Very few smartphones deserve the attribution “courageous.” The Samsung Galaxy Note unequivocally does. It is courageous because it is a valiant attempt at breaking down the smartphone-computing device-tablet conundrum that so many of us have faced over the last year or so.
It may appear that Samsung has taken a risky gamble by launching a product that looks like an over engineered Franken-phone, when compared to the general trend of producing sleeker, thinner, petite mobile phones. But, their gamble has paid off handsomely. The Note will go down in history as odd and polarizing, but successful at the same time. Because it was the first to deal forthrightly with a widely abused word of our times - convergence, by trying to bridge the gap between a phone and tablet. If you want to skip the design and features aspect, you can head right to the performance section of the review by clicking here, or to the verdict here.
Form Factor and Design
Don't let first appearances fool you. While the Galaxy Note is no doubt large and looks huge; when placed next to the slimmer Galaxy S II, but it is most certainly not ungainly. There is clearly no evolutionary theme evident in the jump from the sleeker Galaxy S II to the bulkier Galaxy Note, except that Samsung took a more mature and practical approach while conceptualizing the Note. The phone is about 9.7mm thick, and weighs around 178g. It’s not a thick phone, but it is definitely on the heavier side. Coming from the Galaxy S II, which weighs an anorexic 116g, the Note’s near-200grams (including the Flip Cover) is noticeably heavy.
Not too thick, considering its large size
You will notice its heft the most when you’re on longer calls. I have consciously tried using the phone with the Bose Bluetooth Headset Series 2 as much as I can, and I suggest you get a good Bluetooth headset to negate its weight and size issues. Even with its large size, Samsung has done well by keeping the device relatively slim and conveniently portable. It’ll slip right into your pocket without making it uncomfortable for you to go about your regular day.
The rounded gun-metal borders make holding and gripping easy, and using gun-metal on the borders makes sense, because those areas will be the most frequent hand contact points. The gun-metal paint on the plastic stylus pen is already eroding; thankfully, this won’t be the case with the rest of the body.
Massive 5.3-inch display on the Note
Because such a large portion of the phone is the screen, and the protective glass that covers it, the front of the phone looks typically like an overgrown iPhone, except the minor differences in the home button shape and size. The standard back cover is a flimsy paper-thin piece of plastic, which leaves the protective glass over the camera lens jutting out, it will get scratched the very first time you place it flat on its back. But if you install the Samsung supplied Flip Cover, then it gives the Note a professional look and a sturdier, thicker back that has a recess area for the camera.
The cover peeling off after a few weeks of use
The Flip Cover serves no real purpose, other than to provide the 5.3-inch display with a little more protection, and also cleans it with its inside felt finish. The quality of the Flip Cover though leaves a lot to be desired, and within a few days of use you will see it fray along the edges, with the rubberized coating coming off. In about 30-days of active use, the inside of the Flip cover is completely peeling off, making the Note look shabby. As is expected, there is already a flourishing accessory market for the Galaxy Note, and you should have no problem procuring better protection and cases.
Updated 18 May, 2013, 5:40 pm IST
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