on February 21, 2012
I have not been this excited about a cell phone since waiting for the original iPhone one to come out. Yes, I am a early adapter.
I love the huge screen. Yes it is big and to some that is a draw back, but I use my phone a lot, but rarely to make phone calls. I am going to school and like to place my PDFs, books, Tabers medical dictionary and other school books on the phone. It really beats having to carry them around, or carrying a separate phone and tablet. I am a little older and my vision is not sharp as it used to be, but the screen is really clear and easy to see. The phone will fit in my dress shirt pocket and any pants or shorts front pockets that I wear.
As for the "wow!" factor. If you remember, I said that I was attending school. The younger students thought the phone was huge and the females thought it was to big for them to carry. But when they saw the PDF notes and the information for the classes I was able to keep on the phone, there still wasn't a "wow" factor or even an "I am impressed" moment, but maybe they understood a bit more. But I did not buy the phone to impress a bunch of young 20 something ladies. So, minus one star for the pretty ladies being unimpressed. LOL
I use the phone a lot for the GPS function. The GPS is very fast to pick up the satellites and find my position. Since the screen is so large, I can easily see where I am going. The screen has wonderful sharpness and contrast. I will not comment of the color quality since I cannot see colors.
Processor speed: I did a bench mark test on the CPU, and CPU coupled with the GPU is fast. Bench marks do not mean to much because they are just numbers, but the dual core processor is pretty quick once in the application and out of the touch whiz interface.
The Samsung interface is a real let down, especially with the included bloatware provided by our friends at ATT. If you are willing to root your phone, you will pick up speed in the main screens and apps screens. I had mine for less than an hour and rooted the phone. I have also modded the lock screen, it is not hard to do. With that mod I can get to my text messages, camera, main menu or adjust the ringer settings with a swipe of the finger instead of having to get to the home screen and then choose what I want to do. But regardless of rather you root your phone; from time you press on the app from the time it launches is fast. My last phone was the infuse, which is very slow and the GPS is even painfully slower.
Stylus: I have played with the stylus a bit and I really cannot see a real use for it except maybe jotting down a short note. I am not going to use the stylus to scroll through screens and pick apps to launch. I makes a nice easy way to write "I love you" to your wife during church. Other than that it is not very useful to me.
Battery: The battery is more difficult to get to then the other phone that I have owned, save the iPhone. Plus, getting the battery cover back on is even harder. I have been playing with my new phone like a child would play with a new toy, so the battery does not seem to last long, but longer than the Infuse or the Skyrocket II. I really wish Samsung would have used the extra real estate, due to the [hones size, to put a little beefier battery.
Conclusion: I really do like the phone. More icons per screen and larger items are easier to see. I spend a lot of time on my phone with internet, apps and texting so ease of use is a huge bonus. I no longer need to carry around a separate tablet or laptop, I have all the information in one place. With the few customizations that I have done, the phone is fast and user friendly. The phone is wide and the need for big hands is a must. The stylus for me is a big looser.
After have the phone now for almost A week, i had some extra thoughts about the phone:
The stylus is about worthless, I used it once to make a short grocery list and that is it. But i really do like the phone. I also purchased the car dock for the phone and "Waze" GPS application (free) from the android market place and the GPS is really neat and easy to use. I can also put some of my school books on the phone too. Ice Cream Sandwich is supposed to be released in March. I will post another update then.
on February 25, 2012
I pre-ordered this device through AT&T on February 5, 2012 and have been waiting for it to come out since it's release in Asia.
This is obviously the highlight of the device. You can't see any pixels to the naked eye and contrary to many of the reviews, none of the colors appear "burned in" or over-saturated. From my bed to my dresser, I have been able to prop up my phone and watch Netflix relatively easily.
The brightest setting on it is tremendously bright, almost to an uncomfortable degree, but this makes outside viewing very easy. As with any Android device, I am not a fan of the "auto-brightness" battery saving feature since it can be erratic in situations where the light is constantly changing (such as in the shade of a tree on a breezy day... sounds romantic, right?). By contrast, the dimmest setting is incredibly low which is a big feature to me. Sometimes if I am checking my phone late at night, I hate being blinded by a phone set to it's dimmest setting and still being bright enough to see in a well-lit room.
