Samsung GALAXY Note Review
The Samsung Galaxy Note runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread, which is of course disguised with the custom TouchWiz user interface. It is nice that TouchWiz has been tweaked for the Note in a number of ways, so that it better fits the 5.3” realities. For example, the icon grid now allows for five, instead of four icons on a row.
In addition to all the standard Android and TouchWiz stuff, however, Samsung has cooked some apps especially for the Galaxy Note and its stylus. This is to be expected with a device, centered around the experience of note-taking via a digital pen. S Memo is the special notes app, which will allow you to leverage the possibilities of the included stylus. It features some nice options such as brush type, thickness and color. You can also insert text using the on-screen QWERTY keyboard. The app is pretty decent, and it isn't hard to use. Writing with the S Pen takes a little getting used to, but ultimately we found the experience to be satisfying. Note, however, that you should set from the Settings app if your dominant hand is the left or right one, because this seriously affects the performance of the stylus. You can also take screenshot notes by pressing the key that is on the stylus and holding it on the screen for a couple of seconds.
Another new app is S Planner, which is here to substitute your typical calendar app. Basically, S Planner is just a facelifted calendar, having a more professional feel.
Don't be fooled by the presence of the S Choice app – it's just a renamed Samsung Apps. Still, you do get the Photo Editor app, which allows you to tweak your photos and images, and also draw with the stylus on top of them. It's not much, but at least it comes for free.
There have been no changes made to the Contacts and Messaging apps to differentiate the Galaxy Note from other TouchWiz devices. Speaking of messaging, it's interesting to comment on the typing experience of the Note. First off, the portrait QWERTY is a nightmare. You can't hold the handset comfortably between your hands and type normally on that keyboard. Switching to landscape takes care of the problem for the most part, although there's still just a little bit of that feeling of inconvenience when reaching for the letters in the center.
Internet and Connectivity:
So, browsing on a 5.3” screen with a resolution of 800x1280 should be pretty cool, right? Well, it is, but it's just marginally better than browsing on a 4.3” screen. We weren't blown away by any means. Samsung says that the Galaxy Note minimizes the need of scrolling, but rest assured, there's nothing big in this – you'll still have to scroll, and more importantly, you'll still have to zoom in, in order to make the text comfortably readable. Flash Player support is, of course, available, and works flawlessly. One thing we don't like about Samsung's Android browser is that it doesn't enable the pan function while doing pinch-to-zoom.
The Samsung Galaxy Note supports 4G HSPA+ at up to 21 Mbit/s on the downlink. Unfortunately, as of this writing, Samsung has not yet unveiled plans to bring the Galaxy Note Stateside.
The built-in GPS receiver works very well and manages to fix our locations very quickly. This being an Android 2.3.5 device, it supports Google Maps Navigation – the free turn-by-turn navigation service by Google, but of course, it requires you to be connected to the internet.
Camera and Multimedia:
There's an 8MP camera employed by the Samsung Galaxy Note, coupled with a single LED flash. The camera interface is the standard one for TouchWiz 4.0, which is a good thing because it works pretty fast. It also offers some nice goodies such as Anti-Shake function, different Scene modes, etc.
Outdoor images taken with the Samsung Galaxy Note turn out OK. We're not fascinated by the stills from the 8MP camera, but they are passable. The camera tends to easily overexpose brighter areas, and while the images aren't exactly short on fine details, those aren't in abundance either. Colors get properly reproduced, delivering an overall natural-looking picture.
The Galaxy Note does well when it comes to indoor photography. While this will certainly depend a lot on the situation, we liked what we saw on our test shots. Of course, things do get somewhat noisy in darker conditions, but it's relatively tolerable. The LED flash will get the job done if you're shooting at a relatively close range, but don't expect anything spectacular. It isn't strong enough to illuminate bigger rooms.
Video can be recorded at up to 1080p, and we've got to say that it does look pretty good. The image is rich on colors and details, although there's some distortion observed if you move the camera too quickly. If you aren't in a hurry though, you should end up with some pretty nice footage.
