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Samsung Galaxy Note 10 vs Galaxy S10 Plus: Which should you buy?

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 is here, along with its larger sibling, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus. Many Note fans usually grab the most recent device whenever it lands without giving the matter much thought. After all, the Note family is the best-of-the-best when it comes to Samsung smartphones.

Or is it? With Samsung launching two Note devices for the first time, the company needed to downgrade some of the specs and features of the standard Samsung Galaxy Note 10 to better emphasize the superiority of the Galaxy Note 10 Plus. That leaves us to wonder which is the better deal: buying the Note 10 or buying the similarly-sized — but older — Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus.

Both phones are, without question, two of the best smartphones you can buy today. Let’s examine the specs, features, and prices of each device side-by-side to get a clear picture of which phone is right for you (and your wallet).

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 vs Galaxy S10 Plus specs

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus Aura White back head on

We will be the first to concede that specs aren’t everything about a phone. If specs told the whole story, making smartphone buying decisions would be as simple as looking at a specs sheet and plopping down your cash.

That being said, specs are very important, and the specs of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and Galaxy S10 Plus tell quite an interesting story. Check out the differences below (to keep things fair, these are both the entry-level models of each device):

  Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus
Display 6.3-inch AMOLED Infinity-O
2,280 x 1,080 resolution
401ppi
HDR10+
6.4-inch AMOLED Infinity-O
3,040 x 1,440 resolution
525ppi
HDR10+
SoC Global: Samsung Exynos 9825
U.S.: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
Global: Samsung Exynos 9825
U.S.: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
GPU Global: Mali-G76
U.S.: Adreno 640
Global: Mali-G76
U.S.: Adreno 640
RAM 8GB 8GB
Storage 256GB
No microSD card slot
UFS 3.0
128GB
microSD card slot
UFS 2.0
Cameras Rear:
Triple lens setup
16MP ƒ/2.2 ultrawide
12MP f/1.5 and f/2.4 dual pixel with OIS +
12MP OIS telephoto ƒ/2.1

Front:
Single lens setup
10MP ƒ/2.2 dual pixel +

Rear:
Triple lens setup
16MP ƒ/2.2 ultrawide +
12MP f/1.5 and f/2.4 dual pixel with OIS +
12MP OIS telephoto ƒ/2.4

Front:
Dual lens setup
10MP ƒ/1.9 dual pixel +
8MP depth sensor ƒ/2.2

Audio No headphone jack Headphone jack
Battery 3,500mAh
12-watt wireless charging
4,100mAh
12-watt wireless charging
IP rating IP68 IP68
Sensors Accelerometer, barometer, ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, gyro, geomagnetic, hall, proximity

S Pen: 6-axis sensor including gyro and acceleration sensors

Accelerometer, barometer, ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, gyro, geomagnetic, hall, proximity

No S Pen

Biometric authentication Ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor
Face recognition
Ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor
Face recognition
Connectivity Wi-Fi 6
Bluetooth 5
Cat20 LTE, 7CA, 4×4 MIMO
Wi-Fi 6
Bluetooth 5
Cat20 LTE, 7CA, 4×4 MIMO
Software Android 9 Pie
Samsung OneUI
Android 9 Pie
Samsung OneUI
Dimensions and weight 151 x 71.8 x 7.9mm
168g

S Pen: 5.8 x 4.35 x 105.08mm
3.04g

157.6 x 74.1 x 7.8mm
175g
Price $949 $999

Right off the bat, you can quickly tell that the Galaxy Note 10 and Galaxy S10 Plus are incredibly similar as far as specs are concerned. Integral specs such as the amount of RAM, IP rating, and more are all exactly the same. Globally, the Galaxy Note 10 has the new Exynos 9825 SoC, while the S10 Plus has the Exynos 9820 chip.

This next specs sheet only shows the specs the two phones don’t share and removes the rest:

  Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus
Display 6.3-inch AMOLED
2,280 x 1,080 resolution
401ppi
6.4-inch AMOLED
3,040 x 1,440 resolution
525ppi
Storage 256GB
No microSD card slot
UFS 3.0
128GB
microSD card slot
UFS 2.0
Cameras Front:
Single lens setup
10MP ƒ/2.2 dual pixel +
Front:
Dual lens setup
10MP ƒ/1.9 dual pixel +
8MP depth sensor ƒ/2.2
Audio No headphone jack Headphone jack
Battery 3,500mAh 4,100mAh
Dimensions and weight 151 x 71.8 x 7.9mm
168g
157.6 x 74.1 x 7.8mm
175g
S Pen S Pen included No S Pen
Price $949 $999

The pared-down specs sheet above makes it very clear that purchasing a Samsung Galaxy Note 10 gets you only a few things that the Galaxy S10 Plus doesn’t offer. And, in many cases, the Galaxy S10 Plus actually has superior specs despite being months older than the Note 10.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10: What you get for $949

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus screen head on 1

By far the biggest difference between the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and pretty much any other smartphone on the market is the S Pen. The Bluetooth-powered stylus fits very nicely into the body of the Note 10 itself giving you quick access to a unique way of interacting with your phone.

