Samsung's Massive 5.3-inch Smartphone: Galaxy Note Review

By Julio Franco · 30 replies
Feb 20, 2012
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  1. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,310   +650

    I've had one for almost 3 months (non at&t version). Coming from over a year with the Dell Streak, it was a WELCOME upgrade. That dual core processor smokes the old streak. The display is super clear. I dumped the touch whiz interface and went with Go Launcher.
    Gingerbread 2.3.6, ICS will be out sometime before July....if you believe the press.
  2. princeton

    princeton TS Addict Posts: 1,676

    Uh no it's actually because that 1.5GHz chip is a lot slower clock for clock than the 1.4GHz Exynos, and the Adreno 220 gets utterly destroyed by the Mali-400MP4. The US/Canada LTE version is simply an inferior device on the inside than even the original i9100 with a 1.2GHz Exynos. We saw this exact same thing with the Qualcomm SGS II models. They can't perform scrolling animations properly, they can't do the pulldown menu animation smoothly, and they can't do zoom in or zoom out gestures smoothly. Samsung's hardware accelerated interface runs fine on a Mali chip, no amount of software modifications will ever make Adreno GPU chips good though.
  3. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,890   +1,224

    2nd sentence... "Straddling the line between a smartphone and a tablet, the Note features a massive 5.3-inch display" Massive? Whales are massive. 5.3 inches is not 'massive' Especially coming from a website where I read about the new 8 inch iPad MINI. 8 inches is mini and 5.3 is massive?

    Yeah, I get it. 5.3 inches is big for a phone, but isn't this supposed to be 'straddling the line between a phone and a tablet?' Why didn't you treat it like a small tablet and see how it worked? You did the whole review as if it's a phone that's too big to be a phone. Maybe try it like it's a small tablet you can make calls with and see how you like it. Try a bluetooth headset.

    The size is the obvious special feature about this thing, and yet there's no speculation as to whom it's marketed towards. The business community, art students, doctors who need to sign a prescription via an app?

    I know it's more fun to talk about how big it is (HEY NOW!), but is it possible you missed the point of it?
  4. When I saw this, I just had to have it. I sold my GS2, and bagged this little beauty. I'm not concerned about the size, it by no means a brick as some describe, as its not 4" thick, would be perhaps best described as a tile! I can only imagine the people who say this weren't around in the 80;s when phones were more like breeze blocks!

    Yeah, its big next to an iPhone but then Ive always thought they were too small! I wouldn't swap if for anything, unless of course the GS3 equivalent of a Note was due out!

    Its bigger than most phones, but then you do get more with it!
  5. It's terrific! In any store where it's displayed here, it's the most difficult phone to get to - there are always people crowding to try it out.
  6. Disappointing conclusion in the article. Was hoping to get one, but given what they said about it in the review, I may have to reconsider now.
  7. I have one and I absolutely love it! I used to have iPhones and the Galaxy S2, but now I`m in love with this one. The only problem I find with it is when using Google Maps when driving, because the phone is so big that it usually falls down from my thigh.
  8. Tygerstrike

    Tygerstrike TS Enthusiast Posts: 827   +93

    Cant wait to see one up close!!! Im a big guy and my Iphone has always felt too small to me.
  9. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,890   +1,224

    The conclusion was based on personal preference, not so much on phone performance, battery life, screen quality etc. If you're worried about the size, find something about the same size and carry it around to test it out. Much like when women get 'enhanced' they fill a baggie with rice and 'try it out' to see what size feels good.

    personally... i've never heard anyone ever say 'yeah, I really like my phone, but the screen is too big.' You may need looser pants though :)
  10. Checked out this phone yesterday at the AT&T store in SLC. They didn't even have it out on display on it's "debut" day. The sales rep said they couldn't get it to tether to their security cable, so they just didn't put it out. Seriously?!?!
    Anyway, my question is there any way to get this phone from AT&T or otherwise and somehow have it work on the Verizon network? I'm a long time Verizon customer who has learned to despise "Big Red", but realizes they do have the best network in that states. I really don't want to wait and only hope Verizon decides to get this phone, I want one yesterday!
    Also, is there a way to possibly scoop up one of those international versions that everyone on YouTube seems to be able to get their hands on and do a review because they work for a "Tech" company?
  11. NO. They are 2 different technologies. AT&T's version will not work on Verizons Network.
  12. Hey, thanks for answering my question. That's what I thought as far as two differing technologies. Such a bummer! Absolutely am obsessed with this phone now after checking it out yesterday. It was a lot larger than I expected, but nonetheless will only hope Big Red gets it...
  13. I finally got to play with the phone and i dont think its too big they made it pretty thin. The thing is i always carry my tablet which is way thicker and pretty heavy in my jacket pocket but sometime it gets inconvenient. this phone is very good not sure it will fit in the front pocket. Thats why they need a belt case which will make this easy to carry around.
    Dell streak 5 looks such a mess compared to this and i wont be surprised there will be a 6in phone soon.
    I tried video and i am not talking about music video i am talking about tech videos which have detailed pictures and graphs and they were reasonably clear.
    I downloaded a book and i could read it pretty well compared to other phones. I tried reading news on websites that was very good although a 7in tablet is better but this size is great for pretty much everything.
    Be your own judge go check it out at the att store
  14. dcseifert

