First, we had smartphones and notebooks. Then, the tablet created its own new category in between these two devices. Now, Samsung has boldly announced its intention to create yet another category, this time in between in the smartphone and tablet. Enter the Samsung Galaxy Note — with a 5.3in screen, is it an extra large smartphone or a compact tablet?
Samsung Galaxy Note: Display and S Pen
The Samsung Galaxy Note definitely boasts impressive specifications, but its screen is the source of most excitement. The 5.3in Super AMOLED HD display has a whopping resolution of 1280x800, making it a WXGA panel with 285 pixels per inch (ppi). The leaves it a notch below the iPhone 4’s "retina" ppi of 326, but it's a massive improvement over most other Android phones on the market — including Samsung's own Galaxy S II.
The second exciting feature of the Samsung Galaxy Note is its stylus, or what Samsung calls the "S Pen". Stored in the bottom right of the phone, the S Pen allows users to take notes, draw onto the screen, and even annotate screenshots or PDF files. We are yet to get our hands on the Galaxy Note, but the S Pen seems fairly responsive, and critically, it looks thin enough to be compared to a regular pen or pencil — a must if you are going to be drawing or writing on the screen. Samsung has also created an S Memo app that aids the use of the S Pen for taking notes and drawing.
Samsung Galaxy Note: Design and internals
Despite the Samsung Galaxy Note’s large footprint, its just 9.7mm thick. That being said, we suspect its mammoth size will be too large for most people to carry as their main phone. We foresee the Galaxy Note being used in combination with a smartphone, rather than as a primary phone — even if Samsung insists the Note has been designed as an all-in-one solution.
The Samsung Galaxy Note is powered by a dual-core, 1.4GHz ARM Cortex A9 processor, has 1GB of RAM, and will come in 16GB or 32 GB models. Thankfully, there’s also a microSD card slot for extra memory if you need it.
The impressive specifications don’t stop there. The Galaxy Note has an 8-megapixel camera on the rear with a single LED flash and it will record full HD 1080p video at 30 fps. There’s also a 2-megapixel front facing camera for video calls.
The Samsung Galaxy Note doesn't have a HDMI-out port but comes with something better: a relatively new connection technology called Mobile High-definition Link (MHL). The on-board MHL technology uses the Galaxy Note's standard micro-USB port for outputting 1080p HD video and audio via HDMI. You'll need an optional micro-USB to HDMI MHL connector to enable this feature, but the beauty of MHL means it can also be used with a USB adapter. This means the Galaxy Note can utilise USB on-the-go functionality like the Nokia N8, the HTC Sensation and the Galaxy S II.
Aside from the extra large screen and S Pen, the Galaxy Note otherwise operates as a regular Android smartphone. It runs the latest 2.3.5 Gingerbread version of Google’s Android OS, and features Samsung's TouchWiz 4.0 UI overlay.
Samsung hasn't announced an Australian release date for the Galaxy Note, but it is expected to be available down under before the end of the year.