The Good The Samsung Galaxy Note’s 5.3-inch HD screen is ideal for showcasing multimedia. It has 4G LTE, a great 8-megapixel camera, and a souped-up S Pen stylus that brings new ways to interact with your phone.
The Bad The Galaxy Note S handle is small, has a delayed response, and requires some training. The phone will be awkwardly large for some and will not easily fit in your pocket.
The Bottom Line With its immense screen style and impact, the Samsung Galaxy Note is a polarizing smartphone that winks at the tablet. For those who like their XL screens, you’ll find a great device that allows multimedia brilliance. The S Pen adds some artistic potential, but for some the phone will just be too big.
If you ask me, Samsung began marketing its Samsung Galaxy Note for AT&T on the wrong foot. It was a smart move anticipating reactions to its oversize 5.3-inch screen when the unlocked version Initially launched in Europe, but the problem is that the Galaxy Note is a hybrid phone and tablet (“phablet” if you will), it expects that it will be able to reduce your tablet’s dependency or eliminate the need for one in the first place. While this may be casual for tablet users or interesting for tablets, the Galaxy Note is initially a solid and undeniable Galaxy smartphone. Meanwhile, “phablet” has become a (cheerful, if silly) vine of a phrase for a product for which manufacturers cannot decide what profit will bring the most sales.
And where does that stylish S Pen Pen come from? The Galaxy Note wand can take screenshots, write down your notes and react to pen pressure – all is well. However, if you never miss the S Pen from its tight plastic tunnel, you won’t miss the basic features of the Note smartphone.
So forget to worry about the Galaxy Note as a tablet and think of it as the phone it is. Good phone too. If you like the idea of a LTE ready Galaxy S II device with a high-quality 8MP camera and a huge screen for watching movies, reading ebooks or other activities you can do on your smartphoneor a tablet, then this is a great device. If you enjoy the artistic promise of digital sketching, you might likewise keep it in the running. However, if 5.3 inches seems too ungainly for your hands, or if you balk at the thought of spending $299.99 on a smartphone, then leave this one be and seek out its smaller AT&T cousins, the still large Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket and the Galaxy S II .
Which Samsung engineer accidentally spilled Miracle-Gro on Galaxy S II Skyrocket? This is how the Galaxy Note looks in the most enjoyable way. Height 5.8 inches, width 3.3 inches, thickness only 0.37 inches, it resembles a tile with rounded edges, only one that has “blue carbon” (which I think is black for the eyes) or “ceramic white”. I viewed it in blue.
The 5.3-inch HD screen on the Samsung Galaxy Note is a truly amazing mode. This extra-large pen accessory is much more comfortable than the original stylus, but costs an extra $ 50.
Let’s start with the elephant in the room: the size of the Galaxy Note. It’s big, there’s no doubt about it, and it’s a little uncomfortable tension that can be held in smaller hands. By no means is this baby slipping in his jeans pocket, but it is good for my wallet. I’m still a bit on the fence when it comes to my own convenience. One-handed operation is a restricted task – it is much more difficult to compose an email or to shoot a quick text with one hand on the phone while holding the wrist strap on the other with the other. On the other hand, I appreciate the spacious virtual keyboard that reduces eye strain and gives my fingers plenty of room to hit the number key. This may speak to my lack of skills as a virtual typewriter, but the width of the keyboard did not prevent me from making mistakes, and I eventually switched from the Samsung keyboard in my email client to the Android and Swype keyboard.
Although it is a large phone, it is light enough for the eyes and the slim design makes it look light and slim. As with the rest of the Galaxy series, the Note case is made of plastic materials. It doesn’t take the special bonus experience that I think is worth buying $ 300, but I can’t complain about the overall aesthetics.
Although plastic may not seem high, it does offer its own brand of strength over glass parts that can break or paints that can break off metal fixtures. It weighs roughly 6.3 ounces, but this flow also gives it a greater sense of durability.
