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Review: Samsung Galaxy Note – Oversized iPhone Killer?


Rarely do you begin a review and describe the device as simply “The Monster”. But when it comes to the Samsung Galaxy Note, it’s hard to describe it in any other terms, at least the first time you lay your hands on one. In the current market, there’s nothing that even comes close to the Note in terms of sheer screen size. Even the much discussed HTC One X has a display that’s over a half inch smaller.

But why you might ask is a clearly iOS and Mac oriented site (riddled with fanboys) even doing a review of an Android phone and how could anyone possibly even question it killing the iPhone? Well, the story begins shortly before the iPhone 4S was hitting the market. If you’re a regular reader you may recall a couple of us decided to test the waters and see if the greener grass on the other side of the fence was real grass. As I came to find out with Windows Phone 7 Mango, the grass was real but it had a few dead spots. For me specifically – I found a limited number of quality apps and a gaping hole in no support for VPN. WP7 has a great future, but Microsoft needs more time to really bring the OS and the app market up to snuff before I would consider it again.

When the iPhone 4S became available, I dumped WP7 and dutifully pre-ordered like the rest of us. The iPhone 4S was (and is) a wonderful device and I’m was glad I decided to pick one up. But fast forward a few months and I was just not feeling as satisfied with my decision as I thought I would. I was finding myself more often than not with the phone extremely close to my face so I could read the miniscule text (I guess I’m getting old). Naturally I bumped up the text size in the accessibility options, but that didn’t take effect everywhere and frankly just made things feel “off” – give it a try, you’ll see what I mean.

So, March 4th I found myself getting in the car and driving over to the AT&T store to check out what they had on the shelves. I was targeting the Samsung Galaxy Skyrocket since it had all the features I was looking for – specifically a bigger screen than the iPhone, decent resolution and a speedy processor. I arrived at the store, immediately located the Skyrocket and right next to it was the Note. Being a device nut like I am it only made sense to spend some time playing with both phones to see which one I really liked more. After a good half hour of poking and prodding, I couldn’t reach a decision.

I came home with the Note. Why? I’m a guy. And I’m compensating. I just can’t afford a lifted truck with 38 inch mudders and plastic nuts hanging from the back. /sarcasm

So, why the Note? Honestly, I couldn’t find a major reason in the store to not pick it up. The size was awkward, but the AT&T rep explained (and so did a lot of folks on xda-developers) that the size begins to melt away after a little while using the device. So, with no other obvious reasons not to chose the Note with it’s massive 5.3″ screen, S-Pen and gigantic battery – it only made sense to go big and return it if I wasn’t up to the task.


The Details

Before we go any further, let’s cover the specs with comparisons to the iPhone 4S since it’s been what I’ve used until recently.

  • Dimensions: 5.78″ x 3.27″ x 0.38″ — iPhone 4s: 4.5″ x 2.31″ x 0.37″
  • Weight: 6.28 oz. — iPhone 4s: 4.9 oz
  • Battery: 2500 mAh. Talk time: 10 hours — iPhone 4S: 1420 mAh Talk Time: 8 hours
  • Display Size: 5.3″ 284 PPI 1280×800 HD Super AMOLED — iPhone 4S: 3.5″ 329 PPI 960×640
  • RAM: 1 GB — iPhone 4S: 512 MB
  • Storage: 16 GB + up to 64GB micro-sd — iPhone 4S: up to 64 GB
  • Processor: Snapdragon 1.4 Ghz dual core — iPhone 4S: 800 Mhz A5 dual core
  • Network: AT&T LTE/HSDPA — iPhone 4S: AT&T HSDPA / Verizon / Sprint
  • Input: Finger or S-Pen  — iPhone 4S: “If you see a stylus – they blew it
  • Other Stuff: Both have an 8MP camera and shoot 1080p video.The 4S has Bluetooth 4, the Note only BT3… although I have no idea what difference that really makes since I rarely use BT. Obviously the iPhone 4S runs iOS 5.x, The Monster does not. It’s currently stuck with Android 2.3.6 and awaiting a “when hell freezes over” but promised ICS upgrade.

Living with The Monster

(The orange peel screen effect is a BodyGuardz. Not recommended for use with the S-Pen by the way.)

Remember way back and you’d be sitting in a Starbucks when some random person would come by and ask you if that was the iPhone? Well, living with the monster is a little like that, only they ask you “What is that?!” and then look at you like you’re from another planet when you explain it’s a phone. It’s getting better now that Samsung has started to really advertise the Note, but people still don’t quite understand how big the device is until they actually see it in person.


Living with the Note is actually a lot simpler than you would imagine it to be based on its size, but let’s get a few things out of the way because it’s what people always want to know:

1. Skinny Jeans: Man up and go buy some Levi’s Boot Cut. You look like a fool in those pants and nobody wants to see your goolies. (Ladies: keep the jeans and put the phone in your purse/clutch/bag). The Note will fit in standard jean pockets that took blood flow into consideration. Yes, front and back. As a matter of fact if you have a mophie Juice Pack Air or Plus on your iPhone – the Note will fit better in your pocket than your iPhone does because it’s quite thin.

(That thin green line is a screen protector – not bad build quality)

2.Sitting with the phone in your pocket: Your butt (and everyone else’s – don’t go getting all insulted) is too big for the phone to support. Your iPhone runs a risk of fracture from butt-induced-stress as well, so generally I don’t recommend it no matter what device you have (unless its an old Nokia). If you put the Note in your front pocket for sitting – no problem sans skinny jeans. If you’re wearing a tailored suit – take the phone (any phone) out of your pants and put it in your jacket’s interior pocket. Suit pants are not supposed to hold objects in pockets. Might as well toss a chew can in there as well hicktown. (j/k)


3. One handed typing: I can and have typed out text messages with one hand on the Note. I don’t prefer to, but I have done it. I wouldn’t recommend it for more than a couple sentences however since you’ll likely pull a thumb muscle and that’s embarrassing. For those of you concerned about one handed typing on a regular basis – please, take a couple days and keep track of how much you REALLY type with one hand. Chances are for the most of you – you may start with one hand, but quickly transition to two hands because typing one handed is slooooow. If all else fails – It’s Android. Try a different Keyboard or use voice to text. (Side: Samsung has a one-handed keyboard prepped and it will be included with ICS on the Note.)


