Samsung Galaxy Note reviews are coming out in advance of its Feb. 19 release date. This roundup will tell you what people think of the phone with a pen.
But first, here's a quick overview of the phone's specs [for more details click here]:
The Samsung Galaxy Note is best-known for its pen, or stylus, but it also has a slew of other features, including a 5.3-inch, 1280x800 screen. Appolicious said its size puts the phone is smack dab in the 'phablet' range. In other words, the phone is a combination of a phone and a tablet, and it has a a 1.4 GHz dual-core processor with 16GB of built-in memory.
It works on AT&T's 4G LTE network and bosts a large 2500 mAh battery, SD card slot, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support, an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera.
The phone's claim to fame, its S-Pen, can be used anywhere on the phone's screen, and has a wide range of functions including pressure sensitivity, precision, speed and more. You can take notes, draw sketches, edit photos and more using the stylus, which is integrated into the Samsung Galaxy Note's native applications.
The Samsung Galaxy Note comes with Android 2.3 Gingerbread, and will likely get an Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade at a later date.
It will cost $299 with a two-year agreement at launch, which will initially be only for AT&T customers.
As for reviews, a number of people have gotten their hands on the new phone ahead of its release date. The reviews range from glowing to dismal, and we've got a Samsung Galaxy Note review round below, to help you decide whether it's the right phone for you:
CNET's Jessica Dolcourt emphasizes that though the phone has a nice screen and plenty of advanced features, it is by no means a replacement for a tablet, and predicts that its size will be a turn-off for all but a niche group of users.
She delves into that issue further by discussing the media-viewing experience offered on the Samsung Galaxy Note, and goes on to parse the S-Pen
Yet the extra screen size does make watching videos and viewing photos pretty ideal for a smartphone (and annoyingly small for a tablet), Dolcourt wrote. There's also that S-Pen to think about. It surely reopens a long-forgotten world of handwriting notes and doodling images that largely disappeared half a decade ago, but brings with it some potentially problematic lagginess and less-than-faithful reproduction of your pen strokes.
K.T. Bradford at GottaBeMobile.com did a pretty comprehensive review of the phone, in which she said she likes the phone's screen, pen and other features, but that it is lacking in network speed and battery life:
Even though I live well within the area covered by AT&T's new 4G LTE service, I've yet to actually connect to LTE with the Galaxy Note. It's still on HSPA in 4G mode, she wrote, adding the results of a network speed test she conducted: The SpeedTest.net app showed that the Note was only getting 2.1Mbps down and 0.27Mbps up in midtown Manhattan during rush hour and 3.1Mbps down/1.0Mbps up further uptown later that night.
Bradford goes on to write that the phone's much-touted battery life is very worrying as well:
The other issue is battery life. Yesterday I used the Galaxy Note heavily since it was my first day and I wanted to try everything, she wrote. The result is that the battery was down to 4% after about 6 hours, she wrote. Looking at the battery status reveals that the culprit is the display.
Phil Lavelle at TechRadar.com wrote an in-depth Samsung Galaxy Note review that any would-be Note buyer should read in its entirety, but one of his main themes was that the phone has created a new type of device that doesn't quite qualify as a phone or tablet:
The Samsung Galaxy Note is a phone/ tablet hybrid that doesn't really sit in any category--we've reviewed it as a smartphone simply due to the fact it can make calls, but Samsung is definitely trying to create a new category of device with this 5.3-inch screened behemoth, Lavelle writes, adding later that the Galaxy Note is just that--big. Falling somewhere between the tablet and phone goalposts, it's not as enormous as pictures may imply. But it is larger than your average smartphone.
While the Note might look tiny in the hands of, say, Lawrence Dallaglio or William The Fridge Perry, it's a veritable monster when gripped by a normally-sized specimen of humanity. To use is as a phone, to hold it to your ear, is to readily accept that you are happy to look like a tool, the site writes.
But the review goes on to explain that the screen makes up for that massiveness by offering top-notch quality:
The Note has, quite simply, one of the most beautiful displays we've ever seen. Until we see the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 on these shores, this phablet sports the best mobile display Sammy has ever released commercially, Pocket-Lint.com write, adding that when we first saw the Galaxy Note exhibited at IFA 2011 in Germany, the common consensus was that its screen was incredible from just minutes of play, and even with time on our side, we stand by our original opinion. As we do with the stylus.
Regarding the stylus, the review states that the S-Pen is a great feature, allowing presice motions and to use pressure, much like a professional light pen. That means that light strokes will appear faint, while firmer use will result in thicker, heavier lines. In short, like a real pen.
There aren't many smartphones around that can instill an inferiority complex in the Galaxy S II, but the Galaxy Note does a pretty good job of it, reads the review. The Exynost chipset's got a faster CPU, the AMOLED screen has a million pixels and, most importantly, there's more of it.
But GSMArena.com says the following issues will annoy Note users: Won't fit comfortably in every pocket; Much harder for one-handed use than a regular smartphone; All-plastic body; No dedicated camera key; HD screen uses PenTile matrix lowering perceived resolution; Non-hot-swappable microSD card; Sub-par loudspeaker volume.
Steven Norris, a reviewer at GearBurn.com, lavishes what can only be described as excessive praise on the device in his review:
The Samsung Galaxy Note N7000 makes me feel like an idiot for loving Apple. For years I defended the iPhone, calling it the next coming of mobile phones and now, out of the blue, the Note has knocked me flat on my back, Norris write. It's the biggest, brightest and fastest smartphone currently available and Samsung is now the deserving wearer of the mobile crown. Samsung should also be congratulated for bringing the stylus back into the 21st century.
PC Pro's Sasha Muller wrote an early review of the device that hit on many points, including the oft-repeated complaint that the phone is likely too large for small-handed users or one-handed use:
Small hands will struggle with the Galaxy Note's 83mm width--not to mention the fact that persons of a smaller stature will look like they're holding a full-sized tablet to their ear--but this giant smartphone felt perfectly manageable in my larger palm, the review said. The 9.65mm thickness gives the Galaxy Note a slim, dainty profile, and while Samsung made no mention of weight, it didn't feel it unduly heavy.
In the end, the only review that should matter is your own, but this Samsun Galaxy Note review roundup should help you make up your mind about whether or not the phone (tablet?) is right for you.