The leaks and buzz might be dominated by Samsung’s upcoming flagship device (rumours suggest that it will be christened the S20) that’s just around the corner but Samsung sprung a surprise at CES last month in Las Vegas with diet versions of its current flagships. It’s the Note 10 Lite that we’ve had our eyes on (the company also unveiled the Galaxy S10 Lite). It brings the S-Pen to a flagship killer device for the first time since 2011 when the Galaxy Note debuted.

The Note 10 Lite lands in the same price zone as the OnePlus 7T; comparisons with this flagship killer are inevitable. There’s a choice of three colour variants (all with the Aura prefix), we checked out the Aura Glow version that will stand out in a crowd. This colour mimics the Aura Glow version on the Note 10+ but doesn’t quite match the psychedelics of its premium cousin. Samsung creates an illusion of a glass back – it’s almost a faux glass finish that can pass off for real glass. Except there’s no wireless charging – a feature that is usually reserved for devices that cost above Rs 40,000. The device isn’t waterproof either. We’re relieved to see Samsung find space for the 3.5mm headphone jack that was missing in the Note 10+. 

The device feels quite good in your hand despite its large 6.7-inch Super AMOLED display (1080 x 2400 pixels) and 199 gm heft. This is a vibrant display with great colours and a very tiny cut-out (for the selfie cam) but doesn’t offer the 90Hz refresh rate that we dig on the OnePlus 7T display. The 7T also has an edge on the processor but the Note 10 Lite is certainly no slouch in the performance department. It clocked a respectable 329231 in our AnTuTu benchmark test. It’s powered by the Exynos 9810 processor and comes in two hardware configurations – 6GB/128 GB and 8GB/128GB (that we checked out). There’s also room for a Micro SD card (up to 1TB) courtesy a dual SIM hybrid slot.

The rear cam of the Note 10 Lite is one of its biggest wins. It combines three 12MP lenses including a terrific ultra-wide lens and a tele lens. There are handy touches like a Super Steady Mode for hi-motion videos. This one’s a solid all-round cam that also produced decent results in our lowlight tests. The 32MP selfie cam is equally dependable and produces good lowlight images and portraits. The Note 10 Lite triumphs on the battery front, there’s a 4500 mAh battery under the hood with super fasting charging. You’re covered for those video and gaming marathons.

The biggest differentiator over the competition is Samsung’s S-Pen, that creative professionals have grown to love over the last decade. The Note 10 Lite version is fully loaded and can perform almost all the same tricks as the S-Pen in the top-of-the-line Note 10. From doodling to air gestures that allow you to control the cam, the S-Pen can pull off quite a few stunts. The Note series has built a cult following; while a large part of this tribe demands best of breed hardware, Samsung is betting on another sizeable part of Note loyalists who might find the Note 10 Lite a more stronger value proposition. It almost makes you wonder why Samsung didn’t think of a scaled down version of the Galaxy Note sooner than 2020.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite comes in Aura Black, Aura Red and Aura Gold. The 6GB/128GB costs Rs 38,999 while the 8GB/128GB version is priced at Rs 40,999.