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Thread: Our review of the Samsung Galaxy Note

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    Our review of the Samsung Galaxy Note

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    Hereís our review of the Samsung Galaxy Note.

    Initially I was surprised at how massive the Galaxy Note is. After all, its 5.3Ē display doesnít sound that much bigger than the Galaxy Nexusí 4.65Ē but in the flesh, the difference is huge. While I can kind of use the Galaxy Nexus with one hand, I canít do this with the Note without holding it in a less secure manner. After that Iím blown away at how nice the display is, more on that later.

    Design-wise, it sort of looks like cross between my original Galaxy S and a Galaxy S II. It has the bezel of the original S and pebbled plastic back of the II.

    Out of the box, the Galaxy Note comes with both SWYPE and a Samsung keyboard. Both work really well. On other Samsung Android phones,I usually prefer the Samsung keyboard but on the Note it depends. When Iím using my thumbs I prefer the Samsung keyboard but SWYPE works really well with the stylus.

    The bigger screen makes typing a joy. Thereís plenty of space for the keys and it never feels cramped at all.

    The size is about as big as you can get without seriously affecting itís portability. While itís big, you can still slip it in you pant pockets. The top part sticks out when I wear it in my shirt pocket. Ditto for the rear pockets in my jeans.

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    MicroUSB port, microphone hole, S Pen silo

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    power button

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    volume buttons

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    headphone jack, microphone

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    speaker, 8mp camera with flash

    The screen is a 5.3Ē Super AMOLED plus display with a resolution of 1280x800. It looks fantastic with wide viewing angles and blacks so deep that youíll wonder if the screen is on or not.

    Straight-on the Noteís display has a pretty neutral colour tone - it looks exactly like my Galaxy S II. Off-angle I found the colour shifted a little so it was cooler (turned slightly blue).

    While itís possibly to hold the Note with one hand using it with one hand is another thing. The size of the screen means the only thing I can do reliably with one hand is scroll. When using my right hand I can just reach the home button. If I hold it in a less secure manner I can sort of type on it but have to be careful because I can drop it easily.

    Besides the large screen the Noteís other interesting feature is itís stylus: the S Pen. Yes, the Note comes with a stylus and no, you havenít gone back to the year 2004. Thereís no Pocket PC or Palm OS logo here.

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    When I first heard about the S Pen I thought it was just a capacitive stylus but itís not - it doesnít do anything when I try it on my iPhone/other Samsung Phone/etc. The Note has a separate digitizer for the S Pen - it uses magnets to recognize the S Pen. Probably the best thing about the S Pen is that it doesít require batteries like the HTC stylus and more importantly - the S Pen is included AND it fits inside the Note. Still, the S Pen is kind of skinny and very light so it might be uncomfortable to use for an extended period of time. Since itís not a capacitive stylus you probably canít go out to buy a thicker one. That said you can always buy a capacitive stylus but then youíd miss out on some of the S Penís functionality.

    When drawing on the screen, there is a slightly bit of lag (the HTC Flyer and Jetstream have this too). Youíll notice it at first but itís not so laggy that you wonít get used to it quickly.

    Thereís a button on the side of the S Pen. Press it and double tap the screen to bring up a memo app. When youíre done with the memo you can share it via email/Facebook/MMS/etc. Iím kind of disappointed that it doesnít sync with any cloud services - since you canít do this itís kind of useless.

    Pressing the button and then holding the S Pen on the screen will take a screenshot which you can mark up. The example Samsung used is taking a screen shot of your current location on the map and then sending it to a friend. With the S Pen you could show the best way to get to you or write something clever.

    Samsung includes a copy of Polaris Office which can read, edit and create files which are compatible with MS Word, Excel and Powerpoint. You can use the S Pen to write or draw pictures directly on the files.

    The LTE radio can download at up to 75mbps. Forum member Steve Punter has managed 70+ mbps with his Galaxy S II LTE. Since the Note shares the same radio chip I donít see why it canít also hit that speed given ideal network conditions.

    Iím mildly disappointed that the Note ships with Android 2.3, theyíll have a 4.0 upgrade for it eventually but itís too bad they donít have it now. On top of Android is the Samsung TouchWiz user interface which actually sort of resembles Android 4.0 and iOS.

