Samsung Galaxy Note Review: The World’s First Tablet/Phone Hybrid ?

Apparently Apple has already decided that their current iPhone is the de facto size for a mobile. They never really consulted us, but for them 3.5-inches is more than enough for a mobile. Well, their closest smartphone competitor Samsung has other ideas, in fact, they think you should be able to choose whatever screen size you want. Anything from 3-inches to 5.6-inches. Sammy has launched a new smartphone with a gigantic 5.6-inch screen. Called the Galaxy Note it’s a smartphone that looks to combine the best of a tablet (screen size) with the portability of a mobile to create something genuinely different. Samsung is clearly hoping that the Note is a convergence device; marrying two devices into one. Has it worked? Almost.

The Screen of all screens

When you unbox the Note the first thing you’ll probably do is compare it against an iPhone and when you do you’ll come to the conclusion that it’ll never fit in anyone’s pockets (unless you own some hammer pants) – it’s massive. The extra size is obvious; a large 5.3-inch screen.

The Note uses Samsung AMOLED technology which is found the current S2. All of their current screens which use this tech are famed for incredible brightness, deep, bold colours and the Note is no exception. The 1280×800 resolution is a quite an achievement, but would have been a real man on the moon moment if they had managed to get this resolution onto a phone that wasn’t quite so big.

Power and Battery Life

With such a big screen and plenty more pixels to push around you’d think Samsung might want to add a new CPU. But, the have decided to run a clocked version of the same chip found in its smaller cousin the S2. With the increased power demands of the screen Samsung has decided to up the battery – to a 2500 Mah, meaning you can rely on the Note to last a full day without having to do a pit stop.

Software and Internal Storage

Google’s attempt to cure the fragmenting of the Android OS has seen the search giant release Ice Cream Sandwich, unfortunately if you pick a Note you’ll be waiting until March before Samsung can update the current Gingerbread OS to Ice Cream Sandwich.

From the face of it you’d probably struggle to tell the two OS’s apart, but it would have been nice to see the latest OS on the latest Android handsets. It would seem that in a cruel twist of fate Ice Cream may well fragment Android even further. The Note comes in two storage flavours – 16 and 32GB.

The Stylus is back

One of the main party pieces of the Note is the return of an old friend: the Stylus pen. Samsung hopes that the Note and S Pen will eventually replace the humble pen and paper. We’re not sure they’re quite there yet. While the stylus on the HTC Flyer was a disaster, the Note’s is actually rather good on the face of it. It comes free with the handset and has a holster on the bottom of the device. Using the S Pen, you can doodle images, write notes and interact with all elements of the Android operating system. But, upon closer inspection it begins to unravel: handwriting recognition software is onboard, but hasn’t really moved on from the early 90’s – it’s still terrible at recognising handwriting – therefore you’ll probably only use it for games and the odd doodle.

Gaming Credentials

Where the stylus does succeed is gaming. Playing any number of games with the stylus makes the Note more like a fancy Nintendo DS than a boring business phone. Games like Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds are a joy to play with the pen. If you’re playing games which require you to use your fingers you’ll find them much more engrossing than on a normal sized phone. The extra screen real-estate really comes into play when playing games like GTA 3. The Note’s large display goes some way to curing the traditional headache of touch-screen virtual controls, enriching the experience more than you might naturally assume.

Camera and Video Capture

Samsung’s Galaxy S2 has been a by-word for an amazing digital camera, and we’re glad to report that the Note also comes with the same 8-megapixel camera and the same set of slick image-capture tools. If you liked the camera on the S2 – then you’ll love the Note’s.


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