Samsung Galaxy Note Review (Part One)


  • T1MB1T

    Garbage unless it was on wind. Tony says we were in talks for this phone but robbers stole it from us. They said even if we had more megga hurts it did not matter they would not stand for us in getting it.

    why do you all let this happen! I think the no gag reflex club should come out and picket!!!

  • halfasleep

    Went to a Telus store today to see it, it is a beautiful device but it is, I think, only for a certain type of users because of its size. Too big for me.

  • serpico

    Is this phone compatible with Wind Mobile network ?

  • Ryan

    Looking forward to test driving one of these on Wednesday.

  • Lemmy

    I’m 6’4″ with big hands so it is perfect for me.
    I’m not enjoying typing with my BB Storm and the tiny buttons.

  • arex


  • Tom

    Hummm… it sounds like the biggest strike against this thing is that the internals can’t keep up with next-gen stuff that is going to be released in the not too distant future.

    Isn’t that true of every phone on the market? Isn’t that always true?

    It sounded to my like you had little to fault with this phone (in this part 1) but you aren’t sure whether this is a good time to be buying a phone at all.

    But I don’t really agree with that. The most significant recent innovation is LTE, and this has it. Quad-core versus dual-core just doesn’t seem as pressing to me. Maybe it would be different if I were a gamer…

  • primetime

    Great review on an awesome looking device. However, After using this device, who do you think this device is targeted for? (Aside from gadget nerds like me)

  • A.J

    Nice review (so far).

    The Galaxy Note has great specs, great hardware, great screen, but at 5.3” it doesn’t seem practical and it looks really awkward holding that massive thing up to your ear.
    I have the Galaxy S2 LTE and I have to say that its 4.5” screen is slightly too big for me. When holding the device in one hand, it is so big that your thumb can’t reach the top corners of the screen. 4.3” is perfect IMO (original Galaxy S2) however this is subjective based on the individual.

    I’m sure there’s going to be a market for this, just personally not for me.

  • mark

    My question is should I trade my Galaxy Nexus for this beast or should I keep my Galaxy Nexus? Screen quality is better on the Nexus right?

    • Fury

      I got the euro version of this phone back in Dec, and eventually bought the galaxy Nexus. I don’t know if they’ve changed it, but the single biggest problem I had with the phone was the Samsung UI. It’s version of the keyboard drove me NUTS. Words that were auto corrected on all other phones one way were corrected a different way.

      Typing Yup produced Yuppies.
      Typing im produced important instead of I’m.

      It’s a small thing, but over time it started to drive me nuts. What should be effortless(typeing a txt message) became a lesson in frustration.

      I don’t know if the North American version is better. I’m waiting on the ICS update to come out to test it out before I sell it. Till then, I’m sticking with me Galaxy Nexus. Even thought he camera sucks on it.

  • voice of reaosn

    HTC Infuse?

    • Daniel Bader

      Oops, thanks for the catch. Corrected!

  • Jason

    No one really actually talks on their smart phones anymore anyhow so this is the perfect device. Cant wait to get out a buy one.

    • Brian J

      dont use it as a phone any more, funny,its a smart tablet then ?Cant wait to put the ipad4 to my ear,this is way to big for a phone ,lol

  • joe

    shaq should get this phone

  • Mystic09

    So this scores worse than the Amaze, Sensation, and SGS2X?
    That’s a bit of a let-down.

  • HarryD

    The experience of making calls, on the other hand, is merely good. Whether awkwardly holding up the Note to your ear, or connecting through a headset, Bluetooth or otherwise, callers sounded far away to me, and me to them. However, the quality itself is high, with no distracting sibilance, echoes or delays. The Note comes equipped with a second microphone for noise cancellation, though because many of my callers sounded so distant I can’t vouch for its usefulness.

    Anybody else experiencing call quality issues?


  • eh0k

    Great review – thank you! Personally, I’d rather have battery life over lte for now. Wonder what the over/under on how long for this phone coming down from 199 on a 3-yr.

  • funkmaster

    Picked one up. Not waiting for a quadcore chip as it will take a while for apps to utilize the chips, and I’m not a big gamer (I have a handheld and a tablet for games) plus I actually find the S Pen really useful as I take notes all day long for work. I can see myself using this phone for the next year or so when the dual quad core chips are released and then I’ll grab one of those now.

