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Samsung Galaxy Note review

Samsung Galaxy Note review
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Retail Price: RM 1,360
AP Price: RM 1,404 - 1,484
Samsung Galaxy Note, a 5.3-inch handset with a pen for note-taking, drawing and do screen-shots. It runs on Android 2.3 with a 1280 x 800 Super AMOLED display, dual 8-megapixel and 2-megapixel camera. Galaxy Note comes with a dual-core 1.4GHz processor and is able to run LTE and HSPA+.
Review On : Samsung Galaxy Note


By Tan Ming Sin

05 December 2011 – A larger version of smartphone had just arrived in town lately. The Samsung Galaxy Note has made an appearance with a rather large chassis when all other smartphones are trying to reduce their size into more pocket-friendly devices. However, there is more to just the large screen from the ads. Read on to find out.

Exterior, Controls and Screen

The Samsung Galaxy Note offers you a wider screen with 82.95mm width and 146.85mm of height. Mind you, in terms of screen area, the Samsung Galaxy Note has about two times the screen area offered by iPhone 4S. The thickness remains as slim as 9.65mm which isn’t much different from the Samsung Galaxy S2 with a thickness of 8.5mm. The weight has slightly increased with the larger screen a total of 178grams.

(comparison screen area iPhone 4 vs Samsung Galaxy Note)

(comparison screen area iPad 2 vs Samsung Galaxy Note)

(comparison thickness iPhone 4 vs Samsung Galaxy Note vs iPad 2)

However, as a physician you may probably agree with that the wider the area, the lower the force per unit area. We tested holding the Note with one hand while doing some work on it. Yet it doesn’t tire out the wrist even after 10 minutes of holding.

At the bottom of the screen you will find the three main controls to the phone same as the Samsung Galaxy S2; Menu, Home and Back (left to right). On the upper-right of the phone you will be able to find the lock key and the volume control on the upper-left. The S Pen will be hidden at bottom right of the device. It is right underneath the Back button.  

With the large screen comes with a proportionate higher screen resolution. The Samsung Galaxy Note offers 1280x800pixels on its 5.3-inch display. The technology used will be the HD Super AMOLED. This type of display is usually found in laptops or tablets, and rarely on a smartphone (Samsung Galaxy S2 was using Super AMOLED Plus on 480x800pixels).

The combined display technologies gives the device a fine touch to the picture quality, and to be able to display it on a wide screen is definitely a plus point for it.

On to usage, the wide screen offers a much easier and pin-point accuracy User-Interface. Though both S2 and Note are using the same TouchWIZ 4.0 UI, but when you use the on-screen keyboard you will find that the keys are of a much bigger size on the Note. If you prefer to doodle around you may prefer the S Pen for the pin point accuracy but if you want to type text or messages, the extra-big-keyboard will be very useful.

Still, with such size, the Samsung Galaxy Note is definitely not pocket-friendly. During our testing, we struggled at times to fit the phone in/out of the pocket. It often gets stuck on the edge of the pocket. Also, the location of the S Pen might annoy you at time when you are running an apps and needed to use the S Pen, you might accidently place your thumb on the Back button to slide the S Pen out. An advice is that, before you pull the S Pen out, lock the screen with whatever apps you are on, pull the S Pen out and unlock the screen. This will avoid you getting lost on whatever you are doing on the phone.

(Location of S Pen right underneath Back button)

Software, Application and Games

The Samsung Galaxy Note still runs on the, Android 2.3.5 or Gingerbread (Android 4.0 or Ice Cream Sandwich is not available for the Galaxy Note at the time of writing). Hopefully, there might be an update soon.

There aren’t many changes done for Android 2.3.5 at least not on the Note except for improved Gmail application.

However you can look forward to their new software such as the feature shortcuts for S Pen. For example, holding the S Pen’s button and double tapping on the screen allows you to take a screenshot.