Samsung GALAXY Note Sample Video:
Samsung GALAXY Note Indoor Sample Video:
As you might guess, one area where the Galaxy Note is very strong is multimedia consumption. Naturally, watching movies on the big 5.3” Super AMOLED screen is much better than doing it on a 4” one, for example. Samsung Galaxy Note managed to play all kinds of codecs we threw at it, including MPEG-4, DivX, Xvid and H.264, at resolutions of up to 1080p. Actually, there were just a few skipped frames in the beginning of the H.264 video, but everything went smoothly after that.
1. Eingild (Posts: 203; Member since: 19 Apr 2011)
A 7? Seriously? This tablet/phone hybrid is a beast.
28. shayan (Posts: 132; Member since: 09 Sep 2010)
and galaxy note is the top phone right now in gsmarena.com user ratings...
30. xtremesv (Posts: 180; Member since: 21 Oct 2011)
Yeah true but none of them has had it in their hands. That's the only credit I can give to this review but everything else is totally out of place. They should have reviewed the Note as the niche device it is, not as a normal smartphone or an iPhone 4S wannabe.
29. buggerrer (Posts: 282; Member since: 21 Sep 2011)
who is Ray S. anyway to review such great device and give it 7/10 !
33. xoatomxo (Posts: 56; Member since: 26 Apr 2011)
I want this phone and cant wait until this phone launches in America. What other phones did Ray S. reviewed anyway. I am very curious.
55. HTCiscool (Posts: 449; Member since: 16 Jul 2011)
What every1 is ignoring is the price, I would rather have an iPad 2 32GB than this thing. It's too small to be a tab and too big to be a phone, its very expensive, it sucks at being a phone, and it doesn't have the size advantage of a tablet.
60. xtremesv (Posts: 180; Member since: 21 Oct 2011)
You said it right, YOU don't want it. The Note is a niche product not meant for everyone. It's a concept phone.
90. mills0806 (Posts: 37; Member since: 13 Nov 2011)
I know seriously just buy a galaxy tab if you want to take notes or whatever. Then when you want to use a phone, just use your smartphone.Not that hard to sync data between your tablet,and whatever devices you use.
68. tmcr7 (Posts: 141; Member since: 02 Nov 2011)
Looking at his video, he hasn't even shown why typing on the Note is poor because of the big screen. It really doesn't make sense. But in this video,
The reviewer clearly demonstrated how thumb-typing on the Galaxy Note is very, very easy. He can also easily touch the keys in the middle of the keyboard without any problems.
And the video also showed how the browsing experience is significantly better, just by holding the device in a landscape position.
2. hunted (Posts: 287; Member since: 21 Sep 2011)
Does this mean no use in buying this phone? The mark says SII is better
3. AppleSux (banned) (Posts: 20; Member since: 12 Mar 2011)
well, i have read the other reviews, where they say that the call quality, and speaker performance are awesome, n very impressive, even engadget (which is considered pro-apple) talked abt the impressive call quality, and speaker performance of the Galaxy Note. either iPhonearena is totally biased (which it is most of the time), or they have got a faulty unit. one other thing, when phonearena talks about the battery life, they just mention the manufacture's stats, but they should mention the battery life according to their own experience and usage and their own special battery tests. simply quoting the official stats cant be cosidered a good review. dont trust phonearena reviews ever. techradar and gsmarena reviews are way better and comprehensive.
6. Mazhh (banned) (Posts: 6; Member since: 02 Nov 2011)
Ray S is on apple's payroll.. !!! phonearena sucks !!!
13. Vinopantoz (Posts: 1; Member since: 02 Nov 2011)
They are not phonearena..they are iPhonearena...
8. leftheodo (Posts: 62; Member since: 21 Oct 2011)
If it's not Apple it's not good enough, right? This is getting annoying and iDiotic!
10. snowgator (Posts: 3158; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)
That's just crap. They rated the $99.00 Atrix 2 a 9, ahead of the iPhone 4S. They ooze all over themselves over the Samsung Galaxy 2 series. Let it go- they just didn't like this guy.
27. xtremesv (Posts: 180; Member since: 21 Oct 2011)
Actually, no. PhoneArena clearly stated on their iPhone 4S review: "Right now, we believe the Apple iPhone 4S is deserving a rating of 9/10, when we consider its overall quality, features and price (...)".
That sounds to me like “we desperately want to give a 10 (overall quality?) to the iPhone 4S but we cannot because we would lose our credibility as reviewers”.