4. It’s too big for my hands. Did your parents ever tell you to stop making stupid faces because it might get stuck like that? Mine did. And… it did unfortunately. Seriously though, I think our hands actually took that message to heart. I’m sure many of you (like me) have carried around smartphones for a while. I’ve had every model of iPhone, and prior to that a lot of Windows Mobile devices. All those phones had the same general dimensions with around 3-4″ of surface area (or smaller). You think after 4+ years of holding the same size device in your hands for hours a day you don’t build up some muscle memory? In the store I might as well have been holding on to an aircraft carrier. It was stupid big. But after a week or so, it felt better, and now after about a month, I can honestly say it’s a very comfortable device. In fact grabbing a smaller device (like the 4S or my daughter’s Nexus One) feels weird now. It (on occasion) can feel a little awkward when you’re reaching for the upper corner on the monster, but for every moment of awkward there’s 3 or 4 moments of “sweet!”

The Software

I’m not going to beat around the bush here – and sorry Android fans but some of this might sting a bit. I miss mail.app – because it worked for Exchange and it worked well. The built in Note email app (not Gmail) sputters, cries and then slows to a death crawl when you actually try using it. VPN support is lacking. To use a Cisco VPN I need to root and then download a widget. Or I could pay a ridiculous amount of license fees to Cisco and use their app which isn’t going to happen any time soon. I need a whole new messages app just for Emoji. Cut and paste – Apple users, thank Apple for actually spending the time to get it right. Android doesn’t. Same thing goes for that little magnifying glass for positioning the cursor. Apple got it right. Google didn’t. That’s what the first few days of being on Android felt like for me. Quickly comparing Android to iOS and finding shortcoming after shortcoming. I’m not doing it nearly as much now that I’m learning to accept what is and find alternatives, but there’s definitely some times I just want to scream.


Developers: The 1990’s Palm UI is NOT a goal. Pay someone from this decade to help you with graphic design. (The above app is called aCar and UI aside is a great app for vehicle tracking).  Also developers … PUT MENU SHITE IN UNDER THE MENU BUTTON. Not tap and hold for some stuff, menu button for other stuff … and then even more stuff under some other button. There’s a menu button. Use it.

Bloatware: Thanks AT&T / Samsung / Google. I really needed 4 different social apps (none of which I’ll actually use) all to start up with the phone and be installed for life. There was well over 15 apps I would consider bloatware installed out of the box. A bunch of which I’m not allowed to uninstall without rooting. Ah, that’s what “Open” means. Open for the carrier to install a bunch of crap I’m not allowed to uninstall.

Lag. I know it’s been discussed that Android has lag issues. For the most part the Note is pretty good at maintaining a fairly lag free environment. I wouldn’t say the transitions are as smooth as you get with iOS, and you will on occasion get some odd slow downs, but for the most part the Note is very smooth. Samsung included the TouchWiz interface, which is pretty good, but I’ve stuck with Go Launcher simply because its smoother. ICS is supposed to improve the smoothness of the interface, so I’ll touch on that in a follow up at some point.

Long story short – it’s not iOS and it lacks a LOT of polish. It’s got some great apps and it’s incredibly customizable, but it still falls short in a lot of places (UI/UX being the top one). Number two being fragmentation. I love how half the good stuff I can’t buy, even though my device is perfectly capable of running them. My Android slogan has quickly become: “It’s not all bad, but it’s not all that great either.”

The Hardware


The Galaxy Note is one part glass, one part battery and one part plastic. You won’t find the fancy metals of Apple here. But that doesn’t mean you won’t find a well built device with some thought put into it. Take the battery cover for example. Feels cheap, looks cheap, but it’s capable of bending in ways only a gymnast can. The only hardware complaint I can muster right now is the location of the power button sucks. Samsung opted to place the power and the volume rocker on opposite sides of the device. So, many times you unintentionally power off while squeezing to hit the volume. Hopefully one day Samsung will realize the power button goes on top of the phone.

The monster has a really nice weight to it and it’s very balanced so you don’t feel like it wants to back-flip out of your hands. It doesn’t bend or creak; it just feels solid and well constructed despite the large amount of plastic. Making phone calls (if you can get past thinking people will stare at you) is a non-event. I’d argue that my call quality has improved since moving to the Note and the number of dropped calls I’ve experienced has gone way down with no change in the network. Both the internal and external speakers are excellent, and unless you’re facing into the wind, I’ve yet to hear anyone complain about quality on the receiving end. Overall comfort while hold the phone to your ear is excellent as well – much more comfortable than I thought it would be. Long story short – it’s a better phone than the iPhone has been for years.


The camera while being an 8MP shooter like the iPhone just isn’t (IMHO) nearly as good. The images feel washed out and not true to color. I also found the shutter to be way too slow and many times I ended up with a blurry subject (for example someone walking looks like The Flash zipping by). That may be just because I haven’t taken enough time with the device to figure out the best way to shoot with it, but that’s not something I ever had to think about with the iPhone. Video quality is great, but again its a bit on the bright side and definitely subject to shaking. Unless you want people getting sea sick watching your movie, I suggest not filming while walking and never while jogging. Overall, I give the camera a barely passing grade. Apple doesn’t need to worry about losing it’s top Flickr status to this guy.

Battery life has been solid. I can make it through my average day (about 18 hours) and have maybe 5-10% left depending on how much the screen is on. Like most users I get about 4 hours of actual screen being on and actively used per charge depending on how I handle the brightness. Stopping to think about it that might make some Apple fans mention how I “handle the brightness” and how Apple doesn’t need that. Let’s be honest – it would be nice to manage brightness easily on the iPhone, but unless you’re jailbreak, like managing many other things (WiFi / BT) it’s a PITA. I manage brightness on the monster by sliding my finger along the status bar left and right. No menus, no sbsettings – its downright simple. And when I’m feeling lazy, I have a widget on the homescreen which I can tap to turn auto brightness back on.

Speaking of brightness, the screen is excellent. Sure it doesn’t have the PPI that the iPhone 4s has, but it doesn’t make much difference when you’re not holding the phone so close. At full arm length, text is crisp, clear and more importantly it’s actually readable at that distance. Of all the things I’ve missed about the iPhone – the screen is not one of them.

S-Pen. The Killer App.

Like you I saw the commercials and went “big deal”. It’s a stylus. I grew out of styli when WM6 went the way of the dinosaur. Yes, it is a stylus but not the same $20 targus rubber nipple jobby you pick up from Best Buy to use on your iPad. This one actually has some smarts – not to mention accuracy (unlike the bubble ended pens), and no it doesn’t work on the iPad or the iPhone. A review I watched on YouTube summed up perfectly why the S-Pen is the killer app:

“You cannot beat pen and paper. There are still people in this world who carry pen and paper and the stylus is made for those people.”

More importantly for me… I WAS one of those people. And while you may not be able to beat pen and paper, you can come close and in some cases make it look old school.

S Memo_01 capture_01

The S-Pen (for me) without a doubt is the killer app. Sure it’s not an app (S Memo is the app), but for all of you who were sitting there asking what Samsung was thinking bringing back the stylus – they were thinking of people like me who would rather markup a screenshot or jot down a quick note than have to carry a moleskine everywhere they go.