    Live in the now, don’t wait for the newest tech or you’ll be waiting forever.

  • jon_d0e

    i buy phones based on specs and nothing else.

  • Stephen

    I confirmed with Samsung on the phone that all Canadian Galaxy Notes only have 512Mb – half that of all other Galaxy Notes.

    • Johnny Boy

      If this is true, I am so glad I got the international version !!!!

    • Stephen

      Wow, I got down-voted hard for going the extra mile to inform people! Internet, you are a fickle beast.

    • Marc

      Its because that isnt true, it is not 512mb and we all know that, your information is false. Easy to lookup

    • Amelie

      This is not true, I have it on paper 1g.

  • Aiden

    I want this phone so bad but I’ll hold out for the galaxy s3

  • Owen

    I bought an unlocked European version of this phone last week as I broke my Galaxy SII and could not wait until this phone came out. When I first saw the phone, I really debated whether I wanted it or not as it seemed to big, but I have no regrets whatsoever. The screen is beautiful, the speed is fantastic and as this review points out, the 2500mah battery allows the device to last ALL DAY – something my Samsung GSII would never do.

    I picked up my GSII last night from the drawer it is sitting in and it seems too small now :^).

    I find that I can Swype very easily with this phone with one hand (thumb-swyping – which I also did on my GSII). When I told the first few people that I had a new phone, they all said “holy crap, that is a big phone” – but now that I am not telling anyone, I have not had anyone notice or say anything when I take it out in meetings, use it on the subway, etc.

    I did not realize that the North American version had a slower processor than the European version. I suppose this is one benefit of this unlocked device over the subsidized one that I would have otherwise picked up from Rogers.

    Great part one of a review – looking forward to part 2.

    • Owen

      I should have also commented, that I do not find the phone too big to hold and I have medium sized hands. Check out the Mobile Syrup post on the supermodels with the Note – they look pretty good with the phone and don’t look like they have huge hands or heads :^).

    • Johnny Boy

      Same story for me, had the gs2 and I am glad I got the note (international version)… now my gs2 feels small in my hands 🙂

  • David

    Top speeds could be higher. I have an Optimus 4G LTE (also on Bell) and I usually get 35+ Mbps, I even got a 54 Mbps. Though I am in Edmonton, not in the TGA, where I’m guessing there are way more people using the LTE network.

  • jazzi

    Galaxy Note is far better build quality than Nexus. I tried nexus for 2 weeks, returned it. If you use screen for 30 minutes, you are talking about 35% of battery. Battery life is bad even with wifi and bt off. Phone feels flimsy toy-like.

    The Note I touched was much more solid. It Fits in a standard shirt pocket, and definitely in any jacket or Suit breast pocket. I’m going to get it as soon as it ships with ICS. For me the size & shape is ideal, not to mention battery life. Bigger is better. I want the biggest screen I can get that fits in a shirt or jacket pocket.

    Questions: is it expected that LTE can be turned off on Rogers and Telus also to step down to 4G?

    I have a much cheaper grandfathered plan on Fido. If I buy the Exynos version full price to use on Fido, would that make sense?

    If I buy the unlocked LTE version to use on Fido, i guess fido does not have LTE anyways (or would it automatically use rogers LTE?)

  • MrMarvelous

    Just too big!

  • treecity

    All the negative comments about size are absurd!
    I can’t even count how many people I know who walk around with ipads, nooks, kindles or playbooks, etc. and people are worried about who this is targeting?

  • Allyouranusarebelongtous

    I am so tempted by the Telus version I was thinking of just going Telus for my business account….the LTE is a nice bonus, then a realized the service line as it sits now cuts off just a couple miles from me in my city….blast…that would have pushed me over the edge if I could have used LTE without driving around the city…hehehe

    Guess Rogers is stuck with me still….

  • Mystic09

    @Stephen, I’m holding a Telus Galaxy Note in my hands right now. It has 1GB RAM.

    • Stephen

      Thank God! I didn’t want it to be true, but when you get info from Samsung directly, you’d expect it to be right! Idiots.

