Featured user review Samsung Galaxy Note 5-16-12

The PhoneDog
Mascot from  Charleston, SC
| May 16, 2012

We love our fans here at PhoneDog!  Hence the new series, Featured User Review.  This Wednesday we feature a Samsung Galaxy Note review.  BIG like the device, this review by PhoneDog fan Danes488 covers it all for you so take a minute and check it out below.


Begone iOS! By Danes488, posted: May 12

Here's some things you should know before I write this review, and some of it is going to be on the iPhone (if you'd prefer to skip just search for Display1). These are things relevant because they contributed to why I upgraded to the Galaxy Note. I also work at best buy, and more recently in best buy mobile so I am well entrenched in the cell phone world. Also I'm an avid reader of tech news and follow pretty much any major announcement made when it comes to cell phones. And finally I had the iphone 4 for 2 years. The main reason I'd chosen the iPhone previously was that I got sucked into the hype (primarily) and wanted something better than a blackberry. Being that android was still a burgeoning operating system with a lot of potential but plagued with issues; I went with the iPhone, a phone and OS that worked seamlessly together and had amazing support for accessories and docks and anything a person could want. However after the honeymoon phase had worn off I found some issues with my phone. The screen was small, the speeds becoming more lackluster as I was stuck with 3G in a world quickly upgrading to 4G, a home button that would sporadically not work for multi-tasking (admittedly this happened near the end of the two years), and a speaker that made it necessary to have a dock because listening to it was near impossible in a room with any noise. So I set my eyes on the horizon with a couple basic requirements for my next phone: Fast processor (preferably dual-core), LTE support, bigger screen, better battery life, and do it all without sacrificing what I'd come to enjoy about my iPhone (battery life, etc.). Nothing seemed capable of meeting these high requirements though. The HTC Vivid came close but with a heavy casing and an amazing resolution but poor color depth it was ruled out; and the Samsung Skyrocket came close to meeting expectations but the resolution was terrible on such a big phone I continued to hold off and started to think I was stuck with the iPhone for at least another generation and considered waiting for the iPhone 5. Then I watched Aaron's 30 day challenge where he had the Samsung Galaxy Note and quickly found that this phone, which I'd previously written off due to it's gigantic screen size, actually did meet all my requirements and more. 

Display1: The screen and display on this phone are amazing. I played an episode of Top Gear on it recently with the volume cranked and could hear it easily all around my house (even while doing stuff) and it looked stunning! I love everything about the screen. Reception and Call 

Quality: I haven't had any issues in this department and consistently find the HSPA+ radio faster than my works bogged down network. Only issue I might bring up is the screen timeout; unlike the iPhone where the screen would turn back on after you pulled it away from your face, the screen on the phone is actually locked and requires you to unlock it to end the call. More than a little annoying with no physical 'end call' button to resort too. 

Battery Life: Samsung was smart to make sure they didn't skimp on the battery they put in this behemoth, afterall it would be needing to power a giant screen, dual core processor, and an lte radio all at once so they put in a 2500 MaH battery. For all intents and purposes it's a decent battery and gives you good battery life that'll last all day with light to moderate use. This phone isn't designed for light to moderate use though. It's designed for someone who needs to be on their phone for e-mails, reading, or media like netflix. And pulling off the back of the phone reveals plenty of extra space where they could have easily fit in a 3000 MaH battery to give you that little bit extra that you need. However if you are a light to moderate user and are near enough to an outlet that charging isn't an issue, the 2500 battery is good enough. 

Design/Form Factor: This phone is dead sexy, especially in white. Between the white front and back, the chrome look in the middle, to the camera and stylus on the bottom it is an eye catcher. But there is a disadvantage to all that screen real estate and it's that you can't use the phone with just one hand, and if you do expect to be fixing mistakes because you couldn't quite reach what you were trying to reach with your thumb. I feel like the phone needs a wrist tether on it to attach it to you since you can't hold it like a normal phone to get to all the buttons with one hand. Barring that issue (or just using both hands) the design is sexy. And if you take into account that android easily supports things like speech to text, and a samsung program similar to siri called Voicetalk where you can launch apps, it's not that big of a deal. I also changed the layout of my apps to better fit how I hold my phone. By making folders and keeping everything on the right side of the phone it makes it a lot easier to reach things and allows the background to shine through more. 

Apps & Media Support: I'm going to go through media support first and cover apps second. Samsung offers a photo editor on this phone that is amazing and does a lot more than the iPhone does natively for photo editing. And with support for features like allshare, a media piece that allows you to access content from your computer and play it on your phone or send it to a samsung smart tv (which is awesome by the way) the media function is in the bag. The galaxy note also comes pre-installed with Google Music, a music service that allows up to 20,000 of your personal songs to be uploaded and accessed from anywhere at no charge. The interface for google music is a little limited while in the app but works perfectly as a widget. Also while it's not technically media, I still want to cover the samsung specific software pieces like S Memo and the touchwiz adaptations for this phone. S Memo is a novelty item, that while cool, is hardly useful. And I really only use the stylus when I need a little more accuracy than my fat fingers can provide. However the new look to samsung's calender app, as well as the landscape layout for email and text messages (imagine outlook with the list of emails on the left, and the actual contents opened on the right) is amazing and continues to awe people and makes it extremely easy for me to switch between multiple messages easily. Then there are the apps. Being that it's android nearly every app i've used has had no issues and I continue to be amazed by the way the apps interact with each other and the phone. When I go to share a photo I am giving tons of options, and not limited like I was with the iPhone. However being that it is Android and there's the issue of fragmentation (where there are so many different types of phones from many different manufacturers running several different versions of android) not all of them work perfectly or at all. Redlaser, a favorite app on my iphone for price comparisons, crashes and refuses to work. Other apps like Xfinity and Epicurious don't use the entire screen real estate and scream that everything that makes this phone seem perfect, it is still just one more piece of fragmentation in the Android ecosystem. 

Final Thoughts: If you've made it this far, I appreciate it. I know this review was long-winded. 

The Samsung Galaxy Note is an amazing phone with many features that make it the perfect choice for anyone who needs access to media, e-mails, or just wants a bigger screen but is hampered by it's screen size at times, and the fragmentation of the android ecosystem. I am more than happy to have it and have no regrets about getting rid of my iPhone, i'd make the choice again, but it is good to be informed.

Display 5/5
Battery Life 4/5
Apps & Media Support 3/5
Reception & Call Quality 4/5
Design/Form Factor 3/5

Overall 3.8

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