Wrapping It All Up

I started this process referring to the Note as a monster and wondering if it was an iPhone Killer. I’m going to end it the same way. A short while ago I ran into an issue with the Note,  so I took it back to AT&T and at the same time decided to switch back to the 4s. I was concerned that the issue I had would continue, and honestly Android didn’t hold much weight over iOS for me without the S-Pen so going to the Skyrocket wasn’t a thought. I figured I would live with the smaller screen size in hopes that Apple would increase it with the next device.

That switch lasted less than an hour and I knew I had made a mistake going back the 4s. Within 24 hours I was back at AT&T, paying the $35 restocking fee and going back to the Note. I love iOS, and if I could get it on the Galaxy Note I would in a heartbeat, but not even iOS can make up for the tiny screen size on the 4S or the functionality I’ve found with the S-Pen. While the Galaxy Note is a monster, once you’ve spent some time with the device it’s not as big and scary as it once seemed. It turns out the Samsung Galaxy Note is an iPhone Killer, at least for me. And that’s the only iPhone killer that really matters isn’t it… the one that kills your iPhone.


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  • Renkman

    Nice honest review, Brandon!

  • Kamau

    I’ve wanted the Note since I 1st saw it. But on Sprint, not AT&T. However if Sprint doesn’t get it, I think I will switch to AT&T just to have this phone.

    • Emma

      The review is right on the Note. Some educational software that I use in IPhone such as chemmole, and crystal models are absent in the Note. Samsung should have developed their own OS system rather than depend on Google’s android. Google has gotten so big, they have forgotten that it was the customers and their low end worker ant employees that made them that way. Just buy the Note from abroad, cheap and plant your Sprint sim-card into it and it works like a charm. The best scenario is, I take it abroad, immediately subscribe to pay as you go phone companies and it works. With IPhone 4 the nonsense about using contractors such as Verizon and ATT kills capitalism, allows the phone companies to cheat the American consumer.

      • Zachary Jacob Zblewski

        Sprint doesn’t use sim cards. Sprint is also a CDMA network, so the International GSM Note would not work on Sprint anyway.

      • GBGamer

        Okay, first, Android destroys whatever Samsung could put out, they already tried that(look up Samsung Bada). Sprint is CDMA(No SIM cards), so you can’t use an international Galaxy Note(or any other phone that you don’t get from Sprint). Otherwise, see if you can find any alternatives on Google Play. And Kamau, try going to T-Mobile. If you root your AT&T Galaxy Note, you can use T-Mobile 4g.

  • Bervick

    A very unbiased review. I have the Note. Would you mind telling me/us specifically what the “polish” part of iOS is that you don’t find with the Note. Give me a specific set of actions, navigation or a popular app (other than Twitter perhaps). I would genuinely like to SEE what this is. I hear it all the time. But I’ve yet to see a video clearly showing this objectively for the user to admit (and I will, if I’m convinced), or go pffft, you’re kidding, right ?.

    Anyway, really nice to see a post like that. I’ve read of many iPhone users switching to it or a larger screen.

    • alex

      the whole OS doesn’t have that polish that iOS does. Scrolling is jumpy. Zooming in is messy – especially double tap to zoom which seems to randomly zoom into any area of the text. The scrolling physics are completely wrong. On the iPhone, if you slightly flick your finger it will scroll slowly and if you flick really fast, it will scroll really fast. This is missing on Android and really shows through when you compare it to the elegant iOS where the creators seem to care about every last detail. I think android is a really good OS that can do a lot of things but I don’t like finish of it.

      • clint

        I am not sure what you mean with the flick. If u flick slow. ..it scrolls slow, and if I flick fast it scrolls fast. I am running 2.3

  • Bervick

    Since I cannot edit (perhsps) and my comment has not posted yet:

    I noticed about text selection using the magnifying glass. I agree. This needs much improvement and unless I’m doing something wrong, it can be annoying to downright terrible. Often, it does work fairly well too.

    • Brandon

      @Bervick – Specifics:

      — Scrolling between home screen pages. Very few launchers (and none of the stock ones) seem to be able to do this without lag. Even on ICS I’m seeing this.

      — Zooming in on websites. At least the stock browser (try CNN on the full site) never seems to zoom in without cutting off the right side of the text, typically by had a word or so. Not to mention that the zooming is rarely smooth and seems to move in small blocks.

      — Tapping the status bar. In iOS that scrolls you to the top of the page. There’s nothing like it in Android. Speaking of scrolling, iOS scrolls a bit then stops smoothly when you swipe up or down. Android scrolls, and scrolls, and scrolls, and scrolls, and scrolls until you put your finger on the screen then it stops abruptly.

      — Selecting text for copy / paste. It’s better in ICS, but the magnifying glass in iOS was really nice to have. Text selection itself was easier (and less finicky) in iOS. And I’m not sure why, but some times you select a block of text and you get icons at the top for copy / paste, other times you get icons and text to tell you what the icons mean.

      — Look at an app like Gas Cubby. Now look at an app like aCar. Both top applications, but the fit and finish is worlds apart. Look at the stock messages app on both iOS and Android. One looks smooth and polished, the other looks like it belongs on Debian 10 years ago.

      I’ll try and put a video together soon for you and just kind of illustrate these kinds of things. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I dislike Android. Far from it, but I just find the little things that make a big difference. I know full well some of my complaints I can fix with this tweak or that kernel. But tell me, what average run of the mill user is going to do that? I know full well my wife is never going to install clockwork and flash a new kernel or edit her build.prop to make the Play store think its a Nexus and let her install something.

      • Bervick

        Thanks. That is very kind of you.

        Try Dolphin HD from the market. It’s free and the scrolling IMO is much better. I do not get blocking effects when zooming like I do with the stock browser. I’ve not seen a tap-to-top implementation and that is nice. I guess you have to use the infinite scroll to accomplish that. I’ve sometimes found the infinite scroll to help. But iOS has done it better here. Agreed.

        Not seen aCar. I have Gas Buddy and have not scouted around for the best app in this regard. However, this is a developers fault. Not Android.

        I have ZERO issues with smooth scrolling on CNN or any website. With Dolphin at least. I use Dolphin HD and Overscreen for my browsers.

        Hearing that ICS (unofficial ROM obv) is not looking smooth for you on the home page screens is not good news. I guess that happens with widgets With the app drawer, it is flawless, or to a margin of difference where it should not matter.

        No user should have to swap ROMS. But if the market has applications that do a better job than stock, then it is reasonable IMO for a user to try those out. You obv are above that avg user.

