King of the Hill – Review of the Samsung Galaxy Note from AT&T
The high end smartphone segment just got bigger, and I don’t just mean by count. The Galaxy Note is one of the phones that I believe do rise to that level of design that rivals any current electronics manufacturer. Everything about this phone screams hold me, use me, love me. While most people that I showed the device off to were at first taken back by its size, everyone loved the large screen. From viewing pictures of my sisters latest family additions to snapping pictures around in downtown OKC, this phone nailed every bullet list of what users today want from a phone.
There is no skirting the first impression that everyone had when they first see and hold the Galaxy Note, it’s freakin’ big. The 5.3 inch Super AMOLED screen dwarfs even the already big Galaxy Nexus and makes most of the current crop of smartphones look like a kids phone in comparison. While I didn’t have a problem fitting the Note into a front pants pocket, I could see where it could be an issue for some. Taking a phone call was natural though iPhone users with their tiny 3.5″ screen will laugh at you but no worries. Just fire up Netflix on this thing and see their mouths drop to the floor, it’s that breath taking. Samsung again used their Super AMOLED screen for this device which if you’ve used their other high end devices like the Galaxy Tab 7.7, you won’t be disappointed with it’s 1280×800 resolution and 285ppi. Also note that the screen is covered by a layer of Gorilla Glass to protect the beautiful AMOLED screen which you’ll appreciate once you start using the included stylus.
Samsung did right by using most of the internals from the Galaxy SII line of phones. I mean if Apple can tweak a couple things between yearly releases why should Samsung just reuse their solid GSII platform? The AT&T version does have four capacitive buttons instead of the unlocked GSM model’s single home button at the bottom of the front. With volume rockers on the left side and the now common for Samsung power button rounding out the right side. The back features a very thin backing that is easily removable to give access to the 2500mAh battery, SIM card and MicroSD slot.
The Galaxy Note features a never sluggish 1.5ghz dual-core Scorpion CPU, 1GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. In the front is a 2MP camera for video calls or self picture taking and out back is a 8MP wide-angle autofocus camera that’ll record video at 1080p@30fps. The killer feature of this phone besides the massive screen and speedy CPU is the 4G LTE radio. For me having this kind of network speed is only fitting considering how massive this phone is.
The review unit I received had Android 2.3.6 with Samsungs TouchWiz interface installed. This is the same interface Samsung uses on most of the Android lineup including the Galaxy SII series of phones. As with the Skyrocket that I reviewed recently, the TouchWiz interface isn’t nearly as atrocious as the skinning that LG uses. Most of the features of TouchWiz are similiar to HTC Sense in that they help you get things done. Which for someone new to Android I could see as being a nice and helpful thing.
Samsung is now including a very useful app called Kies Air that will allow you to browse content on your device from a web browser on your own network. This helps to alleviate the “I don’t have my cable” problem many have while just wanting to grab a picture off the phone or quickly upload something to their phone.
The Galaxy Note is a first of it’s kind, a lonely member of the 5″ smartphone club. To date Samsung has sold more than 5 million of them. I’d say customers don’t mind it fitting awkwardly in a pocket. Samsung has fired on all pistons when it comes to the Galaxy Note and it’s nice for an Android user to point to the Note and say here is our king of the hill.
The Galaxy Note is currently on sale unlocked with GSM from various retailers or directly from AT&T for $299 with a new contract or extension.