    Samsung has customized many of the built-in programs including the calendar, contact manager, etc. Theyíve also included some extra programs like their Social Hub, AllShare, Kies air, Mini diary, Music Player ,Photo editor, Video player, Task manager and a few other programs.

    The Calendar looks really cool on the Noteís large screen. Since thereís a lot of screen real estate It can show a lot of information.

    AllShare is a DLNA/UPNP program that lets you stream video to and from the Note. Kies Aire is a really cool program which lets you manage the Note on your computer via the browser over WiFi. Mini diary is a diary program that dosenít sync with anything making it mostly useless. I do like how the diary stores your location.

    The Photo editor has some useful effects like color temperature, brightness and cropping along with a bunch of other features. It has a pen feature so you can draw on your photos if you want.

    Iíve already covered these programs to death in my other Galaxy reviews so check them out if want to learn more about them.

    The Note can take very sharp photos with a lot of detail and great colour. I do have a couple complaints. First off, thereís a lag from when you take the photo to when the display shows the shutter animation - it makes the camera less intuitive to use. My other complaint is that for indoors shots, a lot of my pictures were slightly blurry because they were affected by shaking. Iím not really sure why this is. It could be that the Noteís isnít that easy to hold when youíre taking pictures. The focusing speeds weren't slow but theyíre slower than what Iím used to on the iPhone, Motorola RAZR, or HTC Amaze/Raider.

    While the big screen makes browsing a joy, I was extremely annoyed that it had a tendency to close and forget the last page(s) that I was looking at when I relaunched it. I looked and looked for a setting to fix this problem but couldnít find one. Itís weird because Iíve used many other Android phones with 1GB of RAM and none of them do this.

    SunSpider

    While the Noteís benchmark scores are fine, I found itís real world performance to be mixed. One moment itís nice and smooth and others it can be choppy.

    Sunspider 0.9.1 (lower is better)


    Asus Transformer Prime 1684.4
    Apple iPad 2 1780.1
    Samsung Galaxy Nexus 1990.5
    Blackberry Playbook OS 2.0 2161.1
    Motorola Xoom 2166.6
    Apple iPhone 4s 2222.8
    Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 2661.7
    Samsung Galaxy Note 2811.7

    GL Benchmark v2.1.2 (Egypt Offscreen)

    Motorola Xoom 2318
    Motorola RAZR 3235
    Samsung Galaxy Note 3791
    Samsung Galaxy S II 5594
    Apple iPhone 4s 8250
    Apple iPad 2 10045

    Basemark

    Samsung Galaxy Note 16.7
    Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 16.97
    Motorola Xoom 4.42
    Asus Transformer Prime 13.44

    When it comes to battery life I figure its much-bigger-than-average 2500mAh battery is probably cancelled out by itís much-bigger-than-average 5.3Ē HD display. I tested it by I disabling all wireless settings, maxing out the screen brightness and played a video with an all white background and some moving text repeatedly. Here are the results.

    Samsung Galaxy Nexus 222min
    Motorola RAZR 242min
    Samsung Galaxy S II 250min
    HTC Amaze 288min
    Asus Transformer Prime 301min
    Motorola Xoom 301min
    HTC Raider 303min
    Samsung Galaxy Note 329min
    Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 436min

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    Turns out the battery more than compensates for the larger than average screen. Still, I canít help but wonder what would happen if Samsung got rid of the S Pen entirely and put a bigger battery in there.

    The built-in speakerís maximum volume is average when it comes to media playback

    Like most Samsung phones RF performance is average. Maximum earpiece volume is adequate - my iPhone 4s is louder. Maximum speakerphone volume is good - it matches the 4s. Both incoming and outgoing sound quality are good.

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    You're probably wondering: "Is it a Phone or a Tablet?" To me it's a big phone because it fits in most of my pockets.

    While having a bigger screen is nice thereís a big trade-off in usability. The screen is just too wide and tall for one handed use. While most higher end Android phones arenít great for one handed use the Note is on a completely different level. All I can really do with the Note is scroll. I canít reliably reach the home button and I can only reach about half of the buttons on the launcher.

    The S Pen is an interesting accessory - while I appreciate that Samsung includes software to make use of it, itís simply not a must-have accessory. Itís sort of like a phone with dual cameras for 3D - itís a nice bonus but I wouldnít buy a phone just because it has this feature.

