Have you marveled at how everyone seems to be carrying a smartphone these days? Be it the elderly or even young kids in pre-school, practically everyone seems to be familiar with touchscreen gestures these days. When it was only about 10 years ago when we were still using classic feature phones to make basic calls and SMS only, the last 5 years have brought us the smartphone that is only getting ‘smarter’ by the day, with full-blown multimedia functions right in your palm or pocket.
To add on to the smartphone, just when you thought that was all, in comes its larger cousin, the tablet. Made popular by Apple’s 1st iPad in 2010, its key competitor Samsung made quite a storm with its Galaxy series in 2011, from the 7-10 inch Galaxy Tabs down to the Galaxy 4.3-inch SII in the smartphone category. To top it off, in September 2011, Samsung introduced the 5.3-inch Galaxy Note to bridge the gap between smartphones and tablets. So let us now take a closer look at the updated 4G version of the Galaxy Note that just made its debut as of February 2012.
At this size of above 5 inches, the Galaxy Note aims to combine the best of both the smartphone and tablet worlds, thus converging the two devices into one. Hence its advertisement asking users whether it’s a phone or a tablet, this 5.3-incher provides an extra-large touchscreen for a smartphone with a stylus to boot as well for drawing, hence its name ‘Note’ to signify a digital notepad.
As a tablet, it might be a tad small at this size, which it makes up for in terms of portability. Although another earlier 5-incher, the Dell Streak suffered an identity crisis back in 2010, somehow the Samsung Galaxy Note has hit the right niche as a crossover breed, seemingly popular as ever with the somewhat comical sight of many people holding this extra-large smartphone to their ears.
Aided by Samsung’s trademark Super AMOLED touchscreen that is bright and vibrant with a 1280 by 800 resolution, visuals, apps, and graphics all appear impressively appealing, with the extra screen real estate here being a plus point. The latest February update brings 4G LTE network speeds and a beefed up 1.5 GHz dual processor, which certainly makes speed a strong department for this smartphone-tablet hybrid.
Not to be outdone in the sharing of what you see, there is a 8MP camera with Full HD 1080p video included for sharp stills and captured motions. With the usual customary connectivity package of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, and GPS, the Galaxy Note also features an impressive battery life of 10 hours talk time. Powered by the Android 2.3.6 Gingerbread OS, this version of the OS makes the Galaxy Note more smartphone-oriented, as compared to the tablet-focused Honeycomb series.
Besides reading magazine reviews or even articles such as this writing, let’s take a look at some real user reviews from Amazon for some genuine feedback. It is encouraging to note some users claiming that, “they love the Galaxy Note more than even the iPhone”, thanks to its bright, yet responsive, large touchscreen. The included S Pen stylus seems to be well received, shattering earlier beliefs that “the stylus is dead” from the earlier age of PDA smartphones. Apart from the screen, there was also praise for the sound, performance, and even the plastic build at the back, which was previously known to be Samsung’s weak point. One user quipped that “the plastic felt comfortable to the grip”, which is an interesting progress for Samsung indeed.
The only gripe we could find among the reviews was on the touchscreen being prone to scratches, partly being more vulnerable due to its large size. The user quoted that “using screen protectors only traps more air bubbles, which does not compensate for the polish of the screen itself”. This is certainly a valid-sounding concern, which Samsung could possibly improve on in future updates or models, perhaps by making better use of the well-renowned Corning Gorilla Glass that is highly scratch-resistant, which already features prominently among several other smartphone competitors.
Other than that, if you are undecided between a small smartphone or a large tablet, you might wish to consider the hybrid Galaxy Note, which is truly in an innovative class of its own at this unique size, fully powered by all the performance and specs that Samsung has to offer.