Samsung Galaxy Note Tests (Very) Well

Updated on 28 December 2013 by

Galaxy Note (4)

The Samsung Galaxy Note has been available for a while here in Europe so it made sense to get some more hands-on time with it. My first hands-on at IFA was done just minutes after it was announced and I have to admit, there were lots of key features I knew nothing about. The video hands-on was a bit of a mess!!

clomid and zanax

This time I had 3 hours, an owner and a decent video camera for you!

Note: The street price in Europe is as low as €520 now (inclusive near 20% private sales tax) which is €180 less than the MRRP.

First-impressions were excellent. This is a class-leading Android 2.3 device with convergence, productivity and mobility at its heart, great battery life, a good camera, quality screen and, in my opinion, a good price. The Ice on the cake is of course the news that it will get Ice Cream Sandwich in 2012 (Q1) that will bring out the best of the dual-core CPU and add some key features that, by now, quite a few people will be missing in Android 2.3

Unfortunately, for the Honeycomb-experienced, version 2.3 of Android makes it appear a little dated and the speed isn’t what I would have expected with my 1yr old Galaxy Tab not far behind in the browsing tests we did but I suppose we shouldn’t really be comparing against a 7 inch device because if you want convergence at 5 inch this is probably the best choice on the market.

I have a personal problem with convergent devices in that, especially when they are this fast, you tend to use them too much and find yourself struggling with 15% or less battery life in the final part of the day. Forget to charge it overnight and you’ve lost your phone and tablet for the morning hours. But that’s just me.

I had a very long chat with the owner, Nils (@thunderstrom99 on Twitter) and took a lot of notes. Firstly I want to tell you about the screen. It uses a PenTile Matrix screen which screen afficionados will know as a sub-optimal technology. OK, when you take a macro picture and zoom-in, you can see the effect…

PenTile on Note

 

The sub-pixel smoothing (and anti-aliasing I guess) results in some harsh jaggies. Here’s the Galaxy Tab…

Galaxy Tab screen

Less jaggies.

But it’s a non-issue for most people because those two images are blown-up to the same size. In reality, the Note has a higher pixel density and you simply can’t see this effect unless you’re tuned-in with near-perfect vision. As someone that can detect out-of-phase stereo speakers by ear, yes, I know there are some people out there that will have a major issue with this but the reality for most people, including myself, is more like this:

Galaxy Tab 7 and Galaxy Note Screens

 

Click the image to see the original. On the right is, to my eye, a better reading experience. That’s the Note. [The PenTile screen tends to have some strange hues when viewed off-center. See more images in the gallery]

Outdoors the brightness is nothing to write home about but the viewing angles and glass clarity are better than my Galaxy Tab. It’s good enough.

One thing I instantly noticed was the ability to use the device one-handed. It’s not perfect – a little unstable reaching over for the menu button or top left (for right-handers) but it’s possible to, carefully, do most things. I didn’t try swype but I suspect it would work OK with the thumb – an important mobility advantage over tablets.

I took a fairly detailed look at the battery graph and asked Nils what he was getting in terms of real-world usage. It looks like a full 8hrs heavy use is possible which would equate to a standard days use of 10-15 hours in my opinion. As a phone, it’s not ideal. As a tablet, not bad at all. You have to decide how that fits your usage scenario.

On to performance. Android 2.3 isn’t going to return the best dual-core performance figures and a Sunspider test result of 3238 (Galaxy Tab with 2.3.5 = 7450) isn’t as good as I’d expect. A real-world browsing test showed a slight speed improvement over the Galaxy Tab but nothing really significant. You’ll see it in the video below.

One point of note here though is that the Note is quite capable of some heavy multitasking and loading without it impacting the fluidity of the experience. 1GB of RAM and faster CPU cores mean there’s more overhead.

It’s interesting to know how Nils is using the Note. I’ve been in contact with him for about a year after he made enquiries about a UMPC. It turns out that the Note is satisfying all his requirements and he’s got no desire for a ultra mobile PC now. In some situations, he’s doing more on his Galaxy Note than he would be on a UMPC. He’s using it at University for note-taking in an interesting way. He says he cant ‘write’ notes about his physics lectures because it makes more sense to take a picture and annotate it. He showed me a few graphs and diagrams on a whiteboard. Yup, that makes sense!

A chat with a a Galaxy Note owner

I took the chance to record 10 minutes of Q&A with Nils. Here’s the result….