The Galaxy Note’s final glory is its 5.3-inch HD Super AMOLED screen with a resolution of 1280×800 pixels (this is, by the way, WXGA). Samsung’s AMOLED family of screen technologies always looks bright, bright and rich in color. The Hippo Note is very similar, although the pixel density was slightly lower and the image was noticeably softer and less vivid than at Samsung Galaxy Nexus , which also has an HD Super AMOLED display. The photos looked crisp and vivid, the video played smoothly on a large, high-resolution screen, and made e-books easier to read than smaller smartphone displays.
The Samsung Galaxy Note HD screen (left) is not as sharp or as bright as the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.
The rest of the phone is very similar to the others in the Galaxy S II family. You’ll find a 2MP front-facing camera above the screen; below it are four common touch navigation buttons for menu, home, back and search. The volume rocker is on the left ridge and the power button is on the right. At the bottom is a Micro-USB charging port and a Pen Pen S slot. You can connect headphones up to 3.5 mm sockets at the top. If you are worried about losing it, the S Pen clicks in place and stays there.
As with the international version of the Note, AT&T’s Note packs an 8-megapixel camera with flash. The microSD card slot beneath the back cover holds up to 32GB of your goods.
Interface and tricks
For navigation, you’ve got the most recent version of TouchWiz, Samsung’s custom interface that rides over Android; in this case, Android 2.3 Gingerbread. AT&T is fully expected to update the Note to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, though there’s no public timeline yet.
In addition to the basic versions of TouchWiz and Android 2.3 Gingerbread, there are some additional goodies.
Here’s a reminder of what you can do with TouchWiz: pull out the notification menu to access your system settings; click on the screen to see an overview of seven custom home screens; and circle them madly, holding and holding on a line of dots. In the note, you can also take a screenshot by swiping left and right on the screen with the edge of your hand. The latter do not always work without problems and may take some getting used to. It was a little unnatural for me, and I can’t see myself using this method, but having an extra way to accomplish a task will never hurt. (You can also take a screenshot by pressing the power and home buttons or using S Pen.)
Moving the screen is not the only gesture added by Samsung. Swipe the Gallery photo, and the image will also rotate. Shake your device to search for Bluetooth devices. Then there is my favorite: flip the phone over or press your hand over it to pause a song or video or mute an incoming call. These are all fun, smart ways to interact with your device in addition to your usual finger-tapping settings.
Style and Reminder Programs S
Now let’s move on to the most exciting aspect of the phone: this stylus. Physically, it’s 4.1 inches tall and 0.2 inches tall, with a side button that serves as a shortcut for multiple tasks. The S Pen is quite comfortable in the hand, but it’s so thin and light (just 0.1 ounce, rounded up) that its grip sometimes feels like it’s grabbing for air. There is also a clear possibility that once it is warmed up, it can simply be reset or replaced.
I do not lie. Writing with the S Pen, known as the stylus, takes some getting used to, but it also adds some neat tricks.
Samsung says you can buy an S Pen accessory called the S Pen Holder Kit, which looks like a big, thick ballpoint pen. It costs $ 59.99 and comes with an optional S handle. I read this as a confirmation that the S Pen can feel more natural in the hand. A little later this week I will be learning more about drawing and writing with S Pen over longer periods of time, including the larger Holder Kit in hand, so stay tuned.
Reminder apps are where most creative activity takes place. Double-tap the screen while holding down the S Pen to pull out Quick Caption, a quick way to start writing a note. You can get a reminder later from the more sophisticated S Memo app. Both allow you to draw, write manuscripts, and comment on websites; S Memo also supports voice recordings such as text, but it does not start from the pen. Programs optimized for S Pen respond smartly to 128 different pressure levels. Tougher touches leave thick lines and you can push lighter ones for shading. Just take care where you put your hands; misplacement can create unwanted knobs.
