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Samsung Galaxy Note Review

on January 11, 2012 – 1:24 pmNo Comment

Phone or Tablet ? Samsung themselves have been unable to decide how to promote the Galaxy Note. With a massive 5.3″ screen , active digitizer, the Galaxy Note is also the perfect note taking device. How does it cope up as a phone ? Read the FoneArena Galaxy Note review to find out.

For starters lets give you an  idea about the size of the Note, thats the device next to the iPhone 4S.

And here is  Note next to the Galaxy Nexus and the Galaxy S2

Hardware

One look at the Galaxy Note and all you can notice is the screen. Massive , bright , gorgeous. The screen is the highlight of the device which is essentially a giant sized Galaxy S2. Much heavier than the S2 , the Note weighs in at 173gms compared to the light 116gms of the S2.

The build quality is above average and the patterned back actually feels quite nice in hand.

The Note is definitely one of the most powerful devices in the market at the moment and comes equipped with a giant list of features which includes :

  • 146.9 x 83 x 9.7 mm, 178g Phone-Tablet hybrid formfactor
  • 5.3 Inch 16 Million colors Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen at WXGA resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels
  • Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread with TouchWiz UI
  • 1.4 GHz dual core Exynos chipset Cortex A9 CPU (with a Mali-400MP GPU) and 1GB of RAM
  • 8 Megapixel auto-focus camera, with single LED Flash, and 1080p video recording capabilities, and 2 Megapixel front-facing camera
  • 16GB or 32GB internal memory, expandable thanks to microsD slot
  • Quad band GSM/GPRS/EDGE (21 Mbps HSDPA, 5.76 Mbps HSUPA), Wifi a/b/g/n, Wifi direct, Gyro sensor, ambient light sensor, accelerometer, optional NFC, Assisted GPS, Bluetooth 3.0, microUSB charging
  • 2,500mAh battery
  • Adobe Flash Player 10.3 support
  • DivX/XviD support and TV-out (adapter required)
  • S Pen Stylus

The back of the phone sports an 8MP camera with an LED.  The speaker grill can be seen at the bottom of the phone.

A stylus is provided which slots neatly into the phone. Removing the stylus takes a bit of effort due to the tight fit.

The front is dominated by the screen. A front camera and ambient light sensor is placed to the top right of the device. The space below the screen has a single home key flanked by two capacitive buttons. The buttons light up on touch but are otherwise fairly invisible.

The right side of the phone sports the power / standby key while the left has a volume adjustment rocker.

The buttons work as expected though could do with a bit more feedback. A camera key would have been definitely appreciated as well.

The micro USB port (which doubles as an MHL port for HDMI output) is at the bottom of device while the 3.5mm audio jack is up top.

We’ll keep this section short as there really isn’t anything to complain about here. The Note is an absolute monster in terms of tech specs !

Display

The device uses a 5.3 inch Samsung SuperAMOLED HD display with a resolution of 1280×720 pixels packing 285 pixels per inch. While it feels a bit odd to use the device for regular phone functions.Its a treat to watch videos and browse the internet on the Note.

More pics of the display below

Software

The Galaxy Note runs Android Gingerbread 2.3.5 with TouchWiz over it. The OS is the same as we’ve seen on millions of Android phones and more specifically Samsung’s Galaxy S line of devices. What is different is the software bundle and the special Note only apps included on the phone. Gestures also feature on the device which makes heavy use of the S-Pen to activate some of these.  The gestures are activated using the small button embedded in the stylus. Swiping upwards with the button on the pen pressed emulates the menu button while swiping from the right emulates the back button. Holding the stylus on the screen creates a screen capture while double tapping opens the notes app.

The notes app dubbed S-Memo in itself makes for the most compelling use of the S-Pen though the included Crayons and Chalk app should entertain you if fancy those writing mediums. The screen includes an active digitizer which makes it capable of detecting pressure and provides a superior inking experience. I’m no designer but using the stylus in itself felt better than on any other phone or tablet.

To test out the capabilities of the digitizer and s-pen combo , i handed over the Note to a professional designer who provided me with a quick sketch. Suffice it to say she was definitely impressed and so was i by the on screen results. Designers looking for a digital medium to sketch ideas while on the go should most definitely take a look at the Samsung Galaxy Note.

Benchmarks

Quadrant Score – 4377

AnTuTu Score – 6316

Smartbench 2011 Productivity- 4200

Smartbench 2011 Gaming – 2341

Linpack (Single Thread) – 64.24

Linpack(Multi Thread)   -  96.16

Browser

The browser on the Note is extremely impressive and is capable of full Flash playback.

Rendering performance is good and with the high resolution display , viewing websites and internet videos is an exceptional experience.

Here is a HTML 5 test of the browser on the Note. It managed to score 182.

Connectivity

Phone calls went through fine but it was bit uneasy to grip for making calls. You should be better off using a wired or bluetooth headset with the note if you intend to make calls. The phone latched on to 3G and HSPA networks where coverage was available and we reached up to 6Mbps download speeds and 1Mbps upload speeds. It can go upto 21Mbps down but it is totally operator dependent.

There is Bluetooth , WiFi and WiFi direct. We could send a large file over WiFi direct to the Galaxy S2 from the Note and vice versa in a short span of time.

Camera

The Samsung Galaxy Note packs the same camera module as the well knows Galaxy S2. The image quality is impressive and keeps noise levels suitably low. Video quality in 1080p , 30FPS is equally impressive. Check out the camera samples below.

 Battery Life

The battery life on the Galaxy Note is very impressive. You’d expect the 2500 mAh battery to last a day of usage but with light to medium usage we were able to get almost two days. It is possible to get a solid 9 hours out of the battery even on stressing it.

Conclusion

The Galaxy Note is not really a phone nor is it a tablet , the device stands at the intersection of the two while adding in nifty additions like the S-Memo. Who will buy this device ? Samsung would have you believe that the Note can be used by any person as a phone but it would take a rather large person to not look funny holding the Note to the head. The are no two ways to it , the Note is a large device. Our recommendation is that you try out the device at your neighborhood showroom before paying as you might be put off by the massive size of the device.

Varun Krish contributed to this review

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Dhruv Bhutani is a technology enthusiast who is always in sync with the latest and greatest in tech. He is currently using a Nokia Lumia 1020, HTC Butterfly S and whatever device he is reviewing at the moment. Suomirock ftw! . Catch him on Twitter @DhruvBhutani , you can also reach out on Facebook or .