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Galaxy Note: In a league of its own

With impressive power, battery life and a generous screen size, the Samsung Galaxy Note, almost like a tablet, sets new standards for smartphones. And it’s a great bargain too

tech reviews Updated: Jan 27, 2012 19:30 IST
Hatim Kantawalla
Samsung-Galaxy-Note
Samsung-Galaxy-Note

This is one smartphone that makes a valiant attempt at breaking down the smartphone- computing devicetablet conundrum that many of us have faced of late. And it succeeds too.



Form factor and design

The Galaxy Note looks huge when placed next to the slimmer Galaxy S II, but it’s not ungainly. It’s not thick, and manages to slip into pockets easily due to its slimness, but is on the heavier side at nearly 200 gms. You will notice its heft the most when you’re on longer calls, for which you could get a good Bluetooth headset.



The rounded gun-metal borders make holding and gripping easy, but the gun-metal paint on the plastic stylus pen is already eroding; thankfully.



Because such a large portion of the phone is the screen, the front looks like an overgrown iPhone, except minor differences in the home button shape and size.



The Flip Cover serves no real purpose, other than to provide the 5.3-inch display with a little more protection. It’s quality leaves a lot to be desired. Within a few days of use, you see it fray along the edges, with the rubberised coating coming off.



Now for some irritating nits, although most of them are minor, they can frustrate you if you don’t adjust around them. The placement of the volume and power buttons, as many have already pointed out is a major pain point. You will keep hitting the volume buttons with your index finger when you press the power button with your thumb. Moving them just a couple of centimetres off each other would’ve solved this.



The buttons themselves are too narrow, not raised enough. The feedback from these buttons is weak, and what’s worse is that the time-gap between power-off and lock-screen is probably just a fraction of a second or more. So, if you keep it pressed for just a tiny bit longer, it will pop-up the power-off menu, instead of just locking the screen.



Features and Performance

The large, vibrant 5.3-inch WXGA screen and 1.4GHz of dual core goodness have clearly enhanced the Galaxy Note’s usability. And a more accommodative 2500mah battery pack, makes it more open to use for extended periods of time. It is this troika of power, battery-life, and screen size that makes the Galaxy Note really leap ahead into a self-created league of its own.



The phone shows no signs of hiccups during its initial usage, but as is the nature of the Android OS, it will bloat itself up and start showing signs of impending slow-down. If you keep spring-cleaning its innards from time to time, you should do okay. But as a content consumption device, the device is just unstoppably fast. The Dolphin HD browser just rips out pages from the web.



Media Playback

The Galaxy Note is capable of reading MP4, DivX, XviD, WMV, H.264, H.263 file formats and even supports video playback of up to 1080p, if coded correctly. The audio player also includes features like EQ presets and an eight band graphic EQ option for those who prefer manual control.



S-Pen, Stylus Functionality

The Galaxy Note comes equipped with a slim S Pen, which works seamlessly. It allows you to take screenshots by clicking on the button or pressing the nib down onto the screen. The device is also loaded up with image editing apps that are designed to optimise the use of the S Pen.



GPS Functionality

The Galaxy Note is at par with the iPhone 4S, in terms of its GPS capabilities and now supports GLONASS. GPS locks are faster and more accurate. Even when you turn the GPS manually off and then turn it back on, after you’ve travelled quite a bit at good speeds, the system locks onto your position within only a second or two.


This is pretty impressive.



Battery Life

The phone will last you an average of about 14 hours of regular use. Our average usage pattern has been roughly an hour or a little more of real call time, while the remaining 9-odd hours of intense computing: e-mail, office productivity, Twitter, Facebook, web browsing, audio-video, and an occasional game.