Life with Samsung’s Galaxy Note

Oh my, what’s this? A smartphone review on TR? Fret not; we aren’t turning into yet another sparkly gadget site. We were, however, curious to get some hands-on time with the Galaxy Note, which has got to be one of the largest smartphones (or smallest tablets) ever created. Samsung happened to volunteer a unit for us to look at, and well, one thing led to another.

The interesting thing about the Galaxy Note is that it fills a void between typical smartphones, which don’t get much bigger than 4″ or so, and entry-level tablets, most of which have 7″ displays. I’ve always thought of tablets as being too big to carry around all day, but you can’t deny that smartphones are much less convenient for things like web browsing, video playback, e-book reading, and games. It’s not that you can’t do all of those things on a phone; it’s just that a nice, big display makes them so much better.

Now, most tablets can’t make or receive calls. The Galaxy Note, on the other hand, is a bona-fide 4G phone. Unless your name is Stephen Wozniak, there’s no need to carry another, smaller device for voice communication. To top off the convergence bonanza, the Galaxy Note comes with a stylus, like the Palm Pilots of old. Samsung appropriately includes a note-taking and doodling app on the device. The capacitive touchscreen will still recognize your finger, though, so you don’t have to use the stylus if you don’t want.

We’ve noticed that a lot of people—real people with jobs and families and normal-sized pockets in their clothes—seem to be using the Galaxy Note, and they’re not afraid to look a little silly when using it as a phone in public. There must be something appealing about this chimera of a device, so we decided to investigate. Let’s see what all the fuss is about.

First impressions and specs

Here’s the Galaxy Note in all of its glory, showing off the TouchWiz UI Samsung lays over the Android 2.3 operating system, otherwise known as Gingerbread:

Quite a handsome little device, isn’t it? But there’s nothing little about the Galaxy Note. That fact becomes apparent as soon as you set it down next to a regular smartphone like the iPhone 4. Granted, the iPhone 4 is a bit on the small side; larger Android and Windows Phone devices with 4″+ screens are commonplace nowadays. There’s still no question that the Galaxy Note is substantially bigger than typical handsets, though.

Happily, the Galaxy Note is nearly as slim as the iPhone 4. The Apple device is 9.3 mm thick, while the Samsung measures 9.65 mm at its thickest point. Some folks might be able to notice the third-of-a-millimeter difference in regular use, but I could not. In fact, because the Note has tapered edges, it actually feels a little more slender in my hand.

The Galaxy Note’s display spreads 1280×800 pixels of Super AMOLED goodness across a 5.3″ panel, which absolutely dwarf’s the iPhone 4’s 3.5″, 960×640 LCD. The difference isn’t just obvious from a size standpoint. The Samsung display has more vivid colors, higher contrast, and deeper blacks. It really looks gorgeous. You can sort of see the difference in the picture above, but such things are hard to illustrate with photographs. I recommend trying out a Galaxy Note in person, if you can.

As nice as the AMOLED display looks, there is a small caveat. The panel has a sort of screen-door thing going on, where pixels appear to be laid out in a honeycomb pattern with dark gaps in between (likely due to the display’s pentile subpixel layout.) The effect isn’t bothersome when you’re watching videos or playing games, but text looks slightly fuzzy, especially with small fonts. See above. On the iPhone’s LCD, text looks cleaner and more like a printed page.

In addition to its gargantuan display, the Galaxy Note is loaded with other hardware. Here’s a rundown of the key specifications:

Processor 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon
Display 5.3″ super AMOLED with 1280×800 resolution
Software Android 2.3 with Samsung TouchWiz interface
Storage 16GB integrated
Ports 1 Micro USB 2.0

1 analog audio headphone port

Expansion slots 1 microSD slot (up to 32GB)
Communications 4G LTE

HSPA+ 850/900/1900/2100 (up to 21 Mbps)

EDGE/GPRS 850/900/1800/1900

802.11n Wi-Fi

Bluetooth 3.0 + HS

Camera 8-megapixel rear with LED flash

(supports 1080p video recording)

2-megapixel front

Input devices Capacitive touch screen

Advanced smart pen

Dimensions 5.78″ x 3.27″ x 0.38″ (146.9 x 83 x 9.7 mm)
Weight 6.28 oz (178 g)
Battery 9.25Wh (2500 mAh) lithium-ion

Just about every type of wireless connectivity is covered. That includes 4G LTE, which gives the phone oodles of bandwidth even when there’s no Wi-Fi access point nearby. Just to give you an idea, running Speedtest off the 4G connection in downtown Vancouver, Canada, we averaged 59Mbps of downstream bandwidth and 7Mbps of upstream—slightly quicker than our cable connection.

