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Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite: A Note for everyone

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite is the ideal Note for those who always wanted to buy the Galaxy Note but couldn’t because of its hefty price tag.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite (HT Tech)

Product: Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite

Key Specs: 6.7-inch full HD+ display, Exynos 9810 SoC, 32MP selfie camera 4500mAh battery, 25W super-fast charging, S-Pen

Price: 38,999

Rating: 7/10

Smartphone-verse has undergone several major changes in the past couple of years. From high-end smartphones costing over a lakh to mid-budget smartphones getting premium features, the smartphone market has not only evolved in terms of the variety (both in price and kind) of devices available but also in terms of the features and functionality that they offer. Now, a new trend is emerging in the smartphone market -- the trend of ‘Lites’ or the mid-budget smartphones that offer an experience that is closer to their premium counterparts.

Google launched the Pixel 3a series smartphones last year and Apple joined this league by launching the iPhone SE 2020. Samsung joined this trend this year by launching the Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite, which is the ‘Lite’ version of its last year’s Galaxy S10 smartphone, and the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite, which is the budget variant of its premium budget Galaxy Note 10.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite, which is the star of this review, was launched in India at a price of 38,999 for 6GB RAM variant and 40,999 for the 8GB RAM variant.

With its gigantic display, squared edges and the accompanying S-Pen, the Galaxy Note 10 Lite looks and feels quite similar to its premium budget sibling, that is the Galaxy Note 10. Sure, there are some subtle differences, like the placement of the control buttons and the rear camera design and display design, but on the first look, those differences are difficult to spot.

At the first glance, the Galaxy Note 10 Lite can easily pass off for its premium variant. But looks are not the only thing that make up a smartphone. It is the combination of beauty with the brains that maketh a good phone. And so, the real question here is: Is the Galaxy Note 10 Lite as good as it looks like? And is it able to do the heavy-lifting in terms of the overall performance or not?

Read on to find out...

Design

The first stop on the list is the design. The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite measures 163.7x76.1x8.7mm and it weighs 199 grams. It has the SIM-card tray on the left side and the volume control keys and power button on the right side. It comes with a full-screen display with a centre-mounted punch-hole camera that is placed right below the earpiece that cleverly hides between the chassis and the glass display. At the bottom, there is a 3.5mm jack, a USB 2.0 port and a microphone. Believe it or not, the Galaxy Note 10 Lite is one of the remaining few smartphones that still values a headphone jack. Turn it around and you get a plastic back with a squarish camera module that is placed on the top left corner of the smartphone… or in this case the Note!

Specifications aside, the design of the Galaxy Note 10 Lite looks quite like the Galaxy Note 10 series from afar but like I said before there are subtle yet hard-to-miss differences. While its overall size is somewhere in between the Galaxy Note 10 and the Galaxy Note 10+, it has a different placement of the buttons. The volume keys and the power buttons are placed on the left side in case of the Galaxy Note 10 series. In the Galaxy Note 10 Lite, however, these buttons are placed on the right side, which in turn makes it easier to access them while using the phone with a single hand. This placement is also very practical in use.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite (Samsung)

The back of the phone, on the other hand, is a different tale altogether. The Galaxy Note 10 Lite as I mentioned earlier comes with a plastic back, which is a fingerprint magnet. While the Aura Glow colour, that I got to use, looks subtle and classy, it is impossible to keep the back of the phone clean. The only consolation is that it ships with a silicon cover which ensures that the back of the phone stays clean.

Lastly, the S-Pen. The S-Pen stylus is placed right next to the microphone towards the right side at the bottom of the phone. It is both easy to access and a delight to use. More on that later.

Overall, the Galaxy Note 10 Lite looks good. Sure, it’s slightly bigger for a person with small hands like me, which makes using it with a single hand, not exactly a comfortable experience. and keeping its back clean is a bit of a challenge, but if you can look past those things, it’s a keeper.

Display

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite comes with a 6.7-inch full HD+ sAMOLED display with a resolution of 1080x2400 pixels. These dimensions are a compromise offered by the company to the users who want to experience Galaxy Note but can’t afford to pay 70 grand for the same. To give you some context, the Galaxy Note 10 comes with a 6.3-inch display and a resolution of 1080x2400 pixels, while the Galaxy Note 10+ comes with a 6.8-inch screen with a resolution of 3040 x 1440 pixels. If you ask me if this makes a significant difference in usage, I would say, it doesn’t.

The screen of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite is bright, I mean really bright. Whether you are indoors or outdoors, whether you are looking at your phone’s screen during the bright daylight or night light, the display works flawlessly no matter what condition you throw at it. It’s ‘on point’ all the time and it never disappoints you.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite (HT Tech)

Another thing that I like about this phone is its colours. The screen of the Galaxy Note 10 Lite produces brilliant real-life colours that are sharp and a delight to look at. Whether you are looking at the images that show off your photography prowess or you are watching videos, the colours seem to pop out, but in a good way. They are bright and fresh and crisp, which makes the entire viewing experience exceptionally good.