    Of course, thereís also the Noteís x factor - when I use it in public I get this urge to wear a T-Shirt with a large logo on it, put on my biggest watch and biggest pair of sunglasses, stick Bluetooth headsets on both my ears and talk on them loudly. Thereís just something about using the Note that makes me feel like a douche bag. Iím obviously over-analyzing - itís the Ďmy phone is bigger than your phoneí factor. Then again, sometimes I get the same feeling when I use my iPhone.

    New Infinity Blade character

    My iPhone 5 ringtone: Bah, Bah, Black Sheep.

    Our reviews:

    ZTE Open| Samsung Galaxy Note 3 | Apple iPhone 5c | Apple iPhone 5s | LG G2 | Samsung Galaxy Note 3 in pictures | Samsung Galaxy Mega | 2013 Nexus 7 | Cel-Fi Signal Booster | Huawei Ascend Y300 | Motorola Moto X | Blackberry Q5 | Motorola Moto X | Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7" | Belkin NetCam HD | Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8" | Belkin WeMo Switch | Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1" | Nexus 7 2012 vs 2013 | Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 | MugenPower GS4 Battery | Huawei Ascend Y210 | Huawei B890 Router | Nokia Lumia 520 | Blackberry Q10 | ZTE F160 | Samsung Galaxy S4 | HTC One | Sony Xperia ZL | Nokia Lumia 620 | Samsung ATIV-S | Blackberry Z10 | Samsung Galaxy Camera | Reflections on 2012 | HTC Windows Phone 8s | Samsung Rugby LTE | Huawei D Quad XL | Google Nexus 4 | Apple iPad Mini | HTC One X+ | HTC Windows Phone 8X | Nokia Lumia 920 | Sony Xperia T | Parrot Zik | LG Optimus G | Samsung Galaxy Note II | Motorola DEFY PRO | Motorola RAZR HD LTE | From iOS to Android | Apple iPhone 5 | HoFo at the CWTS coverage | Rogers LTE Rocket Hub ZTE MF28B | Nokia Lumia 820 and 920 launch | Motorola RAZR V | Motorola ATRIX HD LTE | Back to School Guide | HTC One V | Huawei Ascend P1 | Sony Xperia ION | Nokia Lumia 610 | Nexus 7 | LG Optimus L7 | HTC Titan II | Sony Xperia U | OtterBox Commuter for HTC One X | Samsung Galaxy S III | HTC One S | Samsung Galaxy S II HD LTE | Nokia Lumia 900 | HTC One X | Apple iPad 3 | Sony Xperia S | Samsung Galaxy Note | Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 | Nokia Lumia 710 | Blackberry Playbook OS 2.0 | Casemate Pop for Galaxy Nexus | Otterbox Commuter for Galaxy Nexus | Otterbox Defender for Galaxy Nexus | Nokia Lumia 800 | Motorola Pro+ | Blackberry Curve 9360 | Asus Transformer Prime | Galaxy S Glide | Blackberry Bold 9790 | Nokia N9 | 2011 Gift Guide | HTC Amaze 4G | Acer ICONIA Tab A501 | LG Optimus LTE | Case Mate TANK | Samsung Galaxy S II LTE | Motorola RAZR | Samsung Galaxy Nexus

  2. #2
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    Very good points
    I have to say, the Note has me undecided...

    Is it really to big?
    it is to small?

    I can't decide.

    One things for sure though, I don't like TouchWiz

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    Quote Originally Posted by Treatz View Post
    One things for sure though, I don't like TouchWiz
    We need a Galaxy Nexus Note

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    We need a Samsung Galaxy Nexus S Note Tab LTE III X

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    Quote Originally Posted by howard View Post
    We need a Samsung Galaxy Nexus S Note Tab LTE III X
    LOl, Well played

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    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; U; Android 4.0.2; en-us; Galaxy Nexus Build/ICL53F) AppleWebKit/534.30 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile Safari/534.30)

    Quote Originally Posted by howard
    We need a Samsung Galaxy Nexus S Note Tab LTE III X
    With blursense

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    Howard, thanks for this review.

