Samsung Galaxy Note 10 preview: Everything we know so far

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If anything, Samsung has given the world an overwhelming amount of new flagship choices in recent years. You can still happily sport an S8 with little to no issues. And now we’ve got the Galaxy S10, Galaxy S10+, Galaxy S10E, and Galaxy S10 5G (if you wanna import a currently-useless-in-SA device)… and the Galaxy Fold, should it eventually ship. Of course, there’s one more on the horizon.

Although it hasn’t officially been announced yet, we’re fully expecting to see a Galaxy Note 10 later this year. Samsung has reliably launched its extra-large, stylus-packing handset each year without fault (except that one time…). It has been a reliably great phone – albeit a very pricey and fairly niche one.

With the Galaxy S10 out, the rumour mill has pivoted towards the Note 10. What should we expect? Here’s what we’ve heard so far.

The big reveal

We saw Samsung unveil and release the Galaxy Note 9 last year August, a little earlier than its usual September release window. We suspect that this was done to set it apart from Apple’s usual September iPhone reveal because no competition is the best competition, right?

According to a report by CNET, Samsung plans to unveil the Galaxy Note 10 phones on 7 August at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Sound familiar? It’s the same place it held the North American Galaxy Note 9 reveal last year. 

Early August sounds like the right time to roll out the Note 10, ahead of Apple’s usual September splash.

How much poorer will you be?

Well, as we’ve witnessed with Note devices, it won’t be cheap. Samsung keeps pushing the price level higher for its flagship phones, with the Note 9 coming in at R19,000 at launch. By the way — that model is now at R12,000. 

R19,000 is the same price that the new Galaxy S10+ arrived at (*shocked emoji*), and there always tends to be a price difference between them. Given that, don’t be surprised to see the Galaxy Note 10 climb up into the R20k+ range, depending on the new features Samsung tries to push on us.

Although strictly a guess at this point, we really doubt that Samsung will drop the price compared to last year’s Note. Just saying.

Is it a looker?

 

In recent years, the Galaxy Note line has aligned pretty closely with the Galaxy S aesthetic. In particular, the last two years’ phones have looked very close to the Galaxy S+ model.

The main differences? Mainly a slightly boxier shape, and a flatter screen that isn’t quite as curvy around the corners. Oh, and a slot for the S Pen stylus, of course. Early speculative renders of the Galaxy Note 10 follow the same kind of philosophy it did with the Galaxy S10 as a starting point, but we haven’t seen anything that looks like a legitimate render leak. It’s still early, though. Kinda. 

Korean site The Bell reports that Samsung will release two different versions of the Galaxy Note 10, but it’s not just a matter of a standard LTE and special-edition 5G edition. The site claims that Samsung plans to release a smaller version of the Note 10 for buyers who don’t want an ultra-large handset but still crave a stylus — fair point. The Note is pretty massive. 

But it does look like the small version will only release in Europe, and the standard Note-sized Note will release everywhere else. 

Interestingly, leaker Ice Universe has teased that “Da Vinci is symmetrical” – and “Da Vinci” is the Note 10’s codename. Could that mean that a front-facing camera cutout will be in the centre of the screen instead of in the corner, or will it be symmetrical on other respects? We’re certainly curious to see.

Android Police also reports that a source claims the Galaxy Note 10 will ditch the 3.5mm headphone port, in a move that could signal a change to come with next year’s Galaxy S11 too. That would be a significant change of course for Samsung, and one that many fans wouldn’t appreciate.

Furthermore, the source suggests that Samsung will remove physical buttons from the phone, putting touch-sensitive, haptic-feedback faux buttons in those places. That would potentially make the phone more durable and resistant to the elements but sounds like many accidental screenshots if you ask us. 

Android Police has since updated the report, saying that while Samsung seriously considered using faux buttons, the company has settled on using standard power and volume buttons for the Galaxy Note 10 models. The big win here? There might be no Bixby button! All digital assistants rejoice!

The speculative renders above come from OnLeaks and Pricebaba, and are purportedly based on leaked data and specs. They show a flat top and bottom edge, not unlike the Huawei P30 Pro, while it’s slightly less thicc (read: ‘curvy’) than the S10 and definitely holds true to the boxy design coined by the Note range, along with the curved edge-display.

And the display?

Big and glorious, we presume. The last instalment had a 6.4in display and the year before had a 6.3in display, soooo… Probably bigger? 

We should also remember that the upcoming Galaxy S10 5G hits a vast 6.7in screen size, so the Note 10 might not end up being the largest of the bunch. A leak from Korean site The Bell in late 2018 suggested a 6.66in display — at that size, let’s hope these don’t catch fire or there may be a… summoning of some sort. 