I stream a lot of videos on my phone from streaming services like Hotstar or Netflix and I must say that the Note 10 Lite, despite missing out on the superior display specs compared to its big brothers, puts up a great show. And its large-ish size, which as I had said earlier makes using the phone with a single hand a tad bit difficult, aids the overall experience, especially if you are watching videos for a long time. All in all, Note 10 Lite’s display gets a thumbs up.

Camera

Coming to the cameras, the Galaxy Note 10 Lite comes with a 12-megapixel wide-angle sensor, a 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle sensor, and a 12-megapixel telephoto sensor setup at the back. On the front, it has a 32MP selfie camera that is tucked inside the phone’s Infinity-O-display. It’s ‘big brothers’, as I like to call them, come with slightly improved specs. The Galaxy Note 10 comes with a 12MP + 16MP + 12MP camera setup at the back and a 10MP camera in the front. In case of the Note 10+, Samsung has added a VGA sensor to the rear camera setup.

Details aside, the Galaxy Note 10 Lite does a fair job, if not an exceptional one, at snapping images. The rear camera snaps crisp and clear images whether you are snapping images indoors or in the bright outdoor light. The cameras preserve the depth and colours well even as it shifts from the wide-angle lens to ultra-wide-angle lens. The images look almost natural under the bright daylights and they maintain their clarity even as you zoom in all thanks to the phone’s 2x optical zoom and 10x digital zoom capabilities. What I particularly like about the phone’s rear camera setup is the images that it captures under low-light conditions. The images are clear and there is no noise at all in the images, which is quite impressive.

The front camera, on the other hand, is a different tale. It snaps Insta-ready images (literally), whether you are indoors or outdoors. The images seem as if they have been fine-tuned using an image editing app. They seem almost plastic and cakey and they lack clarity, especially the kind of clarity that one would expect from a phone that boasts having a 32MP selfie camera. While outdoor light does help you to snap better images, things under indoor lighting conditions remain unchanged no matter the lighting conditions are. Sure, the colour reproduction is good but the overall impact isn’t. All in all, it leaves you with mixed emotions.

Performance

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite is powered by the company’s Exynos 9810 that was launched back in 2018. The Galaxy Note 10 series smartphones, on the other hand, are powered by Samsung’s new Exynos 9825 processor. Despite having a two-year-old processor, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite shows no sign of slowing down. Whether you are surfing the internet, using one of the phone’s many creative apps or playing a game on the device. Now, I am not much of a gamer, but I do like to play Temple Run (yes, I know it’s old ancient) sometimes when I have an hour to kill time or when I am getting bored. During my time with the Note, I didn’t see the phone falter a bit at any instance. You can play all the games you want or scroll through your social media feel for hours but the Note 10 Lite just doesn’t stop or break a sweat.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite (HT Tech)

Contrary to that, one area where the Galaxy Note 10 Lite does falter is in terms of the biometrics. I used a combination of facial recognition, PIN and fingerprint sensor to unlock the smartphone and in my experience I found the phone to not recognise my fingerprint on most occasions, which is a bummer. It’s almost as if I am trying to get into someone else’s phone. The face recognition system, on the other hand, is a bit better. It falters a little less and does its job correctly most of the time. Though I must tell you that it is incredibly slow. I find it easier to use the PIN to unlock the phone than use the biometric security features, which is supposed to be faster than the boring old password system.

Talking about the software, the Galaxy Note 10 Lite experience, the phone runs on Android 10-based OneUI out-of-the-box. If you have ever used a Samsung smartphone before, you know the familiar allies of Samsung’s user interface. What’s different in the Galaxy Note 10 Lite, perhaps, is the app that enables you to take notes on the phone’s screen without opening the Notes app. Pulling the S-Pen out also gives users access to an app drawer that allows users to take screenshots, create AR Doodles and Live Messages, translate text into various languages. You can capture screenshots, take notes on the screen without opening the app, and create artwork using the Pen-up app in your spare time. You can click selfies using the S-Pen and even operate the entire phone without touching the screen. This experience is native to the Galaxy Note series and Samsung has integrated these features into its budget notepad beautifully.

Lastly, the battery. The battery is one of the strongest suits of the Galaxy Note 10 Lite smartphone. Up until now, the iPhone XR has been glorified as one of the best mid-budget smartphones in terms of battery life. After using the Galaxy Note 10 Lite for a fairly long duration of time, I found the battery to consistently last for close to two days on regular usage. The phone goes from 0 to 50% charged in roughly 30 mins giving you enough juice to last for a day all thanks to Samsung’s super-fast charging technology. It charges completely in 1.5 hours.

Conclusion

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite is the ideal Note for those who always wanted to buy the Galaxy Note but couldn’t because of its hefty price tag. The phone is fast, the cameras are good (if not exceptionally great), the display and the battery are definitely a winner. Besides these, the phone -- despite being a lot cheaper than the Galaxy Note series -- maintains the sanctity of everything that the Galaxy Note series stands for and has to offer.

Sure, the biometrics are a bummer but if you can ignore that and the front camera could totally use some tweaks, but if you can ignore that, the Galaxy Note 10 Lite is the best budget notepad that you can buy.

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