        • Brandon

          Gas Buddy = find cheap gas. aCar = milage log. I’ve been tracking MPG and price per gallon for a couple years now. For example using an app to track MPG/cost – I know that despite my R6 getting on average 44.5 MPG and my Kizashi getting only 24.05 MPG, it’s actually cheaper to drive my car since the R6 requires 91 octane. Price per mile for the R6 is $0.215 where the Kizashi is $0.166. Not much, but in the long run – it makes a difference.

          I’ll give Dolphin a go as my primary browser. I’ve used it a few times, but never actually set it as the default. Maybe it will be better than the stock one. I’ve checked out Overskreen too, but honestly not found a use for it.

          I agree with checking apps to replace the stock ones. That’s reasonable to expect, but at the same time I would say that its up to Samsung / HTC / Carriers not to over bloat the OS with their own crapware and then not allow it to be removed or turned off. I don’t need AT&T’s services or Samsung’s stuff running on every boot if I never intend to use it. I like that they put some things there for convenience (AT&T scanner for example) – but allow me to remove them if I find something better. Another good example is forcing Yellow Pages at the top of my contacts list (ICS). I won’t ever use it – why do I have to have it there?

        • Tad

          If you want solid car apps – do yourself a huge favor and get a ODB2 bluetooth interface. Then download Torque from the market. You wont ever use another car app ever again.

          I use it on my Gnex when I’m towing my boat to keep my MPG’s in the “ridiculously reasonable” zone and I also use it to adjust my fuel mixture.

          Its a solid app with great dev support.

        • Garrett

          You know, ICS has built-in functionality that allows you to disable and hide system apps, like carrier bloatware. It doesn’t remove them from the flash memory, but they’ll be out of your app drawer/face, and won’t be able to run in the background and hog precious resources. No root required either, just go into Settings, “Apps’, locate your annoying carrier apps and disable themas you please.

  • Bill Kilpatrick

    Wonderful review! I found it thoroughly entertaining and informative. It makes me want to take a look at the Note when it makes its way to the Verizon store.

  • Rian

    I had no idea that Samsung had such clever marketing. A paid article that sounds unbiased that’s sprinkled with some social engineering in the comments.

    • Brandon

      Obvious troll is obvious.

      However – for the sake of completeness:

      The above review was in no way paid for by Samsung Electronics or iSource.com. I purchased the device for my own use on contract with AT&T.

      • Brian

        Hey Brandon, great article and review. I’m torn between two lovers, Note and iPhone. Now that Ice Cream is available on the New Note, have you had a chance to upgrade? If so, are the improvements justifiable to make Note the true “MONSTER”?

        • Brandon

          I’ve been running ICS for a while now thanks to leaked builds. All I can say is the things the XDA folks are doing with ICS, Tablet mode and the Galaxy Note is unbelievable. By far well worth the price of admission.

    • Bervick

      Don’t read iDevice reviews then. Heaven alone knows how much Apple bribed them. Riiiiiight ?

  • Jon

    Sounded intelligent until you mentioned the stylus. Have to agree with Rian… It then sounded like a paid review.

  • JM-Galaxy Note Owner

    Wow! Love your review and you gave me some ideas of things to try. I love my Galaxy Note. I too love the stylus for note taking.

  • Public Farley

    Nice review. Through and well-reasoned. It makes me desire a 4″ display iPhone even more. Bigger form factor running the highly polished iOS software & Apps.

    Android is just not there, and probably never will be given its lowest common denominator licensed OS approach.

    • Brandon

      I think Apple would be well served by a 4-4.5″ screen. IMHO 4.5 would be the best size, and if they do – I’ll be picking one up without question. If they stick with 3.5 for the next version – I’ll definitely be passing on it.

      • anywherehome

        But Im sure you will miss widgets, mass storage, microsd, free copy, free to install, adjustments, ….
        You will never want iOS again….. Im sure…..just try 🙂

    • Joe

      What do you mean android is just not there? ICS fixes most of the problems that Brandon talks about here. If you looks at the Android Design developer website (http://developer.android.com/design/index.html), you will see that , in terms of UI, Android is just as polished as iOS – although I have to admit little things like the magnifying glass are still missing, but that doesn’t make a massive difference to the experience.

  • robert t

    I read this entire article on the note. The devices screen size, color and clarity make reading websites a breeze. I feel like apple must get bigger or go home. Last night I held an iphone4s in my hand. It was so cute.. like a toy.

  • Vernal Scott

    Thanks for your comprehensive review – and a very honest one too. I’m not in Samsung’s pocket either but I’ve had my 32GB Note over here in London for about two months now and cannot imagine going back to a lesser device, and for me, that includes the Iphone. I understand that our ‘international version’ possesses some extra features, including S-pen functionality and processing power, and perhaps this would have a difference to your overall experience of the device in the States. All I know is that I am totally in love with the Note; screen size, battery life (spares available for £3 if you look around), sound, vision, creative capabilities, voice control…etc etc etc…and once again, that screen! There is an international buzz about this phone and it’s for good reason. Let’s hope the Note will inspire Apple to get creative again.

    • Brandon

      I’m going to have to locate one of these cheap spares… Battery life isn’t a problem right now, but a backup is always good to have!

      I’m also going to have to look into the S-Pen extras. I wasn’t aware of any added functionality that the US model is missing. Thanks!

      • Andrew Dodd

        Brandon – Great job on the unbiased review. To my knowledge, unless AT&T removed some apps, the AT&T Note is not missing any S-Pen capabilities present in the international version.

        HOWEVER it is missing a significant amount of the performance and battery efficiency of the international version.

        The AT&T Note, like the Skyrocket, has a 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S3 CPU. The S3 is notorious for its poor performance at a given clock rate. Samsung’s own Exynos CPU (found in the Note) can match or even beat a 1.5 GHz S3 even when only clocked at 1.2 GHz (such as in the Galaxy S II) – The Note’s Exynos is clocked at 1.4 GHz, so it will smoke a 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S3 on nearly any workload. Also, the ARM Mali GPU in the Note and original (or non-Skyrocket) Galaxy S II is significantly more powerful than the Qualcomm Adreno.

        Same for ICS – the international Note will see it much sooner than the AT&T variant. Leaks are already out there, I would expect an official release in not too long.

        If you live in an LTE service area – this is the only benefit of the AT&T variant other than contract subsidy, and right now in my opinion that benefit is not worth the tradeoffs (poor battery life, poorly performing CPU).

      • Rajvir

        Yeah Brandon,Another advantage the G note has over the Ipone 4s is the Replaceable battery. I have Upgraded mine to a 3500 mAh and I get through the day easily with a bit to spare.The 3500 mAh battery is same size, weight as the original one. I definitely recommend getting one just to make this awesome phone even better.

        • David

          Where can I find this “3500 mAh battery is same size, weight as the original one.”?
          My friend google can’t seem to find it for me. I can find a case that has a 3500mah
          but not a battery the same size as the original 2500mah.

