Is it a tablet? Is it a phone? No, it’s the Samsung Galaxy Note! With its 5.3in screen, the Note can be seen as either a very small tablet or a very large phone, depending on your perspective. However, given its SIM and 3G capabilities, we’re going to have to go with the latter on this one. And the Galaxy Note - or GT-N7000 in model number parlance - isn’t just any ‘phone’ (phablet, tabfone, whatever).
For starters, that screen is of the Super AMOLED variety, meaning it offers superb viewing angles and contrast. What’s really exciting is that it combines this with a 1,280 x 800 resolution – yes, higher than HD Ready televisions, and more than a match for the cream of the current phone crop, including Google’s flagship Android phone (Samsung’s own Galaxy Nexus with a 1,280 x 720 display).
Samsung Galaxy Note video review
Not impressed yet? How about a dual-core 1.4GHz processor backed by 1GB of RAM and a Mali 400MP GPU, 16GB or 32GB of expandable storage, optional NFC support, and a whopping 2,500mAh battery that lasts longer than most, all packed into a sleek body that puts phones with smaller screens to shame?
And if some of the best internals, screen and battery life of any smartphone aren’t enough to whet your appetite, there’s the Note’s trump-card: a Wacom-based active digitizer stylus that’s thin and light, works without batteries and, most importantly, is pressure sensitive. Samsung calls it the S Pen, and it should be great for taking notes and sketching.
Impressive as this all is, however, it’s not going to matter if the device isn’t good to use.
As we’ve come to expect from Samsung, the Note is slim, light and attractive. It’s under 9.7mm thick, which truly is remarkable for a device with such a large display and battery. Likewise the Note’s weight is remarkably low, coming in at just 178g. To put that into perspective, the 5.5in Dell Streak was 220g, while the small 3.5in iPhone 4S weighs 140g.
Samsung has also kept the bezels on its biggest Galaxy phone just as thin as the rest of the family, and the device’s resultant width of just under 83mm makes it very comfortable to hold. Or at least it does for someone with large hands; if you have small mitts it may be a little awkward, and either way you’re likely to need both hands when navigating or typing. This and its requirement for large pockets are really the only inconveniences of the Note’s mini-tablet size.
Build quality is excellent. The entire front is a sheet of flat Gorilla Glass, which should withstand a fair number of bumps and scrapes. There’s a chrome strip around the edge, while the back is lightly textured plastic. Samsung seems to be competing for the flimsiest back cover ever, as the Note’s rear peels off to an almost paper-thin sheet held on by tiny clips. However, both cover and clips held up well during multiple removals, and once attached there’s no flex and it all feels very solid. Our only real criticism is that the chrome sides are a little slippery.
In summary, the Note is light, well-built and, thanks to being essentially an oversized Galaxy S2, very smart-looking.