Wednesday 18 September 2019

Samsung seeks to reclaim work phone crown with Note 10+

The Korean giant is back with what it hopes will become the killer business handset of 2019. Adrian Weckler looks at the large-scale handset's key features, ahead of next month's iPhone 11 launch

Product launch: Samsung has unveiled details of the latest additions to its Note range of smartphones: the 10 and 10+
Product launch: Samsung has unveiled details of the latest additions to its Note range of smartphones: the 10 and 10+

Adrian Weckler technology editor

Samsung has unveiled two new flagship phones, the Note 10 and Note 10+. It is the first time that Samsung has split its Note range into two models, with the company set to market the higher-end 10+ handset (€1,119) as a 'computer'.

Most attention will settle on the larger 10+, which reclaims the work-friendly phone throne for Samsung, due to its bigger screen and new engine power.

The Note 10+ has a 6.8-inch screen, the biggest on the Irish market. It is an almost bezel-less screen, which means its overall size is not much bigger than some rival phones with smaller screens.

The smaller Note 10 (€969) has a 6.3-inch screen with a slightly lower resolution (401ppi, 2280x1080) compared with the bigger model's display (498ppi, 3040x1440).

The higher-end model also pushes the power available beneath the hood, deploying 12GB of Ram, compared with 8GB for the Note 10. Both have Samsung's new 7nm Exynos chip.

And there is a big gap in battery power, with 4,300mAh made available to the Note 10+, compared with 3,500mAh for the Note 10.

There is a 512GB storage variant available (price unavailable at time of press) for the Note 10+, whereas the Note 10 comes in one variation of 256GB.

There is just a slight difference in the cameras between the two models. Both feature a triple-lens set-up of ultra-wide, wide and telephoto (2x). But the Note 10+ has a fourth depth-sensor camera to allow for portrait photography that delivers a 'bokeh', or depth-of-field, effect.

Both have a single centred camera instead of the dual camera featured on Samsung's current flagship S10 and S10+ phones.

Samsung has also updated its 'S Pen' stylus to use air controls. Among other things, this allows for remote control of a phone's camera from several metres away.

There will also be an interest in the Note 10 models ditching the 3.5mm headphone port.

Samsung was the last major smartphone brand to keep the headphone port on a flagship phone. Instead, the new handsets will come with the familiar 3.5mm-to-USB-C dongle.

The Note range of smartphones has overcome the difficulties that Samsung faced in 2016 when its Note 7 device had to be recalled after a series of overheating episodes.

The Note 10 is also expected to be the last Samsung flagship device unveiled before it tries to relaunch its folding smartphone, the Samsung Fold. The 7.3-inch smartphone, which divides into two 4.6-inch displays, suffered technical problems with its hinge and glass, forcing Samsung to suspend its commercial release from its original April date. The Galaxy Fold will cost more than €2,000 when launched later this year.

The machine, which comes with extra storage memory and three rear cameras, is designed for people who need to use a mobile screen for more than just messaging and social media.

Meanwhile, pricing for the two Samsung Note 10 phones puts them squarely below that of the iPhone XS, and almost certainly below that of the upcoming iPhone 11 models.

Apple is due to launch its updated handsets early next month, with most expecting three new devices.

The biggest change may be an additional ultra-wide-angle camera on the back of the flagship model, following the trend among high-end handsets for triple-lens devices.

The smartphone market is under sustained competitive pressure, with flat or negative growth compared with the situation five years ago.

The 'upgrade cycle' between handsets is stretching to two years and beyond in some markets, as consumers spread payments for pricier phones out over longer periods.

The handset market is also grappling with potential upheaval due to trade tensions between the US and China.

According to the latest research from Strategy Analytics, global smartphone shipments fell 3pc annually to reach 341 million units in the second quarter of 2019. Samsung maintained first position, with 22pc of the global smartphone market. Huawei was next, while Apple held 11pc in third place.

"Samsung shipped 76.3 million smartphones worldwide in Q2 2019, jumping 7pc annually from 71.5 million units in Q2 2018," said Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics.

"Samsung has lifted its global smartphone market share from 20pc to 22pc in the past year.

"Strong sales in mid-range and entry segments increased Samsung's shipments, but its profit margin declined due to fierce price competition."

Linda Sui, director at Strategy Analytics, said: "The global smartphone market has declined again on an annual basis, but the fall is less severe than before and this was the industry's best performance for over a year. Global smartphone shipments are showing further signs of stabilising, due to relatively enhanced demand in major markets like China. The outlook for the second half of this year is improving.

"Huawei captured 17pc global smartphone market share in the second quarter of 2019, up from 15pc a year ago."

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