The handwriting tool has been in the works for a while, but it helps if you don’t
The programs offer a great alternative to the rigidity of text input, and the integration into the system is quite good. For example, you could add a Quick Memo handwritten note to a calendar event. You can write with S Pen in almost all text boxes; you turn it on when you tap the pen icon on the Samsung keyboard. The writing is a bit strange at first, as there is a delay in the fact that your strokes are displayed on the screen. While I hardly have the most elegant handwriting in the world, the S Pen made it even more striking. It takes a little time to type certain navigation shortcuts and to work on different programs; In the beginning, I found myself frustrated and I hope to adapt as I become more accustomed to the environment.
I like the tool to convert handwriting to text. It works better the neater you write, and it won’t work perfectly every time. I also appreciate the undo and eraser tools in reminder apps, as well as the settings for leftovers.
Although I mentioned earlier that the S Pen is not required to use the Galaxy Note (unlike those styles of yesteryear), there are some advantages in addition to keeping your bold, gloomy numbers from this huge screen smudge magnet. Samsung has programmed a pair of reminder apps to work with S Pen and encourages other developers to create their own compatible apps as well. There will be about 20 such applications at launch.
S Pen is not for everyone. First there is the learning curve of making legible notes. I have yet to see if it can fit my workflow after the novelty is over. However, I can see how artists and people with more free thought processes can appreciate the flexibility with which they can express their ideas. I especially see the benefit of quickly, easily creating and sharing digital thumbnails on the fly, like these caricatures that Samsung used at CES to place notes.
One of the Galaxy Note’s most important smartphone features is its 4G LTE radio, which makes it one of AT&T’s faster phones for uploading and downloading data. It’s also got Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS; text and multimedia messaging; and Android’s penchant for integrating social networks into your virtually limitless address book. You’ll find all of Google’s usual apps and services, like Google Maps with turn-by-turn voice directions, Gmail, Search, Google Music, and YouTube.
Video playback looks great on a huge screen.
Apps are a huge part of the Note experience, especially those created for the S Pen. In addition to the above notes, it’s a game called Crayon Physics.
Samsung adds its own suite of add-ons to the Galaxy Note, including standard Kies Air and AllShare applications for media sharing (such as your photos, videos and doodles) to suit your desktop and DLNA-compatible devices. There is also a Social Hub and Music Hub for organizing social media tools on Facebook and Twitter and listening to podcasts and tunes.
AT&T has also bequeathed the Note its usual complement of apps: the family tracker, a code scanner, an app to keep tabs on your account, and AT&T Live TV through a U-verse subscription. There’s also the AT&T Ready2Go setup wizard.
Amazon Kindle for eBooks, Qik Lite for Video Chat, Office Polaris, Pulse, Mini-Diary and Yellow Pages Mobile are other apps that have been pre-loaded into the Note. The European version of the Note is S Planner and S Choice, which are two other S Pen programs.
One of the best features of most phones in the Samsung Galaxy S II line is the 8MP camera. Not all cameras of this caliber can be fully captured, but the image quality on the Galaxy Note is impressive, and full-size photos look good on both the screen and HD.
The 8-megapixel camera and the 2-megapixel front-facing camera meet Samsung’s standard quality for the Galaxy S II family of phones.
The camera contains all the usual shooting presets and white balance for shooting action, panoramas and detecting smiles in different lighting scenarios. It also has anti-shake, blink detection, autofocus and timer.
The front cameras are great for video chats and weird self portraits, but you get the best quality shots from the back camera. However, Samsung tends to do well with a 2 megapixel shooter, and the same goes for it. Test photos taken in a room with a good amount of natural light looked good even when full size on a computer screen. The camera, of course, did not capture the extraordinary details, and I could detect digital noise when I looked closely, but the colors were displayed smoothly and were true to life.
The colors looked real in this gorgeous outdoors shot
Capturing and playing videos is also a big deal on the Galaxy Note; The HD screen can also do 1080p. High definition video looks fantastic when played on a 5.3-inch screen, though I would like to see some HD optimized apps like here Verizon’s LG Spectrum , which has Netflix HD, which by default sends HD videos when they exist.
These toys, photographed away from natural light and under harsh artificial bulbs, were in focus and brightly colored.
