Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ review: The best Android phone for Microsoft and Windows users

Is this the closest thing to a Surface Phone running Android ever?

Samsung Galaxy Note 10
(Image: © Windows Central)

I've never been a massive fan of the Samsung Galaxy series of smartphones. The last time I used a Galaxy flagship, it was with the Galaxy S8, and I sold it after only a few weeks because I couldn't get behind Samsung's version of Android. It felt bloated and didn't look very nice. The hardware was excellent, as Samsung hardware always is, but that's only part of the story when it comes to choosing a smartphone, and Samsung's software side of things just didn't work for me.

But it's been two years, and Samsung has overhauled its version of Android with the new OneUI that attempts to debloat things and make things prettier. Microsoft has also since joined in on the Samsung fun by announcing a partnership that sees it integrate its own services into OneUI and the Galaxy Note 10 for a better experience across the Microsoft ecosystem.

This partnership is why we're reviewing the Galaxy Note 10 on Windows Central; it's the phone Microsoft thinks you should buy if you're part of the Microsoft ecosystem. If you use Windows, Office, Outlook, Skype, and more on your PC, the Galaxy Note 10 makes it easy to bring those experiences with you on the go.

This is a review of the Galaxy Note 10 from the perspective of a Microsoft user. If you're interested in the device as a whole and want to know more about Samsung-specific changes and features over previous Samsung phones, make sure you check out Android Central's in-depth review.

Check out Android Central's review of the Galaxy Note 10+

Galaxy Note 10+ hardware

Galaxy Note 10

Galaxy Note 10 (Image credit: Windows Central)

This is some of the best smartphone hardware on the market.

It's a beautifully crafted combination of metal and glass with curved edges, tight corners, and a mesmerizing edge-to-edge display. The Note10+ is big, but it's not unusually large, like Note devices have been in years past. If you're used to bigger phones, the Note 10+ is going to feel right at home. If not, there's a smaller 6.3-inch model that's much more like the size of an iPhone XR.

The display is absolutely gorgeous. It's a high-resolution WQHD+ OLED. Many have said it's the best display on any smartphone right now, and I'm inclined to agree. By default, it comes out of the box running at full HD resolution, but if you want to take advantage of the full quality the display has to offer, you can up the resolution to WQHD+, which is what I did. This can reduce battery life, but I've not noticed any considerable hit to endurance.

Note 10+ battery life

Speaking of battery life, it's very good. I'm using the Exynos model, not the Snapdragon one, but I can't fault this battery life. I'm getting through a day and a half no problem before dropping below 15 percent. Even then, with the Note 10+'s 45w charging, I'm back up to 100 percent in no time.

It also has wireless charging and supports "fast wireless charging." I use both an Anker and Pixel wireless charger, and although both support fast charging, it's only the Anker charger that actually delivers the fast charging capabilities to the Galaxy Note 10+.

There's an under-display fingerprint reader, which is good, but not the best. My OnePlus 7 Pro has a better in-display fingerprint reader than the Note 10+. It feels a little slower, and sometimes a little less accurate. It's definitely slower than any dedicated capacitive fingerprint reader found on most smartphones these days, so you'll notice it coming from a phone that didn't already have an in-display fingerprint reader.

Camera performance with the Note 10+ is very good. I find the photos to be crisp and colorful, but I'll refer you to Android Central's review for a more in-depth look at the cameras, as I really haven't spent too much time with them.

Great haptics on Note 10+

Let's talk about the headphone jack. I personally am not bothered by its removal, but there are people out there who are. Samsung compensates for this by providing a pair of very good in-ear USB-C headphones in the box. You can also buy a dongle separately if you already have a pair of 3.5mm jack headphones you aren't willing to part with.

I'm happy that Samsung removed the jack on the Note 10+, because its removal has made room for a bigger battery and, more importantly, a better haptic motor. Haptics inside a phone are one of the most important UX parts, and having a bad haptic motor can be the difference between a premium feeling and cheap feeling experience. Removing the jack seems to make room for a much larger, much better haptic motor. Now, admittedly, even with the removal of the jack, the Note 10+'s haptic motor isn't as good as an iPhone, or Pixel for that matter, but it's definitely better than previous Note devices.

There's also the staple Galaxy Note pen, which is super cool. It acts as both a pointer and inking device, just like a Surface Pen does with Windows 10.