Samsung outfits this bad boy with a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S3 processor clocked at 1.5GHz. The Snapdragon S3 uses Qualcomm’s own Scorpion CPU cores, which are ARM-compatible but, the company says, capable of higher clock speeds and higher vector performance than ARM Cortex-A8 or Cortex-A9-based designs. The chip also features an Adreno 220 graphics processor, which supports Flash 10 and WebGL. According to Qualcomm’s website, the S3 is used in devices including Samsung’s own Galaxy S II phone and Galaxy Tab 8.9 tablet.

The Note’s rear-facing camera has a cool eight-megapixel resolution, and it’s capable of 1080p video recording at 30 frames per second. Even the front-facing camera is respectable: it’s a two-megapixel model that will show off your pimples in those vanity Facebook pics. I suppose the 16GB storage capacity isn’t extraordinary, but Samsung allows you to expand it via a microSD slot tucked under the rear cover—something you can’t do on an iPhone.

Somehow, despite all this hardware, the Galaxy Note weighs in at a shockingly reasonable 6.28 ounces. That’s not a whole lot heavier than the iPhone 4, which tips the scales at 4.9 ounces, and it’s way lighter than 7-inch tablets like the Kindle Fire, which is a whopping 14.6 ounces. If your pockets are big enough to accommodate the Galaxy Note, you won’t need to pull up your pants every five minutes.

Some people may, however, wonder if that’s a Galaxy Note in your pants or if you’re happy to see them. Yes, this device does have a rather… substantial outline.

Usability

I was a little disappointed to discover that, five months after the release of Android 4.0—which all the cool kids call Ice Cream Sandwich—the Galaxy Note still ships with Android 2.3. Samsung hasn’t released an Ice Cream Sandwich update for the device, either. Android 2.x isn’t bad by any means, but speaking as an iPhone user, I’ve always found it a little clunky. The UI animations aren’t always perfectly smooth, the widgets aren’t terribly nice to look at, and call me crazy, but I swear the OS feels slow even on relatively powerful devices like the Note.

To its credit, Android does certain things iOS can’t do. Home-screen widgets allow you to quickly enable and disable Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, maneuvers that require a trip into the Settings app on the iPhone. Voice dictation has been a standard feature for a long time now, whereas Apple still doesn’t offer that functionality on devices older than the iPhone 4S and iPad 3. The Facebook integration (which syncs information from your Facebook friends list to your address book) is very handy, as well.

I suppose Android is more of a geek’s platform in many respects. Google exposes considerably more configuration options and information about the system than Apple does, and users are given free rein to replace default apps if they so choose. The Google Play store also seems like less of a walled garden than the iTunes App Store. Or, at least, app rejections don’t make headlines quite so often.

It’s just too bad that the Note doesn’t run Ice Cream Sandwich yet. According to the guys at SammyHub, who found a post on Samsung’s Norwegian Facebook page, ICS isn’t coming to the Note until next quarter.

On a big honkin’ phone like the Galaxy Note, the web browser almost beckons you. There’s something delightful about touching your way through the web on any device with responsive input, and a large display makes it all the better.

As you’d expect, the Galaxy Note requires a lot less zooming and panning than smaller phones. In fact, in landscape mode, you can almost get away with not zooming at all when reading TR. Sadly, most sites identify the Galaxy Note as a regular Android phone, redirecting the user to a stripped-down, mobile version designed for much smaller screens. While some sites provide a link that switches to the full-fat flavor, not all are that accommodating, which can become a little annoying. Ice Cream Sandwich puts a “request desktop site” option right in the browser, but it still can’t be configured to request the desktop versions of web sites by default.

Panning and zooming in the Note’s Gingerbread browser is very smooth overall. For some reason, however, I noticed a lot of checkerboarding when tracking around graphics-heavy pages. The effect can be a bit disconcerting, especially since the checkerboard pattern doesn’t always go away until you’ve taken your finger off the screen. My first thought was to blame a video memory limitation (this thing is, after all, driving a 1280×800 display), but we’re talking about a phone that can run snazzy-looking 3D games at the native resolution. So, I don’t know.

