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Design and Hardware
This is a preview. Read our full Samsung Galaxy Note review here.
Admit it, you didn't realise we needed a new category of portable touchscreen device, did you? No, nor did we. But apparently we were wrong. Samsung has just introduced the Samsung Note, a 5.5in smartphone with pen input. Unsurprisingly Samsung thinks this new category should be called the note. Either way, we got hands on to see how it performs.
Like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7, this is an impressively slim and stylish device. In fact, it actually sits quite well in the hand despite its large footprint, though it is certainly too big to be a primary phone - just look at it compared to a Galaxy S II in our shots below.
Like the Samsung Galaxy S II it has a checkered texture to the plastic back while the front is almost all glass screen, with a surprisingly slim bezel. Moreover, when the screen is locked it disappears satisfyingly into the blackness of the front glass panel. It even uses touch Menu and Back buttons that only illuminate when activated, just to keep everything as clean and black as possible. Only the Home button is a real button.
Looking round the edges, there's a volume rocker, power button, headphone jack, microUSB socket and... a stylus. This can be used in place of a finger to doodle, take notes, or input text using inbuilt handwriting recognition software. Unlike that on the HTC Flyer it interacts with the whole phone so you're not left having to constantly switch between finger and pointer. However, it isn't technically as good as that of the Flyer with it offering even less pressure sensitivity - it feels like there are about three levels. Accuracy also seemed a bit off though this is quite possibly down to how it was calibrated - we couldn't find a caibration tool. Most importantly, though, is the fact the stylus can be stored in the device, making it a convenient tool when needed but never an annoying burden.
Accompanying the stylus is a dedicated app for note taking for which there's a shortcut on the homepage. It has comprehensive tools for changing the ink size and colour and is optimised for quick and easy note taking. Indeed Samsung are marketing this as a device to replace your conventional notepad. However we simply didn't feel it was quite up to the task, feeling just a bit laggy and inaccurate. Enough for the most basic of note taking and doodling but not as a serious tool.
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