Holding the device with one hand isn't a problem for unlocking and scrolling between screens which is much of what I do throughout the day (checking for updates on my home screen widgets or for e-mails. I have "average" sized hands (about 7" long) and I can "just barely" manage opening apps and typing with one hand, but I don't feel comfortable enough to do this while standing or over a hard surface. Fortunately there is a significant number of "swype" styled apps to make "one finger" typing just as fast and easy.
I've never used "split keyboards", but every review I see says it's a "must".
The white Galaxy Note has the glossy, smooth backing on it but isn't so slick that it falls out of your hand. It's extremely attractive and is actually keeping me from slapping a cover on it... why would I want to cover up something that sexy. Making phone calls feels perfectly nature and doesn't seem awkward at all. This is one of a few unfounded criticisms I have seen about this device. If anything the larger profile of the phone actually makes it much EASIER to hold to your face.
Cool gadget that is useless is 90% of what you do, but if you experiment with it there will be things you do, apps you operate, and games you play that you can't believe you every used without it. I actually like the stylus less as a writing device (which is how it's being marketed), and more as a "precision tool". A good example is a tower defense game. Having the larger screen allows me to play it in "zoomed out mode" the entire time and just use my stylus to select different items and perform functions that would otherwise be too small on such a high-resolution screen in the mode I'm using. That's a very specific example, but it let's you know what kind of utility the stylus has.
A criticism I've seen of the stylus (even before the phone came out) is that it's moving technology bad to the days of the old Palm Pilots. This is a load of biased crap that I can only explain as individuals with agendas trying to make fun of something they haven't used. I would urge readers to think of the stylus less as a "out-dated Palm Pilot" device and more as a "Nintendo DS" device. If you don't like the stylus; don't use it. It's an amazing device without it. By stepping outside of the box and experimenting with the stylus you're liable to find something you like about it.
With average use, I unplug my device at around 7AM every morning and still have a charge on my device into 9PM and 10PM at night. That "average" day includes leaving Bluetooth off all day (I don't use it), and turning WiFi off when I'm not in range of my home network. I sync my e-mail and weather every 30 minutes and social networking every 15 minutes. If the battery life isn't good enough, Mugen Power manufacturers a battery with 80% more capacity than the standard Samsung provided battery.
Everyone has the same reaction to the device. "Holy crap, that's a big phone......... wait, where can I get one?" The initial shock freaks everyone out, but I haven't had anyone look at it skeptically and when I've had it to my ear, I didn't notice anyone staring at me (I paid attention to this the first few days I owned it). In my humble opinion, people think the white one looks a lot more attractive than people who have seen the "carbon blue" (whatever.... it's black) model.
CONCLUSION: Great phone. I am going to give this 5 stars, but not because I'm a 'fanboi' or just opened it 10 minutes ago and wanted to brag about my new toy. This really is a very well thought-out device. I could write 5 pages about this device, but if you want that then just look at any other combination of reviews already online. I would suggest the reviews on Android-specific sites to eliminate any biases from those who may not be use to the Android OS or have "alternate motives". The main features of the device (screen, stylus, et al) are just as useful as they are impressive. There are many secondary features that are equally as useful (some tweaks to the TouchWiz interface, S Memo, et al). The battery life is just as good as in my previous devices, but I could see some wanting the extra battery life so they could take advantage of the tablet-esqe experience more completely.
I'd recommend this to people who haven't quite "bought into the utility of a tablet", but would like the convenience of something easier to use for extended periods of time than their smartphone. The difference between a 4.6" screen and the 5.3" is noticeable, again, when you are using the device for long periods of time.
on April 21, 2012
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.
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.
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.
