Samsung Galaxy Note 10 review: The best Galaxy phone to buy right now

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The Good The Galaxy Note 10 brings the best of Samsung's Note line in a compact body that sells for the right price.

The Bad It lacks a microSD card slot and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The Bottom Line Despite missing a few minor features, the Note 10's size, price and specs add up to the best all-around Samsung phone you can get right now.

9.1 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 9
  • Performance 9
  • Camera 9
  • Battery 10

Galaxy Note 10, or Note 10 Plus? For the first time ever, Samsung announced two sizes of the same Note phone, with only a few differences beyond their screen dimensions and price. Finally, we can answer the questions we've been chewing on since Samsung's reveal: do the differences matter, and which phone is the better buy? 

While the 6.8-inch Note 10 Plus impresses in nearly every way, I'm happy to say that the cheaper, smaller 6.3-inch Note 10 is the best pick for most. 

Its large screen gives you room to do what you want without being too cumbersome to hold (case in point: I dropped it a lot less than the Note 10 Plus), and the features it trades off -- no depth camera on the phone's back, no microSD card slot, less RAM, a smaller battery -- all even out when you consider the Note 10's relative portability and $150 price savings compared to the Plus. 

The Galaxy Note 10 costs $949, versus the Note 10 Plus' $1,099 starting price (both with 256GB). In the UK that's £869 versus £999, and in Australia it's AU$1,499 versus AU$1,699.

As usual with Samsung variants, the two phones share the most important core features, from a crystal-clear AMOLED screen and appealing design to the Snapdragon 855 chipset and S Pen stylus. They both have the same main rear- and front-facing cameras, fast charging with an included 25-watt charger, water-resistance (IP68) and the ability to wirelessly charge another Qi-enabled device. They run Android 9 and will be upgradable to Android 10 -- no word on a timeline yet. (Scroll to the end for the full specs comparison.)

And how does the Note 10 match up to Samsung's other Galaxy phones, like the Galaxy S10 Plus ($850 at Amazon), cheap-premium Galaxy S10E and "fast" handsets like the Note 10 Plus 5G and Galaxy A90 5G? If you're comfortable with a $1,000 budget  -- or with waiting for deals -- it simply delivers the best design and meaningful feature set for the price. That's so long as you can adjust to using wireless or USB-C headphones. Honestly, I just learned to carry the included headphones with me. 

Read more: Best headphones for Samsung Galaxy Note 10, Note 10 Plus  

As for Samsung's loftier devices, we recommend holding off on 5G phones until the networks are more developed and the handset prices come down.

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