Samsung Galaxy Note LTE Review
This is a review of the AT&T LTE version of Samsung Galaxy Note. Click here for the review of the European version

Introduction:

Taking a trip back to memory lane, it was hard to imagine smartphones packing displays anything larger than 3.5-inches a few years ago, but as reality has proven time after time, it seems that we have an insatiable desire to keep moving forward. In fact, our jaws all dropped in unison when the HTC HD2 came romping onto the scene flaunting a then larger than life 4.3” display. Soon afterwards, we’ve all come together as a society to regard devices with these sized displays to be the norm.

Well, the Samsung Galaxy Note came to fruition back last fall pushing the limits of how big is too big for today’s modern smartphone. The insanely large device is finally making its way to AT&T’s lineup with 4G LTE connectivity in tow to match its prestigious status as being a formidable Android powered smartphone. Interestingly enough, this isn’t the first time we’re seeing a device on AT&T’s lineup breaking the barriers with a 5-inch display of some sort – as the Dell Streak from 2010 brought BIG to the masses. Having spent an astronomical amount for a fancy Super Bowl commercial, Samsung clearly has high expectations for the Galaxy Note, so let’s see how this version fares!

Samsung Galaxy Note LTE Review
The package contains:

  • microUSB cable
  • Wall Charger
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Health & Safety and Warranty Guide

Design:

Let’s get the obvious out of the way – again! This isn’t a handset fit for those with small hands, because honestly, it’ll inevitably prove to be too much, as frustration to hold and operate the device settles in. Wide figured and all, we find it necessary to have a two-handed operation approach when handling the Samsung Galaxy Note, especially when our thumb is unable to encompass every corner of its display. In all fairness, the handset’s sheer size is conveniently its most prized feature, since people take notice of it more than anything else. Actually, it’s the kind of fresh device that’ll circumvent conversation from random strangers who are intrigued by simply looking at it from afar.

Overlooking its beastly figure, the Samsung Galaxy Note bears many of the same design characteristics that have been established by the Galaxy S II family. Sporting that typical Samsung construction, with its all-plastic casing and all, it’s hardly anything that stands out, but we’re grateful to find it retaining the same streamlined (0.38” thin) appearance of the international GSM version – especially when it’s packing an LTE radio. With its accompanying weight (6.45 oz), it’s minutely heavier than the original version, but warranted in giving it a solid sense of durability.

The Samsung Galaxy Note LTE bears many of the same design characteristics that have been established by the Galaxy S II family - Samsung Galaxy Note LTE Review
The Samsung Galaxy Note LTE bears many of the same design characteristics that have been established by the Galaxy S II family - Samsung Galaxy Note LTE Review
The Samsung Galaxy Note LTE bears many of the same design characteristics that have been established by the Galaxy S II family - Samsung Galaxy Note LTE Review

The Samsung Galaxy Note LTE bears many of the same design characteristics that have been established by the Galaxy S II family


Samsung Galaxy Note LTE Review

You can compare the Samsung Galaxy Note LTE with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

Overall, there isn’t a whole lot different with the handset’s design, but it now features the usual set of Android capacitive buttons beneath its display, as opposed to finding the physical home button like before. Additionally, it bears AT&T’s name below its earpiece, with its front-facing 2-megapixel camera positioned nearby.

Samsung Galaxy Note LTE Review
Android capacitive buttons - Samsung Galaxy Note LTE Review

Android capacitive buttons

Front-facing camera - Samsung Galaxy Note LTE Review

Front-facing camera


There’s nothing out of place with the rest of the handset, since we find its volume rocker, power button, 3.5mm headset jack, noise cancellation microphone, and microUSB port around its sides. With the latter, we gain video-out functionality with the aid of an optional MHL adapter.

microUSB port (bottom) - Samsung Galaxy Note LTE Review

microUSB port (bottom)

Volume rocker (left) - Samsung Galaxy Note LTE Review

Volume rocker (left)

3.5mm jack (top) - Samsung Galaxy Note LTE Review

3.5mm jack (top)

Power key (right) - Samsung Galaxy Note LTE Review

Power key (right)


In the rear, its 8-megapixel auto-focus camera with LED flash is perched in its usual spot, while yanking apart its plastic rear cover grants us access to its SIM card slot, microSD card slot, and generous 2,500 mAh battery. Inconspicuously hidden away, the included S Pen (don’t call it a stylus, says Samsung) is firmly held in place within its slot, which is located in the bottom right corner of the device.

Back - Samsung Galaxy Note LTE Review

Back

Rear camera - Samsung Galaxy Note LTE Review

Rear camera

Battery compartment - Samsung Galaxy Note LTE Review

Battery compartment


The included S Pen - Samsung Galaxy Note LTE Review
The included S Pen - Samsung Galaxy Note LTE Review
The included S Pen - Samsung Galaxy Note LTE Review

The included S Pen



Display:

Equally as eye-catching as its ginormous size, the 5.3” WXGA (800 x 1280) Super AMOLED display of the Samsung Galaxy Note is undoubtedly blessed with so much real estate. Magnificent in so many ways, some might be bummed to know that it utilizes the less favorable PenTile matrix arrangement, but nevertheless, we’re impressed by its immaculate detail (285 ppi). Furthermore, it exhibits all of the qualities we adore with Super AMOLED displays in general – like its overly saturated color tones, deep contrast, wide-viewing angles, and a noticeably bluish tinge. Combining all of those elements, it removes the shock factor of being so large in size for a smartphone, but rather, it culminates all together to reel in prying eyes from afar to take notice of its polarizing beauty.

