Samsung Galaxy Note 10 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 9 full review

Samsung has updated its flagship Note range once more with the unveiling of its new Galaxy Note 10. This iteration brings with it some new features as well as the retirement of some older ones. So, is it worth selling your Galaxy Note 9 and making the leap to the latest and greatest? We see how the two models compare.

For a full look at the new device read Samsung Galaxy Note 10: Hands-on review.

Price and availability

The Galaxy Note 10 was revealed at Samsung’s Unpacked event on 7 August 2019, with an official launch date of 23 August 2019. The standard model costs £899/US$949, while the Note 10 Plus is £999/$1099 with 256GB storage, and $1199 with 512GB. The 5G version starts at £1099/$1299. 

Breaking with tradition, the new Note 10 will come in one storage configuration (256GB) but without a microSD card option to increase this capacity. Should you require more then there is the Note 10+ which offers either 256- or 512GB.

Pre-orders for the Note 10 open on 7 August 2019 directly from the Samsung website, but the model will also be widely available from retailers such as John Lewis, Amazon, Argos, and other, plus the usual selection of mobile carriers.

The Galaxy Note 9 came out on 9 August 2018 and will continue to be available from a variety of outlets once its superseded by the new Note 10. At the time of writing the 128GB version costs £799/$999 but there’s also a 512GB variant for £1,099/$1,249, both of which feature expandable storage.

You’ll be able to buy one from the retailers mentioned above, plus there are bound to be some reductions from mobile carriers now that the unit is no longer the flagship model.

Design and build quality

At one time the Note handsets seemed gargantuan when compared to normal phones, but these days they barely stick out in the crowd of larger Android devices. This is even more the case for the Note 10 as its dimensions are more compact that its predecessor. Where the Note 9 came in a 161.2mm x 76.4mm x 9mm frame, the Note 10 reduces this to a svelte 151mm x 71.8mm x 7.9mm.

samsung galaxy note 10 vs note 9

There’s also less weight in the new model, slimming down from 205g to 168g. In fact, the Note 10+ measures 162.3mm x 77.2mm x 7.9mm with a weight of 196g, so it’s barely any larger than the old Note 9 but includes a huge 6.8in 3040x1440 HDR10+ display.

  Note 10 Note 10+ Note 9
Dimensions 151mm x 71.8mm x 7.9mm; 168g 162.3mm x 77.2mm x 7.9mm; 196g 161.2mm x 76.4mm x 9 mm; 205g

samsung galaxy note 10 vs note 9

Construction remains top quality, with the Note 10’s thin metal frame playing host to a glass back and a 6.3in Dynamic AMOLED display on the front. That’s slightly smaller than the 6.4in panel on the Note 9 and there’s also a lowering in the resolution from 2960x1440 to 2280x1080, albeit with the inclusion of HDR10+ certification.

To install such a large screen in a smaller body, Samsung has opted to go with its ‘punch-hole’ design which debuted on the S10 and S10+. This positions a small, circular hole at the top and centre of the display. It’s not quite a notch but remains a variant on the theme. This allows the S10 an amazing 94.7% screen-to-body ratio, with the S10+ following closely behind with 93.20%.

samsung galaxy note 10 vs note 9

Those preferring their displays without missing bits here and there will no doubt find safe harbour with the note 9, which chooses to place the camera array above the display. This does make it a little taller, but ensures that the screen remains free of any OCD-inducing obstructions. 

samsung galaxy note 10 vs note 9

The Note 10 removes some hardware options that might raise a few eyebrows. Gone are the 3.5mm headphone jack, Bixby button, and heart rate monitor, as well as the aforementioned microSD slot (the latter only on the standard model). Presumably this is all to save space and contribute to the compact design, but if you want the bells and whistles that have always accompanied the Note line then last year’s model may be the way to go. 

Of course, there’s still the S-Pen that nestles inside the body, which can be found next the USB-C charging port. On the rear there’s a fingerprint sensor or you can use the facial recognition ability of the front facing camera should that be your particular fancy.

samsung galaxy note 10 vs note 9

All units feature IP68 ratings for water and dust proofing, so your expensive purchase should survive a tumble into the bath without issue.

Features and specifications

As you’d expect with a Note, the components are top of the line. Processors are either the new Exynos 9825 (UK) or Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 (US), making them a step up from the Snapdragon 845 / Exynos 9810 found on the Note 9.

This is accompanied by 8GB of RAM on the Note 10 or 12GB on the Note 10+. Storage is something of a surprise, with Samsung granting the Note 10 a moderate (at least in Note terms) 256GB of non-expandable space. Things are better on the Note 10+ with either 256GB or 512GB plus up to 512GB of extra capacity via microSD. 

