Samsung Galaxy S10 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 10 full review
The Black Friday sales season is coming! Our product recommendations are based on average retail prices, but the prices above show the best deals currently available from trustworthy online stores.
Samsung has, for the first time, launched the Galaxy Note as a range. Here we're comparing the smaller of the two - the Note 10 - with the Galaxy S10 as these are very similar to each other and you're probably wondering which one is the better upgrade.
Price & availability
As you would expect, the Galaxy Note 10 is more expensive than the Galaxy S10 which launched back in February. It's £899/$949 but you can get 100 € off a Note 10 for trading in your old phone.
These prices are for the 128GB model, but there's a 512GB version if you want more storage.
Features & design
Here are the key specs for the two phones so you can see how they stack up.
|Specification||Samsung Galaxy S10||Samsung Galaxy Note 10
|Operating System||Android 9 Pie with One UI||Android 9 Pie with One UI|
|Display||6.1in Quad HD+ (3040x1440) AMOLED Infinity-O, 19:9, 550ppi||6.31in Full HD+ (2280x1080) AMOLED Infinity-O, 19:9, 401ppi|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 or Exynos 9820||Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 or Exynos 9820 (TBC)|
|Primary Camera||12Mp, f/1.5-2.4 dual aperture + 16Mp, Ultra Wide, f/2.2 + 12Mp Tele, f/2.4||12Mp, f/1.5-2.4 dual aperture + 16Mp, Ultra Wide, f/2.2 + 12Mp Tele, f/2.1|
|Front Camera||10Mp f/1.9||10Mp f/2.2|
|WiFi||802.11 a/b/g/n/ac dual-band||802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax dual-band|
|Bluetooth||5.0 with aptX||5.0 with aptX|
|Fingerprint scanner||Yes, in screen||Yes, in-screen|
|Colours||Prism Green, Prism White, Prism Black||Aura Glow, Aura Black, Aura Pink|
|Ports||USB-C, 3.5mm Headphone jack||USB-C|
|Dimensions||149.9mm x 70.4mm x 7.8mm||151mm x 71.8mm x 7.9mm|
There are many similarities, but one of the biggest differences - aside from the absence of an S-Pen on the Galaxy S10 - is that the Note 10 is the first flagship from Samsung to ditch the 3.5mm headphone socket. Samsung says this is so it can make the phone thinner, but it now requires you to use a USB-C dongle or Bluetooth headphones.
The Note 10 also supports the latest Wi-Fi 6 standard, so will be slightly more future-proof than the S10. However, that's a minor point and not a reason to buy the Note 10.
Design-wise, there are quite a few differences. Instead of a horizontal arrangement for the rear cameras, the Note 10 puts them vertically on the left-hand side like the iPhone and Huawei P30. There are different colours as well: the Note 10 comes in Aura Glow, Aura Black and Aura Pink. You can see these below: the larger phones are the Note 10+ model.
With the S10 you get to choose between Prism White, Prism Green and Prism Black.
On the front, the selfie camera is mounted centrally instead of on the right hand side, but it's still a punch-hole in the screen and not a notch. Buttons are on the left-hand side as with the S10, and the SIM tray is on the top.
The Note 10 goes even further with the Infinity-O display and its 6.3in screen manages to fit into a body that's only fractionally larger than the Galaxy S10 with its 6.1in screen. That equates to an impressive 94.7 percent screen-to-body ratio.
It's not all upgrades, though. The Note 10's resolution is lower than the S10's: it's a super-wide 1080p screen, where the S10 has 1440p. Both are, of course, AMOLED so quality differs only in sharpness and that's another relatively minor difference in the real world, especially as the S10 actually runs at 2280x1080p out of the box, which most people won't change.
If you've owned a Note before, you might spot a couple of missing features: there's no heart-rate monitor because Samsung says people simply didn't use it. There's no dedicated Bixby button either: to call the assistant you have to long-press the power button on the Note 10.
Mostly, the internals of these two phones is the same. You get Bluetooth 5 with aptX, support for ANT+, NFC, GPS, wireless charging, 8GB of RAM and either the Snapdragon 855 or the Exynos 9820 depending upon region (the UK get Samsung's own chip, for example).
Storage is different: neither phone has a microSD slot, but where the S10 offers either 128GB or 512GB of storage, the Note 10 has just one capacity: 256GB.
