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Samsung Galaxy Note. First Look

Today, large companies, especially corporate giants like Samsung, do not surprise users with extraordinary products...

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IFA 2011. Samsung Galaxy Note. First Look

Today, large companies, especially corporate giants like Samsung, do not surprise users with extraordinary products. We are all accustomed to the fact that the next smartphone or laptop will always be a carefully crafted product for a specific target audience chosen well in advance. Even if the company misses the target, the product stays as it is.

With smartphones and tablets based on Android the situation was even during the last year: there is a budget segment, the middle and top-end featuring devices with high specs, screens larger than 4″ and prices above $700. Everything was fine and calm, until someone decided to raise the bar higher. Samsung Galaxy Note, without exaggeration, is a new level of high-end smartphones based on Android. Do not pay attention to its size or the label of the mini tablet created by several media channels. Let's face it, who does not want to get hands on a powerful Android phone with a 5.3″ screen and a battery of 2500 mAh? Initially, I did not believe there were no tricks or stumbling blocks here.

Design and Dimensions

It may seem that this is the biggest smartphone available on the market. However, it is not the case, as far as we have Acer Iconia Smart and Dell Streak 5. The former is more thick, long and heavy. In terms of dimensions Galaxy Note still exceeds other smartphones, with the exception of above mentioned models. Note fits the hand well and I cannot call it huge or uncomfortable. Another important point is that a smartphone is not heavy and weighs about 170-180 grams.

The phone is made of plastic similar to that of Samsung Galaxy S II. The battery cover has an interesting texture and the glass is toughened. Galaxy Note resembles Samsung Galaxy II with its design too. Here we have an inflated flagship model with a larger screen.

I will not mention numerous keys on the smartphone body, because everything is standard here: volume, power and the prolonged hardware button under the screen. Unfortunately, there is no camera button here again.


The model has a 5.3″ HD Super AMOLED screen with the resolution of 1280x800. In settings you can select the operation mode as in Galaxy S II and Galaxy R, which means that people like me, who do not like extra contrast AMOLED displays will get a choice.

I do not know what else I can say about the screen, because I liked it so much. It has enough of brightness and maximum viewing angles for convenient movie playback and reading if you take time and customize apps and choose the appropriate color mode.

The screen is handy to touch and enter the text. There is also a pen here. No matter how funny it sounds, but if you are tired of using a virtual keypad you can employ the pen of the bygone era when PDAs and Windows Mobile gadgets reigned supreme.

S Pen

The body can keep the stylus and the pen. The latter is labeled S Pen. It is a plastic stylus with the ball on the end to manage the smartphone. Besides the pen is good for several apps and has a dedicated button for certain features (deleting entered lines, etc.)

The phone sports several apps to work with the pen, notes and personal organizer among other things. I will study this department when I get hold of the smartphone.

Performance Speed and Hardware

The device is powered by Samsung dual-core 1.4GHz processor. There is no information about the size of the RAM, but indirect data points to 1-1.5 GB of RAM. There is also inbuilt memory for storing data (in my sample 12 GB were available) and a microSD slot for memory cards.

During the short time I was able to play with a smartphone, I have not had the opportunity to watch HD quality video or play hardware demanding games, but judging by its features at the time of sales the model will be one of the the most powerful Android offerings.

Galaxy Note has two cameras – the main one of 8 MP and the 2MP frontal camera. I think that the quality of photos will be on par with Galaxy S II, so we should not worry much.

We get a full set of wireless interfaces, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS. I will cover all features in depth when we have a complete review of the model, but now I will answer the question, which must have arisen while you were reading the article …

Why have you forgotten about Dell Streak 5!!!???

After all, it is logical to mention the first mini-tablet smartphone. There is a problem here though. When I used Dell Streak 5 or even touched it my first idea was that I had a tablet in hands. Nothing could help even the 2G/3G support, phone features or the size compact for the rest of tablets. Despite the design and dimensions it was still perceived as a tablet. It was thick and had no prototype in the form of a smaller flagship smartphone. When Dell launched the product they did not clearly understand its positioning and target audience.

With Samsung Galaxy Note the situation is the opposite. The company believes the device can be a new flagship smartphone. It is not named Samsung Galaxy S III, but has a prototype in Samsung Galaxy S II, which it resembles in appearance and hardware. Galaxy Note is thin and has a weight similar to other smartphones, for example, HTC EVO 3D.

System and the Interface

I cannot say anything special, because I had no time for a deeper research. Android 2.3 is coupled with TouchWiz. Look at screenshots to get a first impression. Pay attention to the smart location of icons in apps menu and numerous extra apps. It is a tradition for Samsung to install different applications on its devices.


Galaxy Note comes with the case. This accessory is dependable and I like it. The price is still not known.


The company did not mention the price or the date of sales. Taking into account the initial price of Samsung Galaxy S II ($1100) we can expect a price tag of $1170-$1380 for Galaxy Note. I hope Samsung does not go for the top figure, but you never know. It would be nice if the manufacturer makes a Christmas present and offers Note for $1100?

As to the timing of appearance on the market it will be fall or winter of 2011. So far I cannot be more accurate.

The gadget produced a strong impression on me. Frankly speaking I fell in love with the Note and want to get it at any cost. Even the engineering prototype will suffice. Unlike before mentioned handsets from Acer and Dell, new Samsung Galaxy Nota looks like a smartphone, which is just a little broader than usually. I have no explanation, but this is how it works.

Finally put together a giant screen with high resolution, acres of memory for data and a memory card slot, stylus as an alternative input tool and a high quality camera. To crown it all the battery boasts 2500 mAh, which should be enough for one day of intensive use. I have been waiting for a similar Android solution during the last year or so. What about you?

Editor-in-Chief thoughts on Samsung Note

Artem's enthusiasm needs to be to cooled down. On the market there always were and now are many devices that attract attention and interest people, but they are used by a few. For who was Note created? Not for the mass market. This is the HTC HD2 of our time. An interesting and powerful hardware that will not become obsolete for a few years, the ability to upgrade to the Android 4.0, thanks to support for HD-screen. In short, the device for those who like to hack, to install something unusual and have a toy for more than a year. For this audience, this phone is almost perfect. Besides the HD2, Note inadvertently reminds me of the first Nokia communicators. Huge even compared to phones of that time. This device is huge too, but its audience will not be alienated by this, for it this is a draw. And the bet on large capacity battery, holding a capacity record on the market today, it's a sure shot. All the ingredients for success within the techies are there. The part of the audience that buys only the newest and most expensive toys. These are the main two audiences for the Note.

In the light of what is going on with Samsung, this device can safely be called a landmark. Previously, only Nokia could afford to produce models that set the tone, but had small runs and high prices. Later, the experience was used by HTC. Now it is Samsung, but you should understand that sales of the Samsung Note will overtake any similar product from HTC. The Note sets the bar and becomes the device that others are benchmarking. Lesson in engineering mastership, but not a phone (or a tablet yet?) for the mass market. A very interesting device that will cause a storm of debate and controversy.

Do you want to talk about this? Please, go to our Forum and let your opinion be known to the author and everybody else.

Artem Lutfullin (artem@mobile-review.com)
Translated by Maxim Antonenko (maxantonenko@ukr.net)

Published — 02 September 2011

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