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Samsung Galaxy Note: Reviewed and Compared to Galaxy S II, iPhone 4S & iPad

by kenlo on ‎23-12-2011 18:00 - last edited on ‎16-11-2012 11:24 by handy giff-staffer victoriatagg

Samsung Galaxy Note.jpgThe Samsung Galaxy Note is a new Android-based device from Samsung aimed at bridging the gap between a smartphone and a tablet. Featuring a 5.3-inch HD Super AMOLED display, Samsung claims that the Galaxy Note is the ultimate convergence device combining the portability of a smartphone with the multimedia experience of a tablet. How does the Galaxy Note compare to top smartphones and tablets? What is the Galaxy Note’s S-Pen? Is 5.3-inch too big for a smartphone? Is it possible to use the Galaxy Note on giffgaff?

 

What is the Samsung Galaxy Note?

 

The Samsung Galaxy Note (N7000) is Samsung’s latest Android-based smartphone. First announced at the IFA in September 2011, the Galaxy Note was released in the UK in November. The Galaxy Note claims to bridge the gap between smartphones and tablets by giving the best of both worlds: it provides a smartphone-like form factor which is slim and portable as well as a high resolution tablet-like “HD Super AMOLED” display which is ideal for browsing photos and watching videos on-the-go.

 

The Galaxy Note also aims to incorporate some of the functionality of pen and paper. The Galaxy Note comes with an S-Pen stylus which slots into the back of the device. The S-Pen allows for sketching, note taking and free-form idea capture. The pen can be used for drawing and writing in the dedicated S-Memo application, to annotate and share content throughout the device and also to handwrite messages across the device rather than typing with the normal on-screen keyboard (the S-Pen supports handwriting recognition).

 

Galaxy Note with Pen.jpgIt is important to note the S-Pen is not simply a capacitive stylus: instead it uses inductive technology. The S-Pen differs from a normal capacitive stylus by being pressure-sensitive and supporting additional features such as screen capture, annotation and pen gestures. Unlike normal capacitive styluses, it is also possible to rest your hand on the screen when using the S-Pen - pen input always overrides touch input (capacitive input).

 

The Galaxy Note runs version 2.3 of Google’s Android Operating System (Gingerbread) with Samsung’s Touchwiz UI user interface layer. The device comes preloaded with Google applications such as Gmail and Google Maps with GPS navigation with another 500,000+ applications available for download from the Android Market. An update to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) is due for the Galaxy Note in 2012.

 

Form Factor: Size Comparison against Smartphones & Tablets

 

Most smartphones typically have a screen size of around 4-inches whereas most tablets have a screen size of either 7-inches or 10-inches. The Samsung Galaxy Note sits between the two form factors with a 5.3-inch display.

 

The following diagram shows a “to scale” size comparison against the Samsung Galaxy S II (4.3-inch display), the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 (7.7-inch display) and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (10.1-inch display). For comparison, the Apple iPhone 4S has a 3.5-inch display and the Apple iPad 2 has a 9.7-inch display (neither are pictured here).

 

Size Comparison - Small.jpg

 

Samsung Galaxy Note VS Samsung Galaxy S II & Apple iPhone 4S: Comparison to Smartphones

 

Being first and foremost a smartphone, the Galaxy Note will be compared to bestselling smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S II and the Apple iPhone 4S.

 

The Galaxy Note is based off the Galaxy S II so it’s no surprise to hear the two devices share a lot in common in terms of design and specifications. Both devices share a similar design, run a dual-core processor, feature 8 megapixel cameras with full HD video recording and run Android 2.3 Gingerbread with Samsung’s TouchWiz interface.

 

The key changes in the Galaxy Note include a larger and higher resolution display, the addition of the S-Pen stylus and a 50% increase in battery capacity. The Galaxy Note’s ‘HD Super AMOLED’ display has a screen resolution of 1280x800. This represents a 167% increase in screen resolution compared to the Galaxy S II’s 800x480 display and brings the resolution of the Galaxy Note’s display to the same level as the display on the Galaxy Tab 10.1. Note that the Galaxy Note’s display uses a PenTile matrix (the Galaxy S II uses a Real-Stripe display).