    • Den

      Where do you find a battery that cheap?

  • ujji

    hi i just want to know whats the battery life while playing the toy, i am useing galaxy s II and it sucks. i have to turn off everything, brightness,touch vibration,sync etc i just think if someone has to shut all that then what good is the phone.

    • Brandon

      I generally leave brightness around 18% or auto for most tasks. On the average day I get 3-4 hours of screen being on before the battery dies. That typically is about 16-18 hours off the charger. I have push email from my exchange server, 2 gmail accounts that sync every 10 minutes. I use sounds for keyboard clicks and haptic feedback.

      Playing games kills the battery faster naturally.

    • Andrew Dodd

      Which GSII? The Skyrocket, the international I9100, or the I777?

      AT&T’s latest firmware update for the I777 has MAJOR power management regressions. It’s a bug that only existed in one or two I9100 builds but was quickly fixed – I9100 users have seen regular updates at least once a month, while AT&T users are still stuck on the outdated UCKK6 build from November unless they take matters into their own hands.

  • “J”

    I’m not clear from reading your review — Can the Note do email well or not? Can it receive incoming email in real time like a blackberry? And can you send a reply normally?

    • Brandon

      Yes the Note can do email well, however in my experience I wouldn’t recommend doing it with the stock application if you use Exchange. I use and app called Enhanced Email which is about $10 and works really well. Hasn’t crashed on me once, allows separate notifications for each email account and has a combined inbox. Another highly recommended app (from a co-worker of mine) is Touchdown – but its a $20 app.

      If you don’t use Exchange and just want push Gmail – forget all of what I said and use the stock Gmail application. It’s fantastic.

      • “J”

        OK, thanks. Now in order to make sure I understand, I’m going to reveal my ignorance. I’m not sure what “Exchange” is. Right now I just have a Blackberry Curve and I’ve never used an app. (I know it’s amazing that such people exist!) I have 2 email accounts: 1 yahoo and 1 gmail. Will the Note work as well for me as the Blackberry? Will I be able to receive emails and send them as fast or will there be a delay? I’m attracted to the Note because I have big thumbs.

        • Brandon

          Exchange = Microsft Enterprise Email Server.

          Your Yahoo and Gmail will work as well (or better) than it does on your Blackberry because you aren’t subjected to RIM’s system outages which preventing your email from getting to you.

          You may not get true “push” email dpending on how you configure your mail settings, but you can setup email polling for as low as once every minute. I don’t use Yahoo so I don’t know about the configuration, but you can setup Gmail to provide push email which will be just as fast or faster than RIM.

          That being said – I’ve never been a Blackberry user, so aside from getting/sending email I have no idea what else you may be missing that RIM provides.

  • Terry

    For me, this review is spot on. I have owned a Note for 3 months now and can agree with the weak points mentioned and enjoy the more obvious strong points. The weak points are tolerable for a number of reasons. Firstly, they are trivial. Much the same as owners of Apple products in fact – they are quite happy with their devices despite not having features commonly found elsewhere. Like replaceable batteries, ability to purchase a phone from any source and use what ever SIM takes your fancy, copy and paste (in earlier days, and so on. Despite these so-called weakness the units sold in their millions because for some the benefits outweighed negatives. Likewise with my Note. Another reason the Note is good (for me) is that the good points just can’t be beat by anything else on the market. For my money the screen is the best feature and S Pen a close second. Finally, as I am a frequent long-distance traveller, I can now ditch my old phone and it’s charger, lose the old tablet and it’s charger plus all associated cables and adaptors – and continue doing all of the same things on just one device now. On a screen like the Note, I can comfortably read a book, watch a movie with ease, listen to music, take notes, send or read emails, make a call or two, use Skype for longer calls – all this on one gadget that fits in my pocket. Highly useable! Not everyone will have same needs but for me the Note has been a godsend.

    • Brandon

      I think that’s the key – Not everyone has the same needs out of a device, so why is it always “one size fits all”?

      Replace that old tablet with a BT keyboard and you’ve replaced a laptop too! I wrote over half this review on the Note itself with an HP Touchpad BT keyboard and the WordPress App.

  • sree666

    I had the note, and was using MX player to watch video. Worked fine until it played some video which just locked the whole device. Had to remove the back cover and battery, before can get it up again. This to me is poor design. Yes apps can crash but it should not take down the OS with it. The video is just a 4 min long MP4 format music video which plays well even with iphone 3G! Had this problem with a few videos.

    Samsung should have provided a decent application to control the management of the phone like itunes. Kies is just plain awful on the MAC.

    The AllShare only seem to work with Samsung TV and not any DLNA renderers. Mine kept crashing when trying to connect with WDTV live.

    Yes the big screen is a plus point and so is the pen. But apart from note app, I dont see a real use for the pen – but this is just my usage pattern. Now if it could have been used with any kind of MS office doc compatible app, then it would have been great.
    In the end, sold if off.

    • James

      I haven’t had any issues whatsoever with lag on the home screen. I can see how guidebooks be an issue if every page was loaded up with widgets, but let’s be honest, displaying a fixed set of fixed-sized icons isn’t very demanding. there’s nothing special about the fact that the iPhone can do that well. the app drawer is all the evidence you need. It’s virtually impossible to overburden the S3 on the app drawer…and that’s because there isn’t much to showing a grid of icons.

      I think that the talk of “lag” has done a serious disservice to all of us. I’m not saying there’s no room for improvement, big the distinction that isn’t being made, is that there is a issue with Ui framerate. The fact that animations lag behind touch input by a millisecond or two is a non-issue. You deal with worse lag everyday on you’re TV or PC. The brain is wonderfully adaptive to such lag. The drop in framerate while navigating the homescreen is a whole other issue- one that needs to be hashed out by google and SoC manufacturers. But again, there’s no comprising between a device that has dynamic, often scrollable and interactive objects on the screen, and one with a set of fixed shortcuts.

      Copy and paste, as well as selecting text for other reasons is a huge problem, and the only.thing that’s holding the device back. Typing this on my note and replacing or editing parts of it after the fact increased the amount of time it took to get this posted by a factor of at least two. A huge impact on productivity.

      Until you experience the S-Pen and its right integration with the OS, you just can’t comment on it. There’s no way to adequately describe the improvement over past devices and styli the Note’s screen and wacomb tech make. being able to take a screenshot and hot on top of it is hands down the top application for the note. In the past, hardworking recognition was necessary due to the lack of dynamic support for overlays. The screenshot editing fixed this.

      the browsers tab management left me wanting more. While I didn’t have any Cowdenbeath scrolling, its important to note that there are options to reformat a webpage to fit the device (what the iPhone does). Firefox, by far, has it right, but the performance is the worst that I’ve seen since windows 95. Even my old HTC tilt did better.