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.
on March 24, 2012
We have an AT&T family plan for myself, my wife, my 12 year old son and my teenage daughter. We had HTC Arias for nearly 2 years. I was generally pleased with the those. They worked well enough and were very reliable with great battery life for an Android phone. Almost everyone I know and work with have iPhones and I had mostly decided to get the iPhone 4S. I use an iPad, iPod and use iTunes for music and podcasts on a daily basis. My daughter's line was eligible for an upgrade in September and we got her an Inspire by HTC. It seems like a larger, faster Aria. I felt that it would be a bit more durable than the iPhone and it was much cheaper. It could be named the Aria Plus and that would describe it perfectly.. It works fine but is nothing special. That really helped to push me toward the iPhone 4S for the rest of the family. I am not a huge fan of IOS. It works well but sometimes seems a bit limited to me. I might be considered an Apple fanboy in that I use Apple computers for personal use and work. I bought iMacs for my kids after the effort trying to keep their PCs virus and spyware free wore me down. My point is that I like things that just work. I also really like things that have a bit of functional elegance. That really made me lean toward the iPhone despite not really loving IOS. Then I saw a review of the Galaxy Note on Endgadget. I was intrigued and started doing some research and easily read or watched 40 reviews of the Note. I think the reviews could be divided into 2 categories. Almost all of them really liked it but they were split on the size. It seemed to me that most reviewers who used the phone for more than a day or two found the size to be a positive trait. For others the size was a deal breaker. After my time with the little Aria a big screen sounded pretty good. After a couple of visits to AT&T stores for some hands-on time I felt that the iPhone 4S just seemed too small. I am a sucker for a big screen. So when we became eligible for upgrades on the other 3 lines we all got Galaxy Notes. After 3 weeks we could not be happier. Here is what we like:
It has a big, beautiful screen. At 1280X800 it has the same number of pixels as my 13" MacBook Pro. To me it looks a lot better than the Retina Display on the 4S. The software is very nice. I know it is not Ice Cream Sandwich but I have no complaints about Gingerbread with Samsung's TouchWiz. It looks good and works great. The experience on this phone is, dare I say it, very Apple-like. The phone feels really fast. Web browsing is very fast and fluid. The only lag I have experienced is the shutter on the camera. The delay is quite annoying. Everything else is almost crazy fast. This brings me to the AT&T 4G LTE network. In and around Austin, TX I am getting speeds from 12-34 mps down and 10-26 mps up. At home we have Roadrunner Turbo and the phone is much, much faster. Not just in download and upload speeds but in responsiveness. If I had unlimited data I would just tether my laptop to it all the time. I know those speeds will probably go down as the network becomes more crowded but right now it is great. How does the LTE with a huge screen affect the battery life? Not too much in my experience. I am able to get through the entire day with fairly heavy use. The 2500mah battery is great. Spare batteries are cheap and I might consider one if I was doing a really long plane flight watching video. My wife has never been a real smartphone fan. She mainly uses them for calls and some messaging. That has really changed with the Note. She still is not exactly a power user but she is doing her work email on the Note and is even using the Voice Talk app quite a bit. I never expected to see that. I find that I am using my laptop less because the Note is often much easier. The same goes for my Kindle. The Note screen is big enough to be decent e-reader. I am using DoubleTwist for the music and podcasts and it is working well. It took a little more effort on the front end but is fairly seamless. I do have to make a playlist for my podcasts or else they just sync as songs. Video looks great and I could watch full length movies on this phone very easily. YouTube and Netflix look great. I already mentioned the shutter lag but other than that the camera is pretty good. I think it is comparable to the iPhone 4S. The 1080p video is pretty good. It does not do movement well like most phones. The video looks great. I really have not used the flash enough to have an opinion. I am quite happy with the camera. Of course the name of the phone is a reference to the S Pen which is a pressure sensitive stylus that you can use to draw or write on documents. I do not use it much and would not miss it if it was not there. I did recently find it to be useful to capture screen shots of Google maps and mark locations rather than sending long written directions. I have not tried the handwriting recognition so I cannot comment on that. For calls it sounds great and I have yet to drop a call. The speakerphone works well. Today I used the the phone to tether 4 iPads for a fundraiser I was involved with that needed wifi in a parking lot to do credit card transactions. It was seamless and fast. It started at 6a.m. and went 8 hours with no issues. The battery was a bit under 50 percent at the end. I have not checked my data usage since I got the phone but I would imagine that it is way up. Web browsing is so fast and so useable with the big screen that I just do a lot more of it on this device.