    dcseifert Contributing Author

    The reason the Galaxy Note was reviewed as a phone and not a tablet is because at its core, it is a phone with a large screen. It runs a phone oriented and optimized operating system, uses phone apps, and if you purchase it from AT&T, requires a voice plan with minutes in addition to the required data plan. Tablet devices do not (natively) make phone calls, preferably use tablet operating systems and apps, and never require a voice plan when used on a carrier's network.

    To respond to your "who is marketed towards?" question, I have spoken to both AT&T and Samsung on this matter, and both companies feel that it is a mainstream device and are marketing it to every person that is interested in purchasing a smartphone. Its target audience is not a subset of smartphone buyers that might be able to benefit specifically from pen input or a massive screen - it's everybody. In light of that, is this really a phone that everyone can use? No, it is not. I never said that it wouldn't have a specific market or purpose, but for the general audience, it is very hard to recommend a device that a.) has laggy performance when it shouldn't, and b.) cannot be used comfortably with one hand by the vast majority of users.
  15. I bought one in December and I'm really happy with it. Now when I'm used to the awesome 5.3 inch OLED screen, all other phones screens look so uncomfortably tiny. Including iPhone 4S.

    The battery lasts for 2-3 days easily on casual use.

    Since the phone is slim, it can easily fit to my pocket despite the screen size. Just waiting now for ICS-update. Maybe rooting it then also.
  16. Any review of a phone that discounts it because of size is completely irrelevant. No one cares about your opinion of size because anyone that buys one can see the size for themselves before buying it.
    It is usability, performance, and stability that matter in a review because no once can discern that information while still in the store.
    I can acknowledge your opinion on size in reference to using it one handed but only with the caveat that everyone's hand size and flexibility are different which must be noted when stating such an opinion.
  17. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 7,671   +988

    Thanks for your reply Dan. As you pointed out in the review, size is the Note's key feature but there's evidently some subjectivity tied to it. On the other hand, the sluggishness is inexcusable at this stage of the smartphone game -- and if it's due to a poor CPU choice as princeton said (comment #2) then not even a ICS upgrade will save this.
  18. lipe123

    lipe123 TS Evangelist Posts: 718   +236

    Poor CPU performance really blew this but I'd also like to add that 5" is not to big for a phone at all!

    My first "smartphone" was a iPaq6340 in 2004, here is a quote from a review: Weighing in at 190 grams and measuring 119 x 75 x 18 mm, it's compact ad powerful for its size.

    The note is 27mm taller, which makes no difference cause you hold it by the width not the length!(and that was the antenna length on the old phone anyways)
    Did our hands get smaller since 2004 or what? I think people really need to get rid of this obnoxious fingernail sized phone idea! I want a bloody big phone with an enormous keyboard so I can actually use the damn thing and see more than 4% of a web page at a time.
  19. SETTING..... at a patent-infringement trial, a lawyer is taking Samsung's testimony:

    LAWYER: "And Samsung, do you consider your 5.3 inch smartphone device to be innovative?"

    SAMSUNG: "Yes"

    LAWYER: "And is it your position that you will market this device specifically to large-handed Neanderthals with poor eyesight?"

    SAMSUNG: "Yes"

    LAWYER: "And you do understand that Neanderthals are extinct!?"

    SAMSUNG: "Umm..... we've found one living in Texas. The locals call him Sasquatch. But he doesn't have any pockets. Maybe we'll make a carrying bag for it, ok?"

    LAWYER (to Judge): "Your Honor, the evidence clearly shows, SAMSUNG IS CRAZY!"
  20. Oh man I would kill for one of these.
    Root it and slap on some ICS custom rom goodness and it will be future proof for years to come
  21. By far best phone I've ever had. Wouldn't trade it for anything.
  22. veLa

    veLa TS Evangelist Posts: 781   +235

    It's just a giant Galaxy S II
  23. I have a samsung galaxy s wifi 5.0 tablet. It's ideal for watching videos on as it has a good sized viewing screen, but comfortably fits in a shirt pocket.
    My phone screen is tiny at 3.2 inches and drives me nuts.

    The note would suit me down to the ground as it combines both devices.
    I actually prefer using it two handed as typing is really easy this way. Viewing web pages is also easy on the eye.

  24. Grading it as a tablet or a phone is not the point coz you cant put this surely in either category but at least evaluate it for what it far as marketing of the device goes stores will say it is for everyone coz they dont want to limit the appeal of the device by saying its for business oriented buyers or people who like to work on the go but hate carrying a 10" slab with them. You are the reviewers it should be clear in your head what are you reviewing

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