I've been talking a lot about the Galaxy Note lately. It's nothing new, I know. But I've been hoping that, one way or another, I could get my hands on one for use as a personal device. As many of you know already, there was a breakthrough last week that made it possible to use the Note on T-Mobile and I set out to find a good deal on one. Long story short, I traded my Nexus for it on Friday and have had very few regrets.

So far, I absolutely love the Galaxy Note. I love the size, the form factor and having a decent camera on an Android device. Battery life is decent. And the performance of the phone has exceeded expectations.All of that said, the Note is far from perfect. Is it my favorite Android phone to date? You bet. But there are several things that I wish were different on it.

Here are the things I would change about the Note if I could:


Larger display with on-screen buttons

It's funny, really. I thought the one thing I would hate about the Galaxy Nexus was the fact that Google and Samsung decided to go with soft buttons instead of capacitive or physical buttons – an indication that Ice Cream Sandwich was the merging point for Android phone and tablet software. But those very soft buttons turned out to be one of my favorite things about the Galaxy Nexus and Ice Cream Sandwich.

The Galaxy Note obviously doesn't come with Ice Cream Sandwich out of the box. It runs TouchWiz 4.0 atop Gingerbread. So it has been quite the challenge to get used to legacy Android again, especially with a heavily themed interface. But the hardest part has been getting used to using capacitive buttons again instead of the modded five-button layout I had been using with a custom ICS ROM on the Nexus.

It's not that the buttons are bad. But, for whatever reason, I forget that the buttons on the Note aren't part of the display. And, oddly enough, I find myself using the S Pen ... a lot. The bad part? I catch myself trying to tap the capacitive buttons with the S Pen all the time. Needless to say, tapping the capacitive buttons with the S Pen doesn't do anything. There are S Pen gestures for back and menu functions, but I still try to tap the actual buttons rather than gesture with the pen, especially when I want to go home instead of back or want to search something. In short, on-screen buttons and the S Pen would have been a perfect pair. Too bad the two will never meet on the Galaxy Note.


Button and port placement

I hate to keep referencing the Galaxy Nexus, but with the Nexus, the button and port placement was perfect. That's even what I told Nokia in a meeting I had with them at CES when they asked me what I did and didn't like about the Lumia 800 and Lumia 900. The only negative things I had to say about the two devices was their button and port placement, and I used the Nexus as an example of what I see as perfect.

Of course, unlike Nokia's Lumia devices, the button placement on the Note is very similar to the button layout on the Nexus. However, one disadvantage of the Note is its size. I like the size, we've already gone over that. But it definitely makes it a tad unwieldy in some situations, particularly when you try to one-hand it, which I do quite often (yes, I even type one handed on it using SwiftKey). I have found that I have to shift my grip to hit the volume buttons. The power button is in the perfect place and lines up quite well with my thumb when I hold the phone in my right hand. But the volume buttons are about an inch too high to comfortably reach with my index finger.

Also, I have always preferred the audio jack to be on the bottom of a phone rather than the top. While a headphone jack on the top works better when sliding the phone into your pocket, it gets in the way when you're actually holding the device. And, personally, when I'm listening to music on my phone and the audio jack is on the bottom, I just slip the phone into my jeans pocket upside down.


The ability to make the display dimmer

Just last week I was complaining about how poorly mobile displays fare outside and in extremely bright conditions. I like to work from my porch and neither my MacBook or Transformer Prime perform too well outside and are extremely difficult to see. Every phone I have had to date has been the same exact way ... until the Note.

I'm not complaining about how bright the display can get, though. I like that and I like being able to see my display with relative ease outdoors. What I am complaining about, however, is how bright the display is on its most dim setting. If I manually turn the display brightness all the way down, it's still far too bright to comfortably look at in a dark (or pitch black) room. It's like staring into the sun. The worst part is that this unnecessarily sucks up more juice.

Luckily, I have found a few fixes. There is a mod available to alter the kernel and framework to allow for dimmer display settings. And there are applications in the Play Store, like Screen Filter, that can help do the very same thing without rooting and modding. But this is something that should never have been an issue to begin with.


