Is it a phone, is it a tablet? Or is it a phablet? That is the question! The Samsung Galaxy Note is a questionable device where some may find it is too big to be a phone, some may say its the best size to be the phone, and the others may say its way too small to be a tablet. So really what is the Galaxy Note? Find out after the break!
Well, the Galaxy Note isn’t a normal device. Its physical appearance is quite stunning, the usual term is, “What’s that”? or “Is that a phone”? Truth be told, the thing is massive, it ruins a lot of features of both a smartphone and a tablet. But the design is quite good. It’s slim profile is the one found on the Samsung Galaxy S II, very thin but quite a large construction. The 5.3-inch display is a reach for many people to have one handed operation, so two hands it is!
The shape of the Note is the classic Candy Bar, it tries to not attract attention to itself, thats until you put this up to your head for a phone call. People start looking at you differently when that happens. All joking aside, its a pretty simple build that works.
The Note definitely has some power under that beautiful body, it’s raw 1.5 GHZ Dual-Core Qualcomm Processor is a beast, but the European version has a 1.4GHZ Dual-Core which may sound slower but its a Exynos A9 processor which is more powerful! But on the AT&T’s version do you get 4G LTE instead of HSPA+. Now the processor is plenty powerful but the phone does show some signs of lag when you are navigating throughout the device, especially when going from home screen to home screen, sometimes it gets stuck or doesn’t even register you’re swipe. Now that has to do with how many pixels that processor has to power which is a lot.
Also the full gigabyte of RAM is helpful when you have multiple applications running. When switching between applications there is a few seconds of nothing which is worry-some, but the RAM kicks in and you are back where you left off.
The Note runs Android 2.3.6 Gingerbread, nothing too exciting in that statement. But with the extra screen real-estate, there is a lot of emptiness, sort of this Operating System isn’t meant for this device, which really I would prefer Honeycomb over Gingerbread, but Ice Cream Sandwich would be my ideal choice here. Throughout the OS everything is in tip top shape, nothing out of the ordinary. There are some signs of lag when going through menus, something just feels unfinished about some parts of the OS. But overall, we are awaiting the update on Ice Cream Sandwich.
Performance and Battery Life
Running are usual benchmarks, the performance was surprisingly high, rating a 2,802 in Quadrant, way more then the Galaxy Nexus (see image below). When you are browsing around the web, it does show some hiccups when you are loading larger sites like this one. Checkerboard all the way down briefly until the device can catch its breath. Other than small complaints, we were impressed with its performance.
Battery life was also a great point on the Samsung Galaxy Note. When you lift the battery cover off, you may seem surprised on the size of the battery, it looks small, but it holds a 2,500 MaH rating which delivers in our real-world testing around 7-8 hours on 3G/4G and 8-9 hours on WiFi. Video playback was around 7 full hours, and music went on and on so we just gave up on that test. It’s not a Droid RAZR Maxx, but it beats any iPhone or other Android phones.
The Note has an 8-megapixel rear camera which is capable of shooting 1080P HD video and 720P as well. The pictures look very sharp but a little on the grainy side, even with sufficient lighting. The shutter speed is pretty slow though and I haven’t found anything in the settings to change it. So if you are going to take a photo, make sure to stay stable for a couple of seconds.
Now for the HD video, its not terrible, but iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 beats it. The video is shaky and very grainy. On the edges of the video, its a little washed out and blurred out. But its acceptable if you’re camera runs out of juice.
1080P HD Video Test
720P HD Video Test
S Pen…. What is it?
Samsung claims that they have invented the Stylus again, but they don’t call it a stylus. Its the S Pen and they are really pushing that instead of Stylus. What this magical little pen does is well… not much. The S pen can let you doodle, take notes, annotate, take screenshots, and a short cut to open S Memo. Other than those tasks, the only other thing is you can navigate the device just like your finger.
Taking notes seems practical at first but after extended use, you find the problem. When you write on paper, most people like to rest their hands on the paper, now if you try the same stunt on the Galaxy Note, you end up not registering the pen as touch and you end up not writing. Now Samsung says that when you are writing, other capacitive inputs are not taken in, but I find this isn’t always true. If you write with your hand off the screen, you will develop writing cramps much faster.
Accuracy of the S Pen is pretty darn good but if you don’t have excellent hand writing, its going to look a little worse than you’re true hand writing and may even be unreadable when you go back. I also find it easier just to type out notes instead of using the pen to write it. It’s just not efficient. Now using the S Pen to navigate the User Interface is pretty normal until you bump in to trying to use one of the four capacitive touch buttons, it doesn’t work on them which is a let down because you have to stop using the Pen and user you’re digits.
The Galaxy Note, Samsung’s flagship device of something else really. If you are in hunt of something to take notes on, you’re better off paying one dollar for a notebook and pencil. If your in hunt of something more tablet like, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 is basically the same gear under the hood of the Note but with a larger display. Want something more mobile? The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is an excellent choice, it delivers more power and Android 4.0 for the same price as the Galaxy Note. But if you are one of those people that want something that blurs the line between phone and tablet and doesn’t car on how big the phone or how small you’re tablet is, the Note is not going to disappoint!
Leave us your thoughts the Galaxy Note below!