Someone commented that if the Note had an Apple logo on its back then it would have got a 10. Perhaps he is right after all.
I think PhoneArena should disclaim what phones they personally own.
9. ph00ny (Posts: 565; Member since: 26 May 2011)
Shouldn't there be at least a whole page or two dedicated to all the functionalities tied to the stylus (S-pen)? Isn't that point of this device?
11. snowgator (Posts: 3158; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)
Totally agree. Maybe if it does come stateside, they will.
12. snowgator (Posts: 3158; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)
Told my Wife about this beast, and she drooled all over herself. She WANTS a tablet/smartphone hybrid, and I would jump all over an unlocked version of this as a Christmas surprise for her. Here is hoping I get that shot....
14. snowgator (Posts: 3158; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)
Also notice they mentioned the HTC Sensation at 4.7" as an alternative, but not the 4.7" HTC Titan, the Windows Phone. I can understand it as this is an Android Tablet... er, phone.. um - whatever. I just had to throw it out there!!
15. saiki4116 (Posts: 302; Member since: 31 Mar 2011)
they have released in india today for 35k which translates to ~700$
104. Jshrd (Posts: 3; Member since: 02 Jan 2012)
And You don't deserve it.. Go troll somewhere else
16. Sjael (Posts: 4; Member since: 02 Nov 2011)
The stylus on the Note is NOT capacitive. It uses electromagnetic resonance. EMR blows away capacitive styli for accuracy and features.
17. anirudhshirsat97 (Posts: 350; Member since: 24 May 2011)
It costs 35k in india and knowing samsung trends,it will fall to 30-32k in a few months...for 30-32...theres nothing better..
26. SJisaBitch (Posts: 8; Member since: 02 Nov 2011)
who cares about what goes on in IINNDDIIAA???
103. Jshrd (Posts: 3; Member since: 02 Jan 2012)
Are you insane or what...? Seems like Paki to me lol.. FYI...I am from US and have no problem with India...
18. Muhannad (Posts: 455; Member since: 20 Sep 2011)
Very under-rated score, they should seriously have someone better to review it.
19. redmd (Posts: 785; Member since: 26 Oct 2011)
totally biased review.
you did not put the awesome screen quality and resolution as pros. but after seeing your preview, I was kinda expecting this.
Now why is typing messages and emails on a large screen too much of a hassle? Please do your job right. Some trolls here make more sense than this review.
I'll be waiting for gsmarena's take on the note.
20. 10aera (Posts: 31; Member since: 02 Mar 2011)
Ha, ha... Put an apple logo on the back of the Note and it will get a 10 in the review!
21. RORYREVOLUTION (Posts: 2862; Member since: 12 Jan 2010)
"Our opinion is not affected by any relationships we may have with phone manufacturers, carriers, developers or any other party." Lol really Ray S? Or should I say Ray 4S?
22. Commentator (Posts: 2169; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)
Why do you list "screen size" as a pro, and then list it as a con because "it only brings marginal improvements in certain areas"? Even if they're only marginal improvements, shouldn't it still be a pro?
23. mctcm (Posts: 204; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)
Someone fire this reviewer and get someone who can objectively examine & review mobile hardware. What a joke
31. JGuinan007 (Posts: 605; Member since: 19 May 2011)
Seriously poor review I should remember not to read anything by Ray S.
34. itsius1 (Posts: 49; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)
hold one ray, why are you beeing so negative as giving a 7 where all i see is just a measily 3 page review, and those 3 pages arent exactly what i called a in depth review. the main part of this phone is the pen, where i dont see an in depth part about in... i think PA should just stop with the preview and just stick with a single full review so that there is no excuse to skip a full indepth length video...
35. weishin92 (Posts: 9; Member since: 08 Sep 2011)
Initially when pa posted this it was only 6, then they changed it to 7.
36. redmd (Posts: 785; Member since: 26 Oct 2011)
Just for the lol, Ray 4S got girly little hands, hated the fact that the 5.3-inch screen is the exact opposite of his beloved 3.5-inch 4S.
37. unspec1fied (Posts: 1; Member since: 02 Nov 2011)
I have huge hands. If I don't get a 9900, I'd get this simply because text/email is a chore for hands that can palm a basketball or small child's head.
