The Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ was certainly one of the best handsets to launch last year, if not the best. It was a marked improvement over the Galaxy S10 and certainly better than most of the Chinese flagship smartphones that launched in 2019. Shortly after the launch of the Galaxy Note 10 line-up, there were rumblings on the Internet which suggested that Samsung would be launching toned-down versions of its flagship offerings — the Galaxy S10 and the Galaxy Note 10. And today, we will be looking at the Galaxy Note 10 Lite, which even though the name may suggest otherwise, it is a flagship in every sense of the word.
The Galaxy Note 10 Lite is aimed at those who are reluctant to purchase any model from the Note 10 line-up because of its seriously daunting price tag. This model, like the others, comes with an S-Pen and most of the magic that was present on the Galaxy Note 10. However, since, it is a watered-down version of its higher-priced siblings, it features an Exynos 9810 SoC, a flat-panelled Super AMOLED FHD display and no wireless charging. It also loses out on a Gorilla Glass protection and makes do with UFS 2.1 instead of UFS 3.0 storage as seen on the Galaxy Note 10+. Also, it lacks an IP rating, and the storage tops out at 128GB.
With all that out of the way, there are some serious upsides here as well and this is mainly to do with the S-Pen and most of the features that come along with it and we all know how rare a smartphone with a stylus is these days. Also, Samsung has fitted the Note 10 Lite with a 4500mAh battery that’s bigger than that found on the Galaxy Note 10+. Also, the cameras on the back are no slouch either and the front-facing camera sees a major upgrade with now boasting a 32MP sensor.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite is a hark back to Galaxy Note devices of yesteryear and this is because of the flat display found here. For those who are fans of this type of design, you will certainly love using the Note 10 Lite as the last Note to come with this design was the Galaxy Note 5, a crowd favourite. The display here isn’t about looks but Samsung designed it this way with functionality being the focal point. The curved displays on the Note 10+ are pleasing to the eye and while we are fans of it, we certainly understand why Samsung skipped it in favour of this low-cost offering. Being a flat display, you won’t get the insane screen-to-body ratios; but what you will get is a device with thick, noticeable bezels all around. The bezels on the chin is pretty evident here while the ones on the side are lesser in comparison. However, this shouldn’t be a problem for most as this will be an oversight after a few minutes of use. In fact, this design is reminiscent of the higher-end Galaxy A-series smartphones that were launched last year to immense success.
A feature that really popped out for us was the inclusion of the earpiece above the forehead’s bezel. This reminded us of smartphones from rival brands that sit in the Rs 10K to Rs 20K price range. Below the earpiece, you get a tiny camera cut-out as part of the brand’s Infinity-O display. This is a similar move as the Samsung Galaxy Note 10, but we feel that Samsung has shrunk it down a bit even though they have added a much larger sensor here.
On the rear, there is a new camera module that was last seen on the Samsung Galaxy A51, it appears that this is the design trend that Samsung is going with as leaked images of the Samsung Galaxy S20 series have a similar module on its rear. There are three camera sensors and an LED housed in this setup and we have to say this is an interesting design. Hate it or love it, this is the future of Samsung’s design for its camera modules and it should feature on most of the brand’s high-end smartphones due this year.
The rear panel appears to look like glass and this elevates its appeal. However, upon closer inspection, it is actually made of plastic with a glass finish. This goes some way in keeping the weight of the already heavy handset down; however, given the price, we would have hoped for a better, more premium finish. While the back panel is made of plastic, the sides are thankfully made of metal and this adds to the overall impressive build quality. Samsung has also thrown in a case with the Note 10 Lite which keeps your handset looking fresh long past its purchase date.
Just like the Note 10+, all the buttons are placed on the right. This includes the volume rockers and the side key which acts as a multifunctional button for accessing Bixby, launching the camera or just turning the device off. The location of these buttons is well-placed. However, single-hand usage is nearly impossible because of the sheer size of the Note 10 Lite.
The SIM tray is located at the top right and it is of the hybrid variety. This means that you can either use two SIM cards or one SIM and one microSD card at a time. You can’t use two SIM cards and a microSD card at the same time. On the bottom of the Galaxy Note 10 Lite, you find a USB Type-C charging port and the housing for the S-Pen. Also, Samsung has brought back the headphone jack on its Note series which was one of the biggest absentees on the Note 10+.
