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Opinion | The Galaxy Note 10 is not a true Note smartphone

Are you happy with paying more money for fewer features if it looks pretty? (Image source: Ishan Agarwal)
Are you happy with paying more money for fewer features if it looks pretty? (Image source: Ishan Agarwal)
The leaks and information about the upcoming Galaxy Note 10 series are coming thick and fast, with most outlets jumping on its eye-catching design. Most seem willing to overlook the loss of features and copycat looks, but should you? It is time to realise that the Note 10 is not a true Note smartphone as we have previously known them.

We are now less than a month away from the release of the Galaxy Note 10 series, which Samsung looks set to unveil at its Galaxy UNPACKED event on August 7. Expectedly, leaks have started pouring out across the internet, with Ishan Agarwal posting a supposedly official marketing render of the Galaxy Note 10+, which 91Mobiles and XDA Developers have swiftly followed up this morning with photos that someone has apparently gleaned from an FCC filing.

We poured through both the SM-N975F and SM-N976B listings in vain trying to find these photos, so someone either has keener eyes than us or has got them from an unpublished source. Incidentally, the SM-N975F and SM-N976B both measure 77.6 x 162.5 mm with a 170.1 mm diagonal display. We doubt that our inability to find the images is because of the former, as Samsung has specifically requested in several documents for the FCC to not publish any schematics, external photos, internal photos, test setup photos or user manuals. Also, an attestation letter by Samsung to the FCC confirming the existence of the Note 10 refers to the SM-N975F, a dual-SIM version and a mysterious SM-N975X. Adding in the SM-N976B brings the total to four devices, although there have been rumours of an SM-N970 and SM-N971 too.

Regardless, all signs are currently pointing towards the Note 10 looking like the below photos. Yesterday's marketing renders, today's FCC photos and the leaked real-life photos from nearly two weeks ago all resemble the same device; a boxy handset with a curved display, a punch-hole front-facing camera and triple rear-facing cameras.

All that sounds very flagship 2019, but certain omissions and design decisions do not sit well with what historically have been productivity-focussed smartphones. We have already covered the lack of a headphone jack, with Samsung now reportedly including active-noise-cancelling (ANC) wired headphones with its upcoming flagship. However, this seem like a salve for bandwagoning on an ostensibly Apple design decision.

Samsung has seemingly been given a pass for not only mimicking the design of the back of the Huawei P30 Pro but also its gradient colour-scheme. We are not suggesting that the company should lead the industry on design, although it certainly does not need any more copycats.

Moreover, while Samsung has been maligned for pushing Bixby and its hardware button, omitting it from the Note 10 smacks of further reduced functionality. We cannot understand why Samsung has stuck with keeping the power and volume rocker on the left-hand side of the Note 10. Sure, their positioning is great for lefties, but not for the other 90% of the world's population.

In short, the Galaxy Note 10 by all appearances looks great, but including an S-Pen does not necessarily make it a true Note smartphone. Do not get us wrong, the Note 10 will likely be an excellent smartphone that will excel in most areas. Following the industry trend of removing features for the sake of aesthetics is the antithesis of what the Note series has previously been about, and that is our core issue with the Note 10 at present.

(Image source: 91Mobiles & XDA Developers)
(Image source: 91Mobiles & XDA Developers)
(Image source: 91Mobiles & XDA Developers)
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Alex Alderson, 2019-07-11 (Update: 2019-07-11)