Not for Everyone
Our impressions of the Samsung Galaxy Note did not change much from the hands-on experience at its World Tour in Southeast Asia a month ago. It is, and will remain, a phone that either you love or hate.
For people who are likely to own the Samsung Galaxy Note, the biggest draw factor should be the beautiful 5.3-inch HD Super AMOLED display. Having the largest display ever on a smartphone, the level of multimedia viewing experience has no equal. You could almost be mistaken for having a portable media player device instead of a smartphone. Additionally, users have more real screen estate to work with. Thanks to its split screen operation capability, you can maximize your work on the Galaxy Note without going through the hassle of switching between applications.
The S Pen is a neat addition to the overall package of the Galaxy Note. Although the stylus concept is considered dated in the era of touchscreen devices, the S Pen offers some degree of functionality that warrants its existence. For example, you can take screenshot when pressing and hold the S Pen on the screen. Another handy use of the S Pen is activating the S Memo on any screen or app you are on to take down some quick notes. Using the S Pen to jot down quick notes is definitely faster than typing on the virtual keyboard.
The hardware specs of the Samsung Galaxy Note are easily one of the best among Android smartphones today. The lightning fast 1.4 GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM offers an almost flawless user experience on the Galaxy Note, as evident with no signs of slowdown or processing lag on most occasions. Its 2500mAh battery is able to provide you with plenty of juice to get through at least a day and a half without breaking a sweat.
Ironically, the same draw from its massive screen is a double-edged sword, which serves to turn people away with its wide dimensions. Unless you place a privacy screen film, it is highly likely that prying eyes will be drawn in to see what you are doing on the Galaxy Note, even if it is only an accidental glance while checking out the gorgeous screen. Screen size aside, the Galaxy Note is a tough device to handle, especially if you have smaller hands. It is not entirely impossible to hold the Galaxy Note in one hand but you will not be able to use the phone comfortably. Having said that, the Galaxy Note is best used with two hands and it is designed to be done so. The annoyance will arise in tricky situations such as answering a call on the phone when your other hand is occupied. As such, practicality to handle this large smartphone is yet another trait one should consider before splurging.
Pricing and Availability
The Samsung Galaxy Note is available now at a recommended retail price of S$998. Compared to the HTC Sensation XL (S$908), you definitely get a better deal with the Galaxy Note when you consider how it performs much better against the Sensation XL. A bigger (and better) screen along with superior battery performance are more than sufficient reasons to woo prospective buyers over to Samsung's camp (unless of course the physical size difference becomes the limiting factor). Performance-wise, both phones offer similar user experience although you can better future-proof your purchase with the dual-core Galaxy Note.
What about its smaller rivals like the Motorola Razr and Samsung Galaxy S II? Well, if you are looking for a portable and sturdy smartphone, you can't go wrong with the S$888 Motorola Razr although you have to live with its sluggish user interface. The S$998 Samsung Galaxy S II is a reasonable alternative if you are looking for all-rounded performance on a smartphone but do not require the extra screen estate and S Pen. Moreover, you can easily get the Samsung Galaxy S II at a lower price now since it is already available in the market for a few months.
The main question on everyone's mind, is whether the Samsung Galaxy Note can replace a tablet. Theoretically, the Galaxy Note matches most of the hardware aspects of tablets - a dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM and big battery capacity. In reality however, the Galaxy Note isn't a tablet replacement.
The lack of a tablet-optimized operating system gives you the feeling that you are using an oversized phone, which is a serious flaw in the original Galaxy Tab. The promised Android 4.0 update for the Samsung Galaxy Note may change things for the better, but we shall reserve our comments till then. In addition, the 5.3-inch display of the Galaxy Note is still unable to replicate the same user experience of a tablet in areas such as e-reading and watching movies. Put simply, you are looking at a device that performs extremely well in the areas expected of smartphones today like web browsing and indulging in some gaming apps.
Will the Samsung Galaxy Note fare better than the Dell Streak? We certainly think so. The solid performance and beautiful display won us over. The phone also seems to have a growing list of followers on our forums. To find out what other Galaxy Note users feel about the phone, check out its thread here.