Samsung returns to form with the Galaxy Note 10

OPINION Samsung revealed its updated Galaxy Note smartphone in Brooklyn, New York, this week.

In fact, Samsung launched two new Galaxy Notes. The Note10 and the Note10+.

The South Korean tech giant didn't stop there. It also launched a new tablet, the Galaxy Tab S6, an updated Galaxy Watch Active 2; and a new laptop, the Galaxy Book S, which won't be available in New Zealand.

Needless to say, it was a busy event. And a lot of new Galaxy products for everyone to digest. But for now, let's focus on the Note10s and the Galaxy Watch Active 2. Because, let's be honest, no-one's interested in Android tablets anymore.

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Galaxy Note10

The Note has always been a smartphone that's demanded respect in the technology world. 

Not familiar with it? Just think, big screen, an even bigger battery, first-class chipset and lots of ram/storage. Then you'll get an idea of what the Galaxy Note brand is all about. 

Don't forget the Bluetooth-connected stylus. Or the S Pen, as Samsung brands it, which now comes with a built-in accelerometer and gyroscope.

This year, things are slightly different. The phones aren't as big as they once were. The 6.3-inch Note10 is closer in size to the 6.1-inch S10, while the 6.8-inch Note10+ is the bigger phablet-sized device we're used to seeing. 

Both devices are filled with high-end specs. But there are a few important things to note here (excuse the pun).

Firstly, Samsung has finally removed the headphone jack from these phones. Is that a good thing? I'll let you decide. 

Each unit comes with a pair of USB-C headphones included in the box, but a traditional 3.5mm dongle needs to be purchased separately, which costs US$9.99. That will no doubt leave a slightly sour taste for any customer who has just spent NZ$1699+ on a Note10, or NZ$1899 on a Note10+.

Both devices feature a top-of-the-range Snapdragon 855 processor, which will ensure premium performance. This, incidentally, is exactly the sort of key spec Donald Trump has banned from being sold to Huawei in future.

The phones aren't as big as they once were.
The phones aren't as big as they once were.

Both Note's screens boast edge-to-edge AMOLEDs which is a massive selling point as this display technology is, arguably, capable of delivering the most vivid picture of any smartphone available today.

Samsung hasn't held back on the cameras, either. There's three on offer here, consisting of the 16 megapixel (f/2.2) wide-angle camera, or the 12-megapixel (f/1.5; and f/2.4) dual-aperture main camera,or even the 12 megapixels (f/2.1) 45-degree telephoto camera.

The Note10+ comes with 12GB and 256GB or 512GB of flash storage, with optional microSD expansion, which you really shouldn't need. 

The Note10 has slightly less aggressive, but still impressive, specs. 8GB RAM, 256GB flash storage and no microSD expansion.

All-day battery shouldn't be a problem either with the Note10 and Note Plus' 4,300mAh and 500mAh batteries.

Essentially, you're looking at laptop-level specs in these phones, which is why Samsung upgraded its DeX app this week too.

The new DeX app lets you transform your Note10s into mini PCs. All you need is a Windows or Mac laptop, or a display that has a compatible USB-C screen, and you can work laptop-style. All from your Note 10.

The Active 2's biggest new feature, other than being really good looking (for a smartwatch), is its digital bezel that runs along the edge of the watch.
The Active 2's biggest new feature, other than being really good looking (for a smartwatch), is its digital bezel that runs along the edge of the watch.

As ever with Samsung phones, there are a few software gimmicks too. This year, a new live AR Doodles feature (that does exactly what you think it does) was shown off alongside a full 3D scanner that can be used, in theory, to 3D-print what you capture with your Note's camera.

Galaxy Note10 and Galaxy Note10 Plus are available for pre-order in Aura Glow and Aura Black and will be available in stores from August 23.

Galaxy Watch Active 2

Six months ago, Samsung launched the first Galaxy Active device. A smartwatch with a heavy focus on fitness. This week, it launched the Galaxy Watch Active 2 as well as a new Under Armour partnership.

The Active 2 is available in a 40mm and 44mm size with Bluetooth and LTE connectivity.

The Active 2's biggest new feature, other than being really good looking (for a smartwatch), is its digital bezel that runs along the edge of the watch. 

Anyone who has tried to use a smartwatch screen while working out will know what a sweaty mess it is. This digital bezel's touch-sensitive strip aims to combat this, working in a similar fashion to the wheel found on an early iPods.

The second major win here for Samsung is the Active 2's ECG support, putting it on a par with the Apple Watch. There's one small issue though. ECG support is, er, not supported at launch. Users will have to wait for Samsung to switch this feature on via a software update at a late date. 

The Galaxy Watch Active 2 will go on sale in stores on September 27.