Stock Android 4.0 with S Pen support

Many of you know that I am an Android purist and I'm not very fond of custom interfaces. I will say that TouchWiz isn't so bad and that I can stand it in doses. But after two days and having spent over three months with the Ice Cream Sandwich reference device, I miss stock Android and Ice Cream Sandwich like you wouldn't believe.

Most of all, I miss the stock Android browser and Chrome for Android and all of their seamless bookmark and tab sync options. But I also miss the task switcher, the quick access to Settings in the notification shade and simply the look and feel of ICS. For the record, the stock software on the Note isn't terrible. I can deal with it for the time being. But Ice Cream Sandwich would significantly better and I will love this phone so much more once it gets ICS – officially or unofficially, it doesn't matter as long as there is S Pen support.


None of this is to say the Note is a bad phone. It isn't, it's a great phone. And I'm enjoying it more than pretty much any Android phone I've used to date. But, like every other phone out there, it has its own set of flaws. No phone is perfect and despite being a different beast, the Note is not an exception.

Tell me, readers. What would you change about the Galaxy Note? And if you don't have the Note, tell me what you would change about the phone you do have in the comments below!

Don't forget to VOTE! Each week, PhoneDog Fans vote for their #1 smartphone in the Official Smartphone Rankings. Vote now and contribute to the industry's most relevant weekly ranking charts

Products mentioned in this Article

eBay prices for the Samsung Galaxy Note

Related posts

Comments & discussions  

92 Reactions to this post

"How would you change the Samsung Galaxy Note?"

Please limit your reaction to 140 characters or use comments for a longer reply :)
Thanks for your participation! :)