 

 

Samsung Galaxy Note

 Samsung Galaxy Note.jpg

Samsung Galaxy S II

 Samsung Galaxy S 2.jpg

Apple iPhone 4S

 iPhone 4S Siri.jpg

Processor

1.4GHz dual-core

1.2GHz dual-core

1GHz dual-core

Display

5.3-inch AMOLED (organic LED)

4.3-inch AMOLED (organic LED)

3.5-inch TFT display

Screen Resolution

1280x800

800x480

960x640

Operating System

Google Android 2.3 (Gingerbread)

Google Android 2.3 (Gingerbread)

Apple iOS 5

Storage

16GB internal memory & up to 32GB micro-SD

16GB internal memory & up to 32GB micro-SD

16GB/32GB/64GB internal memory

Camera

8 megapixel with LED flash

8 megapixel with LED flash

8 megapixel with LED flash

Video recording

1080p, 30 frames per second

1080p, 30 frames per second

1080p, 30 frames per second

Battery

2,500mAh (13.5 hours talk time)

1,650mAh (8.7 hours talk time)

1,430mAh (8 hours talk time)

Text Input

On-screen software keyboard &
S-Pen handwriting recognition

On-screen software keyboard

On-screen software keyboard

Approx. price

Approx. £500 SIM-free

Approx. £400 SIM-free

£499 SIM-free

SIM card size

Standard SIM

Standard SIM

Micro SIM

 

All three devices are compatible with giffgaff and some great savings can be had by buying these devices upfront and using one of our giffgaff goodybags.

 

Samsung Galaxy Note VS Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 & Apple iPad 2: Comparison to Tablets

 

Samsung believes the Galaxy Note can offer a tablet-class multimedia experience whilst retaining smartphone portability. A side-by-side comparison against the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Apple iPad 2 shows that whilst the Galaxy Note has a substantially smaller display, the resolution of the Galaxy Note’s display is the same as on the Galaxy Tab 10.1. The Galaxy Note has a higher resolution display than the Apple iPad 2.

 

 

Samsung Galaxy Note

Samsung Galaxy Note.jpg 

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

 Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.jpg

Apple iPad 2

 ipad.jpg

Processor

1.4GHz dual-core

1GHz dual-core

1GHz dual-core

Display

5.3-inch AMOLED (organic LED)

10.1-inch TFT display

9.7-inch TFT display

Screen Resolution

1280x800

1280x800

1024x768

Operating System

Google Android 2.3 (Gingerbread)

Google Android 3.1 (Honeycomb)

Apple iOS 4 (iOS 5 via upgrade)

Storage

16GB internal memory & up to 32GB micro-SD

16GB/32GB/64GB internal memory

16GB/32GB/64GB internal memory

Camera

8 megapixel with LED flash

3 megapixel with LED flash

0.7 megapixel

Video recording

1080p, 30 frames per second

720p, 30 frames per second

720p, 30 frames per second

Battery

2,500mAh (13.5 hours talk time)

7,000mAh

6,930mAh

Text Input

On-screen software keyboard & S-Pen handwriting recognition

On-screen software keyboard or hardware keyboard dock (extra cost)

On-screen software keyboard or hardware keyboard dock (extra cost)

Approx. price

Approx. £500 for wi-fi + 3G

Approx. £350 for wi-fi
Approx. £450 for wi-fi + 3G

£399 for wi-fi
£499 for wi-fi + 3G

SIM card size

Standard SIM

Standard SIM

Micro SIM

Phone calls

Yes

No

No

Text messages

Yes

No

No

Appropiate giffgaff tariff

Goodybags

Gigabags

Gigabags

 

If you’re looking to use the Samsung Galaxy Note on giffgaff, the most appropriate tariff is one of our giffgaff goodybags with inclusive calls, unlimited texts and unlimited internet from £10/month. For the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the Apple iPad 2, you should use a giffgaff gigabag instead. Gigabags are designed for tablets: they start from £5/month for 500MB of internet. For the iPad 2, you’ll need a giffgaff micro-SIM.

 

Using the Samsung Galaxy Note on giffgaff

 

The Samsung Galaxy Note can be used on giffgaff providing your device isn’t locked to another network. It will take a standard-sized giffgaff SIM card and unlimited internet on your Galaxy Note is available from £10/month with one of our giffgaff goodybags. If you’re having trouble setting up internet on your Galaxy Note, see our guide to setting up internet on your Android device. If your Galaxy Note is locked to another network, see the unlockapedia articles on how to unlock Samsung smartphones.

 

Your thoughts...

 

Have you tried out the Samsung Galaxy Note or the S-Pen stylus? What did you think of the Note? Is it an over-sized smartphone and an under-sized tablet, or does it combine the best of both worlds? Do you think the S-Pen is a useful addition or a gimmick? Drop us a comment below: we’d love to hear your thoughts.

