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Customer Review

49 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Once you the Note, you'll "get" the Note, April 21, 2012
This review is from: Samsung Galaxy Note 4G Android Phone, White (AT&T) (Wireless Phone)
That line I read could have come from me. But it did not and I give credit to a post I read on a forum that said that succinctly.

Let me just say this right upfront :
It is NOT the best of a tablet and the best of a phone. It is the best CONVERGENCE implementation of a tablet and phone.

I'm going to be covering several aspects : Pocketability, Performance, Display, Stability, Camera, S Pen

If you're reading this review or any other reviews about this device, chances are you're seriously considering the device. You WANT a big screen. So is it big ? Is it huge ? Is it a phone ? Is it a tablet ? My God, somebody shouted "phablet" !!!! Grab your children and run.

There is no simple answer to to this. You'll hear critics saying it's too big to be a phone and too small to be a tablet. They'll even point to their Exhibit A evidence : Look, this is what the official Galaxy Note ad claims. So why do they advertise it as such. Because there is no other device like it on the market that does the things it does and would get scored at the same level. But we must score devices in the same category. You cannot rate a sedan, race car and hybrid at the same level. They all perform a common primary function : Transport. This is a new pseudo-category of device. I say pseudo because there is no law that says what a tablet size should be. Unless it was written on Moses's tablet. You could say it's the large SUV of the cell phones. They offer you a very good mix of 2 critical functions : transport and cabin space. The more cabin space you have, the better it is. You will still be able to park it in a parking spot. In terms of size alone, It won't be as easy to park as a Camry (Galaxy Nexus), a Corolla (Skyrocket, Lumia 900 and other good phones with a nice size) or a Minicooper (iPhone). But the mini cooper sure looks cute. Dinky and cute.

We've covered pocketability. But to be more explicit, it will fit in your trouser pockets easily. It will not bulge because the phone is beautifully slim. You can fit it in DRESS shirt pockets that are even of M/L sizes and have the phone completely fit inside it. That's not a typo. It will jut out of T shirt pockets for sure though. So yes it is big in that sense. If you're a woman, forget about putting it inside your smaller pockets. If you shop in the "Boys department", then it might not fit. It will fit in skinny jeans. Here however, YMMV. You need to test it yourself.

Phones like iPhones are not the perfect size FOR ALL. They are simply built for the lowest denominator. Even a child can hold it. That makes it easy for the mfgr to keep things simple for them and costs down. They benefit. You lose. If you were to like a larger device. You may think you do not like a larger device and you wonder why others do. Then you should watch the Malcolm Gladwell TED talks show on spaghetti sauce. It will make you understand this once and for all.

Performance :
The AT&T version features a slower CPU than the international version. It was done because the Exynos chip does not support LTE. So the Snapdragon processor was used instead. On paper, it has a higher clock speed than the Exynos. However, the clock speed is not the ultimate decider and it IS slower than the lower clocked Exynos. But what does that mean to a user. Probably not much as some might make it out to be. Especially once ICS (Android 4) comes out that will support hardware acceleration. As it stands, you might see some lag when you move between HOME SCREENS that have widgets. If you go to the app drawer mode (which is like the boring grid of icons in the iPhone), it is flawless and has zero-lag.

At first, when reports came out that the display was an AMOLED Pentile display and not AMOLED Plus (true RGB), there was a lot of scepticism. Well now that has been laid to rest. The screen is simply gorgeous. Colors are vivid and saturated. You can even control the saturation (in the International models). They may have already done this with the AT&T version. Or there might be an app that controls this. I've not checked. If you're a purist, then AMOLED does tend to have slightly saturated colors. It won't look bad; on the contrary, it will look stunning to the avg user. But technically, it's not the most accurate. This difference however is marginal. AMOLED panels also have another drawback. In bright light, they deteriorate more. You can always use the "Auto brightness" adjustment feature to compensate. This will consume more battery power. The best in this sense is the panel in the Lumia 900 which uses their "Clearbrite" polarizing filters tech to make the screen still very readable under bright light. Next best are the S/LCD panels found on several devices incld. the excellent display on the iPhone 4S. Last is the AMOLED panel. In situations where there is no bright light (like sunlight, not artificial light) falling on the display, the Galaxy note is stunning. Thanks to a very high resolution and an very good PPI (pixels per inch), you can read even very tiny text without the text blurring. So for eg., if you try and see the same tiny text on a lower resolution (but excellent contrast) panel like that on the new Lumia 900, you will see pixelation and text/graphics will not be clear. Even though the iPhone 4S has a higher PPI than the Galaxy Note, the difference cannot be seen with a naked eye. so it's more of a marketing number BEYOND a certain point.

Stability :
I've only had 1 force close when running CNN. This is in over a month of ownership. Statistically, iOS apps crash more than Android. Currently, Android has the largest market share at 50%. But the handling of crashes is different. In iOS, a crashed app will fail silently and you'll see your desktop as though you'd not clicked it. With Android, you'll get notified and sometimes have an option to report it. With iOS, it might be doing that reporting behind the scenes. But it hides that from you.