      The display is something other-worldly. Its better than any display I’ve ever seen on any other device. And its impact on battery life can be severely negated by the “advanced power management option under settings, display.

      So far, the only accessories I have is the extra battery charging system, that doubles as a stand. The fact that I can kill a battery supercharging a second one means I’ll never be left without my device, no need for a large and cumbersome extended battery/cover.

      The only place I differ in opinion from the writer, is with the custom launcher. For Mex Go launchers performance reminded me of taking a dump after eating a large dose of morphine every day for years–surviving the experience required extensive effort.

      There’s just no way to best the conformability of Android. I wish there were. I enjoyed my iPhone 4, and it was only real option for AT&T when I bought it. But I haven’t to my mom, and I’ll never feel limited again. I can side-load, modify, or customize every aspect of the device, and you can’t best that. It has the best display available in the US, and the hardware is top notch. If, at a point in time, its not enough, I can always, overclock it, install a custom ROM or and flash it…something I could never do with my iPhone. And the fact that the OS is open-source and is governed by the GPL guaranteed that I’ll never again be in a situation where someone tells me that the last version of the device “is incompatible” with a new feature, or was too slow…like apple said with siri.

      I went from having a MacBook pro and an iPhone to having an ASUS transformer and a galaxy note. I haven’t touched my laptop since for one reason, if my tablet or phone is missing a feature or can’t do something, there is ALWAYS a inspired developer out there working in a port, and the battery life, portability, and functionality gains I’ve managed since switching to Android have turned me into a COMPLETE POWER-HOUSE.

    • Andrew Dodd

      Why did you need to pull the battery? Just hold Power for 10-15 seconds…

      I’ve never had video crash my device.

  • when the note was launched i thought that it is a waste of money but now i love this device.

  • James Rogers

    Hey Brandon. Great job putting out a balanced, non-fanboy (for either side) review. I know you and I went back and forth over your defection to the “phablet” after you informed all of us of your switch. After discussing it with you, I did actually go and try one out in the store for a bit to see what I thought. I wasn’t trying to be ugly to the Best Buy employee that came over, but I literally laughed out loud at the size of it. It was definitely too much for me, personally. But, since I pretty much carry my iPad with me all the time for work, I really don’t need a large screen phone, especially if it comes with the drawbacks I have experienced in my previous Android trial runs.

    I would love a 4″ iPhone, but I personally hope that Apple doesn’t go bigger than that. It’s enough for me, and probably enough for the majority of those who complain about the size of the iPhone.

    As for the stylus, I have found 2 new ones that I will be reviewing soon that are changing my mind about styli on iOS. One uses a much different approach that’s still in the prototype stage, and if it’s as good as advertised, will finally give iOS users the the fine point accuracy that capacitive styli can’t touch. I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on one. This is the one feature of the Note that has any real appeal to me, but since I use it in a limited way, just getting a stylus that works within 80% of its functionality on iOS will do the job for me.

    Again, great job on the review.

    • Brandon

      Looking forward to seeing what you’ve got in the works for Stylii on iOS. I’m waiting on a couple apps to update and support the iPen which I have. That looks promising, but the big downside is that needs an adapter plugged into the sync port.

      I really wish there was a good option for iOS that is as integrated as the S-Pen. I take a lot of notes on the iPad (NoteShelf) and a good quality pen would be killer!

    • Bervick

      I wish we could have a social experiment with people like you. And I’m saying this with sincerity. Not flaming. I would love for people like you to actually own the device for say 15-30 days. Exclusively. Have all the apps you use on your iPhone be on the Note. Then after you get over this size mental block, see how it feels to use the iPhone. You will see how the othe other side perceives the size of the iPhone. For the sake of the experiment, I would wish that Apple make the iPhone exactly as big as the Note and gave it to people like you. For a free no questions asked trial period of 30 days.

      • Brandon

        Sign me up for that test!! I’d love a Galaxy Note with iOS – but I don’t think they’d get it back unless they chopped my hand off after 30 days.

      • jhrogersii

        I doubt it would matter. As I said in an earlier comment, I would like a bigger screen, but I would actually be disappointed with an iPhone over 4″. I do use mine with one hand a lot while working, so being able to cover the entire screen surface, as well as able to type without dropping it is essential for me. I’ve owned and tried some larger phones, and 4″ is about the limit of comfortable extended use.

        Also, I have my iPad with me most of the time, and I much prefer its screen size and clarity to anything else. I’ve owned both the Nook Color and the Kindle Fire for extended periods, and if I found a 7″ screen absolutely useless for getting anything other than surfing and YouTube done, a 5″ screen certainly won’t fair any better.

        The reason that I mention the iPad is because a lot of the people I’ve heard from that love the Note are people who want the best of both worlds while on the go. For me, since I have the OS I much prefer and the apps that I need on my phone, and the large screen of my iPad whenever I need it, the Note would just be a completely unnecessary compromise.

        My use cases probably aren’t the norm, but other than the stylus tech (which isn’t near enough to make me consider switching), I just have no interest in the Note, or anything else 4.5″ and up, for that matter. I know many love it, but it just doesn’t fit anything that I want or do.

        • Bervick

          Reasonable and fair enough. If you’re a heavy one-handed user, you will definitely not like the Note. In that case, they should make the largest device that people in your usage category would use.

          Thank you for clarifying.

  • Micah Madru

    “Within 24 hours I was back at AT&T, paying the $35 restocking fee and going back to the Note.”

    I honestly don’t think you spent enough time with the device to get used to it. If I gave any device that was different than the one someone is used to and gave them only 24 hours. They’d probably have quite a lot of things they aren’t “used” to yet either.

    • Brandon

      On the contrary – I think I gave the iPhone plenty of time. I’ve been using the iPhone exclusively since the 1st generation model and I’ve owned every model since. I also (maybe I should have) didn’t mention that the iPhone 4S I originally purchased on launch day never left, as I gave it to my wife who now uses it instead of the 3GS she had. So, yes I returned the 4S in 24 hours, but I knew long before that it was a mistake.

      I would definitely agree with your argument if I had gone to something like a Nokia 900 or other WP7 device and then gave up in 24 hours – but I went back to a device I knew as well if not better than most people who carry one around.

  • Abel

    Nice review. But to be honest the way you described your headaches and shortcomings of Android is EXACTLY how i feel when i pick up my wifes Iphone 4s. In fact she HATES the trouble in trying to place your cursor to fix a word when Android seems easier.

    So i guess it all boils down to user preference.

