Samsung Galaxy Note LTE Review


Sounding like a broken record, we’ve voiced our disappointment on numerous occasions when we find devices running anything except for the most up-to-date experience in Ice Cream Sandwich – so yeah, we can say the same thing here with the Samsung Galaxy Note. Regardless of that, we have to accept it for what it is, since it still offers all the exceptional personalization aspects of Android as a whole. Needless to say, not everyone is going to be wowed by the TouchWiz interface running on top of Android 2.3.6 Gingerbread (of course, update to Android 4.0 is expected), but some might take fancy by its heavy usage of widgets that encompass the size of a single homescreen.  Luckily, we’re thankful to now find an option for an alphabetical grid style option with its app menu, seeing that original lacked it.

S Pen

In addition to all the standard Android and TouchWiz stuff, however, Samsung has cooked some apps especially for the Galaxy Note and its S Pen. 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 S Pen. 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 S Pen. 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.

Strangely, the S Planner app found on the original is absent on AT&T’s version of the Note, but instead, the main Calendar app switches in favor to utilizing the layout of the S Planner. Basically, S Planner is just a facelifted calendar, having a more professional feel.


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. Simply, it’s so wide that the only way to type comfortably with great accuracy and precision is to use both hands, which others are so inclined to do so already. Presented with three options, the stock Gingerbread, Samsung, and Swype keyboard, they’re all graced with spacious layouts to reduce accidental presses. Interestingly, the Samsung keyboard looks very similar to the stock Gingerbread one, but we wholeheartedly prefer Samsung’s offering mainly because we have more difficulty in handling the squished look of buttons with the stock one.

Do we really need to get into the email experience, since of course, it functions like all other devices before it? Aside from the obvious things, we do enjoy the fact that Samsung has optimized its layout in landscape, as the standard email app (not Gmail), employs a 2-panel layout that displays our inbox and email content simultaneously.

Processor and Memory:

Since this variant is packing support for AT&T’s 4G LTE network, its processor has been changed from the original’s 1.4GHz dual-core Exynos processor to a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8660 processor. As much as some people might take comfort in its faster clocked speed, it’s hardly negligible seeing that we do notice a sluggish performance when it’s tested by graphically intensive live wallpapers. However, it fares significantly better with static wallpapers, seeing that it exhibits fluid responses with most basic tasks. Still, its sluggish performance at times is nowhere close to the level of making the handset unusable or unstable – yet, we sorely wish to see it maintaining a peppy response.

Advertised as having 16GB of internal storage, it actually breaks down to 10.84GB of free storage for media and another 1.7GB for “system storage,” which is primarily reserved for apps. If that happens to be insufficient, you can always load a microSD card to supplement its capacity.

Internet and Connectivity:

Inadvertently being overlooked because of the handset’s physical stature, we have to remind ourselves that this bad boy is packing 4G LTE connectivity for blazing data speeds. However, the network is yet to go live in our neck of the woods, so we’re essentially left to indulge on HSPA+ speeds instead, which is still surprisingly fast. Complementing its ability to effortlessly load complex sites, we’re presented with buttery smooth responses with all of its navigational controls. Even better, it rarely misses a beat when there’s an abundance of heavy Flash content on screen. Beyond that, it’s also able to display more things without compromising details since its resolution is remarkably adept in maximizing every inch of its large display.

Global trotter will surely appreciate AT&T’s version of the Samsung Galaxy Note, well, that’s because it’s enabled to work in most places around the globe – while still dishing out HSPA+ speeds with most locales. Testing it out with AT&T’s HSPA+ network, we’re satisfied with getting speeds as much as 8Mbits/s down and 1.5Mbits/s up in high coverage areas. Meanwhile, it’s packing all the usual connectivity suspects – like aGPS, Bluetooth 3.0, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, and mobile hotspot functionality.



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

5. maherk

Posts: 6965; Member since: Feb 10, 2012 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: 3621; 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: 1246; 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.

  • 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(10.00h talk time)

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