Camera :
Would be nice if there was a dedicated shutter button. It does take very good photos. You can tap the screen to have it adjust focus. Hot spot focusing and quite a lot of camera adjustments/control. It has enough processor power to shoot full HD (1080p) at a cadence of 24-30 fps. Still pics are pretty accurate and very good. Front is a 2MP camera and the rear is an 8 MP camera. More than enough for most users. Unless you want to blow up pics to crazy sizes when printing, this is more than adequate. Then again, you'd carry a DSLR if you wanted that.

S Pen :
I'm sorry, it's not an S - Pen. It's a stylus !! Haven't you heard that before. Well actually there IS a rationale behind the "S Pen". It's not a resistive stylus (only works with pressure) but a capacitive one. It supports varying levels of pressure sensitivity. So you can have varying levels of shades with brushes. Or use a very fine tip that would write as fine as a Pentel 0.5 mm pencil for eg. Try doing that with your finger. The reason it's called an S Pen is because it is NOT a passive stylus but an active one. Active stylus offer more functionality that passive stylii. They are called digital PENS. Because this is made by Samsung, they called it an S Pen. If Apple made it, it would be called an iPen and you would hear angels singing and birds chirping each time you used it. Steve Jobs famously declared that if you used a (resistive implied) stylus, you blew it. You may find ignorant people miaquoting their "gospel". The Galaxy Note combines a capacitive screen and a Wacom digitizer in that same panel. That is incredible. Is there lag ? I've not found it and I can move say 2-5 times per second with a fine tip in a zig-zag fashion and it will not miss a beat. It does need to be held UPTO a certain angle and going beyond that angle makes it appear to "lag" because it did not draw. But it's not lag as far as I can tell.

One handed use :
There are keyboards that allow this to be used more easily. However, the phone is quite big for WALKING and one-handed texting at the same time. You can do it. But you might drop it. Reaching all parts of the screen with one hand is a bad argument and I'll tell you why. If that's an issue, simply arrange your most used apps in a grid size that will fit your hand. You don't HAVE TO put things out of reach. If you do, you simply have more on your screen. In the spirit of android, it's about choice and customization. YOU get to choose and customize things to suit YOU. Don't like the launcher. Change it. Don't like the keyboard. Change it.

Major Criticisms :
No ICS on release (should be released very soon. Likely in 2 weeks. US carriers might delay it further)
Battery should have been 3000 mAh or higher, given that the RAZR MAXX has a 3300 mAH
Copy-paste works pretty bad and is not easy to use often. This is a basic and it needs to be fixed ASAP. I believe it's mostly/completely resolved in the ICS build.
Hardware buttons. And you tend to hit them accidentally which can be annoying. At the min, there should be a quick way to disable/enable them.

Minor Criticisms :
Low speaker volume
No dedicated shutter button
Pen Calibration is a nice to have
Saturation adjustment is a nice to have
Black clipping (when viewing content in the dark and with dark scenes)
S Memo is slow to load. The color palette chooser needs to be bigger or it becomes cumbersome to pick.
Better and more S Pen apps. That is coming with the Premium suite though. Very soon, apparently.

Testimonies of iPhone users that have switched to the Galaxy Note:
I cannot post links here or Amazon will remove it. So.... Google the following terms :

iSource Galaxy Note over sized iPhone killer
Joshua Galaxy Note electronic adult_ery (remove the underscore)
sold iPhone switched to Galaxy Note
Phonedog 30 day galaxy note challenge (then see the aftermath vid; he went back and got it as his primary device)


Final Words :
This is an outstanding convergence device and a flagship Android smartphone at that. If you are not brand loyal and you don't buy devices to suit the public image but to make YOU happy, then you should ask yourself if you can trade in a little comfort for a VERY REWARDING bump that comes with the screen size. Ask yourself if the reward is worth the tradeoff in comfort. Figure out by pocket testing and hand testing how much the tradeoff is. Make a mental note that the hand testing, as far as size goes will go away rapidly and LARGE will become normal. And normal will become small to ridiculously tiny. Consider how much you TALK versus how much you use the internet / data. Determine if you are a heavy one-handed user. To see it as a too-small for a tablet, too big for a phoneas an argument is the dependent on your need. Are you someone who is already carrying a tablet daily and don't mind doing so ? If yes, then do you have a data plan for the tablet. If yes, then you might as well have a plain small dumbphone without a data plan and that would save you money and give you even better comfort. There are people who downplay tablets and say they'd rather get a Netbook instead. The reason I mention this is just to show you that for someone that has a valid reason for carrying a device, there are others who will come out from the woodwork to criticize it and say what THEY think is better. It all depends on YOUR USE CASE If you talk a lot and use the phone one handed a lot (esp the latter), then you might not like it. You can always get a BT headset if you're concerned about a few ignorant strangers who might laugh at you. Chances are they will look back in 1-2 yrs and wonder how they got along with their smaller devices. The only way you'll know is if you ACTUALLY USE it as your device for at least 1 week. You'll almost surely get over the size issue (if you have that) anywhere between 1 hour to 7 days. Once you get used to it, you will not be able to go back to a smaller device. As an owner I can tell you that I'm not the only owner saying this. Google and find out for yourself. I hope you found this lengthy review to be helpful.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 22, 2012 12:04:44 PM PDT
Amazonian says:
I've corrected some grammar issues in my post. Yet to be posted. Also, I meant that they combined a "capacitive" screen and a Wacom digitizer. I accidentally typed "resistive" there.
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