Powerful specs

On the inside, you get top tier specifications. It has a Snapdragon 850 (or Exynos 9825,) 12GB RAM, and 256GB storage that's expandable via microSD. You also get stereo speakers facing the top and bottom of the device, and super clicky volume and power buttons on the left side — no Bixby button here, which is great.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Note 10+Note 10
Operating SystemAndroid 9 Pie
One UI 1.5
Android 9 Pie
One UI 1.5
Display6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED
3040x1440, HDR10+
6.3-inch Dynamic AMOLED
2280x1080, HDR10+
ProcessorSnapdragon 855 or Exynos 9825Snapdragon 855 or Exynos 9825
Rear camera one12MP, f/1.5-2.4, OIS, 77° FoV12MP, f/1.5-2.4, OIS, 77° FoV
Rear camera two16MP, f/2.2, 123° FoV16MP, f/2.2, 123° FoV
Rear damera three12MP, f/2.1, OIS, 45° FoV12MP, f/2.1, OIS, 45° FoV
Rear camera fourVGA DepthVision
f/1.4, 72° FoV
Front camera one10MP, f/2.2, 80° FoV
auto focus
10MP, f/2.2, 80° FoV
auto focus
45W wired
15W wireless
25W wired
12W wireless

Overall, this is some excellent hardware for a smartphone. It is worth noting that there are quite a few differences between the Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+. We're reviewing the Note 10+, and while most of the things mentioned here are applicable to both, the smaller Note 10 has a smaller battery, fewer camera features, and a lower resolution display.

Galaxy Note 10+ software

Android, OneUI, and Microsoft all come together to make this phone the phone to get if you're part of the Microsoft ecosystem. Microsoft and Samsung have worked together to integrate several Microsoft software and services into this device so that out of the box, users are getting the best of Microsoft on Android without having to download anything manually.

This is easily the best Android phone for Windows users.

OneUI is an improvement over Samsung software of the past. It's still bloated with hundreds of features you're probably not going to want or need, but it doesn't feel like the experience is being weighed down by that anymore. This device is paired with 12GB RAM, so any services that are running in the background still leave plenty of room for other activities.

I have mixed feelings about the overall aesthetic design of OneUI, however. It's very rounded at the corners, and in some areas that's great, but in others, it seems a little unnecessary. It does have dedicated light and dark modes, which I appreciate. Overall, I think most people won't have an issue with Samsung's OneUI on top of Android, but I'm not sure the same can be said for the app bloat out of the box.

Office Mobile app icon

Office Mobile app icon (Image credit: Windows Central)

The Microsoft partnership actually contributes to this somewhat. The Galaxy Note 10 is just bloated with apps, some of which offer the same thing, just by different companies. For example, there are now three email apps that come built into the Galaxy Note 10: Samsung Email, Gmail, and now Outlook. It seems a little excessive and is something that could easily be solved by asking the user during setup which email client they want.

Many (but not all) of the bundled apps can either be uninstalled or disabled by the user. All of the Google and Microsoft apps can be, and several of the Samsung ones. Out of the box, you get all of Samsung's suite of apps, including its own Galaxy App Store in addition to the Google Play Store, plus all of Google's suite and now Microsoft apps, too. Microsoft has the least amount of apps bundled on the device, but there is a dedicated Microsoft folder on the home screen that has Outlook, LinkedIn, Office, and OneDrive.

The Galaxy Note 10+ Microsoft tie-in

Let's focus on the Microsoft additions on the Galaxy Note 10 because that's the primary reason we're interested in this device. Microsoft made a huge deal about partnering with Samsung and working closely with company, it bundled software and services built by Microsoft. On the surface, this doesn't seem like that a big deal, as Microsoft's Android apps are available on any Android if you manually install them. But this is a big deal, because bundling Microsoft apps means users are more likely to check them out. It's all about integrating these Microsoft experiences with the Galaxy Note 10.

Microsoft built an exclusive Office Mobile app for Samsung devices that consolidates all the Office apps on Android into one. I actually prefer this over having separate apps for each, and so far, I haven't noticed a difference in feature set between the standalone apps and the hub app.

The Outlook app has been optimized for the Galaxy Note 10 experience, as well. It now supports the S Pen, and you can use it to hover over emails in your inbox to see a brief overview of the contents of the email, as well as quick actions to common tasks such as reply, delete, and flag. This feature works on previous Note devices, too.

You also get LinkedIn and OneDrive bundled on the device, and as far as I can tell, there are no extra additions or features specific to Samsung. Microsoft did say that OneDrive would be baked into the Samsung Gallery app for photo backup, but I've yet to see this integration.

Your Phone integration

The things that really stands out are the improvements made to Your Phone on this device. The Your Phone experience on the Galaxy Note 10 is very different, going so far as to not even be called "Your Phone," but rather "Link To Windows" instead.

