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Review: Samsung's Galaxy Note 10 Plus Is Packed With Work-Friendly Features

The CRN Test Center finds that the larger display, paired with extended battery life and helpful new features, make the Note 10 Plus a winner for the mobile workforce.

One thing is apparent after trying out the new Galaxy Note 10 Plus at the CRN Test Center: Samsung isn't running out of compelling new ideas for its long-running Note series.

There's so much packed into the Note 10 Plus that it's hard to say what stands out the most: the larger display, the terrific battery life, the new and improved S Pen and DeX desktop?

[Related: Samsung’s Galaxy Note10 Gets Improved DeX, 2 Screen Sizes, 5G Model]

Chances are, though, something will grab you about the Galaxy Note 10 Plus—especially if you’re a mobility-focused worker.

In our tryout, we found plenty to like in the Galaxy Note 10 Plus for the on-the-go and field service workforces, making the device one of the most enterprise-friendly smartphones yet. Samsung's Galaxy Note 10 Plus has a starting price of $1,099.99 for an unlocked model.

Display

For the first time in the Galaxy Note series, Samsung has launched two sizes for the Note—with the Note 10 Plus coming as the larger model at a massive 6.8 inches.

The Note has always featured a large screen, of course, making it ideal for jotting down notes using the digital stylus that is housed inside the phone. The Note 10 Plus display reaches a whole new level, however, with an unprecedented amount of screen space for multitasking on the go.

And most of that real estate is usable, too. Samsung has improved upon the design from the Galaxy S10 Plus by placing the front-facing camera system in the center of the display on the Note 10 Plus, and by shrinking down the size of the camera cutout.

The Note 10 Plus also offers expanded brightness of up to 800 nits outdoors, compared with a max brightness of 710 nits on the Note 9. That should improve usage for workers who are typically out in the field and needing to view their display in all conditions.

The display quality itself is vibrant, as well, with AMOLED and resolution of 3,040 x 1,440, or 498 pixels per inch.

DeX

For a few years now, DeX has been a key differentiator of Samsung Galaxy devices for business users. DeX lets you pull up an Android desktop--featuring access to Android apps as well as content stored on the phone—on compatible screens just by plugging in your device.

But with the Note 10 and Note 10 Plus, Samsung has made DeX far easier to implement.

Now, you can summon a DeX desktop just by plugging into the computer using a USB-C to USB-C cable (which is included). This works with either a Windows 10 or Windows 7 PC, or even a Mac.

We tried it out with a recently purchased Windows 10 PC (Microsoft's Surface Book 2). DeX worked as easily as advertised: After downloading the DeX application on the laptop and plugging into the phone, the Android desktop fired right up. There was a tiny bit of latency in usage, but that's to be expected, as DeX is a virtualized desktop. It was not all that distracting, though.

We were able to expand DeX to the full screen of the 15-inch laptop, meaning that you can essentially borrow someone else's computer (such as a laptop at a worksite) and get a complete desktop experience without needing to access anything on the other person's computer.

Microsoft-Centric Features

In another move to empower mobile workers, Note 10 Plus debuts a number of new features that revolve around the eminent business software ecosystem of Microsoft.

One feature that is native to the Note 10 Plus, "Link to Windows," allows you to link your device to a Windows 10 PC. Link to Windows was fairly easy to set up and worked as promised, with the ability to see notifications, recent photos and text messages on the PC. Not having to toggle back and forth between devices should help with focus, and is another productivity win with the Note 10 Plus.

The Note 10 Plus also comes with the most-used Office apps preinstalled—Outlook, Word, PowerPoint and Excel. There is, in fact, a folder with the Microsoft apps preconfigured on the home screen of our tryout device.

A few special features are being enabled for the apps in the Note 10 Plus, as well. In the Outlook app, for instance, you can get a glimpse of a message by hovering the S Pen stylus over the message. We tried the feature and it's pretty cool: one more way to get a little more productive in your workday.

Battery Life And Charging

Battery life is another key element for mobility-oriented workers, but a sizable battery in the Galaxy Note 10 Plus (4,300 mAh) is only part of the story here.

The inclusion of advanced artificial intelligence enables the device to learn how you consume battery life and provide adjustments, such as automatically closing a power-hungry app when it's no longer in use, Samsung said.

