Samsung Galaxy Note 10 vs Galaxy S10+: main differences and new features

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 vs Galaxy S10+: main differences and new features
The new Galaxy Note 10 is finally official. As is tradition, every year when a new Galaxy Note device comes out, it’s inevitably compared to Samsung’s latest flagship from the Galaxy S line. And ever since we started getting an S “plus” version, that’s usually been the one that’s closest to the Note in terms of specs and features. This year, the Note line got it’s first “plus” model as well, but it is actually the regular Note 10 that’s closer to its Galaxy S cousin, the S10+. There are a number of important differences that are worth taking a look at, especially if you’re considering one of these two devices as your next daily driver.

1080p display on a Galaxy Note in 2019? Um, okay...

The Note 10’s display is only .1 of an inch smaller than the one on the S10+, which makes sense considering there’s an even bigger Note 10. The surprising thing is that the resolution on the Note 10 is only 1080x2280 pixels compared to the 1440x3040 of the S10+. I’m using the word “surprising” rather loosely here since we’ve known through leaks about it for quite a while now. That doesn’t change the fact that it’s an unusual decision from Samsung, although it’s one that makes sense in the context of this phone (you’ll find out why later).

We’re sure plenty of Note fans will say that 1080p is more than enough and even S10 devices are set to that resolution by default, so why even bother with more? Well, because it’s higher quality and you’re paying top dollar for a premium device. Note devices have had Quad HD resolution as far back as the Note 4 and that was on a much smaller, 5.7-inch display.

Resolution aside, the display on the Note 10 looks impressive with bezels even thinner than those of the S10+ and slightly less rounded corners for a more business-y look. Samsung has managed to push the screen-to-body ratio beyond 90% with the Note 10, which sits at about 91%. Of course, both displays are AMOLED, no compromises there, as expected. While we’re talking about the display, there’s another noticeable difference...

The migration of the selfie camera

The Galaxy S10+ is one of the most recognizable smartphones today thanks to its pill-shaped front-facing camera cutout. Not everyone was thrilled about that look, however, and for the Note 10, the hole returns to its usual circular shape and moves to the middle of the top of the display. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to the position of the camera, some prefer it in the corner, others like the symmetry that comes with the central location. Hardware-wise, both phones have identical selfie shooters, the Note 10 just loses the additional depth sensor you get with the S10+, but that’s not really a big drawback.
On the software side, the Note 10 comes with a feature called “AR doodle” which lets you draw on whatever the selfie camera is capturing and have the doodles stick to the subject you meant them for, like a mustache on your face or ears on your head. Something you’ll surely use often, especially during important meetings.

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Jokes aside, it’s time to get to the biggest difference between these two flagships:

The Note 10 has the handy S Pen

A Galaxy Note smartphone wouldn’t really be one without the S Pen, although some think that’s not necessarily the case. The S Pen is much more than your basic stylus, there are plenty of features that come with it and allow your Note device to do much more than a regular smartphone, from taking a quick note by writing on the display to snapping pictures by using the S Pen as a remote trigger. If you’re used to having the S Pen at your disposal from older Note models then there isn’t really anything the Galaxy S10+ can offer to compensate for missing it. For some users, however, the S Pen is a feature they use less and less frequently over time, which means it only takes up space within the phone without bringing any benefits. 

It’s really down to personal preferences to quantify the importance of the S Pen. And you should think about it carefully because it comes with a drawback...

A downgrade in the battery department is not what we like to see

Here’s how the inclusion of the S Pen has rippled through the design of the Galaxy Note 10 (our theory): the slot where it resides means there’s less space inside the body of the phone for other components, mainly the battery. The battery gets reduced which means shorter battery life. To counter that Samsung downgrades the display to a 1080p one so that there are fewer pixels to power.

If we have to talk numbers, the battery on the Note 10 is a 3,500mAh one, 600mAh smaller than the one on the Galaxy S10+, or in other words -- about 15% smaller. That’s not insignificant by any means and honestly, it’s kind of disappointing to see. The Note, after all, is meant to be the power user's trusty companion and it can’t really be that if there’s no juice left in it at the end of the day.

Of course, we’ll have to wait and see how the Note 10 will perform on our tests and during daily use, but right now we’re not very optimistic about the results.

Even faster charging

It’s not all doom and gloom, however. You’ll be able to top up that 3,500mAh battery in no time thanks to Samsung’s “Superfast Charge” which debuted with the Galaxy S10 5G. The S10+ doesn’t have support for that type of charging and can only take up to 15W of power compared to the 25W of the Superfast Charge. When it comes to wireless, it seems that only the Note 10+ is getting a speed upgrade as the smaller Note 10 will charge wirelessly at a maximum of 12W just like the S10+.

Double the base storage: yes, please!

Here’s another clear advantage for the Galaxy Note 10. It comes with 256GB of storage, double the amount that comes within the cheapest S10+. On top of that, the Note 10 is sporting the new and much faster UFS 3.0 type storage. This should positively affect almost every function of the device and make it feel quicker than the Galaxy S10+ in day-to-day use. There’s a good reason Samsung decided to give the Note a significant bump to the storage capacity and it’s because it also took something away...

Goodbye to Micro SD cards, you’re no longer welcome

Yep, the Micro SD card slot fell victim to the scissors in the hands of Samsung’s design team. Is it a cost-cutting measure or a space-saving measure? We don’t know. The SD card slot did make it to the Note 10+, which means that it’s not Samsung trying to phase it out altogether, at least not yet. If you’re the type of user that heavily relies on Micro SD cards then the Note 10 is probably not the device for you. The S10+ should serve you right, on the other hand, as long as you’re not clinging to the S Pen as well, in which case you’d have to spend a bit more for the bigger Note 10+. This loss might not be affecting you as much as what’s coming next, however...

The headphone jack is now a thing of the past as well

Note 10 and S10+ came out merely 6 months apart, but that was enough time for a major shift at Samsung. The company held onto the headphone jack longer than most of its competitors, but it seems like the time has come to let go. Now, it’s dongle time if you want to use your ancient wired headphones. Or, you know, you can get the Galaxy S10+ and forget about the need for easy-to-lose accessories. Let’s not forget that with the disappearance of the headphone jack you’re also using the ability to listen to FM radio, a handy feature if you want to save your mobile data or frequent places that lack good network coverage.


Surprisingly, this year it seems that the Galaxy S10+ and Note 10 exchange blows more evenly than before when the Note was the king of features. That makes the choice for consumers even harder. No matter which device they choose, they’re making at least some compromise. As usual, it’s up to the individual to decide which feature is worth how much for them before drawing the bottom line. This year there’s even more choice with the addition of the Note 10+ which seems to be the true heir of the Note line while standard Note 10 is here for those that want an S Pen without some of the bells and whistles the line is known for. For the exact differences, you can check our comparison between the Note 10 and the Note 10+. And if you're a Note 9 user wondering if it's worth switching to the Note 10+, we have that covered as well.

If we consider the Galaxy S10+’s price with deals that often slash a couple of hundred bucks off its MRSP, it’s quite a tempting offer if you’re looking to upgrade today. Either way, this year’s Samsung flagships are some of the best Android smartphones on the market, so you won’t be making a mistake.

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