??? Bigger battery for longer battery life, along with Super AMOLED Plus display (without PenTile RGBW arrangement), and better camera (better ptics) + better processor optimization (1.4GHz Exynos feels like 1.0GHz Exynos......)
Johnny Murillo
Johnny Murillo And wireless charging up to 10 feet away?
Johnny Murillo
Johnny Murillo How about put a touch pad on the back like the PSVita so you don't have to get your screen dirty with fingerprints? And figure out a way to make it with the Exynos chip instead of weak ass Snapdragon3 chip? And ICS with on screen soft touch keys & no TouchWiz?
Rick Conrad
Rick Conrad Quad core processor big big battery and bring that baby to big red
Krushi Vemula
Krushi Vemula Make the screen smaller. About 4.7-4.8in
Tyler Charles Christopher
Tyler Charles Christopher I would take it from a 5inch to a 4.7 inch. Then I would surround the entire phone in an aluminum metel with a metel plastic backing.screen should be and dominate the entire phone. Replace the soft touch buttons with on screen buttons. Reinforced with guerilla glass. Update the software with android 4.0.make the phone quad core and give it a 2600 MHa battery. The aluminum and metal body/will be coated with rubber no slip grip on the sides. This should give it a more luxury feel and weight. The stylus pen should stay but be made longer and thinner. Front faceing camera should be 8 megapixles with the back camera 12 Megapixels.also the phone should be made unlocked and manufactured for both tmoble and at&t,supporting both bandwiths and 4G networks.now that is how you build a phone baby!!!!!
Kris Sabo
Kris Sabo i would not change anything!!
Darek Barquero
Darek Barquero Quad core, bigger battery, allow spen to use capacitive buttons, ics, telescopic spen, tmobile
Harry Kim
Harry Kim release it to Verizon, and better camera
Reid Bailey
Reid Bailey I wouldn't. :D
Douglas Frank Collett
Douglas Frank Collett Verizon
Roy Kuhl
Roy Kuhl we were promised ICS in quarter 1 now I hear they are going to try and get it out by quarter 2 Samsung never keeps their promise this is the last Samsung phone I will get very disappointed
Joseph Thelmas
Joseph Thelmas I've had mine for a month now and I have no problems with it just needs ics. And it doesn't matter how many mp a camera has if u don't have the display to match but I guess this phone has that too.
Tiffani Baldwin
Tiffani Baldwin I'd add it to the TMobile network.
Leighton Chappell
Leighton Chappell Make the app store include all apple app store games. Then it'll be perfect
Gordon Christie
Gordon Christie If you buy it from onthegosolutions.com it will come rooted if you wanted and there are roms out there already for it
Gordon Christie
Gordon Christie Easy it should cost two quid and I should have two quid lols
Matthew Norman
Matthew Norman ICS and bring it to Verizon PLEASE !!!
Denarius Crowder
Denarius Crowder Release it to all major phone companies. Add a 12 megapixel cam. Dual led flash.
Jared Augerot
Jared Augerot make it smaller.
George Isenhart
George Isenhart More Battery Life, put it on Sprint and decrease the size to 4.3 inches.
Scott Sanstad
Scott Sanstad Oh, and I'd stop selling it as a 4G phone and rebrand it as a FAKE4g phone regardless of the network its on.
Scott Sanstad
Scott Sanstad I'd sell it on T-Mobile, dump TouchWiz in favor of the stock Android UI, and put Ice Cream Sandwich on it.
Greg Rey Paramore
Greg Rey Paramore Make it available for Sprint and compatible with Sprints 4GLTE
Brett A Wise
Brett A Wise Put a rubber like material on the sides of the phone so it is harder for it to slip out of your hands, sense its so big.
Maxi Fabián
Maxi Fabián Why fo you People like ICS so much ? I rather GB, is better for me so far.
Maxi Fabián
Maxi Fabián A Quad Core Exynos processor Cortex A15 with faster GPU to improve the HD Resolution handling making a faster UI and faster multitaskibg.
Eduardo Ordaz
Eduardo Ordaz only thing to change is add ICS 2 it and ur all set! and have the best phone on the block. With ICS and a big screen.
Derek C Jones
Derek C Jones Make it smaller
Nicole Pace Buchanan
Nicole Pace Buchanan I cant wait.to get it! When will it get to sprint?
Juan Villa
Juan Villa More att 4g coverage
JuNed Islam
JuNed Islam 1.5 Ghz Quad Core processor like the HTC ONE X
Kyle Diggy
Kyle Diggy Its fine as it is love the big screen
Tyler Kirchman
Tyler Kirchman Thinner and lighter it would be more manageable
Ivan Pineiro
Ivan Pineiro I couldn't change anything about that masterpiece.
James Watts
James Watts Ics, phone is great but ICS!!!!!!
Raymond Sosmoove Samuel
Raymond Sosmoove Samuel Larger battery and a quad core would make it the ultimate phone..
Robb Dunewood
Robb Dunewood Release it on Verizon...
Jose Pablo Islas
Jose Pablo Islas Put it in my hand
Jarno Tuomainen
Jarno Tuomainen Bigger battery, support to rca/scart in addition to hdmi, change location of microSD card so it can be swapped on the fly, flipcover/kickstand as a standard. Otherwise I've been happy as a clam with my operator-free Note.
Amos David Usman
Amos David Usman I finally got a hold of it and it is too big. You need a satchel to carry that beast around. I'll end up breaking it in a day from sitting on it. Great phone but too big for user that don't have alot of accessories on them(bag, case, etc.).