Comments
by sim84 on ‎27-12-2011 12:00

Great review, just what I was looking for. Note is a Tab and aphone in one.

by gurdz on ‎27-12-2011 12:35

Wow want one! a friend got one from santa its the best phone i have seen. bit big tho.

by jonathanacbrett on ‎27-12-2011 14:28

Good write up! I looked at the Galaxy Note, but sadly I find it too big for my hands to hold and there's not enough specs to upgrade my galaxy s2, although I do think it would be a good idea to add the Samsung Galaxy Nexus to these comparisons as at 4.65" the screen slots in nicely between the Galaxy S2 and the Galaxy Note, it also has android 4.0 and I'd be interested to see people's opinions on how android 4.0 compares to touchwiz and the iphone.  :-) 

by kenlo on ‎27-12-2011 15:05

@oldyorkie Thanks for the feedback! For me the key differences are really the size of the device, the resolution of the display and the addition of the S-Pen. Hopefully I managed to cover those in the comparison. There is a lot of subjective stuff about whether the device is too large or just right - I think the debate will continue for a while here at giffgaff and elsewhere. Seems a little split here in what people think!

 

@jonathanacbrett The mention of the Galaxy Nexus is a really important one - thanks. I gave the Nexus a spin a couple of weeks ago - it's an interesting device :smileyhappy: The screen has the same resolution as the Galaxy Note but the device is no bigger than the Galaxy S II. As you mention, the screen is 4.65" on the Galaxy Nexus but it's worth noting that the software navigation buttons use up some of this space (except when watching video where they disappear). When you consider the usable screen space, it's really no more than you get on the Galaxy S II!

 

Ken

by johnlbunting on ‎29-12-2011 19:50

At last the device I have patiently waited for - thank you Samsung.  I now have only one device to carry around with me and yes it does fit my pocket and no, it is not too large to use as a phone. It beats the iphone in every feature that is important to me.

The screen is fantastic and large enough to watch video or TV and to read text.

It has true internet support including Flash.

I can change the battery and therefore carry spares for unlimited usage.

Wi-Fi reception is better than my ipod.

The sound quality with the supplied earphones is superb.

I could go on about the excellent camera and video and the many other features of this TabletPhone but suffice to say that in my three weeks of ownership I have yet to find any problems.

I have just joined Giffgaff with the intention of moving from O2 if the service proves to be satisfactory.  I must say the service from O2 was excellent but they do not have a competitive unlimited data plan.

I will update my experience with this device on further testing and usage.

 

  

 

by leanne23 ‎01-01-2012 21:25 - edited ‎01-01-2012 21:28

I had a Galaxy S2 for a month and it was really excellent, but when the note came out I immediately upgraded. It is simply the best gadget of any sort I have ever owned. Amazing screen resolution and quality, super fast locking GPS, great for Sat Nav, large enough to watch video, great browsing experience no need for mobile sites, Typing is a breeze due to the size, smaller phones look so fiddly now to me. As for portability/pocketability, no problem at all, fits in any jeans pockets even tight ones, I have small hands and have no trouble using it, my 5 year old daughter can easily hold it in one hand and draw with the other.

As for the issue of size for phonecalls, I have used it in public plenty and no one seems to notice, for those who are afraid to look different than the masses you can always use a bluetooth headset or the headphones that come with it for calls. I actually love using this at home, I can also plug it into my 40" HD monitor and use it as a mini computer with bluetooth keyboard and  running at 1280x800. I could never go back to a 3.5 inch display or even 4.3 inch, the extra size makes a world of difference to photos, games, ,texting, ebooks... I could go on but it sounds like a sales pitch. Believe me I am not prone to writing about devices online, but the galaxy note is just so good that I had to comment.

by zeddie1 on ‎02-01-2012 17:22

I have owned both an IPhone 4 and Galaxy S2. Whilst the larger screen of the S2 is great to have, its not very practical to use as a phone. I lasted with it for just over a couple of months before moving back to the iPhone 4. Its screen is smaller, but perfectly sized to use as a phone and it feels a joy to hold in your palm.

 

The S2 feels cheap, and plasticky. It has many plus points but in the end I moved back to an iPhone

by ado16 on ‎03-01-2012 15:45

Where does the cheapie Samsung Apollo fit in iwith that lot?  (Apart from at the bottom) :smileyhappy:  I notice a tidy £50 off it in the Argos sale! #notanadvert

by stealthybigboss on ‎03-01-2012 17:53
samsung galaxy is a nice phone! well written btw
by baldrick on ‎06-01-2012 21:33
Happy Galaxy Note owner here. (I bought mine from O2 with £100 cashback from Quidco, total cost will be £435) however I will be running it off giffgaff. I upgraded from an iPhone 3G and the difference is astonishing! Its now my main browser for Internet access. also use it to access systems at work when I'm out and about. Really impressed with it. The s-pen is addictive, I found myself doodling cartoons with it on the notepad app today. It is a large form factor, it fits into most pockets and its not too big to make calls with. Main complaint is that its unwieldy when using one handed. However the quality of the screen, the speed of the interface and the clarity of the calls make it a really good decision to upgrade to it. For many it'll be too big as a phone, but if you like a great browser and a slick response to the GUI then its right up your alley.
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