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Samsung Galaxy Note Review

Having first got a taste of what the Samsung Galaxy Note can offer at this years CES we were grateful to Clove for sending us a review sample so we could then have a proper go on what we can only describe as an ideal compromise between a smartphone and a tablet device.

However despite the Samsung Galaxy Note’s extra girth it’s certainly not something that put us off from using the device as a phone and for the most part it was certainly manageable for daily tasks such as word processing and messaging.

Besides from the moment we launched the device we instantly fell in love with the stunning 5.3" Super AMOLED display which has an impressive 800 x 1280 resolution. Additionally the Note has excellent viewing angles which makes it an ideal multimedia platform.

Of course having this amount of pixels crammed into a 5.3” displays does result in text being harder to read in say web pages, but with its super smooth multi-touch controls in action we could happily zoom into the page to get around this problem.

As for the esthetic qualities the Note, like the Samsung Galaxy S II, looks stylish and is surprisingly thin when you consider it has a stylus pen embedded within the casing.

At the top of the Note you have a 3.5mm Headphone port and at the base you have a microUSB port which can also be used to attach optional accessory cables, such as a HDMI-out.

The back of the phone contains the 8MP camera lens (with flash) and it has to be said a flimsy back cover, however when the latter is attached to the Note the device does feel extremely durable. Note: We nearly forgot to mention that the Note also has a microSD card slot underneath the back cover which supports 32GB cards. This is a nice addition to the supplied 16GB of storage.

Stylus Pen

We were surprised to see Samsung had gone down the Stylus pen route, as after all Microsoft dropped the accessory on their own range of smartphones a long time ago, but to their credit Samsung have re-invented the pen to make it a functional tool for business and social use.

In terms of the pens feel, for those who remember the glory days of Windows Mobile you’ll find the sensation of the pen a little different when used on a capacitive screen.

It’s almost as if the pen is ice skating on the surface rather than being dug in like you would get on a resistive screen. This is something you quickly get used to and as mentioned Samsung have done a great job to enhance the functionality so you can take screen shots (using the pens secondary function) of say a Google map view and then annotate it before sending it off to your friends.

Additionally you can annotate captured images or create works of art from scratch. We also like that Samsung have added more support for the pen via their online store. One app in particular we got hold of was an animation package which we could use to create basic, but cool, animations using the pre-installed characters.

The pen can also be used with games and this did help with “Slice It!” by giving us more control - compared to what our fingers could do - over the lines that we had to draw.

As for the remaining software the OS is essentially identical to the Samsung Galaxy S II so you’ll find the Android 2.3.5 OS does have a customised look. However it’s not what we would call OTT and to us the Samsung TouchWiz UI remains one of the best on the market. We also loved the default video/music player which is far better than the stock Gingerbread affair. In use you will find an immersive 5.1 surround option when you plug in your headphones. Additionally the video player has brightness controls, colour depth and an outdoor mode embedded within the interface which enhances the screen when you use the Note outdoors in brighter conditions.

Performance was excellent thanks to its Dual-Core 1.4Ghz CPU and 1GB of RAM. Games ran like a dream and both camera image/video quality was top draw. Once again the camera interface was identical to the Samsung Galaxy S II so you had loads of effects to play around with such as Image Stabiliser, GPS tagging and an Outdoor mode so you could once again see the screen a lot better when used outdoors.

Battery Life

Despite having the back-light set to max and both the WiFi/Mobile antennas switched on during our 2 hour video test the Note still had 78% of battery life remaining.

So from a video playback point of view the Note is certainly a capable performer. With heavy WiFi usage the Note does drain faster as you would expect with such a large screen, but it’s no worse than some of the smaller smartphones we have used.

Full Specs can be found here: http://www.clove.co.uk/samsung-galaxy-note