Samsung Galaxy Note Smartphone Review

By on November 13, 2011
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With a 5.3″ screen, is the Galaxy Note too big to be a Smartphone?

Good: Stunning screen, amazing resolution, extremely fast and a good camera
Bad: Writing letters using the stylus, less than expected battery life and no HDMI output
Price: AED AED 2,995
* The price is the Suggested Retail Price at the time of review. Please call a retailer to confirm the latest price for this product.

I generally prefer full touch smartphones that have screen sizes of 3.8” or lower simply because it makes it easier to operate them with a single hand- anything above and beyond that becomes a two-handed device. The question is where do we stop when it comes to two handed devices? Screen sizes of 4.2” and 4.3” are becoming pretty common while we have also something along the lines of 4.7” such as the HTC Titan. Samsung wants to take it to the next level with their Galaxy Note sporting a massive 5.3” size. Is that too big to be a smart phone? That’s what we are here to find out today.

Packaged in a traditional Samsung white box, the Galaxy Note comes with a power charger, a headset with additional buds for different ear sizes and a quickstart guide. The battery is also packaged separately and has a capacity of maH 2500. The first thing you notice about the Galaxy Note is it’s massive size. When I received the unit in the office, one of the guys pulled it from the box and put it next to his ear and we were all reminded of the days when the original 7” Galaxy Tab was released with phone capabilities. Visions of having a huge device stuck on the side of your face came back in their full glory. In fact, we even did a blog about that.

Luckily, the Note isn’t as obvious when held to your ear as you end up covering most of it by your hand and thus avoid any strange looks from people passing by. However, give it to someone in their hands and you will definitely get that “are you serious?” look. Here is a picture of the Galaxy Note next to a few devices such as the 7″ BlackBerry PlayBook, the 4.3″ HTC Sensation XE and the 3.5″ iPhone 4 . See the gallery on top for more size comparisons.

Although the Galaxy Note measures 146.9 x 83 x 9.7 mm, it is pretty slim at 9.7mm making it very pocket friendly. I was carrying the device for almost a week between jeans and suits and it felt like any other larger sized phone. Samsung has also managed to keep the weight of the Galaxy Note at just 178 grams which also helps in it being reasonably pocketable. Construction quality is pretty much like most Samsung devices- generally solid but with a flimsy back cover.

On top you have a 3.5mm jack while the power button sits on the right and volume keys on the left. At the bottom, a mini USB jack is present for charging the device as well as connecting it to your PC. The back of the device has an 8MP camera along with an LED flash while the front has an additional 2MP camera towards the top. Near the bottom, you will find the clickable home button as well as two capacitive buttons for back and menu on either side of it. Basically, the Galaxy Note looks very much like an over-sized version of the Galaxy S II.

Samsung does well on the inside as well with a Dual-core 1.4GHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor, Mali-400MP GPU and Exynos chipset. This is the same super-speedy SoC that is found on the Galaxy S II but is clocked a bit higher. To keep things running nice and smooth the Galaxy Note has 1GB of RAM and 16 or 32GB of storage space- I received the 16GB version for review. On the radio side, you have support for 21Mbps HSDPA as well a 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-fi with hotspot capabilities and Bluetooth 3.0. The Galaxy Note is DLNA certified so you could stream media to and from it, however, an HDMI port on the device would have been a good addition.

The Note completed the Sun Spider test is 3126ms which is pretty much up there with the fastest smartphones that we have tested. To give you a comparison, that same test took the Galaxy SII 3416ms to complete and the HTC Sensation XE 3184ms to complete- even though it has a higher clocked 1.5GHz Dual Core CPU.

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Abbas Jaffar Ali is the founder of and a blogger, geek and self-declared tech pundit who can't stop talking about technology. Find him on twitter as @ajaffarali

  • Manoj Damani

    I have the dell streak which is bigger and can use it with one hand

    • Abbas Jaffar Ali

      HAvent used the Streak but it has a smaller screen size of 5″ right? And you must have really big hands ;)

  • Me

    ill have it, i use internet on my phone heaps since browsers have become capable.
    its a bit big, but omg the screen resolution, yes please

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