We’ve had the Galaxy S II for a few months now and love it. It really made all the other smartphones look like they were a blast from the past… iPhone included. Then we read about this Samsung Galaxy Note
and saw some commercials online and it piqued my curiosity. The specs looked incredible to say the least and we were finally able to get my hands on one after searching around. Like a fat kid in a candy store we have been playing around with it and figured it warranted a review. And to be fair, we installed the same apps we have on the Galaxy S2 and have been pounding on it constantly. They also had the same version of the Android OS, Gingerbread 2.3.6. So… is it a tablet? No. Is it like a conventional phone? No. This will take some getting used to.
Looks: To say the Note is huge is an understatement. When we got the S II and compared it to the iPhone it felt bigger (it has more screen space). When we compare the Note to the S2, it is just ginormous! The entire phone fits within the Note’s screen. It is that big. The size might seem too big but it still fits snugly in a pocket. It is a little heavier than the S2, but this too will be forgotten in a while.
Display: The Note wins hands down in this department (we must say the S2 is not that far behind). The gorilla glass works and with the resolution (1280 x 800 I believe), it just looks downright amazing. Pictures of the display don’t do justice (check out the screenshots included for an idea). It has to be seen to be believed. Games, movies (especially in HD), pictures, you name it and they look so damn good. But bear in mind if you like to use widgets, not too many apps exist where the widgets extend across the entire screen. You will have a little gap since the largest size of most widgets is 4×1, 4×2 or 4×4. You will need a widget that can display 5xN for it to fill the width of the screen.
Performance: The Samsung Galaxy S2 is blindingly fast for a phone. With the 1.2GHz dual core processor and 1GB RAM it is smooth and handles multiple simultaneous applications with ease. So does the 1.4GHz dual core processor in the Note make a big difference? Not really. The Note is also very smooth, there is no lag while scrolling or watching movies or while working on documents. BTW, both phones have the same processor but it has been slowed down in the S2. All apps performed on both phones in a similar fashion (photo editing, movies, music, live streaming etc.) You can tell where the processor is if you run memory intensive apps (we were checking out the Airport City app) on both phones by the heat generated (right by the camera in the back). It does get pretty warm we admit. But the one thing we did notice is that in the Note, the phone does get a little laggy if you keep pounding the processor for extended periods of time continuously (we’re talking hours vs. minutes). This was not noticed in the S2. A quick restart solves the issue but we’re not so sure you would want to keep doing that… it can get pretty annoying.
|Airport City app
Battery Life: Both phones have pretty good battery life. You can a day (normal use – phone calls, browsing, playing around a little bit) to a day and a half (if you use it sparingly) on a full charge. Now not all apps are created equally and if you play say Airport City constantly, you can kill your entire battery in little over an hour! So pick your battles wisely.
Camera: Both the Note and the S2 have the same 8MP camera in the back and a 2MP in the front. Pictures look amazing and of course there are so many apps you can download from the Market to play around with them. Skype looks better on the Note but this is due to the amazing display it has.
Extras on the Note: The elephant in the room, the stylus. Does it work? Yes. Does the Note need it? Yes. This is owing to its 5.3″ size. You can use your fingers for sure, but you cover more area more quickly with the stylus. And it will be very very handy for people with fat fingers. For us the biggest difference I saw was with Swype. Because of the bigger screen, it does take a little longer to type with your fingers even when using the Swype keyboard on the Note. But use the stylus and bam! you’re literally flying. It also comes in very handy with photo editing, taking notes (we used the built in S Memo app) and just browsing in general. It might take a little getting used to, but we am definitely in favor of it. A good value add to the tab- err… phone.
Overall: We absolutely love it. Whether it will change your perception of what a smartphone is remains to be seen. The added extras make it a very compelling device to own. The price is in the same league as the Galaxy S2 as well. All things considered, and after playing with both of the best phones currently in the market, We’d go with the Note.
The Samsung Galaxy Note is currently on sale in India for Rs. 32,700 (~$650).