Samsung Galaxy Note: A Handset Worthy Of Note

Samsung Galaxy Note Review - Dialaphone

    We Liked

  • Impressive Screen
  • Bundled S Planner & S Memo Apps
  • Stylus
  • We Disliked

  • Awkward to carry and store
  • Bland user interface
  • Rating

  • 2 out of 5 3 out of 5 3 out of 5 3 out of 5 3 out of 5



Handsets keep getting bigger and bigger but Samsung have pushed the boat out even further with the Galaxy Note, a device that aims to bridge the gap between a smartphone and a tablet. But is it a gap that needed bridging?

Design

On first inspection the Note looks somewhat of an oddity. It’s big for a phone, simply due to the massive 5.3-inch touchscreen that dominates the front facia, however, its size doesn’t make it uncomfortable to hold or use either with one hand or two. Surprisingly, it doesn’t weigh in much more than the average high-end smartphone either at 178g, and at 9.7mm thick it isn’t that much bulkier than the Galaxy S2. The sheer size of the device does make it awkward to store though – it won’t fit easily into a pocket and really needs to be carried in a bag as you would a tablet.

Is the inconvenience worth it to have a screen of that size? Well, the biggest touchscreen seen on any smartphone to date does have its advantages and it certainly looks fantastic. The resolution of 1280×800 pixels makes for crystal clear images and the AMOLED technology gives the picture real depth and clarity. It’s great to look at and gives the Note a real advantage when it comes to all things visual.

It works well as a touchscreen too, being very responsive, accurate and fast without any of the frustration that is sometimes experienced when using other Android phones. We’d even go as far to say that the multi-touch support is as good as that found on the iPhone, and that’s some praise. On top of this, Samsung have included what they call the Advanced Smart Pen, a stylus that adds an extra dimension to functionality offered by the Note can do. In a similar way to many tablets, the stylus allows users to write and draw straight on to the screen to annotate webpages and the like. It isn’t as accurate as tapping the screen with your finger but Samsung deserve credit for attempting to meld features more readily associated with tablets with a functional smartphone.

Power and Operating System

The Note comes with a dual-core 1.4Ghz ARM processor under the hood and this makes everything run smoothly and really comes into its own when watching videos or  during gameplay. Day to day usage is almost flawless and apps are quick to open and respond without any sluggishness at all.

Android 2.3 Gingerbread is the operating system in situ, with Samsung’s TouchWiz interface laid-over the top. Although TouchWiz is clean and responsive UI , the accusation of blandness is one that is often thrown its way, especially as rival skins such as HTC’s Sense bring so much sparkle to the user experience. This isn’t usually noticeable on other handsets, but the expansive screen of the Note quite literally magnifies its insipid nature.

That said,  it’s widgets work as well as they do on other Samsung devices and when combined with the Note’s stylus and note-making capabilities makes up for the less-than-sophisticated appearance of the UI.

There are a few pre-installed Samsung which offer impressive organisational functionality – S Planner and S Memo are two very useful ones that allow you to make quick and easy diary entries and scribble notes straight onto the touchscreen using the stylus. There’s also a voice-activated function similar to the iPhone4S’s Siri, called VoiceTalk, a feature that allows you to dictate text messages, open apps and perform other functions by voice alone.

Internet

Web browsing is one of several aspects of mobile use where the Note has a real advantage over other handsets as the large screen makes websites appear almost as they would on a tablet, big and clear. It isn’t just the screen’s size that gives the phone an advantage though – the responsiveness of the Note makes it incredibly easy to select options and click links, and the pinch-to-zoom function, whilst smooth and responsive, is rarely called for. The AMOLED screen makes web-based images crystal clear and provides videos with depth and colour, but it’s when using the internet that the Note really feels more like a tablet and offers one of the best browsing experiences available on a smartphone.

Camera

There’s an 8  megapixel camera mounted on the Note which is capable for recording video at 1080p and 30fps. Again, the screen’s size and quality gives the phone an edge over others because, whether you’re taking still images or filming, the end result looks great on the display. There’s 16GB of internal storage available meaning that there’s ample space to store captured images and also a front-facing 2 megapixel camera for video-calling and indulgent self-portraits.

Other Tech Specs

  • Stereo FM radio with RDS
  • TV-out (via MHL A/V link)
  • Document editor (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF)
  • Adobe Flash 10.1 support

Any Downsides?

As much as the Note’s large screen makes for an exceptional web browsing experience and the bundled S Calendar and S Memo apps offer a lot when it comes to organising a busy schedule. However, this doesn’t make up for the fact that the Galaxy Note looks faintly ridiculous when you hold it up to your ear to make a call. That screen also uses a lot of power so the battery life isn’t especially impressive either.

Conclusion

The Note really is a halfway point between a tablet and a smartphone and it packs some of the most useful features of the former into an even more portable format. The huge, high-quality screen is fantastic for web browsing and watching video and exemplary multitouch support makes it incredibly easy to use. However, it is being marketed as a phone, not a tablet, in which case its size is a drawback and something that could put many off. That said, Samsung deserve a lot of credit for bringing something new to the smartphone table.