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  • Neil Rogers

    Great review, I did exactly the same and traded iPhone 4s for a note, this took a lot of thought due to the fact that I love ios. My wife still has her iPhone and when I try and use it the screen feels so small and almost toy like! At first I was worried about how Android would perform, but I need not have worried. its just a case of finding the same apps to perform the same tasks on Android. If apple made an iPhone with a screen the same size as the note I might be tempted to go back… But until then my ios fix will be taken care of on the iPad.

  • Glenn

    I just wanted to say that the leaked version of ICS is here for the Note. It is MUCH smoother than Ginger Bread.

  • utsav

    When you get ICS for your note,try chrome, dont think you will be needing any other browser for whatever browser-related problems you are facing…

  • Vyasa Aesir

    Great review Brandon. When my phone broke I had choice of an iPhone replacement or a Note for half the price. I chose the note. When opened box I balked at the size but quickly fell in love. I’m a phone user who spends most of their time sucking data than on calls, so for me the ease of a big screen is great. Plus the high resolution makes it either a retina display or close to it. If you are unsure watch just one HD movie on it. You’ll be blown away.

    I’m known with my friends as a mac fanboy since 10.2, so much so that people sent me flowers when jobs died. I think android has some great features to win you over. Copy to and from your phone without itunes, some killer apps like dropsync, swiftkey x and the ability to use cracked apps without jailbreaking. Yes I love the polished iOS, especially the native apps but the note has a feature set that is worth considering.

    Spen is amazing. Thought it was a gimmick at first, but I use it more than I thought I wouldmainly thanks to the screencapture and edit facility. It’s worth a look.

    I’ve got the option of a free upgrade to the 5 but for the first time with a droid I’m on the fence. Every other droid I’ve had has been subpar but this note is so good it overlooks androids shortcomings.

    Btw typed this all with one hand on the note. The key is a different keyboard

    And Brandon, thanks for an unbiased reviews. Didn’t know such a thing we’re possible with such a divided camp of platform followers.

  • android#1

    ios is crap compare to androind nowonder he likes it and it dont have ics wait till it does. you ios fan boys are loser you know your icrap cant do what an android can. all the crap is hype. ANDROID VS iOS ONE ON ONE YOU WONT BEAT ANDROID. KEEP JAILBREAKING THAT CRAP CAUSE THAT WHAT YOU GOT TO DO TO ATLEAST DO 10% OF WHAT ANDROID DOES!!!

    • Bervick

      As a fellow Android fan and Galaxy Note user, I would like to say that this is not a good way to reach out to the other side. I’m beginning to understand that Samsung mocking iOS/iPhone users was a very bad idea.

      The correct strategy should be to recognize the good points of iOS and the iPhone. And they are there without question. Conversely, Android and Android phones have a good measure of great things going for them too. Without question.

      Maybe you did not direct this against Brandon. But if you did, shame on you. We should be encouraging people to test Android phones and the system and let them decide what they like AFTER A FAIR amount of time. The human condition is such, that one is used to something and they begin to like it, a change is not readily acceptable to them. This applies to you and me too. All of us. It is simply a matter of finding ways to make things for work for you. And seeing good and maybe not so good things in that journey.

      Lastly, I think constructive criticism is good. When you have a large enough base complaining, companies are forced to listen to stay competitive. I say let people complain if it’s genuine. It benefits us all ultimately. Otherwise, companies would rest on their laurels.

  • Carter

    Definitely looking forward to your follow-up when the Note receives ICS. I’ve been an Android user since the Eris with 1.5 and I can honestly say that (as much as I’ve loved the OS), ICS was the biggest leap in functionality and UI that I’ve seen thus far. The difference in smoothness is mind-blowing compared with Gingerbread and everything just seems more cohesive (not counting the few poorly coded and updated 3rd party apps).

  • Hi,Nice review but i think that iphone 4s still is the best phone and im sure that when apple iphone 5 coming everyone get shock because it’s gonna be the best phone you ever seen or touch …

    yhank you for such a nice website

  • Michael

    Great review. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the note. Actually I’m pretty sure, would probably remember due to size. My only issue is I have so much stuff tied to ios. When I tried to switch to the galaxy S II, it was more than I felt like having to deal with. I would love a larger screen though.

    With my new iPad who knows. May give a switch another shot.

  • alex

    I’m curious as to what the problem with your note was?

    • Brandon

      It developed a crack on the right side of the screen bezel. Not the screen itself, but the white edge around the screen. Knock on wood, that has been a rare issue and only a few cases have been reported so far.

  • Reasons why I bought this puppy instead of the getting the next iPhone…Traveling for a year and half around the world, so:
    1. Normal-sized SIM card, which is universally available
    2. Unlocked from the start
    3. Replaceable battery
    4. Love the stylus for drawing because it’s pressure sensitive (integrates Wacom technology)
    5. Size is a nonissue and the screen is great

  • Mehrab

    Hi Brandon. Have you come across the Swype keyboard? I’m not sure if it’s available on the US version, but it comes as an alternative to the default Samsung keyboard on the stock ROM without you needing to install anything. what I love about it, aside from its unique typing experience, is the fact that it has keyboard shortcuts like ctrl (command)+c, x, v and a which is ridiculously awesome. The Swype typing itself is incredible but anyone who uses Swype knows that already.

    • Brandon

      I’ve used Swype a few times, but I’ve never really fallen in love with it. I’ve been sticking mostly with Smart Keyboard Pro which works really well for me.

  • Bervick

    Thanks to Brandon, I was able to understand better specifically what iOS users prefer in iOS. I’m going to search for videos like the ones I linked below which show the favorable parts of iOS over Android for it to be balanced. So far, the biggest annoyance for me with the Note has been the copy/paste marking. It needs a lot of improvement. In some cases, it just does not work well in terms of easily selecting text. I agree with Brandon fully there and they MUST fix this. I do know know if the blame lies with TW or Android TBH.

    I stumbled upon this when someone linked to Part 1. While the views of this user do not necessarily represent all Android users (myself incld), I did agree/like some of what I saw. I’ve yet to see all 4 parts. The links are not meant to flamebait / deride iOS users in the least. I’m not sure if he’s doing that in any/all of his vids. If so, please pay no attention to that.

    As the user has titled them : “Android Vs iOS The Truth about Apple and Google’s OS”

    Part 1

    Part 2

    Part 3

    Part 4

    I’m happy to see another mfgr make a device in this category

    There’s also the LG Vu. That is a 4:3 aspect ratio though. To me, that prob is more tablet-like in form factor.

    And just a shout out to Brandon welcoming him into the Galaxy Note world. I hope he continues to enjoy the experience.

    • Brandon

      I’ve noticed a lot of my complaints with copy / paste (or at least cursor placement) have been improved with ICS. I’ll check those videos out here shortly!