Elaborating on the S Pen, this is loaded with the same features that were found on the Note 9. This means that you get the Bluetooth connectivity and the ability to use the stylus’s remote feature, but you lose out on the Air gestures which were one of the biggest features of the Galaxy Note 10+.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite is in no way light. It is a really heavy handset and weighs an appalling 199g. Along with its size (163.7 x 76.1 x 8.7mm) and weight, and single-hand operation is not really possible. And when used with its supplied case, the heft is increased pretty substantially. However, with it being thicker, Samsung also managed to add a larger battery here — 4500; that’s even larger than the Note 10+.
Overall the design and build of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite is as one would expect — premium with a few compromises that hardly matter.
The display of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite falls short when it comes to rivals in and around the same price range. It comes with a 6.7-inch display boasting a resolution of 1080 x 2400 pixels and a 20:9 aspect ratio. The Galaxy Note 10+, on the other hand, comes with a 6.8-inch display and a resolution of 1440 x 3040 pixels. Even the 2019 flagship, the OnePlus 7 Pro comes with a better resolution with 1440 x 3120 pixels making the Note 10 Lite lag behind in this department.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ featured a Dynamic AMOLED display and unfortunately, this handset makes use of a Super AMOLED display that’s pretty common for all Samsung smartphones that don’t come with the flagship tag associated with it. Even the Galaxy S10 Lite features a Super AMOLED Plus display making this model inferior in this respect. However, Samsung has used an Infinity-O display here which is similar to the ones found on the Galaxy Note 10, Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite and the recently launched Samsung Galaxy A51.
The display on the Galaxy Note 10 Lite performs pretty well and there are two modes which can be accessed from the settings — Natural and Vivid. The Natural mode as the name suggests gives colours that are true to life and with a tonal balance that’s quite pleasing to look at. There is also the Vivid mode which adds a punch to the colours and increases the saturation levels pretty drastically. Both modes are great and it’s great that Samsung is giving the user the option to decide which mode is best.
Outdoors, the display gets quite bright and as should be the case considering the price it's selling for. Viewing angles are pretty strong too and there aren’t any complaints from us here.
Since last year, Samsung has doubled-down on its user experience and this was evident in the absolutely clean One UI. The 2020 One UI 2.0 builds upon where Samsung left off and it continues the minimal yet intuitive experience that’s seen on the first-generation UI.
On the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lie, Samsung has launched it's One UI 2.0 on top of Android 10 and with it, you can expect this handset to get some future major OS updates as well. One of the biggest advantages that feature here is that you can now decide on how much access you give apps — always in the background, only while using the app and never access at all. This is a minor upgrade in the grander scheme of things but it goes a long way in protecting your privacy.
The essence of One UI runs deep within One UI 2.0 and over here we find a useful but oft-looked feature in Edge panels. This is a feature that allows you to quickly access apps and other features by simply swiping it out from the right of the display. The location of this panel can be changed and you can also slot it on the other side of the screen.
There is also the system-wide dark mode that’s a part of Android 10. Earlier, this feature was present only with Samsung-made apps and third-party apps had to be manually enabled if it had the dark theme.
With the latest version of One UI, you have a dark mode across most apps giving you a uniform feel. There is also a new navigation option for gestures which is located in the display settings sub-menu in the Settings app. If for whatever reason you’re uncomfortable using gestures; there are the old-school three-button navigations that are also available.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite also comes with an in-display fingerprint scanner that works decently well. It isn’t the fastest there is but it gets the job done. To unlock your phone, it takes about a second to work and unlike the ultrasonic fingerprint scanner found on the Galaxy Note 10+, this is of the optical variety. Samsung has also used facial recognition for unlocking the handset; however, it is just camera-centric and no 3D mapping takes place like that seen on rival handsets.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note series initial claim to fame was and will always be its S Pen. This feature is a mainstay on the Note Series and we don’t see it going away anytime soon. While the Note 10+ had some impressive features such as gestures for the camera, the Galaxy Note 10 Lite’s S Pen works the way it did with the Note 9.
The Screen-off memo is a feature that has great potential and it’s one of the most widely used features of the S Pen. This allows you to quickly jot down notes when the handset is in standby mode soon after accessing the stylus from its housing.