Keyboard

Is the on-screen keyboard good? Yes. We did a little speed test between the Galaxy Tab and the Galaxy Note. We swapped devices and did the same test. We were better on our own keyboards but the difference was minimal indicating that the Note could be used for some portrait-mode typing. For a bigger typing experience, obviously the Note can be held in landscape mose and still used successfully. That’s something you can’t do on a 7 incher although you’ll lose masses of screen real-estate in the mode. As the Note is only 180gm, it’s almost unnoticeable in portrait mode too.

The Pen, Annotations and Handwriting Recognition

You’ll see the pen being used for annotation and handwriting input in the video below. Although I don’t think it has the level of pen integration that the HTC Flyer has, because the pen is stowed, it’s probably more useful. Annotating an image or screenshot is easy and fun. I’m sure you can add ‘send to PDF’ via a third party app or share. See the video below though for more on the pen, touch, multitouch and gestures. I think you’ll like it.

A few other notes

  • Sound quality: OK
  • Gestures for mute and screenshot: Useful
  • Minute amounts of color banding noticed in a video: Potentially annoying for video purists
  • Plastic back – Feels cheap but it’s grippy
  • Photography – Fast, good touch-focus and quality is acceptable. [Sample photo + Exif here.]
  • MHL port for MicroUSB cable provides charging and HDMI out. Excellent choice. HDMI cable is about €12 apparently.
  • Swipe across top to brighten/dim the backlight

Video

Summary

What an excellent bit of kit the Samsung Galaxy Note is and it’s the best converged phone/mid/tablet that I’ve ever tested. When Ice Cream Sandwich comes along, it gets even better! I wasn’t a big fan of converged phone/tablet products before this hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy Note and although I still think it’s risky (and battery-draining) to put all your eggs in one basket, I’d certainly be happy to take a Galaxy Note and to hand over my Nokia N8 and Galaxy Tab. I’d miss the N8’s camera for sure and wouldn’t find the Note as comfortable to type on, but I think I’d get over it, especially as I’d be getting a phone and a tablet for around €520

The model tested here is the Samsung GT-N7000

Full specifications in the database along with links to other reviews, articles and our full Gallery.

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29 Comments For This Post

  1. reverendo says:

    Am a bit worried about battery life. Since it would replace a phone, too it may not make it through the day…
    Very tempted, though…
    Best regards
    André

  2. Nils Jakobi says:

    I can say that even it doesn’t sound like this in the article the Note does last longer than all my android phones before. So if you use it as your normal phone it does last way longer than my milestone and my galaxy s did before. The only thing that comes with such a device is that one uses it more often than a regular smartphone and as a result of that the battery will run out of capacity.

  3. Chippy says:

    What did you think of the article Nils? A fair representation of what we spoke about yesterday? Anything you would like to add?

  4. Nils Jakobi says:

    Everythings in there. Just the passage with the battery is a bit confusing ;)
    I’d say it lasts longer than any other smartphone i’ve ever had.

  5. Chippy says:

    If you (and other owners) could send in battery drain graphs I could add them in. It seems to be a significant sticking-point for some people. Personally I’m a bit wary of phone-style battery life with the Note too but that’s because I charge my N8 once every 3 days!

  6. Nils Jakobi says:

    + we forgot to mention that it features Wi-Fi Direct

  7. turn.self.off says:

    Would be nice to see a real life demo of what wifi direct is capable off. But that i guess really need to wait until 2-3 brands all have devices with it out so one can test cross-brand compatibility.

  8. reverendo says:

    Nils,
    I currently use my HTC DHD very often, so you could say that I am a heavy user. Do you have any experience with the Desire HD? Would be great to find someone who knows both. ATM the DHD doesn’t ever get through a day without charging in the car and in between.

  9. Nils Jakobi says:

    I havent had a single HTC Device but as i said before it last longer than all android smartphones i could think of. As the DHD isnt something special regarding its battery i would say the Note would last longer.

  10. John in Norway says:

    One of the things that caused me to buy the Note was the fact that it had 2.3.5 on it instead of the half-baked Android 3.2 that’s on my Transformer. With a Galaxy S2 USB host cable I can review the full HD videos from my cameras while out in the field (haven’t tried this myself yet but the Note does play them back when on the device). Something Android 3.x isn’t capable of at all. I’m in no hurry to get Android 4 until it’s been proven that it’s more capable than 2.3.5. (Android 3.2 isn’t).
    The S-pen and quick memo function is very good but the handwriting recognition is very poor. Hopefully it will improve in future. Swype works better on this, for me, than on the Tab.
    Battery life seems to be about the same as on my Galaxy tab.

  11. Chippy says:

    Thanks John

  12. turn.self.off says:

    The video capabilities are very dependent on OEM codec bundling. I think out of the git server Android barely supports H264.