10 thoughts on “Samsung Galaxy Note: A Handset Worthy Of Note

  1. i am visually impaired and have been searching for so long to try and get up to date with a phone but i cant seem to find one that has white on black screen, large txt including txting to and from, also i somtimes need voice.

    i dont need a all singing and dancing phone but i do need all the above to call, send txt and recieve them,

    is this possible on this phone please?

    i am so fed up of spending hours in phone shops to no avail

    thanks

    • Hi, Jan

      The Galaxy Note runs the Android operating system, which has several apps available for it which will help visually impaired people. In particular, one app called Georgie has a number of features that will make a smartphone’s functions accessible to those with weaker eyesight. Other such apps include the Ideal Accessibility Intaller and Ultra Magnifier+ have ways of making onscreen text much easier to read.

      These apps will work on many Android phones but the Galaxy Note’s large display may also prove to be an advantage when using them.

      We hope this helps.

      Thanks

      Chris, Dialaphone

  2. Absolutely fantastic, used iPhone 3,3g 4 and the 4s, not a touch on this, yes it’s big but use a Bluetooth device to make calls and you won’t look silly, battery lasts me 2 days on normal use.
    Got 2 of these and just ordered the s3 just love what Samsung have done ( knocked apple off there pedestal )…would recommend 100%.

    My son just got the 4s and now wishes he got same as me…never mind only 23 months contract to go…lol

  3. The samsung galaxy note is the worst phone /notebook I have ever bought ! it’s rocket science in a big ugly lump of hard-to-master, slow, contraption ! I wish I hadn’t dropped my apple i-phone then decided on this N7000.
    Downloading apps takes you for ever….SO many passwords for this that and the other….so many agreements to accept……it has driven me mad……even going on line to try and find out how it works…what it does…..is a headache ! I It refused to download apps, my laptop wouldn’t accept it….and some android apps did not recognise the ‘device’ !!! I ABSOLUTELY HATE IT ! so it’s for sale !

  4. I can’t believe the Samsung Galaxy Note only has 3 stars rating ! It is an amazing phone. What people don’t realise is that nowadays most of us only uses our phone for internet and social apps. Very rarely do we actually use phones for calling and that’s why this phone is great for social networks and emails and web browsing.

    The battery life is just the same as the Galaxy S2 so I really don’t know why this review says it is not impressive. Have they not seen the size of the screen ?!!

    Everything runs fast and I never had a problem with it.

    Of course it is a little big when you hold it to your ear during cals but like I said, I only use it for calls once of twice a week. The rest is for texting (loads), msn-facebook-emails etc. so it really doesn’t bother me at all.

    I guess it only depends on what kind of user you are. I for myself am very happy to have it that size and enjoy all of my apps in bigger version as it also makes it easier to type and read smaller arcticles while online.

    So, three stars is kinda harsh…

    Thumbs up to Samsung, definitely love the Note !

    • Thanks very much for your input, its good to hear what people of the phones that we’ve tested.

      We gave the Galaxy Note three stars because we found it a little cumbersome to use as a phone. Since Samsung are marketing it as such and not as a tablet we felt the size of the device was a little too big. However, we do think it’s a great device with lots of interesting and unique features.

      We’re glad that you’ve enjoyed using it though. Thanks again for letting us know what you think.

      Chris Helsby (Dialphone)

  5. Question – Best way of storing data using a Galaxy on a cloud and on a PC like iPhone?
    My 2 year iPhone contract has expired & am looking for the current best option.
    My Week Calendar and Contacts sync well with my iPhone and Outlook which is my main concern. (My iPhone data has been stored on iCloud but at present says there is not enough storage on iCloud which I do not think is correct – a long call to Apple CS resolved this before. It seems to sync/backup/store on my PC through iTunes alright.)
    Is there a preferred Cloud to store the Galaxy data? (I have DropBox to store the 50Gb data on my PC.)
    I have only just moved away from my Psion 5mx Agenda, which in many ways is still better/more reliable than Week Calendar – can insert data/notes into past dates in Agenda as a diary which does not seem possible with Calendar? (Info also seems to get lost in Calendar perhaps because the wrong Calendar was selected for entry although I only try to use one, then does not get transferred to iCloud?)
    Should I move to the Galaxy or will the iPhone 5 be better still,
    My current thought is to go for the Galaxy.
    Thanks for any advice. Hugh Dibley.

    • Samsung is set to introduce it’s own cloud service soon which could be the best option for you to store data from your Galaxy. You can read more about it here.

      As for whether you should buy a new Galaxy or iPhone, you can keep up on all the rumours about each phone by clicking on the links.

      Thanks

      Chris

  6. does the note have the ability for voice control , I have an ear piece and the nokia I had had a voice activation sothat when I said the persons name I wanted to call it repeated the name and made the call , does this note do the same

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