Of course the elephant in the room (pun intended) is the size. I mostly find it to be a big (not intended) plus. It fits in all my pockets including jeans. It is harder to get out of a pocket. It is relatively thin and light for it's size. Some of the places I typically put a phone in the car are too narrow for this phone. I have ordered a cradle/holder for it and will try that. It has not been much of an issue. I have had many comments and questions about this phone with one person writing down the name so she could go get one. It is not a one-handed device for most people. I have small hands and I do not have any size-related issues with it. I am using the tablet version of SwiftkeyX and I love typing on this phone.
What don't I like? Not much. It did not come with headphones. For a $300 phone that does media so well that seems like a big oversight. Reviews of the International version generally praise the included headphones. It also did not come with a micro sd card. It supports up to 32gb and I know of people using a 64gb card without issues. I am using a 16gb card. It also has the typical AT&T bloatware. Not much of a problem but I would like to be able to remove it without rooting the phone. It is frustrating that every time I click on "directions" from a web page it prompts me to choose between Google Maps and AT&T Navigator. Even though I check the "use as default" box it still asks me every time. Very annoying.
My son and I both got the white version and my wife got the blue. She wishes she had the white and I kind of like the blue (which looks black to me). As you can tell I am loving this phone so far with no regrets. I recommend it very highly.
Update June 4th 2012. I am updating this review after over 3 months with this phone. No issues so far. Battery life has remained good. I have used the camera quite a bit and remain impressed with it. The video is really good for a phone. My data use is way up with this phone. I have not gone over my limit so far but it would not be difficult at all. I have used a case off and on but I also use a car mount that will not work with a case. So I generally do not use a case. I did pretty much throw the phone into the street once without the case which did scratch the plastic frame a bit. The screen was not affected. AT&T has not rolled out the ICS update for the Note yet. No surprise there. I am still loving the phone with no regrets. It would be very hard for me to go back to a phone with a smaller screen.
on June 11, 2012
I have owned the phone for more than a month. I like the phone, but the battery life is very poor. The phone is fully charged in the morning. By mid afternoon it is less than 30 percent and has to enter into the power saving mode. I typically make a total of 30 to 45 minute phone calls and spend 30 minutes to an hour on the web. I have to actively manage the time I use the phone because of the battery. I agree with all the nice things people mentioned on Galaxy Note, but the battery part is really a big disappointment.
My initial reaction to the Galaxy Note was pretty sudden: TOO FREAKIN' BIG. Then I saw one on display and I slowly began to change my mind. After turning it on and playing around with the demo model for a few minutes, it didn't take long for me to totally change my perception and before long, I wanted one...BAD. Some of the perks of working as an AT&T Authorized Retailer, is that they hand you phones to use every now and again. You rarely get to choose what is offered, but I secretly wanted the Note...but figured I'd more than likely get the Windows Focus Flash (NOT a big fan of the new Windows platform, btw). One of my co-workers had originally had the Galaxy SII and they traded it for the Focus Flash, and while she grew to like it, she much prefers the Android Platform (so do I). I saw it coming...but beggers can't be choosers, right?
They gave me the Note instead. I can't TELL you how much of a nice surprise that was (they gave my co-worker the Galaxy SIII). As usual, I expected pretty much exactly what I got. Is it perfect? Nope...but it IS a very good mobile device going much further beyond that of just a simple phone. First impression: the screen isn't just big, its absolutely amazing. The Super Amoled screen has plenty of pixels (at least for my tired, old eyes) and I couldn't see anything that wasn't crisp and clear. The colors--as you would imagine on an Amoled screen, almost leap off and assault your eyes. Are they over-saturated? Absolutely...but they look stunning. Honestly, if I had to choose the best overall screen I've seen on ANY mobile device, it'd have to go to the HTC One X. You have to compare them side-by-side to truly appreciate it, but that is MY personal opinion.
