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My Galaxy Note8 is 2 years old and like many phones after 2 years, the battery life started to become a real annoyance and the phone became sluggish.
Before the Note8 I had the Galaxy Note Edge for 3 years. I was able to keep that phone for longer thanks to swappable batteries, but since then Samsung decided to copy Apple’s path of removing consumer friendly features like that in favor of planned obsolescence.
While I’m clearly a Galaxy Note loyalist, I got my wife Mimi a Pixel 3 for negative $100 during last year’s Google Fi bonanza. The camera on that phone is amazing, but I wasn’t ready to break up with the Galaxy Note line.
When I saw that Samsung would pay $600 for a Pixel 3 trade-in I went on eBay and bought a used one that had no screen cracks for $325 shipped, less $25 in eBay Bucks, for a total of $300 out of pocket. That would lower my cost of a Note by $275 and would still allow me to sell my Note8.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that Samsung would only give the $600 credit if you got an unlocked phone. The Note10+ 5G is not available as an unlocked phone, so the Pixel would only get a $250 credit for that phone.
I was tempted to get the 5G version at the $200 premium. But a $550 premium was just too much to swallow, especially given that 5G isn’t even available in Cleveland yet and that current 5G phone modems won’t have access to all of the 5G spectrum that will be available next year.
I definitely wanted micro-SD storage, so that meant I wanted the Note10+ as the base Note10 doesn’t have a micro-SD slot. The Note10+ also adds a bigger screen, more RAM, an additional camera, and 45W Superfast charging, though Samsung sells the 45W charger separately.
The unlocked Note10+ is $1,099 with 256GB of internal storage or $1,199 with 512GB of storage. My Note8 came with a free 256GB micro-SD card, so I went with the cheaper 256GB version and popped in my old 256GB micro-SD card for additional storage space.
The $600 trade-in is nice because it also reduces the taxable basis of the phone to $499.99. That meant I paid $539.99 for the phone instead of $1,187.99, an actual trade-in savings of $648, of which I paid $300 out of pocket to buy the Pixel. That meant I saved $348 off the price of the phone by buying a trade-in on eBay.
I’ll also get a $200 accessory credit for making the pre-order and 1% back in rewards. I opted to have the accessory credit sent to me later rather than decide what to buy up-front. It will surely come in handy for buying a 45W Superfast charger and some other goodies!
Pre-orders also come with 6 months of Spotify Premium and 4 months of YouTube Premium.
Some quick thoughts on my new phone after 24 hours of playing with it.
- The battery life is markedly improved from the Note8, which never lasted close to a full day for me. I’ve been using the Note10+ all day and still have 65% battery life remaining.
- The camera seems phenomenal. Pictures are clear, the background blur seems great, the options for the ultra-wide angle, wide angle, and telephoto lenses are awesome, the super steady video mode is fantastic, and motion pictures are fun. It seems like a winner for most lighting, but in low lighting it still doesn’t compete with the Pixel.
- The video editor seems intuitive and very handy for quickly combining videos, editing scenes, adding music, and more. Editing with the S-Pen is a breeze!
- The 6.8″ screen is big, bright, and beautiful.
- The whopping 12GB of RAM means there is no waiting for anything.
- The form factor is similar to the Note8, but the screen has much more real estate, which is a pleasure. It also feels easier to hold in my hand.
- My apps and data transferred over seamlessly and quickly with the included USB-C to USB-C cable.
- The in-screen fingerprint works much better than on the back of the phone.
- The S-Pen remains the Note’s killer app. It’s better than ever at taking notes and it effortlessly converts my deplorably bad handwriting into searchable text notes.
- The S-Pen now has gestures that allow you to take pictures, zoom in, change modes, and more with the flick of the wrist.
- My kids loved playing with the S-Pen’s AR Doodle feature, which allows you to draw on anyone or anything and have the drawing stick even as the camera moves around. The phone is also supposed to have a 3D scan app that looked very cool, though I couldn’t find it so it may not have been released yet.
- Other S-Pen features like copy/pasting, magnify, translate, screen write, and more are also easy to use.
- Despite getting an unlocked phone, Voice over LTE and WiFi calling both worked right out of the box. After getting a voicemail I was also able to save the Samsung visual voicemail app to my home screen. Finally I downloaded my old Verizon ringtone and notification sound, so there shouldn’t be any difference between the unlocked and the branded phone.
- Boldbeast voice recorder is still working fine. I love being able to record calls and it has helped me out several times in the past!
- Samsung killed the Bixby button, merging it with the power button. When you long-press the power button you get Bixby by default, but Samsung now allows you to change that to get the phone power down options instead. Score for no more pointless Bixby button!
- Samsung moved the power button from the right side to the left side of the phone under the volume rocker. I’m not a fan at all, though I’ll probably get used to it.
- Due to the placement of the power button on the left side, it’s now trickier to take a screenshot by pushing volume down and power simultaneously. I now use the screen brush hand gesture or use the S-Pen smart select, but it’s not ideal.
- While I was able to turn the screen off on my Note8 with a double tap on the ever-present home button on the bottom of the phone screen, this no longer turns the screen off on the Note10. I don’t like having to reach for the power button on the left, so I downloaded One Hand Operation+ from the Galaxy store and added a swipe left gesture to turn the screen off. Not as easy as a double-tap, but it does the trick.
- Samsung has finally joined Apple’s courage and killed the headphone jack. The writing was on the wall, but with my Bose QC 35 wireless headphones I won’t personally miss it.
- The price. Though the trade-in and accessory offers certainly took some of the sting off the price tag.
Minor grievances aside, it seems like a great phone and the Aura Glow color is certainly unique.
Will you get a Note10? Which version will you buy?