Is it a tablet or is it a phone? That’s the question we are going to ask in our review of the Samsung Galaxy Note. It’s a smartphone tablet hybrid that looks to be the device that will be the solution for both. Does the Galaxy Note successfully accomplish this?
Great hardware and specs but does the Galaxy Note fit in your pocket? Will it fit in a purse? Is it weird to take phone calls and talk on it?
One of the first things you will notice on the Samsung Galaxy Note is its large 5.3 inch HD Super AMOLED display and you’ll ask yourself “Can thing fit into my pocket, bag, purse etc.” the answer to that is yes. While it is a wide phone it’s still relatively thin device that should slide into your pockets just fine and fit into any bag or purse of the proper size. In the review video we show some examples of how “pocketable” the Galaxy Note it. Also talking on it as a phone is a bit weird at first but you will get adjusted to it. You have to think of it as just a phone that is wider than the standard cell phone.
Now the Galaxy not isn’t just a device with a pretty screen it packs power to with a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor and 1 GB of RAM. The processor is different from the international version of the Galaxy Note due to the fact that this version uses AT&T 4G LTE for data. Some are worried about the performance because of this but there is no noticeable slow down and the overall experience is satisfying. You also get a 2 megapixel front facing camera and a 8 megapixel rear facing camera with LED flash and 1080p HD video capture. The camera is exactly the same as the all the Samsung Galaxy S2 phones so you will get great photo quality that are sharp, clear with accurate colors and the video quality is solid with great audio. You can check out the same video and pictures at the bottom of the review.
With all that you have your standard connections with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, 2500 MAH battery, 16 GB of on-board storage that you can expand up to 32 GB via micro SD card slot. The only thing missing hardware wise is NFC support but that doesn’t take too much away from the Galaxy Note hardware wise.
All Day Battery? Really?
Samsung claims with the 2500 MAH battery that you should get “All Day” battery life with the Galaxy Note. In my test I setup 3 e-mail account, 2 Twitter accounts, Facebook and did some YouTube and Google Music streaming and did 6 phone calls that were about 10 minutes each and I was able to get a solid 13 hours of battery life before the phone just died. That’s more than enough battery like for a full day for most people and will be great for power users. So indeed Samsung is accurate on its claim of “all day” battery life.
The S-Pen. Don’t call it a Stylus, Call it Awesome!
The S-Pen is another key feature of the Galaxy Note giving you the ability to use the pen to do everything your finger can do. The technology is power by WACOM and doesn’t need charging. The Note ships with Android 2.3.6 Gingerbread (Upgradable to Android 4.0 ICS) with Touch Wiz user experience. Touch Wiz is the same as you’ve seen on other Galaxy S2 smartphones but scaled properly to take advantage of the screens HD 1280 x 720p resolution so you fit more icons the screen and you get more of the webpage when viewing. The software pre-installs is the same as you would expect with AT&T’s standard apps and Samsung’s but there is no video editor app which is usually only installed on Samsung devices that run the exynos processor. The key software change here is the S-memo which is where you will see the true power of the S-Pen. The software lets you take handwritten notes, voice recordings and drawings. S-memo is a lot of Microsoft OneNote in the way it works. There is also a lite version which you can turn on anywhere you are in the phone by just holding the stylus button down and quickly double tapping the screen. You’ll get a quick memo screen and if you tap above the note as your writing you can see what’s behind the memo while your taking notes.
S-Memo also supports handwriting recognition to text and can be used for text messaging and e-mails although it’s not as accurate as you would like it to be. The pen comes in handy for games that require pinpoint accuracy like Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja which these games and more run great on the Galaxy Note. There is also a software SDK for it so that developers that want to can create apps around the S-Pen technology.
A Phone with a HD Display big enough to really enjoy.
We’re getting a lot of phones with HD resolution but the screen size doesn’t always gives you that experience you expect. The Note’s 5.3 inch display makes those 720p movies and videos look amazing and enjoyable to watch for longer than just a few minutes. Also reading books on the screen is good and should attract the readers out there. Web browsing is also great with more screen space to see more of the page for less scrolling and using Samsung E-mail app you have more space to use its “Microsoft Outlook” style interface.
How is it as a phone?
Well you can’t call this a smartphone without the phone part and call quality is good as both sides of the call had clear audio. The speakerphone distorts when turned up all the way but its adequate when put at the right level for conference calls. The 4G LTE from AT&T is fast and stays connected. I didn’t experience any dropped cover in areas that have 4G LTE. Our speeds were at its highs 14 Mbps download and 4 Mbps for upload. Its fast but not the speeds we’ve seen other markets.
Is this phone worth the buy?
The Samsung Galaxy Note succeeds at what they were trying to accomplish. They brought in the best features of a smartphone and added those elements you would normally see in a tablet and implemented them well into the phone. I love the S-Pen and really want to see more apps developed for it. While it is upgradable to Android 4.0 it is disappointing that it didn’t ship and launch with it. Google’s latest OS is all about merging the phone and tablet features of Android into one and this is the perfect device for it. At least we do know its going to get the upgrade. With great battery life, solid features and overall great experience the Samsung Galaxy Note for AT&T is one of the top android devices available for AT&T and is worth buying if you’re in the market for a smartphone and a tablet but do not want to carry both and size isn’t an issue.