After my initial impression, I noticed something that irritated me to no end that I did not know about the Note--which surprised me because in order to sell the phone we have to know as much as we can about each product we sell: it has NO LED indicator light at all. NONE. Seriously?? Who green-lighted that clear misfire of an idea at Samsung? The phone is big enough, so they can't say there wasn't room to fit it all in, especially when much smaller devices have them. Honestly, this bugged me more than I thought it would initially. I didn't realize how I had learned to lean on all the phones I had used previously until I had one that lacked this seemingly simple feature. BAD move, Samsung.
With that being said, the phone is otherwise a thing of beauty. The operating system (Gingerbread 2.3.6) works--thus far--flawlessly. No force closes (other than on a few 3rd party apps that I knew better than to download) and the scrolling is the most fluid I've seen yet (save the One X and the SGIII). My personal Verizon (please don't tell my manager I have the competitions phone) Droid Razr updated to ICS 4.0.4 a few weeks back and while I MUCH prefer it to the previous 2.3.6 OS, I have noticed that the phone now lags where it never did before. I've re-started and a few other tricks, but so far, scrolling from one screen to the next has fallen quite flat from what it was before the update. The jury is still out on whether the Razr will get the upgrade to Jellybean, which is rumored to correct this issue, so I guess I'll just wait and see.
The S Pen is an interesting addition to the phone. So far it seems that you either like it or you don't, very few in-betweeners out there it seems...however, I happen to be one. For some things it works great, for others, its more so-so if you ask me. Maybe I just haven't explored the full potential of what it can do, but I DO understand that it is a nice addition to an already awesome device. I'd rather just press the power and volume down button to take a screen capture rather than pull out the stylus, press the button and hold it on the screen to do it, but oh well. Another small annoyance, but a valid one nonetheless.
The AT&T service on both its low tier 4G (HSPA+) and higher 4G LTE is where this phone really shines above the rest. One place where AT&T has invested where Verizon has utterly failed at is in creating the enhanced backhaul system that allows you better service overall. Say you're downloading a large file using LTE...but that tower signal fades, instead of losing the signal, you'd immediately fall to the lower 4G tower and the difference is incremental. If that were to happen on a Verizon LTE phone, you'd drop more than 25 TIMES the speed of the download. Trust me, you'd notice the difference. AT&T's low tier 4G is already quite fast, much more so than Verizon's best 3G speeds, but you couple that with the advent of LTE and you have the best of both worlds. Trust me, downloading at LTE speeds is amazing.
I'd love to delete the AT&T bloatware (just like you) even though I sell their products, but unfortunately, without rooting (and thus voiding your warranty) that probably won't happen anytime soon. Honestly, why use AT&T Navigator (unless you have an iPhone) when you have FREE Google Maps turn-by-turn directions built into ALL Android phones? (please don't tell my boss I said that)
One small note, the ICS update for the Note has been available for quite some time, and yet my phone continues to tell me that its up to date--which it clearly isn't. I don't like the idea of having to install the Kies software on another computer, connect my phone and THEN update to ICS. This is one area that Samsung (and AT&T) has failed at miserably. One of the advantages of having a device like this is the ability to download programs OTA (over the air). Who are we...? Apple??? A clear step backwards, and a reason I almost took away that last star in my rating...but, good news, if you DO have the Note and are frustrated that ICS hasn't come to it yet, you CAN get it, and no, I'm NOT talking about a non-official version. Go directly to the Samsung website for details and step-by-step directions how to do it.
Battery life...hmmm. It has a bigger battery, but with the extra screen real estate, it still lasts about as long as most of my other phones on average (ie devices with at least a 4.3" screen). You can turn down the brightness and it will improve life somewhat, but thats kinda like having a Ferrari and only using it in town where the speed limit is 25-35 MPH...you just aren't getting the full impact of what it can do. With a screen like this, turning it down to save battery is like getting half a phone. Play around with it and you'll better understand.
