One of the main missions on our road trip, was to determine if a smartphone can replace your notebook for short periods of time. We were on the road for 5 days and decided only to use our Samsung Galaxy Note for taking photos, writing articles and doing some of our work instead of using our trusty notebook (which we did carry with us as a backup). So how did we fare? Let’s take a look…
Off the top of our heads, here are some of the tasks we performed on the road:
  1. Check/respond to emails
  2. Watch videos
  3. Listen to music
  4. Write/publish/modify articles
  5. Work on few Word and Excel documents
  6. Browse the web
  7. Scan and create PDFs
  8. Use it as a backup camera to our Canon EOS
So how did the smartphone do? In a nutshell, most of the activities you can do on a notebook can be done on a smartphone. The key word is MOST. We were able to check and respond to our emails with ease, watching and listening to movies and videos is very simple (as well as streaming it online), browsing the web is also pretty simple and the photos we took were absolutely stunning.
Where the smartphone fell short was when we got into intensive tasks such as document editing (both in Word and Excel). We used the Blogger app on our Android phone to write our posts, but if you are trying to write HTML code (or even try something simple like justify the text of a paragraph) on a smartphone, let’s just say a task that would take you about 15 seconds on a notebook would take you about 2 minutes on a smartphone especially when you have to switch between applications to achieve a desired result. This exponential time factor coupled with the number of times we had to switch between applications became very frustrating after a while. We also noticed the image that we uploaded on our road trip article was a little distorted. Though this is an easy fix, we decided to leave the image the way it is as a reminder that it was written using a different medium!
We also noticed an issue while composing an article using Blogger through the browser on a smartphone, we were unable to select the body of a post to make any edits (or just type anything). Creating Word documents is relatively simple especially thanks to the Samsung Note’s Stylus. But try working with Excel and you will really want to pull your hair out. Reviewing is easy, doing a lot harder. That was the common theme throughout our trip. Connection speeds are also dependent on where you use your smartphone, the places we were at had horrible reception and without a reliable connection or just Wi-Fi, you are pretty much dead in the water.
In short, yes the Smartphone can replace a Notebook… if only temporarily. For the regular person, you might actually be able to get away for a few days without the use of your notebook. But be prepared for the frustration that we are almost certain will happen simply because of the fact that a task that you might have done a thousand times before on your laptop in a few seconds without even giving it a second thought, might, no, WILL end up taking minutes… every single time. And if your job involves data intensive tasks or heavy graphical work, the answer is a flat NO.
One thing though, kudos to the innovation in our time that we are actually even able to think of comparisons such as these! With faster and faster processors coming in smaller and smaller packages, it is only a matter of time before this gap between smartphone and notebook will be bridged. We can’t wait!

Update: We forgot to mention that the infamous scratch proof Gorilla glass is NOT scratch proof. We have used the Galaxy Note with the Stylus (very rarely without it) since we got it, and with repeated use, we are starting to see scratch marks on the screen. That’s not good.

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