Video recording is easy. As usual, the app saves a lot of camera settings, but also includes shorter, better settings for video capture specifically for MMS. The Galaxy Note comes with 16GB of internal storage for your app and multimedia storage, and allows up to 32GB more with a microSD card.
I tested the Samsung Galaxy Note (GSM 850/900/1,800/1,900MHz; 2,100MHz LTE) in San Francisco using AT&T’s service. Call quality was pretty good in my tests so far. At full tilt, volume is a little low, but I had no trouble hearing in a quiet setting. Call clarity was admirable, with no discernable background noise throughout a 20-minute test call. There was something just a little off in how voices sounded. It was hard to put my finger on, but they weren’t quite as rich or as clear as I’ve heard on other phones.
According to my subscriber, my voice did not sound quite natural or like me. Instead, he said that I sounded a bit empty and sounded as if I was talking inside banks or underground. He also thought I sounded a little muffled at higher frequencies, though the volume was not a problem and the line sounded very clear.
Samsung Galaxy Note Sample Call QualityListen now:
I checked the loudspeaker while holding the phone at waist level. The volume was very loud, but I turned it off rather than unable to raise it. My subscriber’s voice echoed narrowly and loudly in my ears, and he reported the usual echo of the speakerphone and poor voice quality, but few other real complaints. Overall, the loudspeaker was very effective – we rang and understood every word during a long conversation in a relatively quiet environment.
One benefit of AT&T’s version of the Note is the slight bump in processing power: a 1.5GHz dual-core processor instead of the 1.4GHz dual-core chip on the unlocked version of the phone. Navigating among apps has so far been a pretty satisfying experience. The same goes for the phone’s 4G LTE speeds, which were impressively zippy in San Francisco. Diagnostic results measured in the Speedtest.net app ranged from 12 to 25Mbps down and ranged from 5 to 12Mbps up; very fast. My real-world tests had Web sites loading in 4 to 16 seconds. CNET’s mobile-optimized site loaded in 10 seconds, with the desktop site loading in 16. It took just 4 seconds to bring up the New York Times’ mobile site and only 8 to switch over to the full view.
Battery life is a big question mark on the handset with such an energy-saving display, and it is to Samsung’s credit that the Galaxy Note has an extraordinarily large 2500mAh battery to complement its extra-large screen. We will run our own downpour tests, but as an indicator the Note has a nominal battery life of 26 hours of talk time and a nominal waiting time of 40 days. However, consider these numbers to such a qualification that you are unlikely to see such longevity if you use a multimedia transmission device.
The Galaxy Note has a digital SAR of 0.27 watts per kilogram.
There are two main questions: Is the Samsung Galaxy Note worth buying, and if so, can it satisfy the need for a tablet?
While you’re all for supersimilization, I can definitely say yes to the former one. It has all the high-end features we loved on the original Galaxy S II and Galaxy S II Skyrocket, but even bigger, the HD Super AMOLED screen. Although its size can make it uncomfortable to carry a phone, the screen stillness is perfect for interacting with games and HD media and for reading websites and ebooks.
When you add in the S Pen, so much more potential for creative drawings and games. Whether it’s a little more than a party trick, or you’ll ever use it regularly. I think the size of the screen, not the stylus, will make or break it for most buyers, but I’m worried about the durable comfort and safety of skinny pens if you don’t think you want the $ 50 accessory for the owner for the price, which I think has a lot to ask.
Given the 5.3-inch screen, some people may actually consider the Note a true hybrid device for smartphones / tablets, or at least those who are considering buying a budget tablet. Depending on the size of the tablet you would look at, a 5.3-inch screen is far from being a 10.1-inch display. There is really no comparison at this level, but there are arguments for people considering a 7-inch tablet.
Finally, pricing is an issue. Given the screen size, the juiced-up battery, and the S Pen, $300 seems fair for a device that keeps adding to AT&T’s smaller Galaxy S II and Skyrocket phones. Still, with so many options already available, I can’t help but think that the Galaxy Note will remain niche.