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Samsung GALAXY Note Preview

Samsung GALAXY Note

Posted: , posted by Ray S.

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Interface and Functionality:

The Samsung GALAXY Note runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread, which is of course disguised by 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.

The Samsung GALAXY Note runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread, disguised by TouchWiz UI - Samsung GALAXY Note Preview
The Samsung GALAXY Note runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread, disguised by TouchWiz UI - Samsung GALAXY Note Preview
The Samsung GALAXY Note runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread, disguised by TouchWiz UI - Samsung GALAXY Note Preview

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, but we found the stylus to be a bit inaccurate, thus making the note-taking experience a bit of a hassle. We hope this is just an issue with out prototype unit. 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.

The S Memo app - Samsung GALAXY Note Preview
The S Memo app - Samsung GALAXY Note Preview
The S Memo app - Samsung GALAXY Note Preview

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.

S Planner - Samsung GALAXY Note Preview
S Planner - Samsung GALAXY Note Preview
S Planner - Samsung GALAXY Note Preview
S Planner - Samsung GALAXY Note Preview

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.

There have been no changes made to the Contacts app - Samsung GALAXY Note Preview
There have been no changes made to the Contacts app - Samsung GALAXY Note Preview

Virtual keyboard - Samsung GALAXY Note Preview
Virtual keyboard - Samsung GALAXY Note Preview

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.

Web browsing - Samsung GALAXY Note Preview
Web browsing - Samsung GALAXY Note Preview
Web browsing - Samsung GALAXY Note Preview

The Samsung GALAXY Note supports 4G HSPA+ at up to 21 Mbit/s on the downlink, as well as 4G LTE. Of course, your carrier will have to offer such a network, in order to use LTE data speeds. As of this writing, Samsung has not yet unveiled plans to bring the Galaxy Note Stateside.

There's an 8MP camera employed by the Samsung GALAXY Note, coupled with a single LED flash. As usual, we took a bunch of samples for you to check out, but wouldn't comment on their quality yet. Not until we have a final unit on our hands. The Note allows you to record up to 1080p videos at 29 fps.

Camera interface - Samsung GALAXY Note Preview

Outdoor samples shot with the Samsung GALAXY Note - Samsung GALAXY Note Preview
Outdoor samples shot with the Samsung GALAXY Note - Samsung GALAXY Note Preview
Outdoor samples shot with the Samsung GALAXY Note - Samsung GALAXY Note Preview
Outdoor samples shot with the Samsung GALAXY Note - Samsung GALAXY Note Preview
Outdoor samples shot with the Samsung GALAXY Note - Samsung GALAXY Note Preview
Outdoor samples shot with the Samsung GALAXY Note - Samsung GALAXY Note Preview
Outdoor samples shot with the Samsung GALAXY Note - Samsung GALAXY Note Preview

Strong - Indoor samples - Samsung GALAXY Note Preview
Medium - Indoor samples - Samsung GALAXY Note Preview
Low light - Indoor samples - Samsung GALAXY Note Preview
Darkness - Indoor samples - Samsung GALAXY Note Preview

Strong

Medium

Low light

Darkness



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. The same goes for game-playing – as the images are larger, there's just less strain on your eyes.


Expectations:

The Samsung GALAXY Note left us with a mixed bag of feelings. The smartphone is plenty fast, and offers all that users currently demand from their most personal gadgets, but its size... we think it's more of a downside than anything else.

The Galaxy Note feels like it doesn't belong to this market, at least not now. With only marginal benefits in areas such as web browsing, we only see this handset excel in the fields of video and gaming. As for note-taking using the stylus, if this is exactly the thing that turns you on, well, we guess you'll like the Note, but if you don't see it as such a major benefit, we think there's not much use in it. Of course, we won't draw a final conclusion yet, not until we get to play with a final unit, but as of right now, the Galaxy Note seems like a niche product at best, and a pretty tight niche this is.

Samsung GALAXY Note Video Preview:



Our Samsung GALAXY Note Review is now published - click here to read it.

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Samsung GALAXY Note

Samsung GALAXY Note

OS: Android 4.1.2 4.0.4 4.0.3 2.3.5 2.3.4
view full specs
PhoneArena rating:
Not rated
Display5.3 inches, 800 x 1280 pixels (285 ppi) Super AMOLED
Camera8 megapixels
Hardware
Samsung Exynos 4, Dual-core, 1400 MHz, ARM Cortex-A9 processor
1 GB RAM
Size5.78 x 3.27 x 0.38 inches
(147 x 83 x 9.65 mm)
6.28 oz  (178 g)
Battery2500 mAh, 26 hours talk time

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