Call quality. Good to slightly better. The ear speaker doesn't go nearly loud enough in my opinion, but the speaker phone DOES work remarkably well and clear. Plenty loud for what I use it for (and through my work, that is probably more than the average consumer). I kind of wished the volume rocker was somewhere other than exactly opposite of the on/off button. I tend to grab the phone from both sides to turn it on and sometimes accidentally turn down the volume (or up--and generally when I don't wish to alter the volume at all) so its a minor gripe, but a legitimate one all the same.
Other than that, I have nothing but pure praise. Great phone. AMAZING screen, and plenty big. Unfortunately, after using it, most other phones seem almost puny in comparison. For instance, my Droid Razr, which isn't a tiny phone by any stretch seems almost like a toy after hefting around the Note for a few days. It WILL take some getting used to, but once you do, like I said, you'll either love it or hate it. For ME however, I LOVE it.
I discovered quite a while ago that the Android 4.0 ICS update was in fact out and available for the Note, but I kept checking--daily I might add--using the typical 'Samsung Update' found within Settings. One thing I don't much care for is that Samsung has relegated their phones to be capable of checking for updates just once every 24 hours. Annoying as you-know-what, especially knowing that an update IS in fact out there ready for my phone. Eventually I got tired of waiting and began googling the issue and discovered that in certain geographic areas the ICS update would NOT be pushed to the phone via the typical OTA fashion. Instead, I had to download the Kies software to my home computer, hook up the Note to the USB cable and I received a pop-up saying that an update was available for my phone. My Droid Razr received the update via an on-screen alert, and the ENTIRE thing lasted maybe 20 minutes TOTAL. This operation through my home computer took 5 tries and once it finally began to work properly, took well over an hour--and I had to be camped out in front of the computer the whole time. I finally got the goodness of ice cream sandwich on my phone, but HOLY COW what an annoying way to have to do it! Sorry Samsung, but that MUST stop if you seriously want to compete with all the smart phones out there.
Unlike the Razr on ICS, the Touch Wiz version of 4.0 only looks SLIGHTLY different. Even though if you delve further you'll notice several new changes that come as a result, but for the most part, the Note looks remarkably UN-Changed. On the flip side, my Razr's entire user interface has undergone quite an overhaul. I have to say that it really CLOSELY resembles the full-on Google experience as you can find on the Galaxy Nexus, much more than ANY other version of ICS I've seen so far, including the Galaxy SIII, the HTC One X and even the Motorola Atrix HD. Each has their own stamp of Android that has a few tricks that are unique to each operating system, but so far, I gotta admit I like the Touch Wiz the least of the 4 versions I've had the chance to play with (my fav being the GNexus followed closely by the One X).
All that aside, I tend to prefer the Go Launcher (free on the Google Play Market) to most of the stock launchers out there. I much prefer it for smoothness and user-ease as well as the nearly endless ways to customize--another reason why I much prefer Android to either iOS or Windows Phone. Now I realize that is a personal preference, so your experience may vary.
I HAVE found that after discovering via the 4.0 update that my Razr no longer had Flash video capability, that in all honesty isn't entirely true. It just isn't quite as good as it USED to be. It seems to be much slower and nowhere near as simple to run, but aside from what the Adobe update says directly on the Google Play Market, you CAN watch Flash video online on an Android device using 4.0.X--but be prepared to be a bit frustrated along the way. I STILL feel this is one area where both Android and Adobe not only fumbled, but TOTALLY let us ALL down. One of the biggest reasons for shunning iOS was the fact that it wasn't Flash enabled right out of the box...and I personally know of a LOT of folks who made the change specifically due to this reason alone, but nope, they restrict it with ICS. Don't know how much is Adobe's doing and how much is Google's, but either way, the end result is a device that--in MY personal opinion--isn't quite as good as it really OUGHT to be (and that goes for ALL the phones that currently run 4.0).
