Last week, ZDNet's Jason Perlow and I discussed what our dream phone would look like. I also wrote about what I consider to be the perfect phone, outlining nine features I'd put into my ideal phone. As I sit here and look over the list, I realize that most of these features are currently in the Note 10 Plus. Heck, I even call out the Note 10 Plus camera as the one I want in my dream phone.
After 24 hours
A mere one day after receiving the Galaxy Note 10 Plus, I wasn't sure about Samsung's newest phone. Sure, the display is nice, the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor is fast, and faster charging is something I will always welcome, but Air Actions were finicky at first, the relocation of the power button is confusing, and the phone is a fingerprint magnet.
Now, nearly two weeks since I've had the phone, I've finally grown used to the fingerprints and gotten the hang of using the S Pens' Air Actions to control things like the camera.
Overall, my experience with the Note 10 Plus has been terrific. The battery has lasted all day. Apps and games look great on the display, and the camera takes crisp photos with little effort on my part.
It isn't compelling enough
Even though Matthew Miller had a glowing review of the Note 10 Plus, I don't completely agree. The Note 10 Plus is a fantastic phone, and one I would recommend to Note users who are still clutching onto an older Note. But, the truth is, I think the Galaxy S10 Plus is the best Samsung phone currently available.
Cost is a factor, but the majority of my opinion can be distilled down to the Note 10 Plus just isn't that compelling of an upgrade.
In the past, the annual Note refresh differentiated itself enough from the Galaxy S release just a few months earlier in the year that the two phones felt distinctively different. This year, the Note 10 Plus feels like a bigger version of the S10 Plus.
The internal hardware is mostly identical. Both devices run the same version of Android 9.0 Pie with Samsung's proprietary One UI customizations on top. And the Note 10 Plus and S10 Plus have the same camera setup, with the exception of the 3D camera on the Note 10 Plus.
The line is blurred
The line between the Galaxy S line and the Galaxy Note line has been blurred, and I think it's because smartphones, in general, are boring right now.
To be clear, this isn't a problem exclusive to Samsung. It's something that all phone makers are facing. In a few weeks, Apple will announce the iPhone 11, following the same script of recent iPhone launches: Better tuned display, new camera features, most advanced iPhone ever built by the company. A few weeks after that, we'll hear a similar script repeated from Google with the Pixel 4 launch.
Most reviewers are calling the Note 10 Plus the best smartphone available right now, and they're not wrong. The Note 10 Plus is stunning to look at and impressive to use. I just wanted more.
Then again, maybe that's why Samsung stuck with the Galaxy Fold and is set to release it next month.