Speaking of games…

One would expect any graphics-heavy application to be beautiful on such a large display, and the Galaxy Note doesn’t disappoint there. 3D games like ShadowGun (pictured above) and Blood and Glory look gorgeous. They run well, although the experience falls short of seamless fluidity in both cases. Less demanding 3D titles, like Heliodroid 3D, are definitely smoother. In all cases, though, the big screen delivers more than just delicious eye candy: it gives you more room to position your fingers without covering up the image or touching the wrong controls by accident.

Sadly, not all titles natively support the Note’s 1280×800 display resolution. Some games are going to look blurry because of the scaling required, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

On the video front, the Galaxy Note has a YouTube app, and the Note also happily plays most non-streaming video formats like WMV, DivX/XviD, and H.264 via the included Videos app. I got pretty much the same experience with the standard-def XviD, 720p MP4, and “high-quality” YouTube videos I tried: smooth but not 100% fluid playback, with occasional dropped frames that didn’t compromise audio/video synchronization. Although playback seemed slightly more fluid on my iPhone, the picture quality was a lot better on the Note. That display’s contrast ratio and color reproduction really are something to behold.

The giganto display makes the Galaxy Note compelling as an e-book reader—maybe not as your primary reading device, but certainly a good Kindle or Nook substitute for public transport and waiting rooms. Google sells books through its own Play store, and there’s an Android version of Amazon’s Kindle app that works rather well. I’ve used the Kindle app on my iPhone, but the cramped screen and the small number of words per line can get to be a little uncomfortable. The Galaxy Note doesn’t suffer from the same problem, and reading is surprisingly comfortable. The fact that Samsung gives you a quick rotation lock shortcut in the notification slide-down area is definitely a plus.

Now, there is a substantial downside to the large display.

If you’ve ever texted or Googled or Yelped on the go, chances are you did so with just one hand: fingers clasped around your phone, thumb hitting all the necessary buttons and keys. Your other hand might have been occupied carrying a shopping bag or keeping you steady in the bus or subway. Good luck replicating that with the Galaxy Note. The thing is just too friggin’ big for one-handed typing, at least with my medium-sized hands. Unless you have lumberjack mitts, typing comfortably without losing your grip on the phone is going to require the use of both hands—or of the voice dictation facility, but that might get awkward in public.

Speaking of awkwardness, there’s a definite and very palpable dignity cost to making a call in public:

Hello, ladies.

Yeah. Using this thing gave me flashbacks of the big phone guy from old Trigger Happy TV episodes.

Don’t get me wrong—call quality on the Galaxy Note is fine, and the earpiece speaker is plenty loud. It gets much louder than the one on my iPhone at the maximum setting, actually. But this device feels sort of unwieldy when I hold it up to my face, and the sheer size of it is pretty much guaranteed to attract stares. If you’re happy to flaunt your geek cred in front of everybody (or have long given up any sense of self-respect), then that won’t bother you. Anyone else may want to invest in a quality Bluetooth headset.

The stylus

So, what about that stylus? Is it a godsend or a gimmick?

Samsung calls it the S Pen, and it tucks discreetly into the lower right corner of the phone’s chassis. When inserted all the way, the stylus is completely flush with the edge of the phone, and there seems to be no way it could slide or get pulled out by accident. You will, however, need a serviceable fingernail for extraction. Pianists and overly stressed individuals may take issue with that requirement, but everyone else should be happy.

The S Pen is just over four inches long and very thin, so maneuvering it requires some dexterity. The slickness of the touchscreen’s glass surface doesn’t help matters at all. Neither does the fact that you can’t steady your hand by resting it on the screen, because the phone will register that as input. Then there’s the issue of input lag, which is very much noticeable when you’re trying to write or sketch something quickly.

At the very least, using the S Pen requires practice and dedication. At worst, it may feel frustrating and pointless.

Frankly, I don’t see much of an upside. Samsung’s included S Memo app lets you jot down notes and doodle, but it doesn’t translate handwriting into text. A handwriting recognition button does appear next to the space bar on the on-screen keyboard, but the handwriting input pane that comes up only recognizes one word at a time. Also, whether writing in cursive or print, I found the handwriting recognition to be very much hit or miss. Unless you lack a pair of functional thumbs, typing is going to be considerably quicker.

As for doodling, well, that’s always enjoyable, but I found the aforementioned input lag and display slickness ruined the fun somewhat. You just don’t have the accuracy that you do when sketching on paper.