  • Bervick

    Here’s another iPhone and Apple lover who switched. You can read his post here. Hilariously titled by Joshua as “Electronic adultery”.


  • 1ceTr0n

    I left Verizon after being a customer for over 6 years just so I could have a Galaxy Note in my hands, which finally arrived from Costco this week and I freaking love the thing, it makes my Droid X looks so… antiquated.

    Yeah, I wanted a Note THAT bad.

  • Brandon

    Just wanted to say sorry I haven’t been replying to the comments. Normally the system emails me when people comment on one of my posts, but those haven’t been coming through.

    As for the follow up review – I’m going l there’s an “official” ICS available, but I’ve been running the leaked version and it’s a huge improvement over the stock Gingerbread install.

  • funkyt

    I have been an iPhone user for years, and my switch to the note (initially mainly for the large screen to help my poor eyes and craning neck) was the best thing that ever happened to me – the best word to describe how I feel is ‘liberated’. No more iTunes. Customizable home pages with widgets. Live wallpaper (yea, it might be trivial to some, but I love it). I actually found that I don’t like the magnifying glass from iOS, or it was just not neccessary on my note cos tapping was very accurate on this large screen. Battery life seems better than my previous iPhone4S. UI was smooth enough for me.

    In general, I like almost everything about the note! The S-pen rocks too cos it’s convenient to scribble something down when I’m out sometimes and I can write and see my handwriting again (we type so much that we don’t really write nowadays do we?)

  • Mia

    I love your review. I never used an iphone but everything u mentioned about the galaxy is so true and spoke out of my heart. i love my note and thanks for the tip about changing the brightness… i didn’t know about it until i read it here! u gave me one more reason to love my phone even more hehe
    great review, keep it up and cant wait for an ice-cream-sandwich-review 😀

  • Envision

    Awesome review I also switched from a iPhone 4s not sure I could go back unless apple really ups the screen size for the 5 not sure I could go lower than a 4.8 or 5 inch screen. I’m pretty impressed with the leaked ICS build can’t wait till the developers get the source code and put out a tweaked rom.

  • hajime

    Hello, I have to buy a new phone this month. Have been considering the Note and the iPhone 4S. I have tried both but it looks the Note is better than the iPhone 4S except for possible security problems. Here are a few questions:

    1. I read that Android has more malware than the iOS. This is one main factor holding my purchase of the Note. An iPhone with a larger screen does not seem to come out soon. In case of buying the Note, what programs do you recommend to get to protect the Note from being infected with malware and virus?

    2. I tried out the S-pen on an application which came with the Note. When I launched that application, I saw many small grids. I used the S-pen to pick on the corners of the small grids. The resolution wasn’t that good. For example, when I clicked on the corner of a small grid, a dot was displayed at the center of the grid.

    3. Has anybody tried the official ICS on the Note? Has it fixed the lag issue? I experienced a long lag when I switched between landscape and portrait modes with the calculator launched.

    4. What accessories do you recommend? What are the top 3 cases and screen protectors to protect the device from fall and scratch?

    5. I played several youtube videos. In half of the videos, I could see the images made of coarse, square boxes. Is that due to a defect of the OS/Note? The store staff said that it was due to the low resolutions of the video files. I picked the videos randomly. Half of them had this problem.

    6. Give an extra battery or a S pen as a gift, which one should I chose?

    7. Has anybody tried a Japanese keyboard App on the Note?


    • Brandon


      1. Anti-Virus can / should be a concern if you’re playing around with warez/cracks etc. If you’re going exclusively with downloads from the Play Store you have a lot less to worry about. I’m honestly more concerned with dropping / losing my not than anti-virus. If you’re concerned though there are excellent AV packages available and I recommend looking at Avast (Play Store).

      2. The S-Pen takes some getting used to and can be calibrated. It’s basically a Wacom tablet – and I’m sure you know how powerful those are.

      3. There is no “Official” ICS for the AT&T note at this time. But I’ve been running a custom rom called “The Hybrid” which is an ICS build with tablet functionality and customized resolutions. It’s incredible to say the least.

      4. I have two “accessories” – an SGP Oleophobic screen protector on the front and a Zagg skin on the back. Beyond that – I haven’t felt the need for much more. I have a request in to Otterbox for a Defender review unit.

      5. Known issue. Some apps are set to 16 bit instead of 24 bit and produce poor gradients. There’s lengthy discussions about the issue – and it is software not hardware related.

      6. Battery only because if you intend to use the device ALL day (like constantly playing a movie or a game) you can swap the battery. A second SPen though I would not complain about having as a backup.

      7. Sorry – english only!

  • I am so grateful right now that you shared your point of view on the Galaxy Note! I have found myself drawn to this phone/tablet (“phablet”) for my upcoming upgrade. The most signficant attractions for me include the screen size and that stylus as well. Thus, I have been reading and watching numerous reviews– especially comparisons to iPhone 4s because I do absolutely cherish iOS and everything Apple. This article has been such a reassuring look at the device since the perspective comes with respect (and appreciation) for all that iPhone already offers. Wow, I do feel the choice has really just clicked for me… Galaxy Note: the digital age of pen & paper has won me over.

    • Brandon

      Given some time with the Note and some custom ROMs I don’t regret the decision in the least. I love this device and the level of customization it has.

      iOS/iPhone would have a lot of work to do to win me back any time soon.

  • Brian

    Thanks for all the info, last question, I’m way old, but still love my music, sounds like a huge ordeal to transfer itunes music over to “what would you recommend” not a real techie like you all, just love the option of listening to music and not missing phone calls, emails, chats…etc..Thanks again all…

    • Brandon

      I use an app called iSyncr Wifi (http://www.jrtstudio.com/iSyncr) — total cost of about $4. Works with iTunes so you can sync your playlists over. Also allows you to schedule syncing – so overnight you can automatically sync iTunes as well as any photos or videos you’ve taken on the phone over to your PC or Mac. Super simple and works great. Highly recommended.

  • downgrade to ios 4.1 and then flash with ipad BB 6.15.00 then unlock it.
    immediately after that u can look how you can improve to iOS 5.
    1.one for apple iphone with ipad BB.

  • Alan Stahl

    Great review on right on. Had a Iphone 4 and went to Samsung Galaxy S2-T-Mobile, liked Android but not t-mobile. Switched back to AT&T with Galaxy Note. Very happy with. But. Recently downloaded ICS and find that occasional freeze and have restarted on several occasions. Hopefully a patch will come. That said, will likely sell and upgrade to Note 2 supposedly coming soon. Thank you for a great and unbiassed review. It was refreshing.

    • Brandon

      If you’re not in love with your warranty… I highly recommend stopping by xda-developers, and checking out the AOKP milestone 6 by DAGr8. None of the Samsung bloat, extremely fast and incredibly stable.