Additionally, when the S Pen is pulled out with the screen unlocked, a number of options appear in the form of an Air Command menu. Other than this, there are features such as Smart Select, Screen Write, Live Messages, AR Doodle and others.
If we had to choose one aspect of the Galaxy Note 10 Lite that was lacking then it would be Samsung’s decision to use the Exynos 9810 chipset in this handset. This isn’t a bad chipset by any stretch of the imagination but its painfully old. It was first introduced with the Samsung Galaxy S9 and now with nearly two-years having passed, its inclusion doesn’t really make sense to us. In fact, this chipset doesn’t match up to any SoC’s found in rival flagships and also faces some immense competition from midrange models in terms of raw performance.
The Exynos chipset is built on a 10nm process and is of the octa-core variety with 4 cores clocked at 2.7GHz and 4 cores clocked at 1.7GHz. The handset is paired with either 6GB or 8GB of RAM with 128GB of storage and in for review, we have the latter option. In the Geekbench 5 benchmarking tool, the Note 10 Lite scored 484 points in the single-core test and 1353 points in the multi-core test. To put these scores into perspective, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ recorded a score of 727 points in the single-core test and 2081 points in the multi-core test. The OnePlus 7 Pro produced a score of 725 points in the single-core test and 2666 points in the multi-core test. This shows that even though the handset has flagship-level features, it severely lacks in the performance department at least where synthetic benchmarks are concerned.
The real-world performance of the Galaxy Note 10 Lite is pretty decent and it’s decently fast as well which is great for gaming as well as most other tasks. So, if you happen to be hell-bent on a smartphone with a stylus and don’t want to break the bank for the higher-end Note devices, then this model should suit you just fine.
When it comes to camera quality, you can expect a decent setup here. Sure, it doesn’t have the insane capabilities that were seen on the Galaxy Note 10+, but it does have some compromises that shouldn’t affect most. You get a triple-rear camera setup — a wide primary camera, an ultra-wide-angle camera and a telephoto lens all of 12MP each. This setup is getting increasingly common and there’s nothing extraordinary to write home about.
The primary camera is a 12 MP, with f/1.7, 27mm (wide), 1/2.55", 1.4µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, and OIS. The second is a 12 MP, f/2.4, 52mm telephoto lens, 1/3.6", 1.0µm, PDAF, OIS, 2x optical zoom. And there’s an ultra-wide lens which is also a 12 MP with an f/2.2 aperture.
When using the Galaxy Note 10 Lite to capture images in well-lit conditions, there is a level of detail that screams flagship smartphone. In fact, we are reminded about the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ when it comes to image quality on this handset with there being quite a minimal amount of noise being captured.
The dynamic range here is great as well and colours are represented well enough. There isn’t any over-saturation seen which was universally present on Samsung smartphones in the past. This isn’t to say that colours appear muted but on the other hand, quite natural and pleasing.
Low-light image quality isn’t bad either and where other mid-range devices fail, the Galaxy Note 10 Lite pushes the boundaries. The handset has plenty of detail as well as sharpness and this caught us pleasantly by surprise. Colours appear natural and the dynamic range is good as well.
When it comes to selfie shots, Samsung has used a 32MP Quad-Bayer sensor that utilises pixel-binning so the outputted image will be of 8MP. Colours here appear natural and there is plenty of detail visible with the overall dynamic range appearing fairly wide.
When it comes to the battery, Samsung has done extremely well to fit its biggest ever battery in a Note device — 4500mAh. This even beats the likes of the Galaxy Note 10+ which features a 4300mAh battery. The battery life here is pretty decent and even with heavy usage, it lasted us over a day. It also comes with fast charge where a mere one hour can provide an entire day's worth of use.
At Rs 38,999 for the 6GB version and Rs 40,999 for the 8GB option the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite is perfectly priced. This handset comes with all the best there is to offer from its higher-end siblings and by charging it this perfectly, it is poised to steal some of the market share from current crowd-favourites like the OnePlus 7 Pro and OnePlus 7T. Samsung couldn’t have priced this device any better and at this rate, it’s an absolute steal.
For this price, you get to witness Samsung’s superiority when it comes to mixing its hardware and software along with the magic that’s in the ever-evolving S Pen. For those who do buy this handset, you’re not just entering Samsung’s well-thought-out ecosystem; but a device that can easily be an extension of your palm for a price that’s defying odds....