Battery life and other knick knacks

Considering the phone’s large display, fast processor, size, and weight, I didn’t have particularly high expectations about the Galaxy Note’s battery life. The device didn’t surprise me.

When left almost completely untouched, with Wi-Fi and 4G enabled but Bluetooth turned off, the Note ran out of juice in about a day and a half. When I made use of it more often—mostly browsing the web, downloading and trying out apps, watching YouTube videos, and the like—battery life got down to less than 24 hours.

This is one of those phones you’re pretty much going to want to charge every night. Users who make a lot of voice calls, play a lot of games, or need to use the phone as a portable Wi-Fi hotspot will probably want to keep the charger cord handy and maybe buy a spare battery, as well. Thankfully, unlike Apple with its iDevices, Samsung gives users unfettered access to the Galaxy Note’s lithium-ion battery compartment. Swapping batteries in the middle of the work day shouldn’t be a big deal.

Before we render our verdict, let’s talk briefly about the accessories Samsung throws in the box. You’ve got a USB-to-Micro USB charging cord, a USB-to-AC adapter (which can pair up with the aforementioned cable when there’s no powered USB port nearby), and some in-ear headphones with spare earbud tips. The headphones have a remote with a little built-in microphone, volume control, and mute/call-answer buttons, just as one might expect.

The earbuds offer passable audio quality with music—there’s just enough bass, but mids and highs sound a little compressed. There’s next to no bleeding, though, so you can crank up the volume without having to worry about bothering the people around you. Of course, as with any phone sporting a standard 3.5-mm jack, you’re free to use your own earbuds.

Conclusions

I’ve gotta say, I was a little skeptical about the Galaxy Note when it arrived at my door. I’d seen people using it, and the concept of a jumbo smartphone seemed a little goofy to me. I thought my iPhone 4 fit in my hand just right, and although I wasn’t opposed to the idea of something slightly bigger, a 5.3″ smartphone just seemed… well, too big.

After using the Note for about a week and a half, I think I’ve warmed to it. Now, it’s my iPhone that feels too small. I love the Note’s huge, gorgeous AMOLED screen, and I love how remarkably thin and light the handset is. My feelings about Android 2.3 remain unchanged, but the prospect of an eventual Ice Cream Sandwich update makes the Note all the more compelling. Yes, the stylus is a bit of a gimmick. So what? You can just leave it tucked in and forget it’s there.

Unfortunately, there are a couple of dealbreakers for me. The first one is that, because of its large size, the phone doesn’t allow me to type one-handed comfortably. That makes it awkward to use on the go. The second is the so-so battery life. My iPhone will happily stay on standby for three days or more, so I can get away with forgetting to charge it every so often. The Galaxy Note isn’t as forgiving. I do appreciate that Samsung had to make compromises to keep the device light with such a big display and fast processor, though, and I think it did a good job of balancing those considerations. Also, I expect the Galaxy Note’s battery life might compare more favorably to some of the newer 4″ Android handsets on the market today.

There’s the issue of pricing to consider, of course. AT&T charges $299.99 for the Galaxy Note with a two-year contract. That’s a little pricey. When you can get a Galaxy S II for $99.99 and a Kindle Fire for $199, you might think twice about shelling out three Benjamins for a jumbo smartphone. (The Galaxy Note can be had for $199.95 in Canada, but that requires a three-year contract.)

If you put a gun to my head right now and asked me to choose between a 7″ tablet and the 5.3″ Galaxy Note, I’d go with the Galaxy Note. 7″ tablets seem to fit an awkward niche, too small to replicate the usability of 10″ tablets yet too large to fit in your pocket comfortably—and with no voice calling capabilities. The Note fits in your pocket, has a higher display resolution than the Kindle Fire or RIM PlayBook, and has a large enough display to make web browsing and e-book reading comfortable.

I wouldn’t choose the Galaxy Note over my iPhone, though. The issues with one-handed typing and battery life bother me, and for now, I still prefer iOS to Android 2.3. Oh, and I like not drawing attention to myself when making phone calls.

Comments closed
    • rjseo
    • 8 years ago
    • merryjohn
    • 8 years ago
    • SPtheALIEN
    • 8 years ago

    So nothing on the LTE component?

    When you mentioned the battery life being abysmal, you actually point out the “large display, fast processor, size, and weight” being factors, but don’t even talk about one of the biggest reasons people would get this phone.