For more info on gestures with S Pen: click here

The Samsung Galaxy Note also comes with the new S-Memo which allows you to write or dribble down your memo. The combination of S Pen and the widescreen works well on the S-Memo. Better yet, you can even include a Google Map into your doodle to make reminders which we will whow you in the next paragraph.   

For more info on S-Memo: click here

 The S-Planner allows you to create Timelines to specify a schedule for the weekdays and another for weekends. S-Planner also allows you to link memos that you have written with S-memo and make it as a reminder. Thus, you can have the Google Map included in your doodle and make a reminder for where you have to go on the specific date.

For more info on S-Planner: click here

Next is the S-Social Hub. The S-Social Hub is an app that allows you to connect all your Facebook, Twitter and Linkedln account into your phonebook. It means that any updates from whichever social network account can be directly viewed from the S-Social Hub. In addition, the S-Social Hub allows you to doodle any picture that you are about to upload to your social network account.

For more info on S-Social Hub: click here

The last app will be the S-Polaris Office. It works like a mini version of Microsoft where you can view your documents and presentations slide and even make changes to it.

For more info on S-Polaris Office: click here


The Samsung Galaxy Note supports GSM connectivity and comes with a LTE receiver, however the standard is not supported locally yet. HSPA is supported and there is WiFi and WiFi hotspot functionality. Bluetooth v3.0 is supported as well.

Camera, Video and Audio

The camera offers up to 8-megapixels of picture quality for the main camera and 2-megapixels for the front camera. And again I will emphasize that a picture displayed on a wider screen does make a difference. With the combination of the 1200x800 pixels and HD Super AMOLED, the picture quality will be much more pleasant to your eyes.

(8-megapixels main camera)

The screen size makes a difference. If we compare this against an iPad 2 which offers a 9.7-inch display; the iPad 2 only has 1024x768 pixels, with a 0.7-megapixels main-camera and no retina display. By comparison of the specs, you may find that the Samsung Galaxy Note has a better advantage with its smaller display.

The video recording is supported up to 1080HD quality. All these can be stored in the 16/32GB Internal storage and you have the option of using the microSD slot that supports up to 32GB.

For the sound system, be reminded that the device comes with an in-ear handsfree in case you need to have some personal time for your own music. The handsfree can be handy especially with this huge device. It may also not be a good idea to place the big device on your face as you make calls.

The speaker on the device is placed behind it on the bottom. So make sure that the phone is placed with the speaker on the front when you play through the speaker unless you want to listen to reflected sound from it.

Battery Life

The battery provided is a 2500 mAh lithium-ion. That is 1.5times longer lasting than the Samsung Galaxy S2 (2500 mAh vs 1650 mAh). However, how long does the battery really last? During our test-run, we played a HD-ready movie back-to-back (with no other application running. WiFi, Bluetooth and 3G were all turned off) and the battery lasted for a long eight and a half hours before it automatically stop the media player itself (the phone remains turned on when the battery is critical and you can still go through your files and games until the battery dies off, but the media player is off-limits).

In addition, when we were playing the movie back-to-back, there was barely noticeable heat even after the long eight and a half hours of playback. However, while we transfer files into the phone internal storage, the heat is more noticeable.



The Samsung Galaxy Note pairing up with the wide screen and S Pen will be viewed as a breakthrough in the market. However, for those who were using smartphones and PDAs since the 1990’s may already be familiar with the use of a stylus pen. So it seems that the stylus pen is once again making a comeback. Nevertheless, the improved specs of the modern device will give users a different feel.

 Overall the main feature of this phone will be its wide screen and technologies used for the graphics.  The wide screen made a difference to all the other usage on the phone. Typing messages became more fluent and doodling was made to be more enjoyable. The Samsung Galaxy Note is a bridge between tablet and phone.

(Calculator app provides huge numpad to click on)

We can look forward to the Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade. This device may have a better boost when the system is upgraded and the quality of graphics displayed remain. 

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