Review: Samsung Galaxy Note
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Much like with SUVs in shopping mall car parks, the Samsung Galaxy Note is big, beautiful, and catches the eyes of passers-by, but ultimately its owners would be better served with a cheaper smaller alternative.
The Note is good at a lot of things, some of which I will mention later, but overall it is a very awkward phone and a half-hearted tablet.
On paper, the Note has some remarkable features.
The most noticeable is its beautiful 5.3-inch Super AMOLED HD display panel, which has a resolution of 800 x 1280.
The screen size and resolution doesn't really hit you until you browse online, and then you notice how very little zooming you need to do compared to browsing on a regular smartphone.
With a pixel density of almost 290 pixels per inch, browser and email fonts are also crisp and easy to read from an arm's length.
The Note packs a dual-core 1.4 GHz processor, with 1GB RAM. It scored a high 3478 in Quadrant standard benchmarking. This is 50 percent more than the Samsung Galaxy Tab. In real world terms, the strength of the powerhouse CPU is especially noticeable when playing games from the Android Market and watching videos through the browser — including Flash; but it also makes routine actions like swiping through screens snappy and fluid.
My favorite app for the Note is Google's Navigation. The 5-inch screen, combined with Google's comprehensive maps software is a genius match. I had some trouble getting the voice turn-by-turn function to work, but apart from that the directions were very accurate.
In terms of looks, the Note is essentially a plus-size version of the Samsung Galaxy S.
Being 9.7 mm at its thickest point, it's thinner than most smartphones available today, including the Galaxy S, and at 178g it's also very light.
The texturised plastic backing makes for a great grip on the phone, but the thin plastic used in its construction made me worry I would break the back lid every time I opened it.
The body of the device just barely fits in my pockets, and some of my female colleagues found it difficult to squeeze into theirs. Using the device with just one hand can be difficult for people with smaller hands like mine. My thumb could never reach the far edge of the screen. Making calls is easy enough, and because the phone is so light it doesn't feel too abnormal - but you might get some strange looks with one of these beasts held up to your ear in public.
With average use (light 3G data, medium internet browsing, text messaging, and a few phone calls) the Note's battery would last around nine hours. This is three hours less than what Samsung claims it can do, but still a very respectable effort.
The biggest let down of the Samsung Galaxy Note is arguably its defining feature: the stylus.
Known as the S-pen, the stylus is specially designed to interact with the Wacom-designed digitiser in the screen, which gives users pressure controls when they are drawing on the device.
Unfortunately, somewhere in the design process someone overlooked the significant lag between making contact with the screen and the software recognising it as a pen stroke.
When drawing on the screen, the pen is always a millisecond or two ahead of where the ink is. If you compare this to using a stylus on an iPad 2, the lag is far less noticeable or distracting.
I've been told by a Samsung representative that some of this lag will be resolved when the device is updated with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, which is expected to happen in the next month. The Galaxy Note only comes with one stylus in the box and replacements cost around $50, so be careful not to pop the stylus out of its silo at the bottom of the phone by accident.
With a three and a half star rating, and complaints about its core feature, you might not think that I like the Galaxy Note. Actually, I really do.
But my reservation is that, for the $1200 price tag, I would expect much more. The same amount of money could probably buy me both a Samsung Galaxy S II and an iPad 2, two devices which would give the same functionality of the Galaxy Note but much more cleanly.
If you are one of the niche group of people who need a stylus on their smartphones, or if you're a fan of large screened phones, then I can't recommend this phone more highly.
However, if you're just looking for a really good Android smartphone I would suggest getting a Samsung Galaxy S II and using the price difference to buy a tablet.
RATING: 3.5 Stars.
Model: Samsung Galaxy Note GT-N7000
OS: Android Gingerbread (v2.3.6)
Dimensions: 146.9 x 83 x 9.7 mm
CPU: 1.4 GHz, dual-core ARM Cortex A9, 1 GB RAM
Screen: 5.3 inches, Super AMOLED, 800 x 1200
Storage: Card slot microSD, up to 32GB
Internal: 16GB/32GB storage, microSD up to 32GB
Camera: 8MP with flash
$1200 from Vodafone
I had a play with it at jb-hi fi, the pen was interesting but it does lag a fair bit. Feels pointless and very gimmicky.
Posted by Anonymous at 4:48:12 on March 21, 2012
I got an unlocked version at around $600.. which is half of what you say.
And I was an iPhone user, but now cannot go back to any other smaller phone.. will have to wait for Note II or something.
Posted by Max at 21:07:27 on March 20, 2012
I really want one of these but the price tag is putting me off! Thanks
Posted by Emma at 12:24:42 on March 30, 2012
That statement tells me you just missed the whole point of the Note. Throw away your old phone and tablet and enjoy the benefits of both in one device, more like!
I did just that and will never go back to squinting at small screens again.
Posted by Terry at 14:54:36 on March 20, 2012
Posted by Miguel WPB Florida Usa at 22:35:34 on March 19, 2012
Posted by Anonymous at 15:12:46 on March 19, 2012
Posted by Abi at 3:53:29 on March 20, 2012
Posted by Anonymous at 15:30:06 on March 19, 2012
Posted by Mark Wiseman at 14:15:38 on March 19, 2012
Posted by xuniltoor at 11:07:25 on March 19, 2012