sign a document and found it kind of useful as a pointing device. As soon as you remove the stylus from its slot, the phone starts to respond – even if you’re not touching the screen.
As I mentioned, the screen on the 10 Plus is huge (a less expensive Note 10 with a smaller 6.3-inch screen is coming soon) but it’s also a beautiful screen. Photos just pop and text is crystal clear.
To me, battery life is the most important spec of any phone, and the large 4,300 mAh battery kept this phone going and going, like the Energizer bunny. I could actually get through a full day without a recharge, which is more than I can say for my Android Pixel 3.
Normally I don’t pay a lot of attention to phone processors – just about all modern phones are pretty fast. But I did notice snappier performance from the Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 CPU and the phone’s 12 GB of internal memory (not to be confused with the standard 256 GB of storage that comes standard). And if that 256 GB isn’t enough storage, you can order a model with 512 GB of storage or add a MicroSD card for even more storage. The phone is also water resistant, although I wouldn’t recommend swimming with it.
But what I mostly noticed about the phone was its edge-to-edge screen. This phone is all glass, and even though some reviewers are salivating about its amazing glass back that changes colors depending on how the light hits it, the first accessory I bought for this phone is a rubber case so it’s less likely to shatter if I drop it. Frankly, I think a case is a must for every smartphone, which is why I never pay attention to how great the case looks from the back because you’ll never see the back once it’s in the case.
Even though Samsung once made fun of Apple for abandoning the headphone jack, Samsung followed suit. The phone’s bundled earbuds plug into its USB C port, and if you want to use headphones, they better be USB or wireless Bluetooth, although you can get a dongle that inconveniently lets you plug headphones into the USB port.
Despite my delight with this new phone, I’m not recommending that everyone rush out and buy one. First, there’s the price. There are excellent phones on the market for a lot less. Second is the fact that you probably don’t need a new phone, unless yours is starting to get really old. Also, most people don’t need a phone this big and most people don’t need a stylus. Still, I love watching video on this large screen and do find it easier to type when there is a bigger on-screen keyboard.
The other reason to hold off is because we’re entering the season for other new phones. Apple is almost certain to announce the iPhone 11 on September 10, followed by Google’s Pixel 4. But, if you are ready for a new phone, are willing to shell out a fair amount of money and love the idea of phone with a big and beautiful screen, the Galaxy Note 10 Plus is worth a look.
Larry Magid is a tech journalist and internet safety activist.
Published at Fri, 30 Aug 2019 10:00:25 +0000