Galaxy Note 10 Plus: So far I'm undecided and here's why

A few thoughts after using the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus for 24 hours.
Written by Jason Cipriani, Contributing Writer

Samsung recently announced a trio of Note 10 devices. There's a Note 10, Note 10 Plus, and a Note 10 Plus 5G. The three devices are currently available for preorder, with retail availability starting Aug. 23.

Also: You can win* a Samsung's Galaxy Note 10 Plus

On Thursday, a Note 10 Plus arrived at my door for testing. After reading Matthew Miller's first impressions of the Note 10 last week, I was excited to give Samsung's newest phone a try.

I've only had the phone for 24 hours, so what you'll find below are my initial impressions and thoughts about the Note 10 Plus.

I'm smitten with...

The Note 10 Plus has a lot to like: A big battery, reverse wireless charging, the S Pen, and impressive camera tech -- but there are a few other things I really liked about the Note 10 Plus after a day with it.

The front camera on the Note 10 Plus has a fancy lighting effect whenever you activate it. 

Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

The display

The Note 10 Plus has a 6.8-inch display with a centered hole-punch cutout for the front-facing camera. It spans nearly edge to edge, with almost no bezels.

Colors are bright, vivid, and saturation is spot-on for my liking. I don't put much weight in DisplayMate rankings, but for those who care, the Note 10's display was awarded 13 performance records.

The fingerprint sensor

The Note 10 Plus has the same ultrasonic fingerprint sensor under the display as the Galaxy S10 Plus. I didn't have any issues with it on the S10 Plus, but it does seem like it's faster and more reliable on the Note 10 Plus.

I recently argued with ZDNet's Jason Perlow about whether Face ID is better than Touch ID on the iPhone, but if Apple were to bring back a fingerprint sensor on the iPhone -- I'd be OK with it being under the display.

25W charging included

Hey, Apple. You awake over there? Samsung includes a 25W charger in each and every Note 10 box. Your 5W iPhone charger, at this point, has to be a joke. Right?

I need more time to test just how fast the Note 10 Plus charges are, and I need to find a 45W charger that will work with it, but seriously, a 25W charger -- USB-C to USB-C, no less -- in the box should be the standard across all smartphones.

Also: Galaxy Note 10, Note 10 Plus, and Note 10 Plus 5G: What you need to know 

I'm not sure about...

I need a lot more time with the Note 10 Plus before I can give a full verdict, but after a short 24 hours, here are a few things I'm not all that sure about yet.

Air Actions

You can now use the S Pen to control the Note 10 using Air Actions. To use Air Actions, you hold in the button on the S Pen and gesture in a direction to complete a different action. For example, with the camera app open, you can switch between the front and back camera by gesturing up or down with the S Pen.

I haven't quite got the hang of it yet. Sometimes I can get it to switch between modes or cameras; other times, I take countless photos without realizing it since the S Pen's button also acts as a shutter release.

Moving the power button

I have a few phones on my desk right now, and every single one of them has the power button on the right side of the phone. Not the Note 10. Instead, the right side of the phone is void of any buttons at all. Just below the volume up and down rocker on the left side is where you'll find the power button that also doubles as a shortcut button to launch Bixby. Thankfully, you can change what it launches fairly easily in settings.

Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

All the fingerprints

The Note 10's Aura Glow color is reflective, fun to look at, and a welcomed break from black, gold, or silver phones. However, it's a fingerprint magnet.

Also: Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus first look

What I still need to try...

With the launch of the Note 10 Plus still a week away, there's one key feature that's not available yet:

The 3D camera

Right now, the 3D camera isn't active in the Note 10 Plus I received. Samsung has said it will be turned on closer to launch, so within the next week.

Stay tuned for Matthew Miller's full review of the Note 10 Plus, which should go live sometime before the Aug. 23 launch. I look forward to more testing of the Note 10 Plus over the coming days and weeks.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10: in pictures

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