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Samsung Galaxy Note review

How does the Android Ice Cream Sandwich update fare?

The Samsung Galaxy Note is definitely a device worth considering if you're a media and internet fiend.

Three announced a few months back that its users do more browsing than calling on phones these days and, if you're one of those types, this could be a perfect choice.

It's fast, it's intuitive and in very few places does it compromise.

And, if you're looking for a high-tier smartphone, you'll do far worse than this (especially as the price cascades thanks to the arrival of the newer Galaxy Note 2).

Android Ice Cream Sandwich is a big plus compared to the original Gingerbread - though in a lot of places, we didn't see much existence of it thanks to the Touch Wiz overlay. And Jelly Bean is already out now for certain devices, rendering it slightly old hat.

We liked

The screen on the Note cannot be beaten. It is both clear and vibrant but also nice and big, and we've always been fans of Samsung's TouchWiz skin which is one of the good guys in the world of Android customisations.

The rest of the 'wins' in the Samsung smartphone range are here too, ranging from the clever contacts integration with social networking to intuitive widgets to a speedy internet browser.

We disliked

The S-Pen seems a bit 'Marmite', and there is no doubt that the Note is big, which will put off a majority of general smartphone enthusiasts. It's also still a relatively expensive device, so you're paying for that larger screen - yet there's the Nexus 7 that offers a larger screen, faster processor and it's half the cost.

The design is a little mundane as well in today's market - and the upgraded S-Pen for the Note 10.1 and Note 2 shows that the option here isn't as good as it could be, and the older Note also lacks the whizz-bang speed of the new model.

It doesn't have the same TouchWiz overlay as seen on the S3 either, which is a bit of a shame despite the upgrade.

Update: If you've got the 4.0.4 update to the Galaxy Note, then the TouchWiz overlay has been upgraded to match the S3 - so that's a lovely reason to like the handset more.

Final verdict

There aren't many things we can complain about with the Galaxy Note. Samsung has taken what is already a good handset and built on it to make an even better one.

The only question you have to ask is, "Is it too big for me?"

When it launched, it was a bit of a mystery. Was the world ready for a device that was set half way between Tabletland and Phoneville? The answer is, it clearly was, and you just have to look at the interest in the Samsung Galaxy Note 2.

The great thing is that the Note is still an decent device (the Note 2 will merely build on that) and has difficulty being beaten, even though it's a year old.

And it's not too pricey when you consider it's £200/AU$400/US$380 cheaper than it was a few months ago.

We'd heartily recommend it if you can cope with the size and a few niggles in terms of performance and last-gen technology. It's still expensive when compared to other smartphones with a screen less than an inch smaller, (only £80 more for the One X+? Yes please).

Scoring this phone/tablet is hard, as it depends entirely on the user. Love the screen size? Add half a star, as you're an internet browsing, video watching fiend who spends very little time calling or generally messaging folk.

Think the S3 is already pushing it in screen size? Have slightly smaller pockets? That's the majority of users in our eyes, and as such the extra display inches will annoy you so much the sheen will be knocked off an otherwise excellent device.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Maximum Memory Card Size Supported32 GB
Built-in Memory16 GB
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotYes
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyGPRS, EDGE, HSPA+, HSDPA
SAR Value0.11 W/kg
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationYes
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyGalaxy Note
Cellular Generation4G
Cellular Network SupportedLTE 700, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 2100, WCDMA 1900, GSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1900, GSM 1800, WCDMA 850
Rear Camera Resolution8 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraYes
Memory Card SupportedmicroSD
Phone StyleBar
ColourBlack
Operating SystemAndroid
Brand NameSamsung
Battery Talk Time1 Day
Screen Size13.5 cm (5.3")
Screen Resolution1280 x 800
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)178 g
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityWEEE, RoHS
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Processor ManufacturerARM
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 3.0
Operating System VersionAndroid 2.3.5 Gingerbread
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, Instant Messaging
USB StandardUSB 2.0
Pixel Density285 ppi
Height146.9 mm
Width83 mm
Depth9.7 mm
Radio TunerYes
Battery Standby Time960 Hour
ManufacturerSamsung
Product NameGalaxy Note Smartphone
Processor Speed1.40 GHz
Processor TypeCortex
Product LineGalaxy Note
Screen TypeOLED
Sensor Typecomfortmeter, Proximity Sensor, Accelerometer, Gyro Sensor, Digital Compass
Manufacturer Part NumberGT-N7000ZBAXEU
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.samsung.com/uk/
Marketing Information

Feel free to do whatever you like, wherever you are, with the Samsung Galaxy Note. Its large 5.3" HD Super AMOLED touchscreen offers a superior viewing experience. Thin and light design allows maximum portability, and full-screen utilisation is perfect for quick and effective tasking on the move. With a choice of touch or super-sensitive S Pen input, you can sketch, write, and capture or crop elements from any screen quickly and easily. The 1.4GHz dual core processor and HSPA+ internet speeds of up to 21Mbps make sure you've got the power you need, too. Choose the Samsung Galaxy Note and discover a new kind of smartphone experience with a world of freedom.

Package Contents
  • Galaxy Note Smartphone
  • Battery
  • Quick Start Guide
Limited Warranty2 Year