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Samsung GALAXY Note Review

Samsung GALAXY Note

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 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.

The Samsung Galaxy Note runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread - Samsung GALAXY Note Review
The Samsung Galaxy Note runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread - Samsung GALAXY Note Review
The Samsung Galaxy Note runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread - Samsung GALAXY Note Review

The Samsung Galaxy Note runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread


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.

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

The S Memo app


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 Review
S Planner - Samsung GALAXY Note Review
S Planner - Samsung GALAXY Note Review
S Planner - Samsung GALAXY Note Review

S Planner


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.

The Photo Editor app - Samsung GALAXY Note Review
The Photo Editor app - Samsung GALAXY Note Review
The Photo Editor app - Samsung GALAXY Note Review

The Photo Editor app


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.

The Contacts app - Samsung GALAXY Note Review
The Contacts app - Samsung GALAXY Note Review

The Contacts app


Virtual keyboard - Samsung GALAXY Note Review
Virtual keyboard - Samsung GALAXY Note Review

Virtual keyboard



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.

Web browsing with the Samsung Galaxy Note - Samsung GALAXY Note Review
Web browsing with the Samsung Galaxy Note - Samsung GALAXY Note Review
Web browsing with the Samsung Galaxy Note - Samsung GALAXY Note Review

Web browsing with the Samsung Galaxy Note


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.

Camera interface - Samsung GALAXY Note Review

Camera interface


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.

Outdoor images taken with the Samsung Galaxy Note - Samsung GALAXY Note Review
Outdoor images taken with the Samsung Galaxy Note - Samsung GALAXY Note Review
Outdoor images taken with the Samsung Galaxy Note - Samsung GALAXY Note Review
Outdoor images taken with the Samsung Galaxy Note - Samsung GALAXY Note Review
Outdoor images taken with the Samsung Galaxy Note - Samsung GALAXY Note Review
Outdoor images taken with the Samsung Galaxy Note - Samsung GALAXY Note Review
Outdoor images taken with the Samsung Galaxy Note - Samsung GALAXY Note Review
Outdoor images taken with the Samsung Galaxy Note - Samsung GALAXY Note Review

Outdoor images taken with the Samsung Galaxy Note


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.

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

Strong

Medium

Low light

Darkness

Indoor samples


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.

Music player - Samsung GALAXY Note Review
Video player - Samsung GALAXY Note Review

Music player

Video player


The Galaxy Note is also a great smartphone for game-playing – due to its sheer size, all images are larger, and so there's less strain on your eyes.

112 Comments
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posted on 02 Nov 2011, 12:00 37

1. Eingild (Posts: 203; Member since: 19 Apr 2011)


A 7? Seriously? This tablet/phone hybrid is a beast.

posted on 02 Nov 2011, 16:55 5

28. shayan (Posts: 159; Member since: 09 Sep 2010)


and galaxy note is the top phone right now in gsmarena.com user ratings...

posted on 02 Nov 2011, 17:47 3

30. xtremesv (Posts: 298; 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.

posted on 02 Nov 2011, 17:05 16

29. buggerrer (Posts: 306; Member since: 21 Sep 2011)


who is Ray S. anyway to review such great device and give it 7/10 !

posted on 02 Nov 2011, 18:29 5

33. xoatomxo (Posts: 57; 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.

posted on 03 Nov 2011, 07:08 7

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.

posted on 03 Nov 2011, 11:23 13

60. xtremesv (Posts: 298; 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.

posted on 13 Nov 2011, 13:08 1

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.

posted on 03 Nov 2011, 23:38 5

68. tmcr7 (Posts: 180; 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,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKk9RZLmoBw

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.

posted on 02 Nov 2011, 12:08 1

2. hunted (Posts: 403; Member since: 21 Sep 2011)


Does this mean no use in buying this phone? The mark says SII is better

posted on 02 Nov 2011, 12:26 21

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.

posted on 02 Nov 2011, 12:49 14

6. Mazhh (banned) (Posts: 6; Member since: 02 Nov 2011)


Ray S is on apple's payroll.. !!! phonearena sucks !!!

posted on 02 Nov 2011, 13:34 18

13. Vinopantoz (Posts: 1; Member since: 02 Nov 2011)


They are not phonearena..they are iPhonearena...

posted on 03 Nov 2011, 16:09 2

63. bucky (Posts: 3138; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)


or maybe you cant handle the truth

posted on 09 Apr 2012, 02:41

112. minkhantkyaw (Posts: 5; Member since: 09 Apr 2012)


No , you sucks !!!

posted on 02 Nov 2011, 12:26 8

4. district11 (Posts: 125; Member since: 17 Apr 2011)


Snappy performance

posted on 02 Nov 2011, 12:50 4

7. metoyou (Posts: 279; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)


Ouch!

posted on 02 Nov 2011, 13:01 16

8. leftheodo (Posts: 106; Member since: 21 Oct 2011)


If it's not Apple it's not good enough, right? This is getting annoying and iDiotic!

posted on 02 Nov 2011, 13:29 10

10. snowgator (Posts: 3604; 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.

posted on 02 Nov 2011, 16:38 11

27. xtremesv (Posts: 298; 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.

posted on 02 Nov 2011, 13:02 14

9. ph00ny (Posts: 1513; 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?

posted on 02 Nov 2011, 13:30 3

11. snowgator (Posts: 3604; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)


Totally agree. Maybe if it does come stateside, they will.

posted on 02 Nov 2011, 13:32 7

12. snowgator (Posts: 3604; 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....

posted on 02 Nov 2011, 13:38 1

14. snowgator (Posts: 3604; 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!!

posted on 02 Nov 2011, 13:39 3

15. saiki4116 (Posts: 405; Member since: 31 Mar 2011)


they have released in india today for 35k which translates to ~700$

posted on 02 Nov 2011, 16:27 2

25. SJisaBitch (Posts: 8; Member since: 02 Nov 2011)


and...????

posted on 02 Jan 2012, 05:28 1

104. Jshrd (Posts: 3; Member since: 02 Jan 2012)


And You don't deserve it.. Go troll somewhere else

posted on 02 Nov 2011, 13:50 8

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.

posted on 02 Nov 2011, 14:03 5

17. anirudhshirsat97 (Posts: 408; 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..

posted on 02 Nov 2011, 16:28 4

26. SJisaBitch (Posts: 8; Member since: 02 Nov 2011)


who cares about what goes on in IINNDDIIAA???

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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:
7Good
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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