Okay, enough of my ranting...
on February 22, 2012
I came from my 1st smart-phone ever: iP 3GS. the switch to the Note with AT&T has been remarkable. the screen is just sick...i love watching Netflix: Arrested Development on this screen, it's like a mini-HD TV in the palm of my hand. what a joy. well done Samsung. i recommend this smart-phone to anyone. the processor speed seems great to me. other end-users on the XDA forums seem to think that, after comparing the Snap Dragon processor with the Exynos processor, that AT&T's snapdragon SEEMS to run smoother! :O check around for yourself :)
on May 14, 2012
The first comment people I get from people about the phone is the massive size. To tell you the truth, I'm now possessive of my phone and I like that other people are disagreeable with the body. I love it so much yet don't want anyone else to have one because it's the coolest phone ever! FYI, I'm 5'5" and do not have goliath sized hands.
I've had a blackberry, the iphone and then now this one. The screen size is the big winner here. I used to try to read books on my iphone, but it was too cumbersome. With this, the text just jumps out at you and makes everything so much more legible. I also use my phone as a pocket medical dictionary. It rocks for the news too! It also loads up needed apps so much faster. Reading comics on my note is awesome!
My phone is used more for txting than voice dialing. I text with one hand or both. The phone accommodates for either. I did like the iphone keyboard better though. If I do answer phone calls but prefer using speaker when alone. Phone quality whether or not on speaker phone is adequate at the least if not pristine!
The bloatware is blah and it would be preferable if it did not come preinstalled :P. Also, I'm not keen on their Spen. It's more like a "meh".
With this phone, the desire to obtain an ipad has been squashed. I don't really notice deficient battery life, but I plug my device in every night. My battery is usually at 50% and I love how it charges relatively quickly.
My husband kept trying to get the iphone 4s for us, but after much persuasion, he is now an android lover. He did not get the note b/c it doesn't fit in his back pocket. I only care my phone in the pocket of my scrubs, lab coat, or wristlet sized purse. He does love his phone (the skyrocket), but I can tell he's jealous of mine.. muahaha.
on March 18, 2012
Amazing device. This is the first time that i am doing any product reviews so please forgive me. Going from my Iphone 3g after 4 years to Samsung and never looking back.(iphone is dead).
This is the future of the cell phones. Att's 4g lte is faster than my Cox cable. Screen is gorgeus, yes its BIG and I love it. Its a big plus having 5.3inch AMOLED screen, ATT 4g lte and 'voila' - THE BEST PHONE EVER>
The only "bad" thing is battery life, which I personally dont care much = 6-7 hours continuous use:web,video music, apps, games (car chargers, spare batteries, etc. resolve this problem until they come up with high capacity battery)
I personally recommend this product to anyone who really wants to see SMARTPHONE IN ACTION:
PS. Yes, first impression from ATT store was:ITS HUGE and I runaway... Well now after a week playing with it I say: ITS PERFECT SIZE and its the best phone out there so far AND THANK YOU AMAZON for fast shipping
on March 22, 2012
This phone is not big; every other phone is small. After only a couple days of use this screen size was my new normal. I can't imagine using a phone with a smaller screen. My last phone was the iPhone 4S which was great but I have outgrown the screen size.
This phone has the largest screen out there and yet still matches and/or beats the quality of all the smaller ones. It is not stretched or pixelated, not ever.
I almost never use the handwriting apps yet I use the S pen often. My favorite way to "type" is to use the S pen with the Swype keyboard for Android.
At that point I don't think the Android App Market(s) will ever match the apple App Store but there is still a great selection with a quality about for all your needs and desires.
Surfing the wed on my note is far more like using a normal laptop/computer than a typical mobile phone experience.
The camera I am going to mostly hold out of this review because the shutter speed is slower than any out there so I feel like I must be doing something wrong. However I have not taken the time to tinker around in settings and see if there is something I can adjust to fix this.
I highly recommend this phone. Of course those who don't want such a sizable phone should look elsewhere. Those who see it as a great asset this is the phone to get.
P.S. I own the "Ceramic Blue" version but they are the same device in everything outside of color.