Reviewed by sephiap (Currently owns)
Is it a phone? Is it a tablet? No, it's the biggest conversation starter in the geek world.
The device has a 5.3" 1280 x 800 Super AMOLED display, colours are rich, blacks are black and brightness is star-like. Resolution wise, this clears the 720p mantle although foregoes with the 16:9 ratio adopted by the Galaxy Nexus and, as such, letter boxing occurs when watching widescreen movies on this device. A pentile display matrix is employed and, if you have perfect vision and are close to the screen, you can begin to discern the tell-tale jagginess on straight edges of icons and text. In everyday usage, it does not - in any way - detract from the usability and enjoyment of the device.
Gingerbread is showing its age on this newer, high-resolution display. Many users have reported colour-banding issues when viewing gradients on the display however in my testing (and the discoveries of others) it seems to be the OS colour management when scaling images. This will likely rectify itself when ICS drops on the device. Samsung's skin, TouchWiz, adds some polish to the ageing OS but, equally, proves quite cumbersome when considering the non-standard Android shortcuts, gestures and fancifiers implemented.
For gaming and media, the device comes into its own. Playing Shadowgun at native resolution, the Exynos SoC flexes its muscle and proves its competence by delivering smooth, beautiful animation constantly. Movies, including 1080p MKVs, run flawlessly and a wide variety of codecs are supported.
The digitiser employed in the Note is by Wacom, an Intuos 3 user for many years I had high hopes for the inking experience - the results are mixed. Firstly, this is the best inking experience I have experienced on a mobile device, however it isn't perfect. Whilst using the S-Pen in Samsung's apps there is a notable lag. It seems to vary between apps therefore it could simply be a software issue. More likely is the resolution and sample rate of the digitiser itself being too low for desktop-like performance. Also, Samsung has decided there should be an offset of approximately 1-2mm from the point of the pen on screen to where the inking occurs. This cannot be modified or calibrated.
Using it as a phone, it's impossible to take the Note out in public and avoid having someone note the sheer size of the device or demand to touch it. For me, iPhones are too small for my bear-like hands and Android's keyboard too clumsy on smaller devices. Battery life is excellent, usually lasting 2 days with regular usage, the camera is excellent. Overall you will either love it or hate this device - unless you are a fellow giant, try this device before you buy, it may simply be too big for you.
- Design 8
- Display 9
- Camera(s) 8
- Reception / call quality 9
- Performance 10
- Software 6
- Battery life 8
- Ecosystem 7