On the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 — which was the first to bring in a Bluetooth S Pen — Samsung introduced cool new ways to use the stylus. For example, you could use the button on the S Pen to control a slideshow from your phone or even use it as a remote shutter for taking group photos.

On the Galaxy Note 10, Samsung ups the ante by bringing in gesture controls. You can wave the S Pen in certain ways and control features on your phone, almost as if you were waving a magic wand. What’s more, the S Pen functionality is open to third-party developers, so the sky is the limit for what the S Pen on the Note 10 can do.

With the Galaxy Note 10, you’re getting the S Pen and faster internal storage (and more of it). That’s about it.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus Aura White at angle with S Pen 2

Simply put, the S Pen is exclusive to the Note line so you won’t get these nifty features if you buy a Galaxy S10 Plus instead.

Additionally, the Galaxy Note 10 starts with twice as much internal storage as the Galaxy S10 Plus and that storage will be fast. The speed is due to UFS 3.0 technology, which allows for faster data transfer speeds. Essentially, UFS 3.0 allows for launching apps faster and moving files from one place to another to be a much quicker experience, which will be helpful since you’ll be storing twice as much data on the Note 10’s internal drive as you would on the Galaxy S10 Plus.

The Galaxy S10 Plus is stuck on the standard UFS 2.0, which is certainly quick but not as fast as 3.0.

Unfortunately, these two features are where your advantages end with the Note 10. Continue on to see what you’ll get if you spend that extra $50 on the Galaxy S10 Plus instead.

Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus: What you get for $999

Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus back standing upright

Two of the features you’ll get with the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus that you won’t get with the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 also happen to be two of the things many Samsung fans prize the most: a microSD slot and a headphone jack.

Sure, the Note 10 has twice as much internal storage which may make the microSD slot unnecessary, and Samsung does provide a USB-C-to-3.5mm adapter in the box with the Note 10. However, if you want as much storage as possible and to not worry about carrying a dongle with you everywhere, the Note 10 simply won’t work for you.

What’s more, the Galaxy S10 Plus has a superior display as compared to the Note 10 in every respect: it’s slightly bigger with a higher resolution and a significantly higher pixel density.

With the Galaxy S10 Plus, you’re getting a better, larger display, a headphone jack, a microSD slot, two selfie cams, and a bigger battery. Whoa.

Inside that display, there are two selfie camera lenses as opposed to the single one in the Note 10’s display. Granted, you might prefer the aesthetics of the Note 10’s solitary lens being in the middle of the display rather than two lenses on the right-hand side, as is present with the Galaxy S10 Plus. But, in general, two selfie lenses are better than one when it comes to photos, so function may trump form in this regard.

Finally, you’re going to get a bigger battery on the S10 Plus, to the tune of an extra 600mAh, or a nearly 18% increase. If you’re a power user — which you likely are if you’re considering buying a Note device — this is probably the most important spec on the lists above.

Galaxy Note 10 vs Galaxy S10 Plus: Which is the better buy?

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus Aura Glow at angle 2

There are two terrific reasons to buy the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 over the Galaxy S10 Plus: the S Pen and the fact that you save $50.

If you love the S Pen, you have no choice but to buy the Note 10 (unless, of course, you want to buy the Galaxy Note 10 Plus or the Galaxy Note 9 instead). The Galaxy S10 Plus has no S Pen support so if you’re an S Pen lover, the choice is easy.

The fact that you’ll save $50 by grabbing the Note 10 is certainly also nice. Additionally, if you pre-order the phone from Samsung, you’ll get a $100 Samsung gift card, which means you’re saving $150 over the Galaxy S10 Plus, in theory.

Love the S Pen? The Note 10 is your best bet. Don’t care about the S Pen? The Galaxy S10 Plus is probably going to be better for you.

If you don’t care about the S Pen, though, it’s hard to recommend the Note 10 over the S10 Plus. The microSD slot, the headphone jack, the superior display, the superior selfie cameras, and the bigger battery are more than worth the extra $50 and losing out on that $100 gift card. Besides, since the S10 Plus is over five months old now, you can probably find deals for the phone from places like eBay which could save you even more cash as opposed to the Note 10’s discount.

We should mention that the Galaxy Note 10 Plus does fix many of the spec compromises with the vanilla Note 10, including a bigger battery, the inclusion of a microSD slot, and a superior display. Of course, you’ll spend more on that variant: it starts at $1,099.

What do you think? Is the S Pen in the Note 10 important enough for you to pass over the Galaxy S10 Plus? Or are you passing on the Note 10 to go with its spec’d-out cousin or the Note 10 Plus instead? Let us know in the comments!


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