    Perhaps you don’t live in one of AT&T’s LTE areas, but at least point it out as a feature. Judging by your battery life, it actually sounds like you don’t live in a LTE area. If you did, the battery life would be worse. For me, it’s worth it–though I have learned to live with having a spare battery to get me through the day and plugging the phone in often. But it’s worth it for me.

    The LTE speeds are faster than my home’s internet and having it on such a large, usable device makes it very enjoyable.

    Having owned every iPhone since the first one came out, it took me about two weeks of withdrawal symptoms to get used to the Android way of life, but now I love it. My last iPhone is now relegated as my car’s entertainment device. I agree with the other commenter talking about how they miss the phone’s interfacing with the car’s plug-in convenience. I’ve now switched to A2DP streaming in my car if I want to play music that isn’t on my iPhone. Nowhere near as convenient as the iPhone’s plug and play, but I make it work. Because I use a music streaming service that has the option of saving albums locally, I sync my iPhone when I have a wifi signal. If I really needed, I can use an app like FoxFi to share the LTE signal with my iPhone and stream new music that way.

    I agree with Cyril’s perspective on single-hand use. However, I use a keyboard app that does a pretty decent job at guessing the words I’m typing so I use the heuristics often and actually type less. My wife (and her tiny dainty hands) initially complained about her own Note’s size, but after getting used to her Swype keyboard, she’s good to go.

    To the Android OS’s credit (irregardless of ICS or not), you can select another browser that can default to a desktop-app. Unlike the stock non-jailbroken iOS browser options, the browsers downloaded on the Android OS can be a complete replacement system wide. If you download another browser on 2.3, you can even forget about the stock browser ever existing on your device.

    • moog
    • 8 years ago

    If you’re a working professional, you’ll have your iPhone4, your notebook, your dev workstation, and your 3 or so test machines (that’s what I have anyway) + 3 or more lcds. And maybe you’ll have a tablet.

    I don’t understand where this tweener device fits in. I’ll wait for my Win8 tablet (which I’ll probably use all the time docked + keypad as another test machine anyway).

    I’ll probably also continue to take only my notebook home with me, though I wonder if I’ll change that with taking the tablet + keypad + stand.

      • Airmantharp
      • 8 years ago

      It’s a phone, but slightly bigger.

      It’s not heavy, and it fits in a front pocket well. It’s even not that difficult to get used to holding it up to your head.

    • BoBzeBuilder
    • 8 years ago

    Complaining about the lack of ICS is a little pointless. They confirmed that it’s coming and they’ve given us a deadline, so all we have to do is wait. I’m sure a giant corporation like Samsung will deliver on their word. Also, there are a lot of optimizations and features in development for the ICS version of Galaxy Note. Take a look at the video bellow:

    [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkZz2pr69DY&feature=player_embedded[/url<] Well worth the wait. Besides Galaxy Note is already a fantastic phone with features that surpass nearly every phone in the market. The North American version sadly uses the Scorpion chipset which is slower than the Exynos chipset in the international version. In fact I compared the two next to each other and the difference is noticeable. Right now, with the Rocket Rom installed and the CPU set to 1.6 GHz (Exynos) I'm scoring 4600+ in Quadrant 🙂

    • vvas
    • 8 years ago

    Best article about the Note (and one of the best smartphone articles in general):

    [url<]http://www.thetechblock.com/articles/2012/samsungs-super-sized-galaxy-note-changed-my-life/[/url<] ;^)

    • Bauxite
    • 8 years ago

    Apparently you can tweak GSM notes to work on tmobile (usa) bands even though they are not on the specs. This isn’t the usual 2g/edge situation either, its HSPA/AWS support.

    Kind of interesting, sad that our cell phone market is based around crappy contracts and only the #4 provider by size gives any kind of discount or incentive for owning your own phone, or not throwing away a phone every 2 years like clockwork. But hey, we train em young to live the credit card rolling, no-future-planning, covet-disposable-crap-and-in-debt-forever life, so no surprise there, only next quarter’s statement matters.

    • Laykun
    • 8 years ago

    Battery XL, means my galaxy note lasts about 4 days, and that’s with a developer ics rom. It does however mean that when you’re phone is asleep your not online so unfortunately you want be woken by emails at 3 in the morning. You will still receive texts and calls though.

      • Airmantharp
      • 8 years ago

      I’d like to see if mine lasts that long with Ginger Bread. I’m not fond of messing with the ROM on my everyday phone.

      Putting ICS on my Captivate though (Galaxy S AT&T), might be an option, especially since I intend to travel with it.

