Who exactly is the Galaxy Note 10 for?

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Who exactly is the Galaxy Note 10 for?
Samsung's next big thing is here and it's... spectacular. With a "Premium Hole" display that covers nearly 100 percent of an otherwise gigantic frame made from glass and stainless steel aluminum, razor-sharp corners, smoothly curved edges, razzle-dazzle colors, a rear-facing quad camera module with all kinds of neat tricks up its sleeve, massive fast charging battery, and a maximum of 12GB RAM paired with as much as 512GB internal storage, the Galaxy Note 10+ sets a new benchmark for Android excellence on almost every level. Oh, and for some reason, the stunning 6.8-incher also has a little brother. 

That's a first in the 8-year history of the Galaxy Note lineup, mind you, so Samsung must have had a good reason to change what was clearly not broken. Granted, the Note 9 reportedly didn't sell as well as its predecessor, but that's because the global smartphone market is struggling. In fact, given the rate at which sales declined this past year or so, the company's 2018 S Pen-wielding powerhouse was a pretty solid box-office performer.

While it's definitely way too early to know for sure how the Note 10 duo will do, analysts are not particularly optimistic, forecasting combined worldwide shipments of under 10 million units by the end of the year. Obviously, that doesn't sound terrible but it also wouldn't be great for two different Note 10 variants to sell roughly as well as a single Note 9 model. If this happens, it might be a case of brand dilution at work.

Although product diversity is generally considered a good thing in the Android landscape, being one of the founding principles of the market-leading ecosystem, sometimes less is more. Which brings me back to the "why" of the "regular" Note 10. As in, why does a 6.3-inch corner-cutting edition exist? Even more importantly, who is this thing for?

Is it for power users?

To answer this question, we first need to define the term that's thrown around so often but rarely explained. While it's hard to find a definition that will satisfy all people who consider themselves part of the club, the consensus seems to be that a "power user" is constantly in pursuit of the most advanced features and technologies available at any given time.

Now let's see exactly what the Note 10 lacks in comparison with the Note 10+. First, you have the microSD card slot. Granted, it's infuriating that Samsung decided to exclude such a basic feature from the lower-cost model, but let's say you can learn to live with 256 gigs of internal storage space and increasingly affordable cloud services. But while we're on the subject of storage, the lack of a 512GB Note 10 configuration is perhaps even harder to justify than the microSD exclusion. Worse still, you can only combine the 256GB digital hoarding room with 8GB RAM on the smaller Note 10.

Is 12 gigs of memory overkill? Maybe. Is the fourth camera on the back of the Note 10+ a game changer? Not yet, as 3D scanning and AR measurement apps still feel largely experimental and gimmicky. But when you take these seemingly minor tradeoffs into consideration altogether, it's hard to call the Note 10 a power user's dream phone.

Is it for fans of smaller screens?

Yup, it has come to this. It's 2019 and a handset with a 6.3-inch display is considered (by some people, at least) compact. And to think the original Galaxy Note seemed huge back in 2011 with a 5.3-inch screen in tow. Of course, the Note 10 comes with almost no bezel, thus measuring a crazy 11mm less than 2011's Galaxy Note in width while only gaining 4mm in overall height.

It's also true that One UI greatly improves one-handed usability compared to the TouchWiz interface of past Samsung flagships. But at the end of the day, if it's convenience you're most interested in, there are definitely better, smaller, and cheaper alternatives on the market. Like the Galaxy S10e. Sure, it doesn't look as cool as the Note 10, but it's 9mm shorter, 2mm narrower, and several hundred bucks more affordable.

Besides, that smaller screen is also paired with a much smaller battery than the one powering the Note 10+. We'll have to wait and conduct our in-depth tests before concluding what that means from an actual endurance standpoint, but based on our experience reviewing the Galaxy S10 and S10+, we expect a significant advantage in terms of battery life for the larger variant. Finally, the Note 10 supports slower charging speeds than its bigger brother, so even if you consider the 6.3-inch screen a key strength and selling point, there are just too many compromises to justify a $950 purchase.

Is Samsung trying to broaden the appeal of the Note family?

That's probably the most reasonable explanation for why the smaller, lower-end Note 10 exists, but I would argue that Samsung's biggest mistake here is not going broad enough. Remember the Galaxy Note 10e rumor? It died so fast, but I still find myself occasionally imagine a 5.8 or 6-inch Note 10 with a dual rear camera setup, reasonably large battery, both 6 and 8GB RAM options, and yes, even a side-mounted fingerprint scanner.


Sure, something like that would have cannibalized the sales of the Galaxy S10e, but with an S Pen and perhaps a dual-curved display, it might have had an easier mission standing on its own two feet than what Samsung ultimately chose to expand the Note lineup. Not to mention a Note 10e could have gone much lower in terms of recommended pricing than $950, truly opening up the stylus experience to the masses. Which brings us to what the Note 10 actually is. 

A Galaxy S10 with an S Pen

Yes, I know the design is different in a number of meaningful ways. And while I personally prefer the centered hole punch implementation, there are simply not enough upgrades or even refinements to help the Note 10 truly stand out from the 6.1-inch S10. Of course, the S Pen is a very important add-on for many people, and if you think about it, the Note 9 wasn't so much different from the S9+ either.