Ryan Sea Lion Osborne
Ryan Sea Lion Osborne Make a reliable version for tmobile. I bought the at&t one for 700 from best buy flashed the tmobile modem and it kinda worked but there was such inconsistency in data I flashed it back and returned it.
Richard Neil Lund
Richard Neil Lund I've been running the AT&T version on T-Mobile HSPA+ for about a week now and love it. I would like to see AOSP ICS running on it, but other than that I wouldn't change it other than the usual stuff like better battery maybe. It's the best Android phone I've had on T-Mobile to date.
Frankie Mora Jr.
Frankie Mora Jr. Ice cream sandwich, quadcore.. 12mp cam
Winston S. Williams
Winston S. Williams Siri+ wheels to make it my own personal c-3PO like personal assistant.
Mark Fisher Jr.
Mark Fisher Jr. Use it for a tv remote if it had a app for it to do so.
Templo Uno
Templo Uno ICS
Mihai Alex
Mihai Alex I would put wp7 on it and then I'd buy it.
Jimmy SamuraiDeacon Williams
Jimmy SamuraiDeacon Williams make it white and sprint released.......gotta love that free internet.... (*-*)
Mitch Short
Mitch Short I would put one in my hands and change nothing else.
Beau Allen
Beau Allen More battery life and put it on the sprints network
Davide Mazza
Davide Mazza I've had mine for a week now, this phone is amazing! Love everything about it, just wish it was "slightly" faster. The speed now is fine but there can be a few rare hiccups. Oh and ICS would be nice
Reese Woodson
Reese Woodson Put ICS on it already and make it a non-pentile display
Chris Amberg
Chris Amberg put iOS5 on it
Jeremy Oliver
Jeremy Oliver had the att version for a week. love the unlocked international version way better. so I would say. take LTE away and make the att version just like the INT note. <----which is faster than the crapdragon in the att note.. not to mention whats the point of LTE when u are capped with data. HSPA+ is perfectly fine. and way better on battery.
Arnie Sifuentes
Arnie Sifuentes Atnt sucks
Ramon Coombs
Ramon Coombs I have the international version and love it to bits. The only thing I would change is the screen/display; when you watch videos with dark settings and colors, the screen shows pixelation.
Arnie Sifuentes
Arnie Sifuentes Change the camera to 15mp and put it on Sprint haha
Shawn Thornton
Shawn Thornton Discontinue it.
Dina Locklear Ball
Dina Locklear Ball Bring to the "real" network,Verizon
Brian M McCoy
Brian M McCoy Get it off of AT&T.
Luis Lopez
Luis Lopez LOL at T-Mobile.
Shannon Manns
Shannon Manns Bring it to Verizon.
Jose Angel Santiago
Jose Angel Santiago Talk to Dr. dre and add beats audio also!!!
Aaron Su
Aaron Su Make it smaller
Huey Liggins
Huey Liggins His thigh = this thing. Spell check is a bitch lol
Huey Liggins
Huey Liggins Just make the battery bigger and add 2 more cores. Also make a bigger speaker. His thigh should boom when I take my headphones out. Other than that nothing else its fine. I don't see the use for more mp on the camera. My pics and vids comes out amazing as is.
Octo Verduzco
Octo Verduzco Come up with a longer lasting battery of the same size!!!!!
Bryan T Miller
Bryan T Miller install iOS instead of android
Jamal Simpson
Jamal Simpson Make it double as a fleshlight
Juan Carlos Bagnell
Juan Carlos Bagnell I'd keep the hardware the same, but would've delivered on ICS by now...
Patrick Shirley
Patrick Shirley Sprint!!!
Ben-The BenAnator Johnson
Ben-The BenAnator Johnson Make a cdma version
Radu Tanasescu
Radu Tanasescu I'd give it to Apple and see what they can do to it :))
Timothy D Alston
Timothy D Alston Bring it to T-Mobile so I can get it with 4g
Wasis Waskito
Wasis Waskito Larger screen. Better display. 16 mp camera. The ss-pen feature. And I dont have it. So cheaper is best idea but free price is my big change.
Josh Essex
Josh Essex T-Mobile
Jose Angel Santiago
Jose Angel Santiago I would up the battery life,up the cores to 4 & make it 3 GHz!!!
Justin Peterson
Justin Peterson Agree with Chad and Itzel
Shaun David
Shaun David Burn it
Itzel Jeronimo
Itzel Jeronimo Lol what he said
Chad Richter
Chad Richter Vzw. That's it. This is about the only phone that could make me switch from my iPhone. I could make amazing drawings on draw something on that sucker lol
Alex Villalpando
Alex Villalpando make it on verizon and the world will be much happier
Dave Hill
Dave Hill Bring to Verizon. All problems will be solves.
Zach Brito
Zach Brito Have HTC make it, 14mp camera and put it on Sprint lol :-)
Rhonda Hill
Rhonda Hill I'd bring that sucker to VERIZON and stop f'kn around. -_-
Teron Facey
Teron Facey I would make it a bit smaller
Cree Ross
Cree Ross Change the camera to 12mp and put it on sprint
Logan Dempsey
Logan Dempsey sprint...
Dietrich Brown
Dietrich Brown Give it Tmobile 4g bands
William Fazzina
William Fazzina Larger screen, touch buttons, verizon LTE
Arvydas Gr

Most popular Videos
Most popular Videos
Most popular Videos

Most popular Reactions
Most popular Reactions
Most popular Reactions

This weeks "People's Choice Rankings" best smartphones
People's Choice Rankings

See all hot devices