The Note 10 Lite is lighter on the pocket, but very heavy on features


Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S10 Lite and Note 10 Lite just a couple of weeks before the flagship S20 series launch which was quite strange but it turns out these are “lighter” variants of their flagships without compromising on their unique offerings. With the complete lineup all set now, Samsung’s premium range now starts just under Rs 40,000 and goes all the way up till Rs 92,999 for the S20 Ultra. This offers every price segment an offering, in turn, providing flexibility to the user.

The premium market above Rs 40,000 is dominated by Samsung and Apple’s iPhone. This means the  Note 10 Lite’s direct competitor would be the OnePlus 7T which is relatively cheaper. But, the Note 10 Lite has its own set of unique offerings that others just cannot match — the S Pen. Let’s see whether Samsung has been able to bring the same S Pen functionality to the younger sibling, and is the phone worth your time?

What’s warped:

  • The phone consists of a Glasstic design or in simpler terms, a combination of glass and plastic. The obvious first thought is, why would a premium phone have a plastic design? Well, I’m sure Samsung was finding ways to cut costs. But, does it hamper the experience? I’d disagree. The metal frame around the phone feels solid, the back is reflective and my unit manages to generate a rainbow colour pattern. The build quality is top-notch and it feels like a solid brick in hand. No flimsy back or buttons, something you’d expect from plastic.
  • On the front is a 6.7-inch Super AMOLED display with an aspect ratio of 20:9 and Full HD+ resolution. Samsung is known for making the best display’s out there and the same stands true for the Note 10 Lite. Colours are perfectly saturated, the brightness is sufficient under direct sunlight, and viewing angles are on point. It’s great for all kinds of purposes. It is also Netflix certified for watching HDR content. 
  • Just like other top-tier Samsung phones, it has an always-on display and they’ve leveraged it quite smartly thanks to OneUI. Edge Lighting is a feature that’ll show you a notification along with mellow animation. Extremely helpful when you’re in a meeting and just need to have a glance. The display also has a tiny cutout that houses the front camera and an in-display fingerprint scanner for authentication which works better than the main Galaxy Note as it is of the optical variety, not the ultrasonic kind. 
  • On the rear is a triple camera setup consisting of a 12-megapixel primary lens, a 12-megapixel telephoto lens with 2x optical zoom, and a 12-megapixel wide-angle lens. This basically the same setup as the Galaxy Note 10. The primary camera is extremely good at clicking pictures in daylight and reliable. If you want to grab a quick picture, this phone is dependable thanks to the quick focus and well-optimised software. For videos, there’s also OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation) and it works pretty much on par with the Note 10. The only thing that’s missing is the variable aperture which was anyway useless. 
  • The portrait mode can do wonders. After a long time, I’ve seen background blur to be so accurate on an Android phone. Other modes such as timelapse are also acceptable as the camera sensitivity reduces the constant movement.
  • Samsung’s Note series is incomplete without the S Pen, and this is where the phone truly stands apart. If you want a stylus with your phone, the Note series is the only option you have. All high-end features of the flagship Note 10 are available and Samsung has mastered its implementation over the years. Quick notes, smart select, and on-screen writing are handy features that you’ll love to use once you experience it first-hand. At an affordable price, the phone can run apps like Autodesk Sketchbook and Illustrator Draw, a completely new frontier for creativity.
  • The phone packs in 6GB or 8GB of RAM with 128GB of UFS 2.0 storage that’s expandable up to 1TB via microSD card. RAM management is spot on and apps that have been in the background for hours are seamlessly called back to action. Suffice to say, performance is excellent especially from a productivity point of view. 
  • Backing all these features is a 4,500mAh battery that supports 25W fast charging. It isn’t as fast as OnePlus’ Warp Charge, but an average user won’t be able to see any considerable difference. With heavy usage, it lasted me close to ten hours, but on an average day, it easily got through a day. It doesn’t get wireless charging like the flagship, but that’s understandable considering the price point.

What’s not warped:

  • Higher display refresh rates are now an industry standard. Even POCO X2 gets a 120Hz display. The Note 10 Lite comes with a 60Hz refresh rate and this could be an “on-paper” drawback for many. 
  • The phone is powered by an Exynos 9810 chip that consists of an octa-core CPU and Mali-G72 MP18 GPU. It’s a two-year-old processor and in the rapidly changing world of mobile technology, this felt quite outdated. The chip went up against the Snapdragon 845 when it was launched and was first spotted in the Galaxy S9. You won’t feel any difference while browsing through multiple apps or multitasking. But, it does feel slow when games like PUBG are thrown at it. Sometimes, there are a few stutters when you move between apps too often and even the UI feels like it’s struggling to keep up.
  • On the front is a punch-hole 32-megapixel camera and it’s quite disappointing. Feels like the pictures are from a sub-15,000 phone. By default, the software is aggressive with its beauty features and I’d expect a lot more detail from a 32-megapixel sensor. Thankfully, there’s a slightly wider view also available and it can be handy for group selfies. But overall, it’s disappointing.
  • For authentication, an in-display fingerprint scanner has been provided with an option for face unlock. The scanner is fast if you perfectly place your finger on it. Even a little misplaced touch and it won’t work. It’s annoying to constantly keep tapping the scanner when you’re in a hurry. Adding to this, face unlock is exceptionally slow and expect it to work in well-lit surroundings only. Sometimes entering the PIN manually was the fastest option available.
  • Lastly, I’ve noticed a very weird anomaly on the Note 10 Lite. Whenever I was in poor network coverage (one bar of network), the phone would start behaving erratically. The display becomes unresponsive randomly, can’t register gestures, and the whole UI goes haphazard. This hasn’t happened often but I’d be remiss to not point this out. 

To buy or to not buy:

Samsung has priced the phone perfectly. It’s a practical option for students as well as working professionals. The phone is a powerhouse on the go and can get any kind of job done. I was able to seamlessly design a few banners and documents on Canva, thanks to S Pen. The bigger display offers more space for documents and sheets. Lastly, the creative options are perfectly designed keeping millennials in mind. For just a couple of thousand more, the Note 10 Lite offers a brand new experience that no other phone can.

Its flaws are few and Samsung has successfully fulfilled all major requirements. I don’t feel this phone is a toned-down version of the Note 10. It has its own set of unique features like a 3.5mm headphone jack that’s a must-have for audiophiles and a remarkable larger battery. I’d say Note 10 Lite is the best phone under Rs 40,000 in India right now.