Samsung Galaxy Note – Best phone I have ever owned

My home screen on the Note
My home screen on the Note
 

Some time ago, a meeting was held in Samsung regarding a new product. The design team already knew what they wanted to do. A phone, similar to their successful Galaxy II S. A big phone sporting a 5.3″ screen. In that meeting (or probably meetings) there was probably a lot of worry. Others had done similar and they had all failed. The Dell Streak didn’t set the world on fire (although it didn’t totally flop either) but somebody in that meeting wanted to make a very similar device.

Big phone. Big hardware. And stick a stylus on it as well.

I don’t know who in that meeting made the decision. Maybe it was just one or maybe it was many. But they decided to make it. And now it has been released. The Galaxy Note.

It’s an absolutely awesome phone.

So order one and wait for the delivery man to come. Open the box and look at it. You were thinking/hoping the box has padding. It didn’t. The phone is that high and wide. Calm. Calm. You may have also noticed it’s very thin and light. Now turn it on.

I’ll give you a little time.

Recovered? Yes – that was nice wasn’t it? That screen is a “HD Super AMOLED 1280 x 800, 285 PPI”, Which roughly translated means (I think) “I AM FUCKING AWESOME”. Personally I don’t know what those specs mean. All I know is the phone makes me giggle when I turn it on. Or think about it. I had a very strange experience the other day when I noticed my MacBook Air’s display seemed slightly blurred. After fiddling around I realised it was because I’d been browsing the web on the Note all the time and the razor sharp display was just making a normal laptop screen seem inferior. On a similar note (sic), when I browse the web on this device I don’t think to myself “I’m on a phone”, I just browse the web, it’s a really good experience.

I’ve had the phone for nearly two weeks now and none of my initial thoughts have changed. Its big, but not heavy and sits perfectly weighted in my hand. The screen is bright and crystal clear. The size means that typing on the touchscreen keyboard is a joy, not a chore. Let’s go through the initial fears I had.

Firstly – the size. Would I need to carry it around in a special case? Where can I put it? I bought mine from Clove Technology (http://www.clove.co.uk/samsung-galaxy-note) and it came with the official Samsung cover which replaces the back of the phone and gives you a seamless front cover which works extremely well. I stick it in the front or back pocket of my jeans without thinking about it. I’ve not come across a pocket on my attire it doesn’t fit into. It is big though – here’s a picture of it compared to my previous phone.

23-Nov-2011 03:28, Canon Canon PowerShot A480, 3.0, 6.6mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 160
 
. That size also leads to another fear, will people laugh at you when you pull it out and use it? Well I’ve been using it in public and nobody seems to have noticed. The most attention I got was in an Indian restaurant when I was by myself and browsing the web. Four different waiters also came up, asked me about the Note and complimented it. It does work very well as a phone. Dialling numbers is easy (it’s hard to miss the onscreen buttons when they’re that big), call quality seems good and the speaker is nice and loud if you want to lay it on the desk for hand free use.

Secondly – battery life. That vivid screen along with a 1.4GHz Dual Core Processor would surely mean keeping an eye on the battery life. In fact, it’s the most battery friendly smartphone I have ever owned. It comes with a 2500 mAh battery. As a test I fully charged it and unplugged it at 8am and used the phone normally during the day. Nothing too heavy. I was syncing mail/calendar/google reader every hour in the background. I had wireless and mobile internet on. During the course of the day I took a few phone calls, played some games (maybe 30 mins tops), did some web browsing whilst waiting in the car and at home in bed (maybe another 30 mins tops). 24 hours later the phone was still showing just over 50% full. Last weekend I used it on a four and a half hour work, constantly streaming data to Runkeeper and accessing the GPS. After five hours battery life was down to about 60% – massively better than my previous Wildfire S (a tiny phone that I’d upgraded the battery for, making it (so the label says) the same rating as the Note).

Thirdly – the Samsung Android interface and software. Both my previous Android phones were HTC’s – and I knew that everybody said it’s interface was the best. I have to say, I was still not sure about Android as a platform. The HTC Desire was, without a doubt, the worst phone I have ever owned in my life (totally unreliable, poor battery life, an onscreen keypad which just didn’t do anything for me) and coming from the iPhone 3G, everything just felt a little shoddy. The Wildfire S I replaced it with was a cheap and cheerful phone but the Android world seemed a little more mature then and Android 2.3 a suitable step forward. The Note also comes with 2.3 (an upgrade for 2.4 will come out next year) and I’ve not missed anything from the HTC world in terms of widgets etc. The beginning of this post has a screenshot of my current home screen heavily customised from the stock version. Has everything I want and the resolution means you can fit a lot into it.

The Android world continues to improve in terms of applications. Yes, quality is worse than the Apple store but the speed and resolution of this phone means you have access to some beautiful high res games (To the right is a screenshot of Jelly Defense – also available for iOS, click to see it in its high definition glory).

So any minus points? Not really. It comes with a Stylus so you can draw on the screen (it fits neatly into a slot on the phone) and the only time I’ve ever used it for real was to take the screenshots for this review. If you’re an arty type google for it – it’s not just a piece of plastic – you can ‘do stuff’ with it, but it wasn’t a selling point for me – I could live without it. The size also means that whipping out the phone to take quick snaps as a camera is a little more work than optimum. But I’m really looking for something to criticise now.

In short, this is a big phone and it’s a beautiful phone. Everybody else’s phone now looks small to me. I was waiting for the iPhone 4S but wanted a bigger screen – well I certainly got that and then some. Outstanding display, great battery life and enough oomph to run the latest Android apps (ok, ok – games then), makes this the best phone I have ever owned.

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