Your Phone doesn't show up as an app in the apps list, as it's been integrated into the systems Settings app, with a new UI that makes it look and feel native to OneUI. This UI is straightforward and provides a quick overview detailing which PC is connected, which Microsoft Account you're using, and the ability to toggle mobile data use and telemetry sending. This is worlds better than the standard Your Phone Companion app, which provides no information to the user and acts as more of an advertisement for other Microsoft Apps.

There's also a quick access toggle in the notification center that lets you jump straight into setting up a link between your phone and PC, or turning it on and off when you don't need it running. The real interesting side of this is what Microsoft has done behind the scenes to improve the Your Phone experience as a whole.

I've used Your Phone on a number of Android devices, and it has never been as reliable or as fast as with the Galaxy Note 10. Microsoft says it did some work under the hood to improve the reliability, and this really shows. Notification and SMS sync is now pretty much instant and is always working without me needing to reconnect every so often.

This makes a huge difference to the overall user experience. I would get so frustrated with Your Phone seemingly disconnecting from my phone for no reason when using the OnePlus or Pixel, but the Galaxy Note 10 is able to maintain a stable connection all the time. The speed in which the Your Phone app syncs with the phone is also improved, meaning you no longer have to wait 10 or more seconds for an SMS to send or a photo to show up.

The last big change Microsoft made to Your Phone on the Galaxy Note 10 is the addition of screen mirroring support on any Windows 10 PC. Other smartphones that actually support screen mirroring only work on select devices tested by Microsoft, but with the Galaxy Note 10, it works on any device, without the use of Bluetooth.

Microsoft also announced that later this year, Your Phone will gain the ability to sync cellular calls between your phone and PC. I assume this will come to the Galaxy Note 10 first, and this will mean Galaxy Note users can take calls using Your Phone on their PC just like an iPhone user can take calls on their Mac. It's a great feature to have built into the OS at a native level.

Samsung DeX for Windows 10

There's also an additional new feature called DeX for Windows that turns any Windows PC into a DeX workstation by connecting your phone with a standard USB-C cable. This will bring up the DeX workstation powered by your phone, allowing you to run all the Android apps you have on your phone directly on your PC. I personally have no use for this, but I can see why this could be useful for businesses or people who have a specific app that's only on Android.

However, the experience is very slow. It appears to be remoting into a virtual DeX desktop environment and is not natively transferring video through the USB port on your laptop. Because of this, there's lag between clicking and typing. If you're used to remoting into a PC at work or home, this won't be much different. But if not, the lag and artifacting are definitely noticeable.

To sum that all up ...

The Galaxy Note 10 is the phone to buy if you want the best Microsoft experiences on Android. Period. The hardware is excellent. You hold this device, and it just screams premium. And the improves made to integrations with Microsoft services make it an excellent option for Microsoft Windows users.

It's not perfect, for the reasons listed above. But there is no better option if you're invested in Microsoft's services. It's that simple.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