The 5.3” WXGA Super AMOLED display of the Samsung Galaxy Note LTE - Samsung Galaxy Note LTE Review
The 5.3” WXGA Super AMOLED display of the Samsung Galaxy Note LTE - Samsung Galaxy Note LTE Review
The 5.3” WXGA Super AMOLED display of the Samsung Galaxy Note LTE - Samsung Galaxy Note LTE Review
The 5.3” WXGA Super AMOLED display of the Samsung Galaxy Note LTE - Samsung Galaxy Note LTE Review
The 5.3” WXGA Super AMOLED display of the Samsung Galaxy Note LTE - Samsung Galaxy Note LTE Review
The 5.3” WXGA Super AMOLED display of the Samsung Galaxy Note LTE - Samsung Galaxy Note LTE Review

The 5.3” WXGA Super AMOLED display of the Samsung Galaxy Note LTE



Samsung GALAXY Note LTE 360-degrees View:



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45 Comments

1. kshell1

Posts: 1143; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

good review but yet again putting down for not having ICS, give them some time. you have to remember the transition for 2.3-4.0 is much more massive than earlier updates

27. devon613

Posts: 127; Member since: Oct 13, 2011

just got the note at my store this thing is sick....great size and screen better than i thought it would be already got tons of preorders for it....

39. gkquiambao

Posts: 62; Member since: Nov 23, 2011

This isn’t a handset fit for those with small hands, because honestly, it’ll inevitably prove to be too much, as frustration to hold and operate the device settles in. ---this is so wrong. Do you also suggest that we should not use TABLETS if that is your case? Furthermore, it exhibits all of the qualities we adore with Super AMOLED displays in general – like its overly saturated color tones, deep contrast, wide-viewing angles, and a noticeably bluish tinge. ---you praised it, and then you put it down with your words! Some of us have this innate ability to effortlessly type messages with one hand, but honestly, even the best of individuals with this special skill will find it nearly impossible to do with the Galaxy Note ---again how about in the case of tablets??? Coughing up the same level of quality produced by the original model, we’re content with the photos snapped by AT&T’s version as well – though, they’re nothing more than passable. ---"nothing more than passable"? are you serious?

44. Asphyxiation

Posts: 3; Member since: Feb 26, 2012

Chill out. Do you get paid to review reviews? Shut up. You are never going to try and hold a tablet with one hand and type on it with that same hand. For those of us that know what Super AMOLED displays are like, his words were no downer. Considering that Samsung is not the leader in mobile phone cameras, yes, what he said is correct. Again, chill out. There are funny trolls and obnoxious ones. You are the latter. The latter is also extremely annoying. Do your homework before you criticize someone else next time. Good day to you.

40. gkquiambao

Posts: 62; Member since: Nov 23, 2011

GSMArena.com says: Speaking of the Samsung Galaxy Note size, there are two approaches to it. Its measures of 146.8 x 83 x 9.7 mm, coupled with 178 grams of weight, qualify the handset as huge by any smartphone standards. If you look at the I717 as a tablet however, the perspective changes completely. It is easier to carry around than any tablet, without (mostly) compromising on functionality. *this is a more comprehensive review. Comparing the Note to both phone and tablet, because its a phablet after all.

43. E.N.

Posts: 2610; Member since: Jan 25, 2009

Phonearena's review is fair. The Galaxy Note is a phone first, tablet second. This review, I think, is based on the assumption that people were going to carry this device around in their pocket and in their hands every day. In that case, their review was on point. "This isn’t a handset fit for those with small hands, because honestly, it’ll inevitably prove to be too much, as frustration to hold and operate the device settles in." - As a phone, this point is completely true and is going to be the factor that is going to turn you off/on at first sight. The tablet perspective is not too important because most people don't have the tablet on their person everywhere they go (mall, grocery shopping, class, gym, work, friend's house). When you're using a tablet, you're expecting a largish device. When you're using a phone, you're usually not.

2. droiddomination

Posts: 203; Member since: Dec 01, 2011

typical PA, unless there is a krapple icon on the back, they take two points off the score. your guys are so biased. it is blatently obvious if a modern spec'd beast like this gets an 8/10, and iturd scores higher on a rehashed model from 2010, something is wrong!

4. kshell1

Posts: 1143; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

i understand some of the points why it got knocked down, like performance, i would have taken just hspa+ using the og 1.4ghz exynos or clock it up even more, over the lte crapdragon they put in it

8. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

the constant switch to crapdragon is really annoying. I want to know who made the decision to use crapdragon instead of OMAP, which is also LTE capable... and stronger. Why would you flip out the best chip set for the worst? Honestly, Id only give it an 8 because of the screen and pen. Anything that has been switched from exynos to crapdragon should be reduced to 7 to adjust for poor performance.