        • Laykun
        • 8 years ago

        I believe it lasts much longer on gingerbread when used more actively. The current ICS kernel I use seems to drain a lot of power when I am playing very simple games or browsing the web.

          • WarriorProphet
          • 8 years ago

          You really have to try different schedulers and profiles.

      • NeelyCam
      • 8 years ago

      [quote<]It does however mean that when you're phone is asleep your not online so unfortunately you want be woken by emails at 3 in the morning.[/quote<] Meadows...? The link to the cartoon, please...?

    • cynan
    • 8 years ago

    This thing seems like a Galaxy Nexus on steroids. Slightly faster CPU and GPU, slightly higher resolution and larger screen size (5.3 vs 4.6), a micro SD card slot and a stylus (though I agree, I can’t see anyone really using the stylus much). The one major caveat is the lack of ICS. But that should come soon. Operative word being “should”.

    I wonder if I should have gone with one of these instead of the Nexus. Mind you, I don’t see any screen-doors on the 4.6″ 720p display on the Nexus. I think this thing would be just slightly too big to use as a phone, but then that’s what I though about the Nexus at first. The Nexus is just small enough that I can comfortably use it with one hand (though this gets a bit dicey when it’s in its rubberized case). While the Note looks like a slightly better version of the Nexus is almost every way, ICS aside, I would hate to give up the one-handed ergonomics of the Nexus.

    • blitzy
    • 8 years ago

    nice review cyril, i dont think it looks too bad as a phone either. but that would be the upper limit for size

    • Disco
    • 8 years ago

    I think people look a lot goofier when walking around with those bluetooth earpieces all the time, even when not on the phone. I’d much rather look geeky for the 5 min I’m on the phone, than full time with the earpiece. I don’t actually think the phone looks that bad due to its size anyway.

      • Airmantharp
      • 8 years ago

      I picked one up yesterday, and I’m still undecided on this. It’s big next to my head, but I rarely use the phone to call in public anyway, preferring to text. The speakerphone is good really enough to make up for it’s size, and I’ve found myself using that with the phone docked on the desk.

    • albundy
    • 8 years ago

    your gonna need to use two hands to type. i already have trouble with the galaxy S II, but swype helps a bit. i notice that i am using the voice to text alot more often due to not being able to type accurately.

    • Dposcorp
    • 8 years ago

    Nice review, you handsome thing you 🙂

    I have been looking at this, but Samsung so disappointed me with their lack of timely upgrades with my Epic touch, especially with what HTC was doing for the Evo in the same time frame, that I decided to stay away from for a while, and have been looking at LG & HTC phones.

    The fact that this thing is still running 2.3 is sad, since 3.0 has been out for a long time.

    I do think there is a market for 5″ devices though, with or without the stylus, so I would like to see a few more devices come out.

    • Goty
    • 8 years ago

    With regards to the comment about the Note not running ICS, that’s just another benefit of owning an Android device: It doesn’t really matter! My Captivate (aka Galaxy S) hasn’t been (and probably will never be) updated to ICS, but that hasn’t stopped me from running it flawlessly since December. Just go out, pick whatever ICS rom appeals to you most, and flash away; there are already quite a few running on the Galaxy Note.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 8 years ago

    It only it was packing tegra 3…

      • Airmantharp
      • 8 years ago

      …the battery life would be lower, and the useful performance wouldn’t be measurably higher. Might be better for games though!

        • WarriorProphet
        • 8 years ago

        Yeah when tegra 3 ramps to over 1.5ghz maybe, but at 1.4 ghz and the extra cores not being usefull for 90% of apps (unless you are an extremely high percentile multi-tasker) the hundred mhz on the snapdragon still wins a lot of the time, mostly because mhz still = throughput, assuming all other things are equal (RAM throuput, internal flash speed, network speed, etc).

    • obarthelemy
    • 8 years ago

    I’ve been using one pretty much since it’s been out.

    The size of the thing is a matter of taste. I’ve fairly big (6ft), with big hands (22cm thumb to twinkie). It fits in my shirt and pants pockets, and I can type 1-handed, so it’s fine for me. I felt weird the first handful of times holding that slate to my ear, but that feeling disappeared about as fast as with the HTC HD2 2 yrs ago. That phone clearly needs a mic+remote headset. Samsung includes an OK wired one. With voice dial and music remote control, the thing only leaves my pocket when I actually need the screen.