  • I FINALLY switched from my windows phone 3 days ago. So far, I really like the note 10+. There's definitely a learning curve but it's pretty small. Having access to services that Microsoft has been systematically breaking on WP is really nice. Everything is very responsive and the camera is really good. Also, my 45w charger should arrive next week but the 25w charger gets me to 100% in roughly an hour. I'll be holding onto this phone for a long time (unless the next generation starts using graphene batteries)
  • I can't wait to get the N10+ because the camera on my N9 is subpar... If the N10's camera takes shots like the S10, that would be awesome.
    Can't believe how disappointing the camera is on the N9🤔🤔🤔🤔
  • Hi Rodneyej, I had camera problems on my Huawei mobile phone. I down loaded the Open Camera app and am now getting awesome photos. So don't always rely on the phone manufacturers camea app.
  • I heard that you can install the Pixel camera software on other android phones too and that supposedly that is an important factor for the Pixel photo quality. So you could try that.
  • At least I am not the only one who hasn't found the OneDrive integration inside the Gallery app. It was mentioned at the unveiling that it would allow you to view your OneDrive photos inside the app, but when I could not find this ability, I reached out to Samsung Canada who indicated it was not available in Canada and that they had no ETA. Maybe they were mistaken and it's not available _anywhere_ yet.
  • "Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ review: The best Android phone for Microsoft and Windows users"
    Nope, Pixel is because of its stock android.
    As a big-time user of Windows features and services, I think MSFT is taking over android without making the hardware and the stock android is best to enjoy it which also almost guarantee un-impeded or fragmented Os update.
  • Yeah but MS will never get Google to preload Microsoft's competing apps on Google's own devices.
  • Why do you need them pre-installed?
  • Why is Google's version of Android (which isn't stock by the way) better for Microsoft users than Samsung's? I'm not having a pop, I would like to know your opinion.
  • Sorry there is no best, only best for each person. Personally I can't stand Google's Pixel UI. As stated above it is not stock. In the Google Nexus days their phones had a stock UI. I don't use OneUI either on my Samsung phone. The beauty of Android is the ability to customize your device to meet your personal preference. I am an avid Note user. The SPen and handwriting recognition are great in meetings. I have been using OneNote with SPens for years. I buy and use what works for me. I do like the new partnership between MS and Samsung. I hope the work continues and we will see some real integration in the future. Been nice to see some customized integration with MS Teams, SP and other tools.
  • Pixel is a stock android device.
    Google just launched Android 10 (Q) about 2 hours [03Sep2019], and this is part of what was stated.
    "Android 10 will roll out to Pixel devices in a matter of hours, with other OEMs to follow in the coming months."
    I never said other android phones are not good or great, I was responding to why I think Pixel or any stock android is best for former Windows phones folks. I stated Frangmentaion avoidance, best to tinkle with by Microsft.
  • "Why is Google's version of Android (which isn't stock by the way) "
    Google pixel or nexus are stock android
    In general, they are better because you eliminate android fragmentation. Ever notice certain Samsung version and other manufacturers can not be upgraded to latest android Os version or buils, that is because it requires those older forked version to be re-written all over which these OEM do not have the resources or ROI to do. With Pixel or Nexus, they update immediately upon latest Android release "OTA". So, you do not need to wait or keep having hope that the OEM will update These includes security pathes as well.
    If you are a MSFT services users, with stock android, MSFT is able to do a lot of things versus having to navigate all these different android forks that these OEM have done to customize the Os for their hardware. Like I shared above, with microsft launcher, your Phone, cortana SMS, I have MSFT feel and experience on my Pixel
  • This is from WC's sister site android central.
  • Stock android is not necessarily a good thing, yes you get get faster updates generally but not necessarily longer. And while you get less or no non-google apps, there is still tons of google bloatware (which is one the largest data hoarder companies on the world) and some of e.g. samsung apps could be very useful to people (/possibly offer a better or richer experience than stock android apps).
  • New dex feature? I'm running dex on my Samsung Galaxy S10. In fact, I use it with my windows "puck" with my USB keyboard with touchpad. Works great on my 65 inch 4k tv. I think the 10+ phones are too big for my pockets when I sit down. I did like a number of things about my 950xl better than the S10. The S10 is slippery and its camera isn't as good.
  • I also want to use s10 on my tv with kb.
    What is the puck product you use for this?
  • The new dex feature he is referring to is the environment that can run within a Windows PC or a Mac. Almost like you are remoting in to it from your laptop. The advantage is Dex uses your PC mouse and keyboard and just need a usb cable to the PC to activate it. Most people won't care about this feature, but for me it's very useful. I use a shared PC at work and it's nice to keep all of my personal stuff within the Dex environment of whichever PC i am using. When i disconnect the cable, i take all my files with me, nothing is left on the PC.
  • Am I the only person out there who immediately turns off haptic feedback? I'd much rather have a headphones jack.
  • You are not alone. Haptic feedback is the first thing I turn off on all my phones. I don't care much about a headphone jack. All of my good headphones have been Bluetooth for a number of years.
  • Samsung's delayed updates and missing google's phone app have driven me off Samsung branded phones. I hardly use Your Phone so not having better integration of it is not a deal breaker for me.