13. Birds

Posts: 1172; Member since: Nov 21, 2011

I actually played with the Note and I can tell you that this phone is the most optimized phone to ever run a snapdragon. Samsung did a really good job at software optimization of this device but it still lagged. Not like anything that is a super deal breaker or even super noticeable. It lagged with the live wall paper because I had tons of background applications running. So Remixfa, you are right.

32. NeXoS

Posts: 292; Member since: May 03, 2011

GSMArena.com A much less Apple Fan ass boy site than this place.

5. maherk

Posts: 6640; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

well.ma glad i bought the international version, i prefer the in the middle physical home screen button, specially for such a huge phone. plus this way, i ll get the ics update much much earlier than the branded versions. by the end of march, i ll be licking my teeth cuz of the sweet taste of ics

6. snowgator

Posts: 3614; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

Fair review, I think. This is a fun device for those who are interested, but it isn't practical for everyone. I am also a little critical of reviews that pound on Android devices for not being released with ICS. We saw this last year this about this time over dual-core processors. Why detract from a device over something that is not the industry standard yet?

9. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

im with you on that one. If its Q2 and super devices still dont have ICS, then pound em. But no major US phone has ICS yet that isnt a nexus, so why detract? Seems very arbitrary and sore. But detract all day for those crapdragon chips. I cant wait for the S3 to become trash... well.. in the trash.. because its already trash. on a side note, its nice to see more and more people saying crapdragon :) look at me, im adding new words to the lexicon! :) lololol.

10. kshell1

Posts: 1143; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

you remixfa are awesome xD you and your fancy words lol but seriously crapdragons suck

7. Jeradiah3

Posts: 1149; Member since: Feb 11, 2010

my only concern about this phone is the price. I know that this sounds crazy, but i'll wait for the price to do down b4 i get it. I like everything else that comes with it and im waiting for LTE to come to st louis

14. theo14461 unregistered

You can thank Verizon for starting this $299.99 price point. It was just a matter of time before others followed suit.

11. MobileCaseReview

Posts: 242; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

I'm very excited about this phone. Yes it is disappointing about the snapdragon, but after seeing it in person at CES. I was truly amazed and sold on it. I'm predicting this can be amazing office device for many companies to utilize is multi-functionality. A lot of companies have been switching to tablets to save money and some companies often defer to company phones. It a lot of ways, this device can knock out two birds with one stone. Looking forward to picking mine up soon.

12. ghost__uwi

Posts: 175; Member since: Nov 28, 2011

Too big. No way. S3 plz.

15. Joshing4fun

Posts: 1244; Member since: Aug 13, 2010

I remember the huge debates about whether of not the Droid X was too big when it was coming out... That phone would like tiny compared to this. Crazy how things change in such a short amount of time.

42. ghost__uwi

Posts: 175; Member since: Nov 28, 2011

by next yeah iPad sized tablets will be the new phone :S I don't like where this is going now.

16. JGuinan007

Posts: 699; Member since: May 19, 2011

I want it bad have to wait 3 mo days Im jonezn for it gimme gimme gimme!

17. isprobi

Posts: 797; Member since: May 30, 2011

No ICS is not a big deal. Let Google get the bugs out of it first. The pathetic battery life of EVERY LTE phone is much more important. This phone should have a 4000 MAH battery. And every other phone should be another half as thick so a bigger battery can fit. Maybe Moto will start a new trend with the Droid Max.

18. KingKurogiii

Posts: 5713; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

oh so it's justified for AT&T to have a crapdragon powered phone cost $300 but it's just too much for Verizon's awesome high-end line up? lol okay. xD

19. maen555

Posts: 8; Member since: Feb 04, 2012

299 2 year contract? that's about 7176 $ i prefer to buy it cash from any store it still a lot cheaper :D

20. Jeradiah3

Posts: 1149; Member since: Feb 11, 2010

I totally agree. im a big man (6'7" 235lbs) and this is the perfect phone for me....................but im not paying $300 for a 2yr contract when there are tablets that cost the same!! i'll wait for the price to go down

25. Alantef

Posts: 288; Member since: Sep 14, 2011

6'7 and 235....why aren't you playing WR for the Browns lol???????

34. Jeradiah3

Posts: 1149; Member since: Feb 11, 2010

LMBO!!! Had surgery on my knee playing basketball...great reply lmbo

22. KingKurogiii

Posts: 5713; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

were you not going to be with AT&T for two years anyway? xD

23. Jeradiah3

Posts: 1149; Member since: Feb 11, 2010

yeah, but I dont think that you should pay $300 for a 2yr contract phone. I thought it wouldve been $200 like the Skyrocket...which i would pay for to renew with AT&T. i know that the phone itself is over $600 retail, but i might change my mind later

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

GALAXY Note LTE
  • Display 5.3" 800 x 1280 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 2 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon S3, Dual-core, 1500 MHz
  • Storage 16 GB + microSDHC
  • Battery 2500 mAh

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