Three years is a long time in technology. If you had told us in 2017 that OnePlus would be making phones that would go toe to toe with Samsung’s premium devices in terms of price, we would have laughed at the suggestion. Well, it is happening. And in the same year, if you had told us that Samsung would be releasing versions of its flagships to compete with OnePlus, we would have asked you to take a breath analyzer test to confirm the presence of alcohol in your veins. Guess what? That is happening too.

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Flagship killers become flagships…so why not vice versa?

The term flagship killer was introduced by OnePlus when it hit the market with devices that were literally out on a mission to sink flagships at that time. These flagship assassins were bundled with high-end specs, good design, and relatively affordable price tags. However, OnePlus over the past year, in particular, seems to have moved from this position. The new OnePlus devices seem to have gone from being flagship killers to just being more like the flagships they were killing a few years ago. Which means that the title of the flagship killer is up for grabs. And guess who is going for it? Well, one of the brands that OnePlus had targeted with its initial devices: Samsung!

Samsung, which earlier was on the other side in this equation and was producing flagships that OnePlus was targeting, now has a device that can give the new OnePlus a serious headache (it was on our list of OnePlus 8 challengers). And it is not just any mainstream Android device with big specs and a low price but a rendition of one of the most unique smartphones that are present in the market. We are talking about the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite, which is a lot of things that the higher-end Galaxy Note 10 is but minus the hefty price tag and a few features. Making it the perfect flagship killer at the moment.

Confused? Let us explain.

Note-able display – hey, it is a Samsung

The Lite in its name might weigh it down (oh, the irony), but the Galaxy Note 10 Lite is certainly a heavyweight champion in its category. The smartphone comes with everything a Galaxy Note is known for, starting with a big, beautiful AMOLED display. The Galaxy Note 10 Lite brings one, too. The phone sports a 6.7-inch AMOLED display with a screen resolution of 1080x 2400 pixels (no quad HD, though). Samsung has mastered the art of pairing most of its phones with really good displays and the one on the Note 10 Lite is no exception. The tall, thin bezel-led display has great viewing angles and is bright enough to hold itself up against a tough sunny day.

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The smartphone runs on Samsung’s Exynos 9810 octa-core processor which is paired with 8 GB RAM and 128 GB storage (there is a 6GB/128 GB version available too). Many have dismissed the Note 10 Lite as “not a powerful enough” device simply because it runs on a two-year-old processor but we have been using the device for a couple of months now and the phone has been handling all of our day-to-day tasks with ease. But when you buy a Galaxy Note, it is not just for daily tasks, is it? The Note 10 Lite did not disappoint in the gaming department either, in fact, it was a delight. We tried PUBG and the phone handled it well. We did not face any lags or crashes. And of course, gaming on that lovely display is a great experience.

One of the things that the Galaxy Notes have been known for is their phablet-like size. And with the big size, they bring in a big battery. We get one on the Note 10 Lite as well. The phone features a 4,500 mAh battery that can easily last you a day and still would be left with enough to see you through your late-night chats. It also comes with support for 25W fast charging, which can help your charge your device reasonably fast – you can get up to 50 percent in half an hour and the full phone charges in about an hour and a half.

Don’t go by the megapixels, these are flagship-level cameras

In the camera department, the phone carries a classic premium flagship setup on the back consisting of three 12 megapixel shooters — wide (f/1.7 aperture) ultra-wide (f/2.4 aperture) and telephoto(f/2.2 aperture) and comes with dual OIS and PDAF support. Samsung has not got into the camera megapixel wars with this device, and it frankly shows that it does not need to. For the camera performance of the Note 10 Lite is pretty impressive. It brings out great detail and color in well-lit conditions. From macro to landscape, the camera setup adjusted to different shots swiftly. It also handled shadows really well and brought out good contrast. We were especially impressed by the way it handled colors.

Most smartphones in this price band usually reproduce very edgy, saturated colors, but we did not have that complaint with the Galaxy Note 10 Lite. The colors were very close to real settings. It also has a Live Focus feature which is basically Samsung for portrait mode. It is impressive as it mostly manages to highlight the subject in focus without getting the edges blurred along with the background. If anything, it sometimes overdoes it and gives it a hint of fake, which is not something you would want.

[Click here for Full resolution images hosted on Flickr]

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The low light performance of the camera is also good. You have to keep your hand steady for a couple of seconds so that the shot does not get blurred but it still manages to get an ample amount of detail and some color in the shot. It does get noisy and overwhelmingly yellow-ish at times but the results turn out well most of the time.

There is a 32-megapixel selfie camera on the front which follows the same course as its brothers on the back. The colors produced are close to reality and the camera does not over smoothen your face by default. There is beauty mode if you feel the need to beautify your selfies any further. Live Focus on the front is again quite good too.