But the problem is the Note 10 takes its cues from a Galaxy S10 variant that wasn't ideally positioned either, sitting right below the S10+ powerhouse on the pricing totem pole with a number of significant compromises of its own. Still, if a stylus-wielding take on the inferior S10 model was precisely what you were looking for, you can go right ahead and cough up your 950 bucks... as long as you're comfortable turning your back on an S10 that's often so much cheaper.



1. oldskool50 unregistered

It's for whomever decides they want to pull the money out their pocket and buy it. You remember Blackberry? Well when they first released phones with physical keyboards, and it was designed to be a "pro" phone and appeal to businessmen; it was actually everyday consumers who bought the vast majority of them. Why? Because the phone made doing things they like most easier. Having a physical keyboard to type and email or text message, was much more appealing and easier than using the old T9 way of inputting alpha-numeric characters. If a person buys the Note and never uses the pen, so what if they do or not. Some people like the Note for other capabilities even if they could potentially do the same thing on a Galaxy S on some level. Having a Note brings a look of professionalism to you as a working person. No matter your field of work. When you pull out a Note, workign with another business will bring a level of sophistication to you as a person, it shows you want a device that helps you keep real track of your data, it makes you look a like a person they wnt to do business with vs if you pulled out some cheap phone with limited capabilities. It's like the car you drive, kinda tells people why kind of person you are. Because many people are very superficial int hat they look for outside ques to tell them if you are a person they wan to do business with. The Note is an impressive device. It's a businessman/women device for those who live that over a high degree of a need to be balance, yet sophisticated and to keep themselves organized. Ad yes you can do that on some level with any phone. But none will do it like the Note does.

3. mrochester

Posts: 1037; Member since: Aug 17, 2014

That sounds incredibly shallow to me, but probably true of most people buying these phones

8. matistight

Posts: 1023; Member since: May 13, 2009

People are dumb and easily persuaded into things. This is why there's so much competition out there, because there's lots of people that do little research before spending their hard earned money. Companies want to capitalize on it. I can see it now. "So should I buy the S10e, S10, S10 Plus, Note10 or Note10 Plus???" "Buy the Note10 Plus because it's the most expensive one, so it has to be the best."

20. sgodsell

Posts: 7574; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

"People are dumb and easily persuaded into things." Just look at the latest iPhones. The XR is a joke at Apple's asking price. The Note 10 is great if you don't mind having no SD card slot, and no depth sensor camera. But it still has reverse wireless charging for earbuds, under the screen fingerprint scanner, and a base storage of 256 GB for $950. The XS is $50 more and comes with only 64 GB of storage, and no fingerprint scanner what so ever.

21. Vancetastic

Posts: 1754; Member since: May 17, 2017

...and it's not even an Apple article. You really do sound obsessed.

33. mrochester

Posts: 1037; Member since: Aug 17, 2014

And the note 10 doesn’t come with iOS or any sort of faceid.

38. wildcat80

Posts: 7; Member since: Aug 02, 2012

I really like that the article lays out the differences between the two notes, but it misses the point when it points out the "deficiencies" of the smaller Note. If you compare it to the Pixel 3 XL with 128gb of memory and 4GB of ram it looks incredible. Even when you compare it to the upcoming Pixel 4 XL, it has a bigger and better screen, at least double the memory and 2GB more ram. Based on last year's pricing, the lower speced Pixel 4 XL will cost at least $50 more than the Note 10 and if you take the $600 trade in value for last year's phones, you can pick up a monster of a phone for $400, which should be a big upgrade for most users taking advantage of the trade in.

30. oldskool50 unregistered

Sound shallow? Like most of people who buy iPhone for status? Come on dude. Stop acting like what I said isnt true for millions of people

34. mrochester

Posts: 1037; Member since: Aug 17, 2014

I think you’d need to do a poll to find out why people buy iPhones.

2. oldskool50 unregistered

The Note is not an S with a pen. It's a galaxy with a Pen. Even though you technically can accomplish many tasks you do on the Note on the S, the Note has several features that have zero to do with the pen that exceed the capabilities of the S. If the Galaxy S is equal to your sibling, but the Note was your father; even though they have something in common; would you say your father is like your sibling just older? No you wouldn't.

18. AnTuTu

Posts: 1621; Member since: Oct 14, 2012

I have never said it but I want to say it now that Phonearena has the most annoying desktop website. Is this your way of getting rid off your users? Mind you I'v been following this site from past 7 years and this is getting really annoying.

