Flashback: the Samsung Galaxy Note10 Lite offered the S Pen experience on the cheap
Samsung has the best implementation of a stylus for smartphones – not that there’s much competition – but it comes at a price. Previously, it was only available on Galaxy Note phones, which were Samsung’s most expensive phones at the time. These days, it’s available with the Galaxy S Ultra and Z Fold models, along with the premium Galaxy Tab S models, none of which are cheap (some Galaxy Book laptops also support it).
There was one exception in early 2020 – the Samsung Galaxy Note10 Lite. It was unveiled on the same day as the S10 Lite, which we covered last time, and it shared some similarities (besides the price), though it also had some crucial differences.
We start with the display. It was a 6.7” panel with a resolution of 1,080 x 2,400 px, the same basic dimensions as the S10 Lite screen. However, this panel contained the extra layer of digitization that allowed the S Pen to do its thing.
Samsung even used the nifty new Bluetooth-enabled S Pen, as opposed to the purely passive pens of older Notes. This made it possible to use the S Pen as a remote control, e.g. to take a picture from a distance or control the music player. It wasn’t quite as advanced as the one used in the Note10+ and Note10 as it lacked certain gestures. Still, it was miles ahead of the typical capacitive stylus that you can get with certain other phones.
The Bluetooth-enabled S Pen was a remote that you always had at hand
The S Pen has fast pen tracking (faster than finger detection) and could sense how hard you press down (4,096 levels) so it could change the style of the virtual pen or brush you were using.
True to its name, the phone was always ready for you to jot down a note – just grab the S Pen and start writing on the lock screen. Handwriting recognition can automatically turn your notes into digital text that you can easily copy and share.
Compared to the premium Note10 duo from six months earlier, the Galaxy Note10 Lite was larger than the vanilla model (6.7” screen vs. 6.3”) and slightly smaller than the Plus model (which had a 6.8” screen). Unlike both of them, the screen was flat so you could draw from edge to edge.
A Galaxy Note10 Lite vs. The Note9 might be a more appropriate comparison. The older flagship had dropped in price when the Lite hit the scene, and the two cost about the same. And both featured the same Exynos 9810 chipset, although in some regions the old Note9 was available with the Snapdragon 855 instead. The Note10 Lite was an Exynos-only model.
Older Exynos 9810 paired with up to 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage (expandable)
As you might remember from last time, the Galaxy S10 Lite was the opposite, it was a Snapdragon-only phone, which was an interesting change for regions used to getting Exynos.
The S10 Lite also offers an interesting point of comparison. Both it and the Note10 Lite had the same screen dimensions – 6.7”, 1,080 x 2,400 px – and the same battery capacity of 4,500 mAh. But in our tests, the S phone scored an endurance rating of 110 hours, compared to 92 hours for the Note. Okay, the display panels aren’t quite the same, which may have contributed, but the 10nm Exynos chip certainly showed its age against the 7nm Snapdragon 855.
The Note also missed out on the faster 45W charging that was available on the S10 Lite as well as the Note10+. However, it had a larger battery than the other Notes, e.g. the larger Plus had 4,300 mAh in the tank. Still, with a newer Exynos 9825, it lasted 107 hours in our endurance test (the 9825 was a 7nm part, shrunk from the 8nm 9820 used in some Galaxy S10 models).
The Galaxy Note10 Lite had a triple 12MP camera on the back, including a 52mm 2x telephoto lens, which was missing from the S10 Lite. It even used the same size 1/2.55” sensor (1.4µm pixels) as the premium Note10 models, complete with Dual Pixel AF and OIS, albeit without the dual aperture feature. However, the older chipset wasn’t quite as capable in terms of video recording.
A few other things worth mentioning are the microSD slot and 3.5mm headphone jack – the Note10 Lite had them, although the premium Note10 duo became the first in the family to lose them.
There were a few things that made the Note10 Lite a Lite model. This includes a plastic back panel (the front was Gorilla Glass 3, but the chassis was metal), no IP rating for dust or water resistance, no USB 3 port, and no stereo speakers.
The S Pen survived the Galaxy Note series, although the S Ultra model is so different from the vanilla and plus phones that it might as well be called a Note. The stylus is also found on Samsung’s premium tablets (and also some of its laptops) and has also been adapted to work on foldable screens.
The Samsung Galaxy Note10 Lite was available in some fun colors
The one segment it’s not in – at least not since the Galaxy Note10 Lite – is more affordable phones. More affordable than flagships, the Note10 Lite wasn’t that cheap after all. It actually depends on the fact that in Europe it was only €50 less than the little Note10, in India it was half the price of the Note10.
Any stylus fans here? Do you want to e.g. see a Galaxy A phone with an S Pen?