    The screen is gorgeous. Very good contrast, very fine pitch so the pentile layout is not at all an issue. Readable in full sunlight, especially with the black background I favor.

    The rest is OK, actually, it’s good to very good. Reliable OS and apps, OK sound output, OK battery (only 1 day though). I’m not using the pen much, but then again I’m not typing much either.

    My main gripe is about the buttons:
    1- they’re badly positioned, power opposite volume, so when you press one you pretty much always press those on the other side too.
    2- they’re too sensitive, and will register a click while just holding the phone, or even laying it on its side
    3- they’re not clicky, so you press them w/o realizing it.

    I really like not having to zoom and pan while browsing the web. Reading ebooks is really comfortable, and watching movies is OK. I found the iPhone’s screen much too small for that, the 4.3″ HD2 was barely OK… I’m 43, so the size that matters is getting to be more the screen size than.. the other one ^^

    • Chrispy_
    • 8 years ago

    A girl in the office has had one of these for a while now. As a Galaxy SII owner, it felt good but I agree the sylus is a waste of time.

    If Samsung removed the stylus and it’s housing area to make the battery larger, I would be in love with this.

    • ImSpartacus
    • 8 years ago

    This is a good ‘first try,’ but not a truly great device.

    For this device to be great, it needs an RGB display (SAMOLED[b<]+[/b<]), ICS and a modern SoC (Krait?). With those three things, we see an increase in performance, battery life and general usability. As far as I'm concerned, those are the core tenants of cell phone use. If a 'Note 2.0' could improve on [i<]all three[/i<], then we should wait for a Note 2.0.

      • obarthelemy
      • 8 years ago

      I disagree with the perennial “this could be better” rant. Yes it could, but AMOLED is fine enough at that dot pitch; the battery lasts a day; and the performance is OK.
      You should try it before asking for more, more, more.

        • A_Pickle
        • 8 years ago

        I just bought myself a [i<]third[/i<] Palm Treo Pro. Oh, how I've missed it's 320x320 px resistive touchscreen! The allure of un-garnished Windows Mobile 6.1! The ability to synchronize with Mozilla Thunderbird and Lightning! The speedy 528 MHz Qualcomm MSM7501A! And of course, my beautiful, [i<]beautiful[/i<] stylus. There's this one company that, at times, uses the phrase: "Sometimes, less is more." Some kind of fruit company or something. Anyways, all I know is that all of these fancy Android devices and iThings just... can't put up a fight to my Treo Pro. I love the damn thing.

      • Mourmain
      • 8 years ago

      I wouldn’t want an RGB display. What’s all this fascination with it? It doesn’t look much better, and has shorter life (because the pixels are not sized with regards to their lifetime).

    • lilbuddhaman
    • 8 years ago

    Saw a dude at a dive bar in town (of all places) using one of these. He looked to be using it very naturally and seemed comfortable with using the stylus and sometimes alternating to using his fingers to type. Then he noticed I had been staring at him for about 20 minutes and popped me in the mouth…ok I made that last part up.

      • sweatshopking
      • 8 years ago

      “Then he noticed I had been staring at him for about 20 minutes and started staring back. it became romantic, and we started kissing passionately. it was amazing.”
      fixed it for you.

        • yogibbear
        • 8 years ago

        SSK this ain’t no R&P.

          • dpaus
          • 8 years ago

          ‘R&P’ stands for ‘Romance and Pornography’?!? Wow, all this time I thought…..

        • entropy13
        • 8 years ago

        Is that your Cyril-SSK fantasy there?

          • Meadows
          • 8 years ago

          To be fair, Cyril does look cute. And he makes the best typos.

        • lilbuddhaman
        • 8 years ago

        You said you’d never tell baby, you said you’d never TELL!

          • sweatshopking
          • 8 years ago

          i lol’d irl

    • sweatshopking
    • 8 years ago

    oh god! cyril so hot! you should be a model. like in zoolander.

      • 5150
      • 8 years ago

      He’s got too much class though.

      • entropy13
      • 8 years ago

      If you are gay, and a creepy stalker, Cyril should be more careful now.

      Or maybe it’s not an “if”, SSK?

        • sweatshopking
        • 8 years ago

        im not gay, and [i<] probably [/i<] not a stalker. i wouldn't read much into it. He just reminded me of david duchovny's character in that show. idk why, he just did.

          • dpaus
          • 8 years ago

          I thought he looked more Clark Kent-ish…

        • NeelyCam
        • 8 years ago

        Do you have something against homosexuals?