Compare this to the Note 9 which offered 128GB or 512GB both with support for microSD cards up to 512GB.

samsung galaxy note 10 vs note 9

Cameras are another area of interest in the Note lineup and this year sees the introduction of a three-lens array on the Note 10. These comprise of a 16MP f/2.2 Ultra-Wide, 12MP Variable Aperture f/1.5-f/2.4 Wide, and 12MP f/2.1 Telephoto.

This bests the dual compliment on the Note 9 of 12MP Variable Aperture f/1.5-2.4 and 12MP f/2.4.

samsung galaxy note 10 vs note 9

Around the front there’s the 8MP f/1.7 selfie camera, which again has seen an upgrade to the 10MP f/2.2 lens fitted in the Note 10. Should you really want to go to town then the Note 10+ takes the compliment on the Note 10 and adds a further DepthVision f/1.4 camera.

Galaxy Note handsets are renowned for incorporating cutting-edge technology, so it should be no great surprise that the Note 10 comes with 5G LTE compatibility. However, you'll have to buy the specific Note 10+ 5G variant if you want this.

There’s also support for WiFi 6, NFC, GPS, and Bluetooth 5.

The S-Pen has been given a boost by extending the battery life and some additional new modes for Air Actions, including use with the camera, gallery, and various media. But, mainly it’s the same that on the Note 9, which is no bad thing.

Here’s a breakdown of the technical specifications for each model;

  Samsung Note 10 Samsung Note 10+ Samsung Note 9
Display 6.3in Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O, 2280x1080, HDR10+, 401ppi 6.8in Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O, 3040x1440 HDR10+, 498ppi 6.4in Super AMOLED 2960x1440, 516ppi
Processor Exynos 9825/Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Exynos 9825/Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Exynos 9810/Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
Storage 256GB (non-expandable) 256GB or 512GB (expandable by up to 512GB) 128GB or 512GB (expandable by up to 512GB)
Memory 8GB 12GB 6GB or 8GB
Main camera 16MP f/2.2 Ultra-Wide, 12MP Variable Aperture f/1.5-f/2.4 Wide, and 12MP f/2.1 Telephoto 16MP f/2.2 Ultra-Wide, 12MP Variable Aperture f/1.5-f/2.4 Wide, and 12MP f/2.1 Telephoto, DepthVision f/1.4  12MP Variable Aperture f/1.5-2.4 and 12MP f/2.4
Selfie camera 10MP f/2.2  10MP f/2.2  8MP f/1.7 
Ports USB-C USB-C USB-C, 3.5mm headphone jack
WiFi 802.11ax 802.11ax 802.11ac
LTE 4G 4G (5G separate model) 4G
GPS Yes Yes Yes
NFC Yes Yes Yes
Bluetooth 5 5 5
Battery 3,500mAh 4,300mAh 4000mAh
Waterproof IP68 IP68 IP68
Dimensions 151mm x 71.8mm x 7.9mm 162.3mm x 77.2mm x 7.9mm 161.2mm x 76.4mm x 9 mm
Weight 168g 196g 205g

Software

The Note 9 arrived with Android 8.1 Oreo and Samsung’s Experience 9.5 interface. It’s still a bit heavy-handed if you prefer the stock Android that you’ll find on the likes of the Google Pixel 3a, but the design is classy and on the whole it’s easy to get along with.

Note 10 users will be running Android 9.0 software with Samsung's One UI interface. This is an even further refinement of Samsung Experience and one that we quite keen on. There's also the promise of a partnership with Microsoft which will allow close integration between the phone and Windows 10. This should allow calls to be answered on a PC, along with messages and other features. 

Specs

Samsung Galaxy Note 9: Specs

  • Android Oreo 8.1
  • 6.4in 2960x1440 Super AMOLED, 516ppi
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 or Samsung Exynos 9810
  • Adreno 630 or Mali-G72 MP18
  • 128GB/512GB storage
  • 6/8GB RAM
  • 12Mp dual cameras, f/1.5-2.4 and OIS, f/2.4
  • 8Mp f/1.7 front facing camera
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • 4G LTE
  • Dual nano SIM option
  • GPS
  • NFC
  • 4000mAh battery
  • IP68 waterproof
  • 161.2 x 76.4 x 9 mm
  • 205g

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
  • GPS
  • NFC
  • Ultrasonic Fingerprint Sensor (in-screen)
  • S Pen with 6-axis sensor
  • USB-C
  • 3500mAh battery
  • 25W charging, 45W adapter available separately
  • 15W wireless charging with Wireless PowerShare
  • IP68 waterproof
  • 151 x 71.8 x 7.9mm
  • 168g

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