    Yesterday, I finally got to hold in-store an in-store mockup of the Note (nobody had the actual handset in stock). I had a chance to compare it to the Galaxy Nexus an my own Nexus S. My conclusion is that only specific lifestyles make the Note worthwhile. The more attractive feature is LTE. If they had shipped the LTE Note to Canadian carriers at the beginning of the winter, as they did for the world version, I might have gotten one because winter means big coat pockets.

    Now springtime is here and I want to travel lightly, so I'd say that smaller models like the Samsung Galaxy Pocket are in order. Now, if only Motorola would make a small LTE Android phone with great reception, I'd check it out. I also got to handle the RAZR and it was much bigger than I expected -- the thinness wasn't as much of an asset as it would be with an overall smaller phone.

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    Does anyone know if you can use the Galaxy Note on the Straight Talk entwork?

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    I'm humming and hawing over this one myself. I've got the Galaxy Nexus, and I LOVE it, but that screen is just calling to me. I had a Dell Streak previously, so I'm not afraid of big screens.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueBagodah View Post
    I had a Dell Streak previously, so I'm not afraid of big screens.
    The Gnote makes the Dell Streak look like a heavy, useless piece of crap. I bought the Streak in week one and returned it when I booted it and saw Android 1.4, a horrific PPI and that slow *** processor.

    Trust me, the Note is lighter, thinner, far more power, bigger battery, amazing screen and I never thought I'd say this but that damn S-pen has me hooked. I use it for a bunch of stuff and wouldn't wan't to lose it!!

    Anyone who thinks the Note is too big I say this. Either you haven't used it for a few days (the brain will accept it, its human nature) or you don't need to see the web it the biggest way your pockets will allow. Not to knock small phones, but I got rid of my 3 iphones and a bunch of others. The only thing I kept as a backup is the new RAZR that I bought for that reason. Not too shabby of a phone.

    I demand a lot from my phone. I believe that for that kind of money, it should outperform my expectations.... the Gnote is the first phone to ever accomplish that in my case. I really don't know what they could do to make the Gnote II any better....

    You won't regret it. Cheers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Whatever2009 View Post
    The Gnote makes the Dell Streak look like a heavy, useless piece of crap. I bought the Streak in week one and returned it when I booted it and saw Android 1.4, a horrific PPI and that slow *** processor.

    Trust me, the Note is lighter, thinner, far more power, bigger battery, amazing screen and I never thought I'd say this but that damn S-pen has me hooked. I use it for a bunch of stuff and wouldn't wan't to lose it!!

    Anyone who thinks the Note is too big I say this. Either you haven't used it for a few days (the brain will accept it, its human nature) or you don't need to see the web it the biggest way your pockets will allow. Not to knock small phones, but I got rid of my 3 iphones and a bunch of others. The only thing I kept as a backup is the new RAZR that I bought for that reason. Not too shabby of a phone.

    I demand a lot from my phone. I believe that for that kind of money, it should outperform my expectations.... the Gnote is the first phone to ever accomplish that in my case. I really don't know what they could do to make the Gnote II any better....

    You won't regret it. Cheers.
    I really like the Stock ICS, and currently have the Galaxy Nexus. I'm not a huge fan of all the "Samsung-y" customizations that Samsung has put into the Note. And I Despise TouchWiz.
    Would you still recommend me picking one up? Or would you recommend saving my HUP for the next version?

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueBagodah View Post
    I really like the Stock ICS, and currently have the Galaxy Nexus. I'm not a huge fan of all the "Samsung-y" customizations that Samsung has put into the Note. And I Despise TouchWiz.
    Would you still recommend me picking one up? Or would you recommend saving my HUP for the next version?
    Frankly I've tried them all and the note outperforms them. You don't have to use touchWiz (although I do, and like it) as you can use whatever launcher you like.

    I sent back the Galaxy Nexus (was to be my backup phone) because it creaked, randomly rebooted, sound was terrible. I was pissed that they claim a specific screen size YET the navigation buttons are ON the screen and not under the screen.... what a fail.

    Anyway, before my blood pressure goes up about that, I took the RAZR as my backup phone. Love it.

    I have a feeling that if you HUP to the Note and change the touchwiz... you will be a very happy camper :-)

    ps. ICS is right around the corner for Rogers

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