However, in a more recent report, ETNews instead points to a 6.75in display on the larger Note 10, and a 6.28in screen for the smaller edition. OnLeaks practically confirms those specs, suggesting 6.75in on the Note 10 Pro and 6.3in for the standard Note 10.

We expect to see another hella-brilliant Quad HD Dynamic AMOLED panel, too, with the same kind of hole-punch cutout. However, as mentioned above and shown in some renders, there’s some chatter of a centre-mounted camera cutout instead. Leaker IceUniverse posted the above concept comparison between the S10+ and what a prospective Note 10 display could look like.

IceUniverse has since tweeted that the Galaxy Note 10 will not have a speaker/earpiece atop the display and that it will use “sound on display” technology. We’ve seen that before… The LG G8 ThinQ offers the same (maybe we’ll experience it one day, when it launches in SA) — and essentially works by sending vibrations along the display to create audio output. The Huawei P30 Pro also features the display-audio combo. It’s starting to sound like Samsung is gearing up for a P30 Pro face-off.

Packing some much-needed power

You’ll need about 12,000 duckpower to keep just the massive display running (just kidding, don’t Google that). But we will almost certainly see familiar tech in the Galaxy Note 10. The Galaxy S10 has Samsung’s Exynos 9820 chip in Europe and South Africa, among other places, while it uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 in the US.

We fully expect to see the same processors in the Note 10. And with Galaxy S10+ RAM ranging between 8GB and 12GB depending on model, that’s probably a fair amount to expect from the Note 10, as well. OnLeaks suggests it could run on 12GB.

Sharp-shooters? Or nah?

SamMobile reports that the Galaxy Note 10 will likely pack four rear shooters, just like the Galaxy S10 5G, although it’s unclear whether it’ll be the exact same setup.

The Galaxy S10, S10+, and S10 5G are all fitted with a 12MP wide-angle lens, a 16MP ultra-wide lens, and a 12MP telephoto lens — then the S10 5G adds a time-of-flight sensor for depth mapping to enhanced augmented reality applications (like the P30 Pro). If that bonus sensor signals a future ambition for Samsung, then we could well see it on more and more of its premium handsets in future.

ETNews suggests that the larger Note 10 model will indeed have four back cameras, while the smaller edition will go for three rear cameras. The OnLeaks‘ renders seem to portray something similar.

Leaker Ice Universe suggests that Samsung will adopt a three-stop aperture system, evolving the feature from the variable aperture seen with the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy models since. It will reportedly have a new f/1.8 stop between the previous f/1.5 and f/2.4 settings, perhaps offering even more detail in delivering the ideal balance between light and detail.

The OnLeaks renders also show just one front camera on both Note 10 models, instead of having a wider double-camera cutout like the Galaxy S10+. Might be a smart move, the single-sensor cutout just looks much sleeker, and the second sensor wasn’t really worth the added cutout area. 

Any extras?

That’s kinda what the Note range is about, yeah? Last year’s Galaxy Note 9 added Bluetooth connectivity to the S-Pen stylus, but this year’s model could do something even more radical: put a camera into the stylus.

Why? We’re not entirely sure… but it would provide some unique capture opportunities. Samsung has patented such a feature (illustration shown) with optical zooming, although there’s no indication that this feature will debut this time around. Still, that would be an interesting twist if Samsung can think up enough practical ways to use it.

Elsewhere, XDA Developers reports that the kernel source code in the Exynos 8920 chip seen in the Galaxy S10 phones hints at a 5G version of the Note 10. That shouldn’t be surprising: 5G adoption is likely to spread widely as time goes on, with rain and Huawei spearheading the implementation of it in SA. 

Additionally, GeeksULTD thinks that the Galaxy Note 10 could offer much faster eUFS 3.0 storage, which will likely be available in 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB modules. If that’s the approach, then the Note 10 could start with a much larger load of storage than usual.

We have to imagine that the Galaxy Note 10 will keep the optical in-display fingerprint sensor of the Galaxy S10 and S10+, too.

Leaker Ice Universe also suggests that the 4G larger model will feature a 4,500mAh battery pack. That’s 500mAh over the Note 9 and 400mAh more than the Galaxy S10+, which could help pack a bit more uptime into a charge. 

It’s still too early in the rumour cycle to draw any firm conclusions, but we anticipate a riff on the Galaxy S10+ with some upgrades and hopefully productivity-minded additions in line. We’re sure to see stronger leaks and rumours over the next few weeks, so stay tuned for updates.

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