4. LiveFaith

Posts: 493; Member since: Jul 04, 2015

The Note 10 is exactly what I and more than a few have been asking for in the past 4-5 years. Specifically, a SMALLER Note with S-pen. The Note series has pushed it's size to the boundary of usage for the average person and beyond. The 8 (which I own) and 9 are simply unwieldy to a lot of people's daily lives and usage. Bigger is NOT always better. The Note series is past the limit for many. The Note 10 is an excellent fix to the problem. I personally wanted a Note exactly the size of the S9. That phone is so very nice in size yet still yields good visibility on the display with the shrinking bezels. Fanboys want to whine and moan about the deficiencies of the 10 vs the 10+. But, from a pure marketing standpoint, I bet 90%+ of retail buyers could care less about the loss of SD & 45watt charge. Only a handful are gonna go out and spend $50+ on a 45w charger, even for the +. Only fanboys and spec freaks care about the 1080 display. A display which is absolutely gorgeous by all accounts. A display which saves plenty of battery usage. A display which nobody can even tell has less ppi than the +. Human eyes cannot differentiate between 400 & 500+ppi. Few will care about the 3500mah cell. Because battery life will turn out probably near identical to the + which is pushing nearly twice the wasted pixels and 50% more (basically meaningless) RAM. Now for fanboys who want to measure certain body parts as a contest ... all the above matters. For consumers who want a blazing fast and phenomenally functional device with the only quality pen solution available ... the Note 10 will be perfect. I'll eventually upgrade my Note8 to one and gladly have it slip all the way into my pocket finally.

7. Plutonium239

Posts: 1244; Member since: Mar 17, 2015

Actually the human eye can see to around 2000ppi at 4 inches.

24. LiveFaith

Posts: 493; Member since: Jul 04, 2015

Let me rephrase then. Nobody would have ever physically seen the difference in 1080v1440 OLED between the 10 and 10+. Both displays are spectacular. That's the lab test that matters.

28. Ichimoku

Posts: 178; Member since: Nov 18, 2018

basically the same 400ppi, maybe a little bit more on the 10+.

35. Plutonium239

Posts: 1244; Member since: Mar 17, 2015

Most people may not notice, however, I myself can notice the difference between both resolutions. People can see the differences, it's more a matter of whether or not they care about the difference. The difference is slight, yes but it is there, most consumers don't really care that much, however except unless they want to brag about the specs of their phone.

5. User123456789

Posts: 1150; Member since: Feb 22, 2019

For those that dont care about ToF nor QHD. And of course those that dont have NBA player's hands

23. LiveFaith

Posts: 493; Member since: Jul 04, 2015

The ToF is the only thing that the + has that disappoints me @ the smaller 10.

31. oldskool50 unregistered

The Note 10 is 6.3". The Note 9 is 6.4". That doesnt make much different. And if you have small hands, unless you get a Note 3 or older, they are all big phones. I seen plenty of females with small hands use the Note. It's a 2 handed phone regardless of your hand size. My wife has small hands. She loves and uses her phone more than I do. She can't out it down, she is addicted to it.

32. Gamas_K

Posts: 88; Member since: Nov 02, 2013

Note 10 body is a lot smaller than note 9, Note 10+ however have a near identical size with the note 9

6. jellmoo

Posts: 2660; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

I would have loved a Note 10e. Compact form factor, physical fps, no curved screen and the power of the S-Pen? Yes please.

9. ebilcake

Posts: 1231; Member since: Jul 16, 2016

People with low IQ's? I mean if you're buying a £1k phone that's only marginally better than last years note for twice the price then you have to be pretty damn stupid, right?

13. MsPooks

Posts: 235; Member since: Jul 08, 2019

$1100 =/= 2×$950 Do you have to be pretty damned stupid to know that?

14. ebilcake

Posts: 1231; Member since: Jul 16, 2016

Note 9 in the UK can be had for around £500, Note 10/+ starts at £900-£1199 It's impossible to justify this.

25. LiveFaith

Posts: 493; Member since: Jul 04, 2015

For me (and many many others), the 10 is radically better than the Note 10+, 9, 8, or 7. That manageable form factor is a big deal. The smaller size allows components to scale such as battery size and screen resolution. The 10s real world battery life will be in same realm as the 10+. Thanks to scaled down and unnecessary pixels and over the top 12gb of ram. With 256gb storage on board, it's getting pretty meaningless for SD, except for the few who swap cards a lot. Losing the ToF sensor sucks tho. The small 10 will smoke the older Notes in speed w better SoC and UFS3.0 and a near overkill of 8gb RAM itself. Losing the 3.5mm suck for a lot of folks, but a Y adapter ain't expensive. And the cameras and image SW is better than any Note before it. So no, unless your a tech fanboy who gets his/her security from a spec sheet, the smaller 10 is going to be a great device for a lot of people. It is unchallenged in all the world as a manageably sized phone with S-pen on board.

10. cmdacos

Posts: 4321; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

Checked out the Note lineup in a Samsung store on the weekend. The smaller 10 is actually quite nice and compact. Not for me personally as I am more of a traditional note user but if I was looking for the pen with a smaller format the regular note is a nice choice.

11. mel0524

Posts: 87; Member since: Mar 02, 2017

Samsung note 10 is for people that has a lot of money to burn and do not care to pay $1,XXX out of pocket lol

26. LiveFaith

Posts: 493; Member since: Jul 04, 2015

I got to get out there this week.

12. nikhil23

Posts: 499; Member since: Dec 07, 2016

for anyone who wants best camera (dxomark) or best display(displaymate) or best phone

17. chenski

Posts: 781; Member since: Mar 22, 2015

I want the best camera and best phone but I ain't buying the notes

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