Galaxy Note Preview

November 6th, 2011 | Posted by Kevin Wright in Reviews

So, if you followed my last few posts, you will know I have a Galaxy Note in the collection, and as an aside, if you were looking for the Expansys posts, detailed the somewhat fraught delivery process, I have removed them all, as I felt it was not over and would serve little point being snarky forever, all I will say is use Expansys, but don’t rely on a Next Day delivery, and keep in mind a lot of the stock on the UK site is actually in stock in other Euro countries. Oh, and Claire from PJ Media is a credit to an otherwise rather unorganised company!

So, the Galaxy Note. I ordered it fully expecting it to get looked at, and the good old DSR 7 day return would kick in and it would be going back, leaving me to carry on swapping between a Galaxy S2 and an iPhone 4S for evermore. Well, this is a preview, not a review, but it will not be going back under DSR, and it might even become my main phone.

So, I ended up going to the DHL office today and collecting the Note, which was a day late, having got stuck in France on its way to me (via Germany and East Midlands would you believe), and as I walked out of the DHL depot, I was a little worried, as the package felt too light to be an Note. I drove back to work a little worried at what might have been in the box, and although I feel rather stupid for doing so, I shot a little video before I unsealed the package, just in case. I think the lightness was due to being in a bigger box that was really required, because it was indeed a Galaxy Note, along with a UK adaptor as this one is a Euro version.

My first thought when I got it out of the box was “OK, this is not too big after all” but when I put it alongside the iPhone 4S, or even the S2, well, it is actually quite big. But think about this, many commentators say that you can not use a phone much bigger than 3.7″ with one hand, and I do find I use the S2 two handed, so really, if you are going to use both hands, you may as well fill them right up :-)

In the past, I have tried larger devices as my main (only) phone device, and it fell down on the classic “listen to podcast or Audible book on the Dog walk” test, but listen up, this thing is so light and slim, it fits in a standard shirt pocket without issue. OK, you can just about see the top half inch sticking out, but its not uncomfortable or anything, and in a trouser pocket, if feels fine, in fact the iP4S feels a bit heavier. Its not of course, as the iPhone 4s is 38g lighter, that is about the same as a standard bag of Walkers Crisps!

The Note is clearly way longer and wider than an iPhone 4S, in fact if you turn your iPhone 4(S) into landscape, you can fit two of them plus an inch left over on the total height of the Note, but it is worth noting(ha) that the Note is only a Gnats cock thicker than your iPhone 4S at 9.65mm and no little hump on this one. It all adds up to a fairly portable device in my opinion, but please remember the usual disclaimers from me :-)

Another test of a device is the “will I get it out in public” test. The answer is yes, where I was always a bit reluctant to whip out the original 7″ Tab, this is way smaller that that, and tonight I was more than happy to do a bit of surfing in a packed takeaway while waiting for my order. Now, if the phone had rang, I would almost certainly have either sent it to VM, or walked outside, but in honestly, I tend to do that in public regardless of device. Yes, it will look a bit Dom Joly if you do take a call on it, but unlike the original Galaxy Tab 3G, this new device does at least allow you to make calls without a headset, and without a speakerphone activated.  As I often mention, I make at most a couple of calls a day, and thus, phone handling is very low down on my agenda.

You won’t find any of my previews (or reviews come to that) banging on at length about specs, but for those that love them, rest assured this competes very well with all recent 2011 smartphones, and you can find full specs HERE.

You might notice that the screen is listed as Super AMOLED HD, but, you might not notice the missing Plus from that item. What it basically means is that unlike the Galaxy S2, or the iPhone 4S, this is not a “proper” RGB display, but it is the same as the original Galaxy S in that it is a “PenTile” display, but given that the latest WP7 phone from Nokia, not to mention the latest “Pure” Android phone the Galaxy Nexus have exactly the same display, the Note is in pretty good company. So is PenTile display technology actually noticeable on a day to day basis? Not in my experience it isn’t, and I have to say the 800 x 1280 WXGA displays is simply gorgeous, with brightness, and clarity second to nothing else I have ever used, with the possible exception of the iP4/S screen, and at 3.5″ it just is not as impressive as this lovely 5.29″ panel. Fire up the Kindle App and you have the best eBook experience outside of the E-Ink based units, and, after dark, considerable better!

Having such a large screen means you can pack so much more on each screen, and still be able to read it, and web browsing is really lovely, as hopefully this screenshot of the BBC News page shows. And whatever Nick, or anyone else says, it is handy having flash right there on those pages, and they work better on this Note than any previous handset I have used.

On the subject of the screenshot, it is very simple indeed with this handset due to the included S-Pen, or Stylus to you and me. The Pen slips into a silo on the bottom of the handset, and to my great relief does not rattle at all, its a very snug fit. It also has button that when pressed and held on any screen for a second, takes a screenshot, and then allows you to draw directly over the screenshot with the S-Pen. I really love the idea of the S-Pen, and while it may not be used all day everyday, its a great addition, and hats off to Samsung for including it and not having those horrible dots visible all over the screen like the HTC Flyer does.

One last quick point for now, the speaker in this sounds very nice indeed, much better than the S2, and better than the iPhone 4S (but not by much). Really nice for podcasts and Audible books!

OK, I will try to do more posts on this, (see here)  feel free to ask me questions for inclusion, and we will talk about it in the next TTUK show. (out around 10th Nov)

Update: For other opinion on the Note see THIS post by Tim Salmon and THIS great review by Andy over at



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4 Responses

  • mex says:

    From this Galaxy Note Preview it sounds greate. But you are missing battery life . There are good reviews about it , but also bad!

  • Kevin Wright says:

    Hi Mex, the reason for the poor battery life tests out there so far is that you can not test battery life until it has had a few charge cycles. This is why we d uon’t comment in a Preview.

  • Colin Monks says:

    Hi Kev

    I heard you on Phone Show Chat recently and decided to check out Tech Talk UK – having recently bought a Galaxy Note I decided to listen to some of your earlier podcasts that included the Note, and I am SO glad I did. I set the brightness to maximum when I got it, and wondered why it seemed to ‘lose’ brightness, then tripped over the auto adjust screen power function. Solved, apart from web pages with white backgrounds appearing a muddy grey.

    It never occurred to me to look for a setting to independently adjust web page brightness, so you really did me a favour there – thank you very much!

    I was 18 months into a 2-year contract on the HTC Desire, picked up the Note and since I mainly use a phone for texts, emails and web browsing decided I wasn’t going to wait the extra 6 months to see out the current contract, so bought it SIM free a couple of weeks ago, and I haven’t regretted a minute of it. It’s heavier than the 3.7” Desire but doesn’t feel it, as the weight is distributed over a wider area, and it fits my medium sized hands nicely. Unlike you guys I have to keep my tech for quite a long time – the fact that the Desire was my first smartphone says enough!

    And I don’t have to worry about what people might think if I put such a large phone up to my ear to make or take a call – I’m almost 57, look about as interesting as Nigel Mansell, so no one is ever going to think I look cool doing anything! 

    Love the show, still catching up with some earlier podcasts but I have subscribed on itunes.

    Many thanks to you and Nick

    Best regards

    Colin Monks

    • Kevin Wright says:

      Thanks mate glad I could help. I found another Android app the other day that had independent brightness but I forgot the app now.

      I think stuff like that is a great idea an if it were not for one little thing the Note would be my one and only device.

      That one little thing is of course the iPhone 4S :)