The Samsung Galaxy Note straddles the line between tablet and smartphone. This Android-powered device features a 5.3-inch touchscreen — significantly larger than the average smartphone but a lot smaller than tablets such as the iPad.
This 'mini-tablet' is 150mm tall and 83mm wide, so can feel awkward when you hold it in one hand. You also look quite strange when you make phone calls on it. The size of the device means stretching your thumb across the width of the screen can be a bit uncomfortable (depending on the size of your hands!).
Despite having a large screen, the Note is only 9.7mm thick — only slightly thicker than the Apple iPhone 4S. The Galaxy Note has a 'Super AMOLED HD' display, with a resolution of 1280x800, and the screen size makes it a great device for reading. Text is crisp and pictures are vibrant.
The Note includes a stylus that Samsung has dubbed the "S-Pen". It slots away on the bottom-right of the device.
The pressure-sensitive Pen can be used for drawing or writing, and there's only a very slight delay before text appears on the screen. The lag can be noticeable if you move around quickly. As you would expect the tablet includes handwriting recognition, to mixed effect. It can be hard to write neatly enough for letters to be recognised.
The Samsung Galaxy Note runs version 2.3 of Android ('Gingerbread') and uses Samsung's TouchWIZ 4.0 UI overlay.
One included app is S Memo, which works with the S-Pen to create quick memos. You can chose from four pen styles to draw or sketch (a pen, a brush, a pencil and a highlighter) and you can adjust the density and colour of each. The app itself is pretty basic but it's easy to use and well integrated into core functions of the Galaxy Note.
There are also some drawing and sketching apps that can be downloaded for free from the S-Choice store, which is a Samsung hub for apps that have been specifically designed for the Galaxy Note. Hello Crayon, Hello Colour Pencil and Hello Chalk have all been designed for children, but Zen Brush and Omnisketch are slightly more advanced. However, we experienced much more lag and far less accuracy when using the S-Pen with these third-party apps (Omnisketch in particular) than Samsung's own S-Memo app.
Overall, the Note felt very snappy, however. We didn’t experience any lag or crashes during testing and performance was excellent all-round.
The battery will last a full day of significant usage, although you will need to charge the handset at night.
Overall the Samsung Galaxy Note is an interesting device. Whether it holds any appeal will depend on you getting your head (and hands) around its mammoth size. If you’re comfortable with the design of the Galaxy Note, you’re left with a phone that has a brilliant display, excellent performance and slick software.
Review: Ross Catanzariti.