This past week, Samsung unveiled the new Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10 Plus. These smartphones are some of the most stunning and advanced Android handsets that have ever come out, and they deserve all the press they’re getting.
I wanted to start this article with nothing but positivity. I like both the Note 10 and Note 10 Plus. During my hands-on time with the phones, I began to feel tempted to buy one of them. Honestly, I like both phones! But I can’t help but think there’s a deeper reason to why Samsung released two Note phones this year, not just one.
I’ll just say it up front: I think the smaller Note 10 is a marketing gimmick that completely dismisses the true meaning of owning a Note smartphone. And it’s all thanks to Samsungs obsession with image.
If you look at the history of the Galaxy Note, you’ll notice a few things. First things first, every Note is big. Really big. The Note line has always been the smartphone series where Samsung packs in the biggest phone screen it can. Not only does this distinguish the Note from Samsung’s other devices, but it also gives power users the room they need to get work done while on the go.
Secondly, Samsung’s Note series has been the phone line that includes everything but the kitchen sink. Back in the day, the devices even came with IR blasters and interchangeable batteries. That’s not to mention all the crazy software features of TouchWiz, Samsung’s old software skin, that were immediately in your face the moment you started up a new Note. Nowadays, you can actually form a list of features that are missing from the Note, all at the expense of making the experience a bit simpler and easier on the eyes.
Finally, there’s the price. There are no two ways about it, the Galaxy Note has always been Samsung’s most expensive smartphone. In the same breath, it also does the best job at justifying its price compared to other flagship smartphones. The sheer amount of capabilities you get with some of the best specs, software features, cameras, and battery life in the entire industry can be enough to convince buyers that the Note series is worth the premium price hike.
Because of these factors, when you see a phone named after Samsung’s “Note” brand, you automatically assume it includes top-shelf specs and top-shelf features. To me, the Note 10 Plus follows this montre perfectly. It has the biggest screen ever in a Galaxy Note, it has some of the best specs around, it has a ton of features, and it’s really expensive at $1,099. Mind you, no one has reviewed the phone just yet, but at least on paper, it seems that this phone is going to be worth paying the extra money thanks to the ROI Samsung provides.
But things get awkward quickly. In a vacuum, the Note 10 Plus makes perfect sense as the successor to last year’s Note 9. It’s bigger, it’s faster, the cameras are better, and it’s more expensive. But sometimes, it’s hard to market a new phone that costs more than its predecessor, regardless of how many positive reviews it receives. But so long as you figure out a way to claim the phone costs less than it actually does, you’re golden.
That’s what I feel the regular Note 10 is. Whereas the Note 10 Plus starts at $1,099, the Note 10 starts at just $949, $50 less than what the Note 9 started at and $150 less than the larger Plus-sized model. Because of this, Samsung can claim on television ads, web ads, and anywhere else they market the Note that it starts at $949, and compared to a $1,000 price point, that’s a really attractive number.
I’m not just angry at the price and the marketing tricks it grants Samsung. No, I’m angry at the fact that the smaller Note 10 doesn’t do enough to justify its price. $949 is still a lot of money and, my God, there’s no way I would pay that price for a smartphone of this caliber.
Let me break it down for you. The Note 10 Plus has a 6.8-inch Quad HD+ 3040×1440 Dynamic AMOLED display, while the Note 10 sticks with a 6.3-inch Full HD+ 2160×1080 Dynamic AMOLED display. That’s already a significant step down from what you’d expect from the latest Note. The smaller phone also comes with a 3,400mAh battery, while the larger Plus gets a 4,300mAh battery. Again, another gigantic step-down.
In the smaller Note, you’ll find 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. Nowadays, that’s pretty common. But when it comes to the Note 10 Plus’ 12GB of RAM and up to 512GB of storage, you’re back to standing out from the crowd.
This all goes without mentioning that the smaller Note 10 doesn’t come with a microSD card slot. Folks, I could not tell you why Samsung didn’t include this feature on a phone literally called a Galaxy Note. It makes zero sense.
Admittedly, the phone does come with the same software features and S Pen as the larger Note 10 Plus. But besides these two key factors, there’s really no reason to call this device a Note. It could very well be a revamped S10, both because of its specs and the fact that it should be priced around $800, not $949.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure the Note 10 is going to rule out to be a decent phone to use day to day. I’m not trying to contradict that in this article. What I am saying is it isn’t appropriate to call this phone a Note when it slacks in many of the areas that the Note 10 Plus holds strong.
The purpose of buying a Note has always been whether you wanted a big screen or not. If you want something smaller, Samsung has the Galaxy S series. And truth be told, at least on paper, the Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus seem to be just as good as the smaller Note 10, minus the S Pen.
Think about it. The S10 and S10 Plus both have Quad HD+ Dynamic AMOLED displays (6.1-inches and 6.4-inches, respectively), big batteries (3,400mAh and 4,100mAh, respectively), the same cameras as the Note 10 and Note 10 Plus, headphone jacks, microSD card slots, either 8 or 12GB of RAM, up to 512GB of storage, and the same processor. In certain areas, the Note 10 is worse than both S10 devices, and it costs more money.
If Samsung kept the same screen resolution and internal specs as the Note 10 Plus in the regular Note 10, I wouldn’t have to write this article. They could have legitimately claimed they made a smaller Note for people who don’t want that big a phone. But because of the various compromises that are made with this device along with the fact that it’s targeted at a crowd who likes more compact phones, I can’t help but think Samsung wanted to market its “most powerful smartphone series” as being cheaper than an iPhone, so it scraped together a few parts and called it the Note 10 with hopes to convince buyers that the Note 10 Plus is the phone you want.
Would I recommend the Note 10? I have no idea. I haven’t reviewed it yet. But I can tell you that what Samsung’s doing is shifty and a bit deceptive. I’m sure the Note 10 will wind up being a solid phone all around, but at the same time, it diminishes the true meaning of what a Note smartphone is. The worst part? It gives Samsung the opportunity to market the Note 10 as being well under $1,000, while the true Note 9 successor actually costs $1,099.
But hey, people like smaller phones, and if there’s a smaller “Note” phone, I’m sure it’s gonna sell like hotcakes.