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Sunday 22 September 2019
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Commentary

Samsung doubles up on the Note

Mark Lyndersay
Mark Lyndersay

BitDepth#1214

THERE ARE two new Note devices available, a significantly smaller Note10 and an incrementally larger Note10+, and Samsung has removed the headphone port.

The first of these big changes is a nod to the company’s success in making a stylus a useful accessory in daily smartphone use; the second required the company to begin quickly removing all its ads sneering at Apple for removing the jack from its iPhone in 2017. Samsung’s A80 was the first of its phones to ditch the jack.

Both moves make sense, for different reasons.

A smaller Note device reaches out to all the S10 users who really wanted a stylus and all the attendant software usability tweaks it enables.

If you’ve been bouncing between considering a Note9 and S10+, the big difference between the Note10 and the S10+ now is really the availability of the stylus, which also has improved battery life.

Both devices are effectively the same size, with the S10+ delivering an incremental 0.1 of an inch size advantage.

It also brings connectivity challenges for users, though Samsung includes USB-C headphones in the box. While supplies last, local suppliers will offer free AKG Bluetooth headphones as part of a Samsung promotion.

Samsung has also been thinking more about audio in the device as well. Speaker placement has tended not to favour horizontal grips on recent Samsung premium models. Holding the earlier Note in widescreen mode and cupping it in your hands resulted in distinctly muffled sound. That’s gone in the new Note series.

Audio capture has also been improved. The Note9 was entirely too eager to incorporate ambient sound into video recordings, to the extent that any video recorded in less than ideal circumstances tended to have very intrusive ambient audio. I’ve had a couple of interviews ruined this way.

Samsung makes much of a new audio zoom feature that seems to work when you zoom in visually during recording, but generally in normal use the Note10+ focuses its capture cone more directly in front of the camera, with noticeably superior results.

Another quiet change was the removal of the dedicated Bixby button on the left of the device. To be more exact, that button is now the power button and the button on the right of the device has been removed entirely. Along with the microphone port, this removal may improve the weather sealing, but it’s also an acknowledgement of the general failure of Bixby to catch on with Samsung’s users.

Part of the reason for this is unquestionably its limited functionality in the region, where Samsung’s Smart Things connectivity with IoT devices is still to catch on, but Bixby runs a weak race, at least in TT, in a nascent voice-control market dominated by Google and Amazon.

Another miss that’s been going on for far too long is Samsung’s uninspired implementation of digital photography on its devices. My evaluation of that is here: technewstt.com/bdnote10

According to Jarrod Best-Mitchell, sales manager for SamsungTT, the device has met sales forecasts.

“Continuity of sales in the Note line has been good, particularly as resellers have been receiving stock,” Best-Mitchell said. “Last year we did a launch and this year we didn’t do one and sales are the same.

" My thinking is maybe we need to do more for customers. Phones are a major part of people’s lives. Most of the earlier purchasers are people who had earlier models of the phone; I personally know someone who did the upgrade from the Note 5.”

Mark Lyndersay is the editor of technewstt.com. An expanded version of this column can be found there

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