The default video resolution of the camera is set on 1080p but you can change it to 4K. It also allows you to switch between cameras while recording videos at 30 fps, something we have seen only in a handful of devices. The video quality is again very good as it handles details and colors well. You also can enable Super Steady Stabilisation on the phone but that only works with the main sensor and not on the ultra-wide or telephoto lens.

In sum, the cameras on the Note 10 Lite are among the best we have seen in this price segment, comfortably ahead of the likes of the OnePlus 7T Pro and even its own cousin, the Galaxy S10 Lite.

Please Note, this is a Note…and means it has an S Pen!

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But the biggest reason for anyone to buy a Galaxy Note device has to be the S Pen. it is the god of USPs when it comes to the Galaxy Note, the feature that sets it apart from all other phones in the market. And now it is available at a comparatively affordable price tag. The S Pen is basically the soul of any Galaxy Note and that is the case with the Note 10 Lite as well. The little stylus is stored in the device itself and pops out of the frame when you need it.

Over the years Samsung has taken it from being just a humble stylus to one that can do more than just write. It comes with Bluetooth connectivity and brings in the remote control features that were first introduced on the Galaxy Note 9. The remote control features allow you to take pictures and switch between front and back cameras. You can also swipe through photos using the S Pen, and of course, draw and scribble on them and use all kinds. And of course, you can take notes, doodle, and convert scribbles to text, thanks to onboard handwriting recognition.

That said, the stylus on the Note 10 Lite misses out a couple of features that are present on the heftier Note 10. It cannot switch between camera modes or zoom in or out of pictures. But this does not really take away too much away from the S Pen experience as the phone has most of its features on board. The crucial point to note (pun intended) is that it works on the Note 10 Lite just as smoothly as it did on the Note 10. And that itself puts the phone in a different league.

Android 10 with One UI

The Galaxy Note 10 Lite runs on Android 10 out of the box and is topped with Samsung’s One UI 2. It comes preloaded with a number of third-party apps but they are organized well and do not get in your way. If you are a Stock Android experience fan, you might not like the interface as much but if you like your smartphone to be loaded with features and tricks, the Note 10 Lite is just your kind of device. It has features like Edge Screen which basically has a list of the apps you use the most, right there on the edge on the home screen, just a swipe away, split-screen for multitasking, and AR stickers amongst others.

Not quite perfect, though

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But it is not all rosy and pink under the Note 10 Lite’s sky. There are a few greys. For starters, the design of the smartphone is not really outstanding, which is a problem with most Samsung smartphones at the moment. It has a glass front with tall display and thin bezels and a glossy, Glasstic back (plastic that looks like glass), all signs of a trendy smartphone design at the moment. It is good looking but it will not turn heads or drop jaws. Mind you, the red variant will stand out if only for its color.

While the Galaxy Note 10 Lite is on top of its performance game, the fact that it is powered by a two-year-old processor might still bothersome, as, at some stage, it will get outdated sooner than the newer processors in the business. Unlocking the phone can also be problematic at times. The in-display fingerprint scanner is not only painfully slow (even by in-display fingerprint scanner measures) but also often misreads the fingerprint scan. The face unlock feature does not really help either and you end up using your security lock to unlock the device more often than not.

The Note 10 Lite also is a smidgen disappointing in the loudspeaker department. While you do get great sound over headphones with Dolby Sound support and there is a 3.5 mm audio jack (yay!), the loudspeaker is not that loud and we specifically missed it while playing games as it does not really bring in the punch that the display and performance merit. Finally, there is no water and dust resistance here, and some might even miss a high refresh rate on the display (mind you, we did not).

There’s a new flagship killer in town!

All that said, we still think that at the starting price of Rs. 41,999 (it received an increase because of a rise in sales tax), the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite is the flagship killer that the market has been missing. The device has a brilliant, tall display, really good cameras, is a great performer…and gives you the S Pen experience for that price.

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On paper, it faces competition from the new OnePlus 8 series (as well as the 7 series, some would say), but even though we have not tried out the OnePlus 8 devices at the time of writing, it comes with a formidable array of features. And of course, it has something that no other Android phone has – the S Pen (we cannot stress this enough). The older processor might put off the spec counters but in terms of sheer performance and experience, the Note ticks many more boxes than it misses.

If you wanted “The Galaxy Note” experience but did not want to spend as much, the Galaxy Note 10 Lite is your answer to those prayers. Actually, if you want a really different Android flagship at a price of around Rs 40,000, this is perhaps the best device out there. We used to say that about a Never Settling brand not too long ago.

The Flagship Killer is dead. Long live the new Flagship Killer.

  • Very good display
  • Superb cameras
  • Good battery life
  • The S Pen
  • Routine design
  • Not the greatest loudspeaker
  • Slightly older processor
  • No dust and water resistance
Review Overview
Build & Design

There is a new flagship killer in town. And this time it does not come from OnePlus, which has now got into the proper flagship zone. We look at Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10 Lite, which has suddenly turned the tables on the flagship killing brigade, by delivering a variant of the iconic Note series at a much more affordable price.

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