  • Fred

    @ Fury. I completely agree. The only thing holding me back from getting this phone is Samsung’s UI/horrible keyboard. I tried the G2 and returned it after a week. The keyboard was just atrocious! Maybe improvement with ICS?

    • Marc

      Why didnt you try Swype or just downloading another keyboard? its like saying i returned my Mercedez because i didnt like the mags.

  • Ken

    Switched from Motorola Defy running Android 2.2 to international version of Galaxy Note running Android 2.3 in December. After switching back and forth between two phones, I can finally say I am sticking with my Note for good. Here are a few things I like and don’t like about the Note:

    Volume: Coming from a Motorola, I am a bit disappointed by the volume of the loud speaker. Ringtones and music sound thin compared to my Defy. I haven’t missed a call because of the weaker speaker yet but there are times I could only feel my phone vibrating in my jacket/coveralls pocket. For those who find speaker volume too low/sound too distant during a call, try repositioning your ears to find the “sweet spot”. The position of the speaker is higher than that of most phones and it takes a bit to get used to the speaker position.

    “Toughness”: The Note is not flimsy at all: it feels solid and well-built. (Defy actually feels “hollow” compared to the Note) I am careful with my electronics but I am just spoiled by how care-free my Defy is: I can drop it, I can wash it, I use it with my dirty, greasy hands (I work in the oil field and I am a volunteer firefighter), etc. It is not a fault with the Note. I just like my dust, water, shock, and drop-resistant electronics, like my G-shock and Panasonic TS-2.

    Size: Size was the main reason I kept switching between my Defy and Note. I could fit my Defy in the side pocket of my overalls but had a hard time keeping my Note with me. I now have my note in my jacket pocket when I’m out and about, and have it in my coveralls chest pocket when I’m working. I can also carry it like a notepad with the flip case. I have relatively small hands but never found my Note to be too big to hold or use, thanks to how slim the phone is and its well-balanced weight. I have always been a two-thumb typer (probably a habit I got from my Milestone). With my Defy, I have to rotate it to landscape to type accurately. With my note, the keyboard is big enough even in portrait mode. (I use Swiftkey X on both phones so can’t comment on the Samsung keyboard)

    Screen: The AMOLED screen on the Note is simply gorgeous! Bright, clear, and has a wide viewing angle. Documents and webpages are easy to read on the 1280×800 screen. Viewing pictures and watching videos on a 5.3” screen is amazing. The big screen makes drawing, note taking, and photo editing on the phone a lot easier too.

    Speed: Samsung Exynos CPU with 1GB of RAM is speedy! Night and day difference from my Defy and Milestone. RAM usage on mine is about 550MB so 1GB of RAM (800MB usable) is enough. Lack of LTE probably won’t bother me much, as most of my Internet usage is when I am out in the field, away from cities and towns. Having high speed Internet at HSPA+ speed in the middle of nowhere is already unbelievable.

    Camera: Motorola Milestone and Defy have poor cameras, period! Pictures from my Note have good contrast and detail. Even difficult shots like dusk and dawn turn out to be quite usable. I take pictures of documents and receipts with my Note all the time and haven’t heard complaints about clarity and readability from the office yet. Many options in the camera software too: touch focus, smile detection, blink detection, scenes, effects, exposure, iso, metering, white balance adjustments, etc. Also has sweep panorama mode and it works well.

    S-pen: Capacitive screens are fun and easy to use but they lack precision. Stubby fingers and fat styli just don’t cut it. The S-pen is a lot more precise than fingers when used as a pointing device. It does have a slight lag when writing and drawing but the lines look a lot more natural than using a finger. It is pressure sensitive so the thickness of the lines varies depending on how much pressure you apply. Signing documents on screen with the S-pen looks a lot more like signatures rather than doodles from MS-paint. Part 2 of the review should cover the S-pen experience and related software so I’m not gonna dig deep into it.

    Samsung Kies Air app (most new Samsung phones have it, Galaxy Note included): Kies Air turns my Note into a mini web server. Once permission is setup and connected, I can access photos, videos, messages, contacts, etc by punching in my Note’s IP address in a web browser. No software to install and I can upload and download contents between devices. It even comes with a lite version to be used with other phones. The best part for me is I can send and receive text messages on my laptop, without touching the phone. Really handy when I am busy working but keep having incoming texts.

