The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Seems Tragically Bad

Samsung goes the “more money, fewer features” route

One of these thousand-dollar phones is less fully featured than its immediate predecessor, and that doesn’t sit well with me. Official Galaxy Note 10 Promo art,

How much is a fancy motion-control-enabled phone stylus worth to you? Is a pen that you can wave in the air worth giving up core user features?

Would you be willing to pay almost a thousand dollars for it, and in exchange give up screen resolution, a headphone jack, and an SD card slot compared to a non-stylus phone with the same processing power?

Samsung, in a move that’s somewhat uncharacteristic for the company, is hoping that you will for some reason.

I would have written about this earlier in the week, but I was too busy being confused.

A couple of days ago, the Korean tech giant announced the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and 10+, and for the first time their Note series features two screen sizes.

That’s fine, but then the trouble starts.

Both models sadly…I mean courageously…ditched the headphone jack, but the bigger model at least keeps many of the other features that users have come to expect from Samsung’s annual flagship refresh.

Shouldn’t the main difference between these two flagship-priced phones be the screen size? Why release a top tier phone that’s missing features from the next rung down?

If you want to retain the previously-standard 1440p screen and SD Card slot in your new Samsung device, you’re going to have to step up to the bigger Note 10+model.

The “base” Note 10 has no SD slot, no headphone jack, a 1080p screen, and the same exact processor, RAM, and cameras as the older non-Note models.

That’s right. Instead of buying the Note 10, you could save several hundred dollars (depending on current discounts) and buy the Samsung Galaxy S10, and sacrifice no raw performance in the process. And gain a headphone jack, higher res screen, and storage expansion.

Even the base $899 price of the S10 is $50 cheaper than the Note 10.

The standard Galaxy S10 from this past March has more features than the newly-announced and more-expensive Note 10. And the same exact Snapdragon 855 processor inside.

I don’t understand this at all.

This pen is what people want! Who cares what else is inside? Official Note 10 Promo Art,

It’s not just because I recently switched from a broken Galaxy S8 to a bought-at-a-discount iPhone XR. Apple routinely cuts features from their newer products that they view as “antiquated”, but they always at least try to sell it as a benefit.

Apple also tries to at least make sure their different product tiers are different in meaningful ways, something they’ve recently improved at in the laptop space.

A flagship, power-user device should have the most features, especially at such a commanding price premium.

That’s what the Note model has been in Samsung’s lineup until this new revision, which seems like an awkwardly pared-down S10, but with support for the S Pen. And a higher price tag. And no attempt from Samsung to justify it.

How does that make any sense at all, from any perspective?

I’m not denying some of the new S Pen features look cool…but I question their utility to the target demographic. AR doodling is a fun concept, but it also seems like the sort of thing that I’d do a few times with friends then forget I had access to.

The rest of the big “Feature” updates here are largely on the software side, and there’s nothing preventing them from coming to older models.

As a sucker for cool industrial design, I do enjoy the new thinner look and the prismatic back color of the Note 10, but I don’t think either of those things is worth a price premium over the standard S10 model. And until people start bending it horrifically on YouTube, we won’t know how durable that new thinner body is.

If you hurl the phone away from you fast enough, it’ll make these speed lines! Official Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Promo Art,

The only thing the Note 10 does well is make the Note 10+ look like the flagship device Samsung cared about and wanted you to buy.

If this were one unified product with a ~$1000 price, the loss of the headphone jack would sting, but it would at least be in line with the rest of the market.;

As it stands, the Note 10 is one of the more obvious gaffs I’ve seen in mobile tech in a long time. The Galaxy S10 is a better choice in every conceivable way, and if Samsung has already convinced you that you need their S Pen in your life and you don’t want to pay more than $1000 for the new model, I’m very sorry for what they’ve just done to you.

The S10e and the iPhone XR were both cut-down products that at least still made relative sense for their price points and ecosystems. The Note 10 is a sad thing that should have been cancelled just like the Galaxy Fold.