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Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite hands-on review: Anything but lightweight

Tim Danton
10 Jan 2020

There’s a lot to like in Samsung’s ‘Lite’ entry to the Note 10 line

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Samsung isn’t happy unless it has at least 74 phones available for people to buy, so hot on the heels of the Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite it announced a cheaper version of its popular Galaxy Note 10. We had the chance to play with the phone at CES in Las Vegas, and can tell you that it’s looking good.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite: In brief

  • 6.7in Full HD+, Infinity-O display, 1,080 x 2,400 resolution
  • 6GB/8GB RAM, 128GB internal storage and MicroSD slot
  • 10nm 64-bit Octa-core processor (Snapdragon 855)
  • 12MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide, 12MP telephoto rear cameras
  • 32MP selfie camera
  • 4,500mAh battery
  • Facial recognition and on-screen fingerprint reader
  • Available in Aura Glow, Aura Black, Aura Red

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite: Display

The obvious question is what are you losing out on compared to the Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+, followed in quick succession with whether it matters.

First, the screen. The Note 10’s 6.3in display bends around the edges in that infinity-pool-esque way, as does the Note 10+ with its 6.8in screen and significantly superior resolution of 1,440 x 3,040. In contrast, the Note 10 Lite has a boring old flat 6.7in screen with a 1,080 x 2,400 resolution. You’d be a fool to buy it, right?

Naturally, that ‘right’ is fact wrong. In day-to-day use, the curved edge is a nice cosmetic feature but that’s it. Both screens use Samsung AMOLED technology, too, which results in excellent image quality. And the higher resolution of the Note 10+? Well, it’s nice to have, and will result in sharper images, but makes zero practical difference when using the phones.

For example, when you’re using the integrated stylus to scrawl on the screen it works in exactly the same way. 

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite: Specifications

Another area Samsung sacrifices is the processor (or, more precisely, system-on-a-chip). It uses the same Exynos 9810 chipset found in the Note 9, which is around 15% slower than the Exynos 9820 inside the Note 10+. It’s a similar amount slower when playing games.

So, again we have to ask: does this matter? It’s certainly always nice to have the latest, fastest chip in your phone, not least because it means it will last longer. But will you ever notice? Only when playing truly demanding games… but at that point, the lower resolution could even out the S10+’s advantage.

There’s every reason to believe the Note 10 Lite’s battery will last longer too. Here, the lower-res screen again comes in handy (versus the Note 10+), while it has a 4,500mAh battery - that’s 1,000mAh bigger than the Note 10. Just note that there’s no wireless charging on offer here.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite: Reasons to avoid?

I genuinely struggle to think of negative things to say about the Note 10 Lite. Only size really counts against it. If you’re coming from a ‘normal’ phone, rather than a Note, it will feel wide in the hand at first. But I think you’ll quickly get used to that.

Question marks hang over the camera system. It uses a trio of 12-megapixel lenses, one for wide-angle shots (27mm, f/1.7), one for telephoto (52mm, f/2.4) and one for ultrawide images (13mm, f/2.2), so we do want to get a Note 10 Lite in for testing before we give a verdict on that crucial area.

And, as with so many phones, the Note 10 Lite does love a fingerprint, whether that’s in “Aura Glow”, “Aura Black” or “Aura Red” finish. That isn’t such a wide or glamorous selection as the main Notes, and note you can only buy it with 128GB of storage.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite: Early verdict

But there is one tiny thing up the Note 10 Lite’s sleeve: a 3.5mm jack. Yes, it’s 2014 again! We kind of wish that Samsung had brought back the rear fingerprint reader at the same time, but it’s an under-display unit once more.

We like the Note 10 Lite. Exactly how much we end up liking depends on the street price and the quality of cameras, so look out for our full review when it’s published.

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