  13. Tal says:

    Where can you get it for 520 euro? Most sites I have seen had it for much more …

  14. Chippy says:

    Amazon Germany for example.

  15. turn.self.off says:

    tempting, but the price…

    And having carried two devices for so long i worry about putting all eggs in one basket.

  16. azeman says:

    I have the Note now for 9 days. Battery life is really good in contrast to other Smartphones.

    BUT, there are two things which really annoy me:
    – The general green tint of the screen, by that I do not mean the even more greenish tint if you hold the device in an angle. No if you look straight on the device, white is not white, its a greenish white.
    The PenTile order of pixels is no problem with such high dpi numbers.
    And the device is not bright enough to read comfortably in the sun.

    The other big flaw is in my opinion the multitasking (or the lack of really good multitasking). The device has 1GB of RAM, So why is the device permanently closing my apps and browsers if i use more than 3 of them? The firmware ist really not optimised at this point. The reason why I don´t want to tolerate that is because of the small brother, the Galaxy S2, is more than 6 months old and the only big difference in the software is the pen support. Samsung had enough time in delivering a nearly perfect ROM at this date.
    And despite the very fast and noticable dualcore, there are lags because of the often need of cleanup the memory.

    Don´t get me wrong: I really want to like this device, but I am disappointed from it now.
    It is a flagship device, not a midclass model.
    I think if Samsung had put 2GB of RAM into it, all would be ok without optimising.
    With a custom ROM under ICS at a later point this device will be a really good performer. But that will be in about 2-3 months from now.

    For comparison i used these other devices:
    – HTC HD2 with a optimised custom ROM, and that one has no lags, but ist is in general slower, thats for shure.
    – An iPhone 3GS, again, it is much slower but also muuuuuch more refined and as such not so annoying in use as the note
    – an hp Touchpad, which i really like, because of the best multitasking

  17. Nils Jakobi says:

    There are debates going on about the Screen. As far as i can tell (and chippy has seen my device as well) there is no green tint on the screen on my device. Of course you get those by holding it from different angles (but as you mentioned before thats not what you meant).

  18. Chippy says:

    From direct-on viewing, there’s no green tint but at angles it’s clearly there. You can seen it in the images I took.

  19. Chippy says:

    ICS and this, for under €450 will be a bargain but i still think its worth the money now.

  20. Mobileer says:

    Chippy,

    Love this article I think it appeals to many of us “long-time UMPC fans” just due to it’s size alone.

    It got me thinking one thing we aren’t hearing too much about in the media for now is MS’ ARM support for W8, let’s see how that comes along!

    Made me think about this comment in your article “it turns out that the Note is satisfying all his requirements and he’s got no desire for a UMPC now.” if W8 ends up supporting ARM anywhere close to a way that we are hoping and wishing, this could be “better” than a UMPCs ever were one day due to mobile OS *and* W8 capabilities!

    Let’s see what the future holds, despite mobile OS’ becoming more powerful and multiplying by the day there’s still those of us who need full desktop OS’ for certain applications!

  21. reverendo says:

    gotta agree with you on the full OS bit… that’s why I was thinking of the EX700, though I have dished that thought after playing with the transformer that I just bought for my wife… 11 inches is just way too big to make it interesting for me

  22. Mobileer says:

    EX700 comes up as a 46″ Sony TV for me :)

    Yeah I am not a fan of the 9-11″ tablets at all! Max size I still believe is 6″ a lot depending upon aspect ratio!

  23. Chippy says:

    Thx forth positive feedback and thoughts Mobileer.

  24. Nils Jakobi says:

    Sunspider Test with ICS 4.0.3 Alpha Cyanogenmod 2063.7ms on the Galaxy Note!

  25. mart says:

    New battery coming for the Galaxy note 4500 80% more life

  26. reverendo says:

    is it going to add thickness to the device or some kind of bulge?

  27. jiya says:

    I have had the note for about 10 days. I love it. The only problem i get is that it randomly turns off and i have plenty of battery left it happens at least once everyday. I don’t know if it is a faulty handset but i am going to try get it changed. I was wondering if anyone else is having the same problems. I haven’t even over charged it or anything.

  28. Manoj Menon says:

    I have bought Samsung Galaxy Note 5 days back and I am facing battery drain very often. Once I have fully charged and I never even opened the cover of it and without using the instrument the battery drained fully. Can anyone help me to find out any solution..

  29. Samsung Galaxy Note N7000 says:

    It is perfect time to make some plans for the longer term and it is time to be happy. I’ve learn this publish and if I could I want to counsel you some interesting issues or suggestions. Perhaps you can write subsequent articles relating to this article. I want to learn more things about it!

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