"It's not a phone, it's not a tablet," says Samsung of the Galaxy Note. But is it any good?
Try as we might, there's no better introduction to the Galaxy Note than the one proffered by Samsung itself. “It's not a phone, it's not a tablet,” as the marketing blurb reads.
The 5.3inch screen seems too big to hold next to your cheek for making calls, but it's not quite large enough for serious writing or learning to play the guitar with one of those fancy apps. So what, exactly, is the Samsung Galaxy Note?
Samsung Galaxy Note – Stylus
The multitouch capacitive screen also has a digitizing layer to use with a stylus. For today's digital scribe it should be what Moleskine was for Hemingway.
Samsung's handwriting apps aren't as good as those on the HTC Flyer, though, and using a third party stylus on the Galaxy SII phone is just as natural. And cheaper.
Samsung Galaxy Note – Screen
The Galaxy Note's screen has just about every high end technology available to a smart phone layered into its glassy surface. The AMOLED technology makes it bright and colourful, Gorilla Glass protects it from scratches, and the 1280x800 resolution is an almost obscene number of pixels to squeeze into each square inch. It really is beautiful.
Samsung Galaxy Note – voice control
Ironically, it's the voice control app provided by Vlingo that really stands out, and more so than the handwriting recognition. The former has more features than the one bundled with the Galaxy SII, and is Siri-like in its seeming prescience. Someone had better remind Samsung that voice is the future – Microsoft cracked handwriting recognition in the year 2000, and look where that got them.
Samsung Galaxy Note – Size
Despite its size the Galaxy Note does feel good in the hand. The rear of the device has a textured finish that puts you in mind of a leather bound notebook. It also hides a big 2500mAh battery. It doesn't say 'phone' and it doesn't say 'tablet', but it does shout 'quality' very loudly.
Samsung Galaxy Note – Android
There's also a very fast 1.4GHz dual core processor behind that screen, which powers Samsung's TouchWix interface running on top of Android Gingerbread.
Stuff understands there's an update to Ice Cream Sandwich in the works, possibly before the end of the year but more likely in early 2012. Here and now, that processor provides plenty of poke for capturing gorgeous 1080p videos from that 8Mp rear camera.
Samsung Galaxy Note – Verdict
The question it poses isn't 'What is the Galaxy Note?', rather 'Who is it for?'. Smartphone buyers might be put off by the awkwardness of the extra girth, while tablet fans could find the screen too small.
What the Note offers, though, is a very lovely halfway house between the two – look at it as a tablet that can make calls and fit in your pocket, or a phone with a bigger, better screen, and it starts to make a lot more sense.