The new Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite is here to open up the S Pen stylus-equipped business-class smartphone series to a newer audience, without too much sacrifice.
That's essentially the pitch behind this late entry to the Note 10 series, which already includes the Note 10 and Note 10 Plus. There's no Samsung Galaxy S10e equivalent within the Note lineup, so this phone sort of acts as the Note 10e, if you will.
When we tried out the Note 10 Lite at CES 2020 it didn't actually feel light in the hand. It has a sizable 6.7-inch screen (flat instead of curved), three rear cameras, and a hefty 4,500mAh battery capacity, which should provide for all-day power.
- The Note 10 Lite isn't the only new 'Lite' phone from Samsung – check out our hands-on Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite review
There are some obvious compromises to reach a low (but as-yet unannounced) price point. The display is Full HD+ instead of QHD, some of the extra S Pen gestures (like zooming in and out on the camera remotely) have been axed, and there's no off-screen memo support, but those won't be deal-breakers for many people.
That said, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite's specs could mean the handset offers great value – it all depends on that elusive price. It has the Note 9-era 10nm Samsung Exynos 9810 chipset, 6GB, and 128GB of internal storage. That should mean it performs well enough for a majority of tasks.
The real mystery before we get the Note 10 Lite in for our full review is the camera array. The triple-lens rear camera looks different to the Galaxy Note 10's, and closer to what some rumors have suggested we'll see on the upcoming Galaxy S11.
The main wide lens is 12MP, as on the Note 10, but with an f/2.2 aperture, missing out on the Note 10's dual aperture that transitions from f/1.5 to f/2.4 depending on the lighting situation.
The 12MP telephoto camera is the same resolution as on the Note 10, but the ultra-wide camera here is also 12MP, rather than 16MP as on the Note 10.
And the 32MP front-facing camera may sound rich, but its 0.8um pixel size falls short of the Note 10 Plus; that phone 'only' has a 10MP selfie camera, but the pixels are larger at 1.22um, and so gather more light, so while the Note 10 Lite has higher resolution on paper, it may be that the camera struggles in low light.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite name is an oddity when the Samsung Galaxy S11 is due to have its launch event on Tuesday, February 11, and the same goes for the simultaneously-announced Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite. But looking beyond this, there's good reason for Samsung to put an S Pen on a cheaper phone, especially with millennial-friendly remote selfie features and Live Messages (see photo above).
Samsung has broadened the appeal of its Galaxy Note line beyond the narrow business-class demographic, and this will likely be reflected in the lower price – although right now we don't know just how much lower that price will be.
We'll update this Note 10 Lite hands-on review when we have more to go on in the coming days. But, for now, we're glad to see a competent-looking smartphone with a stylus open up to more users.
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