For our smart device reviews, we're going to do something a little different here. PC hardware can be reviewed with hard numbers, charts and all that jazz, but the same can't really be said for smart devices. We're going to concentrate more on the look, feel and experience of the device, rather than numbers. After all, virtually all personal use of a smart device comes down to these factors, but we will still include some benchmarks so you can see how they perform. If there's anything you'd like to see added or removed from these reviews, please do e-mail us, as we want to morph these reviews around you, the reader.
At the same time of receiving the Galaxy Note 8.9 4G from Samsung, I received a Galaxy Note smartphone. I decided that I would use this as my personal phone for a two-week period to get a proper feel for the device. Samsung's Galaxy range of smartphones is ever expanding and the Note was one of the first, truly successful phones that blurred the line between smartphone and tablet.
Samsung's Galaxy Note sports a 5.3-inch WXGA screen, which for some, is simply too big. For others, they want that bigger screen and enjoy that blur between smartphone and tablet, where the word "phablet" was born. Other smart device makers have tried their luck in the 5.x-inch market, but have not been met with the same success and fan-fare that Samsung have enjoyed.
Samsung even passed the 10 million units shipped milestone with the Note recently and there's a Note II to be released in the coming weeks. Samsung seem to have taken the larger screen size under their stride and run with it. There's no need to ask if they've been successful, with 10 million and counting sold, as well as a successor on the way, how do I feel about it? Well, you'll have to read on for the answers to those questions.
I will note that I personally use a Samsung Galaxy S II as my everyday phone and a third-generation Apple iPad as my tablet. So using a smartphone that measures in a 5.3 inches would be quite interesting. The Galaxy S II has a screen size of 4.3 inches, so I'm already used to a "bigger' phone than the industry benchmark that is Apple's iPhone.
My first impression of the Note was "my gosh, the size!", but you get used to it. Coming from the S II, it felt quite big to hold in my hands, meaning if you go from an iPhone to the Note, it's going to feel like you're holding a tablet in your hand. At first glance, the screen is gorgeous. It may feel big in your hands, but the pay off is the screen size. It still only has a 1280x800-pixel screen, but everything is crisp, big and beautiful.
Specifications, Pricing and Availability
The Galaxy Note has some great specs inside, sporting a 1.4GHz dual-core processor, the aforementioned 5.3-inch HD Super AMOLED screen, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (on the device I received, some will still come with Android 2.3), an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera backed up by a 2-megapixel front-facer. The specs are listed above, but they would be the stand out specs. Lastly, would be the S Pen, which is a flashy stylus pen and makes the Note stand out from the rest of the competing smartphones and tablets on the market.
You get all of this technology in a package that is only 9.65mm thin and weighs in at just 178 grams. For a device with a screen that is 5.3 inches, it sure does feel light. All of this speed and screen size does come at a price and that price is battery life. The Note only sports a 2500 mAh battery and I've read other reviews and thoughts on the device, where they weren't impressed with the battery life of the Note. We'll talk more about that later.
Pricing on the Note depends on your carrier, whether you take it on a plan or buy it outright. Newegg are selling the Note for just $549.99 outright, for the standard 16GB model, unlocked. Compare this to the unlocked Galaxy S II, which comes in at $459.99 at Newegg, the pricing is not too bad at all. Both of the phones are virtually the same spec, bar the screen size.
Of course, if you were not already on a contract or getting close to your current plan expiring, the best way to get it would be on a 2-year contract through the telco of your choice. This way, you'd be paying around $50-$60 per month and getting your included monthly value in the form of calls, SMS and data.
Availability-wise, the Note is still available virtually everywhere, but I would suggest waiting it out a couple of weeks for the Note II. This way, you could pick up a Note cheaper, with the additional benefit of being able to look at the Note II and see if the increased specs and screen size (5.5 inches) are worth it. That being said, the Note is still an incredibly awesome piece of kit and worthy of a look at it.