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Samsung Galaxy Note Hands-on

The Galaxy Note comes across as a perfect device to help you reduce yourself to a single device

The 5.3-inch Samsung Galaxy Note might be called a giant of a smartphone, but it is also a manicure tablet. Samsung was playing safe then when it called it a smartphone tablet hybrid right from the start. We got our hands on the device briefly at the Note launch event and came back agreeing with Samsung. The Galaxy Note does in fact carry the best of both worlds – smartphone and tablet!

A quick round-up of the specs – the Galaxy Note boats of a monstrous 5.3” Super AMOLED HD screen with a tablet class resolution of 800x1280 pixels, a 1.4GHz Cortex A9 processor with 400MP Mali graphics core, 1GB RAM, 16GB/32GB internal storage with provision of extending up to 32GB external through an SD card, 2500mAh battery, 8MP back and 2MP front and TouchWiz 4.0 on top of Gingerbread.

Design and built

First thing that crossed our mind was – not again! The Galaxy Note carries the same design we have seen across almost all the Galaxy product line. The 5.3” screen has the rectangular back-key placed below it, and the 2MP camera on top. The screen is very glossy and will surely attract unwanted fingerprints and grease.

The back, however, has a slightly different and more premium textured touch that will help in gripping such a huge form-factor. The chrome ring surrounding the sides of the phone helps gives it a somewhat metallic touch. There is the 8MP camera along with the LED flash, the speaker towards the lower part and the famous S Pen quietly residing in its slot.

The top of the Note has only the 3.5mm jack, and if you, like me, are used to taking your finger right to the top to switch the phone on, will be surprised to find that there is no power key at the top. It in fact resides on the right now. The bottom has the data in, mic and the S Pen slot; and there is the solitary volume rocker on the left side.


The 5.3” screen gives you that extra real-estate to view webpages and mails. It is bright and sharp enough but at the same time should use less battery power than an LCD being an AMOLED screen. 


The TouchWiz 4.0 on top of Gingerbread brings more refinements than on 3.0. The tilt and panning feature are smooth as ever, as the scrolling through pages. Our only worry is that TouchWiz becomes quite slow with more and more apps. We will have to wait till the review unit arrives to let you know of this.

There is almost zero lag while multi-tasking thanks to the powerful A9, but the typical Android specific sluggishness while coming out of an app is here too.

S Pen

The S Pen or Smart pen is the USP of the Galaxy Note and Samsung’s attempt to place the device as a productivity tool. We would say we were really impressed with the writing and drawing ability of the pen on the default note taking app – but not so much with its response while tapping soft buttons. We could draw freehand characters with the S Pen quite easily but when it came to using the same pen to navigate by tapping various keys – we found out we had to tap multiple times before the button got affected. May be the pen is meant for writing only and less act like a typical stylus? But then one won’t change between the pen and finger frequently enough.


We could not play with the Galaxy Note long enough to let you know how long the Note will survive on a single recharge. However the 2500mAh battery is bigger than any smartphone battery you’ve seen till now, and is expected to run you through more than a day easily. The AMOLED screen will help preserve the sanity of having to charge it less than your average smartphone or tablet. 


Is this an Android substitution for your smartphones and tablets – Yes, definitely! Is this a substitute of your iPad – well, that depends on how deep you are into the Apple environment. But this is a powerhouse of a device, and with the S Pen up its sleeve – we might have just found the closest an Android device can get of being a productivity tool.

Enjoy the Hands-on video of androidguide below.

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Pallab Jyotee Hazarika, 2011-11- 5 (Update: 2021-05-18)