Hands on: Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite – Does this devalue the Note series?

First Impressions

I first thought having a cheaper Note device might devalue the brand, however after spending a bit of time with it I can see this making far more sense than the Galaxy S10 Lite just because it brings the S Pen to wider audience. Price will of course show how much of a better deal this than buying an older Note but I think Samsung has made a good move by offering some of the classic Note features in a device that isn’t a flagship.

Key Specifications

  • S Pen
  • 6.7-inch FHD OLED display
  • 4500 mAh battery, USB-C
  • Exynos 9810, 6/8GB RAM

Announced shortly before CES 2020, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite is a bit of a confusing device – especially when you consider the Galaxy S20 is all set to be announced on February 11.

The Galaxy Note 10 Lite represents the first ‘budget’ (there’s no pricing confirmed yet, but it’ll come in at a more affordable price than the regular Note 10) Note device from Samsung and it’s important as it brings the S Pen down to a smartphone that won’t be priced like a flagship.

Having a cheaper way to get a phone with the S Pen is great and this is the main reason why I feel this makes more sense than the Galaxy S10 Lite.

note10lite4 • TopThreeRatings.com

While it does have the stylus, the Note 10 Lite lacks the fit and finish I have come to expect from Samsung’s usually very svelte line. The phone feels plasticky and thanks to the 6.7-inch it’s very large. I do like the bright, vivid red colour option you can get the back in though. There’s also a new camera cluster in the top right corner on the back and this design – which isn’t too dissimilar to the iPhone 11 Pro – is rumoured to be making an appearance on the upcoming Galaxy S11.

The S Pen works in much the same way as it does on the higher-end Note series, however it misses off some features. There’s no Screen Off Memo, for instance, and you won’t be able to use the stylus for zooming when you’re taking pictures. I’m a huge fan of easily jotting down notes while the screen is off so the lack of Screen Off Memo is a shame, however clearly corners have to be cut and I guess Samsung doesn’t want to completely devalue its true flagship.

Another slight difference between this and Note 10 Plus is the lower-res FHD display. It looked fine during my hands on time with the device though and it remains AMOLED with support for HDR – HDR10+ support wasn’t confirmed. The screen isn’t curved either, which could either be a mark for or against this phone. Personally I prefer a flat screen.

note10lite • TopThreeRatings.com

While there have been some clear sacrifices in terms of design, there’s still some serious power inside. There’s a beefy Exynos 9810, either 6 or 8GB RAM and 128GB storage plus microSD expansion. Samsung has also included a 4500mAh battery which should make this device pretty impressive when it comes to endurance. Wireless charging seems to be missing, though.

I can’t say for sure how long this will last yet between charges and I also can’t comment too much on how the cameras perform – that will have to come in our full review.

In terms of camera specs you will find three 12-megapixel sensors on the back (wide, tele and ultrawide) and a 32-megapixel sensor on the front for selfies. Simply having a huge amount of megapixels doesn’t always lead to better selfies and often these kinds of selfie cameras are actually worse than those with, say, 10-megapixels. The main and tele cameras also have OIS.

note10lite3 • TopThreeRatings.com

Early Verdict

I first thought having a cheaper Note device might devalue the brand, however after spending a bit of time with it I can see this making far more sense than the Galaxy S10 Lite just because it brings the S Pen to wider audience.

The price will, of course, show how much of a better deal this than buying an older Note but I think Samsung has made a good move by offering some of the classic Note features in a device that isn’t a flagship.

A ’hands on review’ is our first impression of a product only – it is not a full test and verdict. Our writer must have spent some time with the product to describe an early sense of what it’s like to use. We call these ‘hands on reviews’ to make them visible in search. However these are always unscored and don’t give recommendations. Read more about our reviews policy.

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