  • A 4300mAh battery for a 6.8 inch 4k phone is pathetic, especially with all the Samsung bloatware running in the background, that you can't turn off (Not without rooting the phone). Anything below 5000mAh for a phone above 6 inches is a complete ripoff.
    But Samsung has always put pathetically small batteries in their phones...
  • Only thing is... I can't afford it. Unless I wait till the Note 11 or 12 comes out and then the Note 10+ will be cheaper. For now I'm here on my Galaxy S8+ running Microsof Launcher with all the Microsoft Apps and Services running.
  • For the record I waited till the series 9 phones had been out a long time and the 10 series phones were announced to get the S8+ brand new on sale.
  • One other feature I didn't see mentioned was MS is integrating with the Gallery photo app to auto sync to onedrive. Coming this fall I think.
  • I'll stick with my OnePlus 7 Pro... I can customize it to MSFT for about $400 less.
  • Still expensive though, especially considering you will get a Chinese branded phone. Might as well get a Xiaomi phone for better bang for buck and long updates.
  • Nice honest review. I agree with Zac's view. It's a pity Microsoft can't optimize it well before official release and that apparently onedrive integration with Samsung photo's isn't a fact (yet) out of the box. I loath such false pretences. Samsung DeX still sounds a lot like the early days of Continuum. But my imprssions of the demoes so far is that it can do more than Continuum. Would have like the windows UI more though (...familiarity). Samsung DeX looks....crowded and chaotic (all those buttons at the bottom). Curious to know which users Samsung has in mind to cater DeX for, as Continuum didn't really take off. With Continuum the only public story I heard was it's use with the British police. For me Nokia and Microsoft have spoiled me with the first 40 mpix camera. Although the current note 10 devices make great pictures with the current camera setups and better low light photography, the lack of a 40 mpix camera with similar pureview oversampling technology just misses the mark for me.
    But I agree the S pen support and support apps, even onenote(!), Samsung hit the mark for me. Almost there Samsung. Just those few niggles that need ironing.
  • Given the price of this phone VS imported competitors you'd have to be out of your damn mind to buy this phone.
  • Thanks Zac for a really fair review. I appreciate your honesty in showing all the pros and the cons. After being shown the Note 9+ several months ago and then hearing the Note 10+ was going to be sold at Microsoft stores, I pre-ordered it and picked it up last week. I've owned a Windows phone since there was one but I took the plunge and spent the past week making the launch screen look like my Windows Phone (installed Square Launcher which is really awesome...has features the 950 didn't have) and learned what defaults needed to be changed. Like someone else said, the phone's learning curve was less than expected and I'm getting more comfortable remembering where all the settings are and learning about them. Outlook, Contacts and the Calendar are a little different but not a game changer. I really like that Gallery shows all my photos saved on One Drive. But what I can't find is a similar app that can play all my music saved on One Drive. I can go into my One Drive and click on a album and then play the piece I want, but it isn't elegant and I can't play multiple pieces. Anyone know of an app that can do that? Someone suggested I download them to my phone....that's isn't an option since there is too much (nearly 20GB, mainly used for my main profession). At the moment, that's the only thing I'm missing. There are SO many other really cool apps and settings (like not having to sign-in with your finger when you enter in a specific location) plus now I can connect my phone to my Honda Civic and it will show Google (offline) maps on car's screen. That's something I could never do with my Windows phone....
  • Hello Jason, I use the paid-for version of Cloud Player and recommend it for playing music, stored in OneDrive, on an Android device. Although I bought it during one of a series of sales I still think I'd recommend it at full price. And, to all who've contributed their thoughts on the Note 10+, thank you. I'm a fairly heavy Microsoft user and this phone seems great - except I don't think I can afford it. A shame, but still good to know it's favoured by others from a Windows Central-perspective.
  • So who is picking a Windows 10 ARM edition sometime soon?
  • Damn that would be sweet. I would totally get it if it would have phone, sms and whatsapp support and a year later so the price dropped. ^_^
  • Look, I'm sorry Zack but...No. Plain and simple no. The Note 10+ is honestly almost the perfect phone. Key factor being almost. It's held back by it's price and the removal of the headphone jack which makes the s10+ an actually worthwhile alternative. And even if that phone isn't your taste, the OnePlus 7 pro might be. Sure both don't come with the extra level of Dex and your phone enhancements the note does, but in the S10+'s case that might change and in the 7 Pro's case the value for money still makes it better anyway. Both devices are better phones for the Windows fan, especially those who liked how WP offered so much convenience and performance for what wasnt the steepest of prices, even at the high end.
  • I would say a Note 10 (not the plus) after a few months so the prices drops. Because it will offer decent bang for buck while having an unique feature with the pen (otherwise the s10/+). The thing with Oneplus is that it is still expensive while your getting a chinese branded phone, so you might as well get a xiaomi phone for better bang for buck and long updates, or get a samsung of a few months old for the real deal and certainty that you have no chinese backdoors/trackers.
  • Like, surface devices, i misssing surface mobile
  • I know this is formed by bias but when I had Android I felt like Microsoft iOS apps received better/newer features first, and now that I’m on iOS it’s the opposite. Is there a chart for each of their apps that shows the difference in features based on OS?
  • Thanks Superb Chops for the recommendation. I downloaded it and although the interface isn't the prettiest, it works well. In this case I am choosing function over form and that gives me what I was looking for. Your knowledge is better than the Microsoft staff where I purchased my phone. Thank you!