The Note 10 Plus also features powerful fast-charging capabilities. The phone can get up to a full day's worth of charge in just 30 minutes using an optional 45W charger, according to Samsung. In our tryout, a 30-minute charging session yielded battery capacity of 61 percent.

And judging by our test of the battery longevity itself, that should be more than enough to get through a typical day. We were able to get 14.5 hours of streaming video on the Galaxy Note 10 Plus, which is an excellent result. Our tryout of the S10 Plus, by comparison, had gotten 13 hours of battery life for streaming video.

Portability

We mentioned that nearly all of the display space on the Galaxy Note 10 Plus is usable, with almost nonexistent bezels around the screen. That has another advantage beyond aesthetics and usability: It also keeps the device to a manageable size overall. Which, of course, becomes an increasing issue as display sizes get larger.

We didn't find the Note 10 Plus to be unwieldy at all, and actually find it to be nearly identical to using the S10 Plus from a size perspective, even though the S10 Plus features a smaller 6.4-inch display.

The Note 10 Plus is also impressively thin (at 0.31 of an inch thick) and lightweight, too, at 0.43 of a pound. That should make a difference for mobile workers that will need to be handling their device continuously throughout the day. We're glad to see that Samsung isn't requiring a major trade-off between display size and portability.

Durability 

Speaking of using the Note 10 Plus continuously for work, that undoubtedly raises the chances of a mishap. A durable design is a cornerstone of business-ready devices, and Samsung takes measures to ensure durability both on the front and back of the Note 10 Plus by including Gorilla Glass 6 on both sides.

And like its predecessor Note 9, the Note 10 Plus has a water resistance rating of IP68—suggesting the device should survive a plunge into waters as deep as 5 feet for up to a half-hour.

Camera

The Galaxy Note 10 Plus includes a total of four rear cameras (ultra-wide, wide-angle, telephoto and depth), and shots looked vivid and sharp, both indoors and outdoors.

As on the S10 Plus, we continue to be dazzled by the ultra-wide angle camera, which presents a stunning, expansive view. For any workers in fields where photo-taking for current or potential clients is a necessity, the Note 10 Plus' ultra-wide camera could be a major asset.

Meanwhile, the inclusion of a 3-D depth camera enables taking augmented-reality measurements—such as measuring distance, length, 2-D area and 3-D boxes.

The Note 10 Plus also adds camera features including "live focus video" for easily blurring backgrounds on videos and "zoom-in mic" for focusing in on the desired audio source.

In addition, you get enhanced video-editing capabilities, with the ability to use advanced editing tools more precisely and quickly with the S Pen—another major offering for workers in video-oriented fields with the Note 10 Plus.

S Pen Upgrades And SDK

Samsung is expanding the usefulness of the S Pen stylus yet again, with more types of interactions enabled using the pen. The new "air actions" allow you to control the device by swiping or rotating the pen in the air.

Initially, those interactions seem pretty consumer-focused: examples shown off by Samsung include swiping up or down to switch the camera between the rear- and front-facing sensors.

But importantly, the company is opening up the SDK to allow third-party developers to create new air-action capabilities for apps—which can include business apps.

The potential is there to create custom apps for businesses and workers that include air actions—such as quickly opening or closing a ticket in the field with a swipe in the air, or pulling up key airline functions while checking in passengers, Samsung said.

Performance 

The performance on the Note 10 Plus may be the closest thing to full-fledged PC performance in the smartphone world. Along with the speedy Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, the device offers 12 GB of RAM (which is more than on the laptop that's being used to type this review).

The Note 10 Plus performed beautifully, as you'd expect for a device priced above $1,000, with fast loading across apps and websites. And like with the S10 Plus, we've noticed that the Note 10 Plus offers a smoother experience all around than the Galaxy devices of previous years—with the lag and hiccups (which have long been absent from iPhones) nearly all eliminated.

Handwriting Conversion

Another productivity enhancer in the Note10 is an update to the Samsung Notes app that makes taking handwritten notes with the S Pen more useful. Handwritten notes in the app can now easily be converted into text on the Note10 (Samsung said it has invested significantly in handwriting recognition technologies).

After the handwriting is converted to text, that text can now also be exported to formats including Microsoft Word.

Our tryout of the feature showed that the Samsung Notes app was generally successful at recognizing handwriting. The handwriting does have to be legible, of course, but the app showed itself capable of picking up on handwriting that was on the borderline of legibility.

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