Another small change is that the ultrasonic under-screen fingerprint scanner has been moved upwards by 33mm which should be a little more ergonomic.
Unlike the Note 10+ which has a time-of-flight camera for depth sensing, the regular Note 10 sticks with a very similar camera setup to the S10. You have to dive into the specs to find the differences, and even then they are minor.
You get the same triple arrangement at the rear: ultra-wide, wide and telephoto and OIS on the latter two. The sensor resolutions are the same: it's only a slightly different telephoto lens with a faster f/2.1 aperture which separates the two phones.
There's a similar difference at the front where the Note 10 has a 10Mp selfie camera like the S10, but goes for a slower f/2.1 aperture than the S10's f/1.9.
This is where the two phones differ the most, and it's not just because of the S-Pen. They run Android 9 with Samsung's One UI - of which we're big fans, but the S-Pen allows you to scribble notes or sketches on the screen.
It's a feature you'll either use loads or not at all, but Samsung has added a few features which make the S-Pen even more useful. Air actions work little like a magic wand: you hold down the button and move the S-Pen left, right or in a circular motion to make different things happen on the phone.
Currently, functionality is a little limited - we could only get the gestures to work in the camera app, but you should be able to control media playback and navigate the gallery. As Samsung has opened up these features to developers, it's possible other apps will start to use them and we'd love to see Harry Potter: Wizards Unite get S-Pen support.
While the actual camera hardware is virtually identical, Samsung has brought improvements in software, such as improved Super Steady stabilisation.
The Note 10 also lets you edit videos out of the box thanks to an optimised version of Adobe Rush. Plus, you can have a thumbnail of you talking over a screen recording, which could be useful for some people.
We haven't been able to test out the Note 10's battery life just yet, but its capacity is slightly higher than the S10. With the larger screen, that's unlikely to mean a noticeable improvement. That's a shame because battery life was the one area that let the S10 down a bit.
The Note 10 offers fast charging from the optional 45W adapter: as standard it will charge at 25W and at 15W when charging wirelessly. Samsung says you can get a full day of power from just a 30-minute charge when you use the 45W charger. Find out how to unlock faster charging on Note 10.
Both phones support Wireless PowerShare which means you can charge another Qi-compatible phone - or your Galaxy Buds - from the S10 or Note 10.
The Note 10 looks to be a fabulous phone, but if you won't use the S-Pen you'll find the Galaxy S10 offers better value, and it has a headphone jack and higher screen resolution to boot.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10: Specs
- Android 9 Pie with One UI
- 6.3in 2280x1080 Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O Display, 401ppi, HDR10+
- Qualcomm Snapdragon or Samsung Exynos processor
- 256GB storage
- 8GB RAM
- 12Mp camera, f/1.5-2.4 and OIS
- 16Mp ultra-wide 123 degrees, f/2.2
- 12Mp telephoto, f/2.1 and OIS
- 10Mp front facing camera, f/2.2
- 802.11ac/ax dual-band Wi-Fi 6
- 4G LTE Cat 20, 4x4 MIMO
- Bluetooth 5.0
- Ultrasonic Fingerprint Sensor (in-screen)
- S Pen with 6-axis sensor
- 3500mAh battery
- 25W charging
- 12W wireless charging with Wireless PowerShare
- IP68 waterproof
- 151 x 71.8 x 7.9mm
Samsung Galaxy S10: Specs
- Android 9.0 Pie with One UI
- 6.1in Wide Quad HD+ (3040x1440) 19:9 Dynamic AMOLED
- Exynos 9820 or Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 octa-core processor
- 8GB RAM
- 128/512GB internal storage
- microSD card slot (up to 512GB)
- Dual pixel 12Mp, f/1.5-2.4, OIS rear camera + 16Mp Ultra Wide, f/2.2 + 12Mp Tele, f/2.4
- Dual pixel 10Mp, f/1.9 front camera
- Pressure sensitive home button
- Embedded Ultrasonic Fingerprint scanner
- 2D Face Recognition
- Heart rate monitor
- 11ac dual-band Wi-Fi
- Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX
- 4G LTE Cat 20
- Headphone jack
- 3400mAh non-removable battery
- Fast Wireless Charging 2.0
- Wireless Powershare
- IP68 dust & waterproof rating