38. tmcr7 (Posts: 141; Member since: 02 Nov 2011)
Hi Ray S. Your review is certainly not agreeable. Why did you say that typing on the Galaxy Note is poor due to its large screen? Common sense dictates that thumb typing on a bigger screen is easier. The keys are just bigger as compared to an iPhone which has a smaller screen, and therefore, the keys are cramped up.
39. andulas (Posts: 3; Member since: 12 Dec 2010)
i actually got it and it I recommend! Everything about it is FLAWLESS except for the voice which is not the best but its more than enough to get by. I'm in high school in the states and about 5'4 but texting is awesome on the phone even though i'm pretty small especially in portrait. Its AMAZING!!!
92. RamyAbdelbadea (Posts: 17; Member since: 07 Nov 2011)
So Please Come On Give US more information about this phone .. The screen, How do carry it ?? Cause this review is ... ( let us say Incomplete )
40. ngo2dd (Posts: 773; Member since: 08 Jul 2011)
Wow, people because you feel that this product should a higher score don't mean that you are right and he is wrong. Have any of you use the phone before? Okay then STFU and phone arena being biased. It is funny because all the top of the line Android phone been rated around a 9 or how are they being biased? And for call quality it base on a group test not the one reviewer. You people need to read the review first.
42. Retro-touch (Posts: 239; Member since: 24 Oct 2011)
Giving a 7 is downright biased. Comparing the specs and performance of the galaxy note to those high end should give you a clear indication that it deserves a similar score.It provides the same package as the S2 in a larger package,faster stock processor plus stylus in tow. Just cause the reviewer couldn't understand how it would be successful and is at best a niche product. All his opinions btw, his analysis doesn't represent reality as everyone in the iPhoneArena office could agree with him but ultimately its success will depend on consumers and 99% of them don't come to phone arena.The small minority that decide to research before buying might have their opinions swayed by this crappy review.
Great device, challenging the boundaries between smartphone and tablet that provides great performance and good (acceptable) call quality,deserves and 8 or 8.5
47. tmcr7 (Posts: 141; Member since: 02 Nov 2011)
@ngo2dd, Are you blind? The guy on top of you just answered your question with a resounding YES, so shut up!
41. tmcr7 (Posts: 141; Member since: 02 Nov 2011)
Are you blind? The guy on top of you just answered your question with a resounding YES, so shut up!
93. RamyAbdelbadea (Posts: 17; Member since: 07 Nov 2011)
yeah that is right .. all the guys who have this phone tell how it is so awesome .. i Know someone had some problem with the phone but still can't Give up that phone !!
43. Mozarrt (Posts: 290; Member since: 08 Oct 2011)
People getting all worked up because their precious Android only got a 7. I thought the review was okay.
56. HTCiscool (Posts: 449; Member since: 16 Jul 2011)
You my friend are one of the few people here with a brain.
50. AngusNG12345 (Posts: 37; Member since: 19 Jul 2011)
lol it dosent work for me too.
"Your post contains banned words. If you believe this is due to a mistake, please email us, copying your whole post. Thank you."
51. longhairbilly (Posts: 60; Member since: 23 Aug 2010)
Please bring this to the United States Samsung.
52. HTCiscool (Posts: 449; Member since: 16 Jul 2011)
Hmmmm, if you are interested in this then you are one of two people,
1. Those who should get a GSll or other 4"-5" phone
2. Those who should get a galaxy tab 7.7
And could they have not been a little more original with the design?
I think Mr. S makes a point, you're paying little under $850 for this beast, if i I were making that investment, I'd be wanting something a lot bigger such as an iPad2 or a 13-inch notebook.
Hell! for that price you can get a good ultraportable let alone a small tablet.
57. HTCiscool (Posts: 449; Member since: 16 Jul 2011)
It's funny how a lot of the commentors think they will die if the Galaxy Note didn't get a good score.
|Display||5.3 inches, 800 x 1280 pixels (285 ppi) Super AMOLED|
Samsung Exynos 4, Dual core, 1400 MHz, ARM Cortex-A9 processor
1024 MB RAM
|Size||5.78 x 3.27 x 0.38 inches|
(147 x 83 x 9.65 mm)
6.28 oz (178 g)
|Battery||2500 mAh, 26 hours talk time|