          • Meadows
          • 8 years ago

          What, are you one of them, too?

            • NeelyCam
            • 8 years ago

            That’s classified.

            • Meadows
            • 8 years ago

            Welcome, then.

    • ModernPrimitive
    • 8 years ago

    My last smartphone was the EVO 4G. “less than 24 hours battery life” sounds like heaven to me…

    I am disappointed that it’s a pentile display on the Note. I was slightly tempted to get one but waiting on the something with the next gen Exynos or the HTC One X may be my new ride if the battery life doesn’t stink. I’ll consider an iPhone when they get closer more awkward looking held up to my ear. 😉

    • internetsandman
    • 8 years ago

    I think you failed to demonstrate your point in regards to the Note looking awkward when used for phone calls. It looked perfectly natural held up to the ear like that, and personally, when you showed the size comparison in your hand between the Note and the iPhone 4S, I actually preferred the Note, I quite often shift my phone into landscape for typing anyway, because I almost always use 2 hands, but I would absolutely love to have such a big keyboard, I quite often find that my fingers hit the wrong keys on my iPhone simply because the keys are so small, and I don’t think I have overly large paws either.

    The only thing that would stop me buying this is, as you said, it only runs Android 2.3. I used to own an original Transformer tablet, and while it was a great device, I just think that Android hasn’t really caught up to iOS for mobile use. I did have quite the problem with malware on my Transformer, having been accustomed to iOS I learned I was being quite naive in assuming that tablets and smartphones don’t receive malware and virus attacks no matter what. That’s probably another thing holding me back from buying a device like this, the software support. Apple is amazing when it comes to supporting what they’ve released, and incredible in terms of how safe their OS’s are in comparison to others out there. I’m not saying their perfect, nor are they impervious to attack, I’m simply saying they’re a hell of a lot better than the alternatives and that’s the biggest reason why I would stick within the iOS environment, at least for my mobile needs (gaming on a Mac is still nowhere near where it should be)

    • ucisilentbob
    • 8 years ago

    I made this exact change two weeks ago and i cannot imagine going back to the iPhone 4(S) in the future. The Swype keyboard makes input much easier. The feel in pocket for me wasn’t a huge change. The main thing that bugged me (which i was expecting) … was the loss of a direct connection to my USB port in my Car. But I’ve already become acclimated.

    I’m a little sad that they still use the Super AMOLED (RGBG Pentile) Display. This is extremely easy to see when you’re looking at a white screen and you turn the phone just a little off center. Everything still looks great and you truly do have great viewing angles but when you’re on a white screen everything shifts green. Since there is an extra green pixel in the Mix instead of the superior RGB array on the Super AMOLED Plus (Which is still not currently available in HD resolutions such as 1280 x 800).

    An lastly, in an LTE enabled zone… the mobile data connection just zooms on this phone. LTE plus the Dual Core Processor S3 @ 1.5Ghz outpaced my previous iPhone 4 on WiFi (25/2MB) Cable Connection.

    Overall I’m extremely happy with the switch!

    • moriz
    • 8 years ago

    regarding texting, have you considered the Swype keyboard? the large size of the screen might actually be beneficial, and you’ll be able to “type” extremely quickly with it.

      • kc77
      • 8 years ago

      I second Swype. It’s great for phones. It can compensate for quite a bit in terms of the need to type, or in this case swype the whole word. After a while you’ll find yourself only using the first two or three letters within a word then on to the next. It can get pretty fast once you use it for a while.

      • pwdrhnd23
      • 8 years ago

      One handed typing problem solved:

      [url<]http://www.8pen.com/[/url<] I used it for a while on my EVO and really liked it. I haven't used it lately, mostly because if I can dictate to my phone I don't really need to type with one hand. Cool concept though...

      • derFunkenstein
      • 8 years ago

      even on 3.5″ phones, Swype is a great solution.

    • kc77
    • 8 years ago

    Wow very nice review. Although you really don’t look odd at all using the Note as a phone. The latest Android phones (like the Nexus) aren’t that much smaller and because it’s so thin unless someone has an eye problem you won’t stick out too much.

    With regards to battery life, that might have a lot to do with LTE combined with 2.3. I can tell you with the Galaxy Nexus (GSM) I get about 3-4 days of standby and 2 days if I used it. The people with the same phone on the LTE networks aren’t getting anywhere near that from what I hear. Other than that… great review!

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