Samsung‘s infamous Note series has had many highs and lows in its lifespan, and in news announced at an event in New York last night, the latest offerings in the lineup of flagship smartphones are set to shake up the range to the delight of some and the chagrin of others.
First thing to note (if you’ll pardon the pun) is just how stunning the new Galaxy Note looks. The bezel-free display on the two models (6.3 inches on the Note 10 and 6.8 inches on the Note 10+) is marred only slightly by the tiny front-facing camera, which is suitably located front and centre at the very top of the screen. Offered in two colours for the Australian market: Aura Glow and Aura Black, this is a seriously handsome phone.
There’s also the fast-charging capabilities, which promise a full day of charge in just 30 minutes using a 45W fast charger, though with the caveat that this is sold separately (only a 25W charger is included in the box). Wireless PowerShare is also offered, as it is with the Galaxy S10 and S10+, though the popularity of this feature is questionable, and is probably better suited for giving a little juice to peripheral devices rather than charging another smartphone and draining the battery.
The S Pen has also seen an update, with two major improvements: namely the ability to turn handwriting into text, as well as motion control features called “Air Actions” which allow the user to control certain functions by waving the pen. This is open to third-party development, but time will tell just how comfortable people are at looking like they’re conducting an orchestra a la Fantasia in public.
Another hugely well-received piece of news is not so much a new feature as much as the omission of one which used to grind the gears of nearly all Samsung users: the Bixby button. Bixby, Samsung’s digital assistant, infected any new Samsung like measles and was the first thing anybody in their right mind would disable on their new phone, and the dedicated Bixby button on the side remained an inanimate reminder of this overzealous and annoying feature.
Now, the three or four people worldwide who use Bixby can program the power button to trigger the feature if desired, but the majority won’t have to suffer its irksome presence.
But there are a couple of other omissions that have a few Samsung die-hards seething.
Firstly, the beloved headphone jack, which saw many either switch to or stay loyal to Samsung, has finally been given the boot. Samsung has long criticised rivals for ousting the simple yet effective audio feature from their smartphones, but, it would appear, has now followed suit. The company is quick to proffer that any extra physical space is crucial to battery life, but many aren’t convinced, as audiophiles are still unconvinced by Bluetooth-lag and sound quality.
With both Apple and Google having also removed the classic 3.5mm headphone jack long ago, it’s slim pickings out there in the marketplace for purists who still prefer corded headphones and speakers.
Samsung has also removed the option for expandable memory on the smaller of the two devices, although the Note 10+ has a MicroSD slot for a bump if needed. This can also be used for a second SIM instead, if that’s what you’re into.
As far as cameras are concerned, there isn’t a huge difference from the S10 models. A triple-lens setup adorns the rear of the device (12MP telephoto, 12MP wide-angle and 16MP ultra-wide), while a single 10MP camera sits at the front.
Starting at AUD$1,499 for the Note 10, this is by no means a cheap device (the Note 10+ is AUD$1,799, and a 5G version of the Note 10+ will be whopping AUD$1,999), and time will tell just how these changes will affect the device. Having copped enough bad PR in the past thanks to several of these phones spontaneously combusting around the globe, Samsung has had an uphill battle to bring the public’s perception of their premium range back into a positive space.
Will the removal of the headphone jack be enough to undo their hard work, or will the streamlined design of the new Note 10 range, as well as a few key improvements, keep them relevant in a marketplace that seems to be more and more competitive each quarter?
Time will tell.
Customers in Australia who pre-order the Galaxy Note 10, Note 10+ or Note 10+ 5G from participating retailers, will receive a bonus pair of AKG Wireless Headphones (N700NCM2) valued at AUD$499. The pre-order period runs from today to August 22, with an on-sale date of August 23, 2019.