Test Drive Gadget Reviews with Bill and Phil

Galaxy Note 10 Plus: A Phabulously Smart Phablet

Extra-large smartphones, dubbed phablets, have gone in and out of favor over the past several years ever since Samsung debuted its 5.3-inch (huge for that time) Galaxy Note device in 2012. Back then, we were incredulous. Who would carry such a monster phone, much less use it? Little did we know that the 5.3-inch form factor would be smallish by today’s standards.

Bill & Phil

Since then, many phone makers have jumped on the phablet bandwagon. Even Apple now carries a 6.5-inch phablet known as the iPhone 11 Pro Max (the “Max” means it’s big). But nobody does a phablet like the original phablet-maker, Samsung. So we were tingling with anticipation as Samsung recently unwrapped its latest creation, the Galaxy Note 10 Plus (the “Plus” means it’s huge). The Note 10 Plus breaks the size record, coming in at 6.8 inches. We are on the Galaxy renewal program, so we readily traded in our Galaxy S9 for this new monstrosity. And we’ve been incredibly impressed — not just because of the size, but because of everything else in this phone.

We really love the 6.8-inch edge-to-edge infinity screen. Maybe it’s because of our aging eyes, but we find the larger screen much more accommodating as we compose, browse, text and read content on our phone. We also love that Samsung has moved the fingerprint reader — used to unlock the screen as well as to log in to many of our apps — to the front of the device, which is not only more convenient but also but keeps us from accidentally smudging the camera lens on the back of the phone.

Like the latest iPhone and Galaxy S models, the Note 10 Plus has three rear cameras: a main camera, a telephoto lens and an ultra-wide lens camera. Extra options for photos and videos, like live focus and steady mode, help us appear to know how to take professional photos and videos even though we have no clue about photography. The live mic feature, which allows you to zoom in on an audio source as you zoom the video camera, is quite nice. We have experimented somewhat with the cameras and all the various settings, and we are impressed with the photos we have been able to create. However, we still have not found a setting to make us look as cool as we think we should look.

With this app installed, you can link the smartphone to your Windows PC. With the app linked, you can access content from your phone directly on your PC. 

Of course, the Note still has its signature S Pen, which has been redesigned from previous models but is still a very convenient way to take notes on the phone. New air gestures allow you to use the S Pen for browsing photos or skipping to the next audio track. Despite all the new cool features, we still use it mostly for jotting down handwritten notes on our phone using our favorite note-taking app, OneNote. The S Pen is one unique feature of the Note family of devices that really sets them apart.

We especially love the new app called “Your Phone” that works in tandem with the Note 10 Plus. With this app installed, you can link the smartphone to your Windows PC. With the app linked, you can access content from your phone, such as text messages and photos, directly on your PC and get notifications from your phone on your PC. This linkage with Microsoft Windows is incredibly convenient, allowing you to work continuously on your PC in the office and still respond to notifications and texts from your phone without having to pick it up.

Of course, the battery life is improved on the Note 10 Plus, and the recharging time is incredibly speedy. We have not even begun to run out of battery in a normal workday. Samsung has even added the ability to charge other accessories (like a Galaxy smartwatch or earbuds) just by touching them to the Note 10 Plus.

Now, the significant downside to the Note 10 Plus is the hefty price. It starts out at a little over $1,000 if you purchase it outright. Carriers, of course, offer incentives to ease the pain somewhat. However, there is no doubt that the Galaxy Note 10 Plus is a premium phone for power users.

If you just need a smartphone to get by, there are certainly better, more economical options for you. But if you are like us and want a smartphone that is a contender for the top phone in the market, we think the Note 10 Plus is a solid competitor.