    The international version of Galaxy Note is a nice upgrade for me. The size no longer bothers me and everything on the phone seems to be top notch. Phone is well designed and solidly built. Having NFC and LTE would be nice but I don’t need them yet. I have used quite a few smartphones but this is my first Samsung, and I am very pleased with my purchase so far. Hope this answers some questions and helps other prospective buyers.

  • Deustchlaender

    fantastic review and extremely well balanced! it seemed like the only fault is the inside chipset used to get the LTE working as well as the effect LTE has on the battery.

    If this is what is really bothering people, then you should really go for the international version that has the exynos chipset and just good ol’ HSPA connectivity!

    I have to agree with the keyboard part – samsung’s is really bad! but like the reviewer said, swype is preinstalled and is much better!

    also – at least my international version does – you can set the keyboard to use it for 1 hand. The keyboard is squished to the left/right (if you’re left or right handed) so it’s easier to type with one hand!

    samsung was thinking!

  • hammer604

    Does it support wifi tethering???

  • Matteo

    Can the the Galaxy Note work on Wind Network? Would the international unlocked version work on Wind network?
    Network: AWS/1700 Mhz

  • emc

    @hammer604, if by “wifi tethering” you mean does it support the native android “Wifi Hotspot” feature, then yes it does. I’ve looked at both the Telus and Bell devices and both have the feature enabled. Rogers stores don’t have a working demo device yet, but I suspect it will be enabled on theirs as well. The international version does for sure.

  • Mystic09

    I picked up the Note on Tuesday and here are my thoughts.
    I love it so far. It’s amazing to use for reading, playing games, watching videos. Texting was alittle weird for me because I have small hands, but swype works awesome.
    On day 3 i was sitting around 25% battery life after 17 hours. with about 40 minutes of gaming, some texting, watched about 9 minutes of youtube.
    I’m not sure if thats good, but its better than my hero so im happy.
    Dislikes- I dont like touchwiz, and I found that another launcher ate 15% of my battery. I’m also going through sense UI withdrawls. I really miss that message widget where you can flip through conversations. I’m going to try a few marketplace ones to see if i can fix that.
    It’s also really big. Don’t get me wrong, using the device is perfect.. its the right size and I have no problems holding it. But being a woman with regular pants (not skinny jeans) I can’t really put it in my pocket and I dont carry a bag with me all the time.
    Because of this I’m thinking about switching to the Galaxy Nexus.

    If you’re a guy with deeper pockets I think this device would be perfect. It was a pleasure to use, just a bit too big for this girl to carry around.

    (anyone have a galaxy nexus that can comment on the battery life with the above mentioned usage?)

  • Cell Hell

    If this had worked on Mobilicity I would have bought it instead of a Nexus.

  • Jack

    Don’t mean to be pushy but where is part 2??? 😀

  • jack overcasher

    As an owner of many Android devices i must say that the Note definately takes some getting used to. In the last year ive had the MOTOROLA ATRIX 4G, LG NITRO HD, SAMSUNG GALAXY S2 SKYROCKET, and now the NOTE. One thing is for certain, it is almost impossible to stay ahead of or current with todays technology. Even if you buy something the day it comes out you will only have the newest device for a short period before tue next best thing comes along. I love technology and all the interesting things that it brings along but it just isnt practical to try and keep up unless you have very deep pockets. my advice find something you like and stick with it. i am starting to get used to my NOTE and im loving it so far. it is a little bit laggy in some aspects such as typing and other things but overall its a pretty sweet phone and one that will surely turn heads.the pen isnt all that its cracked up to be and its not all that practical most of the time. if you love browsing the web and checking emails and messaging then this phone rocks. i certainly wish that they could have went a little bit more on the inside because this phone should have been cutting edge in all areas not just its screen size. think about the overall picture when deciding on a new phone and ask yourself is this phone gonna make me happy for the next couple of years or is it just not practical.

  • hamid

    Galaxy Note: you show 1 Gig of RAM whereas Bell Mobility shows 500 MB RAM

  • robinottawa

    I just noticed that the LTE version i717 does not have html5, whereas the int’l version n7000 does, as do most other phones. I want this thing to be able to play online cards, like Bridge. Anyone know if it matters? Why would they leave it out?

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