The smartphone tablet

Samsung’s Galaxy notes straddles the worlds of smartphones and tablets like no other device on the market. With it’s 5.3-inch display, it’s larger than the swath of 4- and 4.3-inch phones we’ve seen, like Samsung’s own Galaxy S II. It’s also smaller than the 7-inch tablets in the market, like the BlackBerry PlayBook.

By Magnus Nystedt

Published: Sat 26 Nov 2011, 11:18 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 8:03 AM

And that’s both what’s great and what’s bad about Samsung’s latest smartphone, or is it tablet?

Holding the Note for the first time the size surprises me. I have rather large hands but it’s still big to hold and operate. Forget holding it up to your ear to take a call unless you want to look like stupid. Samsung should get credit for keeping the weight down though; the Note feels like most any other large smartphone.

Inside ticks a dual-core 1.4GHz processor with 1GB of RAM and 16 or 32GB of storage. Android 2.3 runs very quickly, I never had any complaints about the speed. Samsung’s TouchWiz, the interface on top of Android, brings some welcome functionality to the Note, and I find it less intrusive than HTC Sense, for example.

With such a large display you would hope that Samsung has put in a good one and it has. The 1280x800 pixel display on the Note is very bright, crisp and shows gorgeous colours. Pixels are not as small as on iPhone 4 but without a doubt, the Note has a very good display indeed.

Besides the size, the stylus or pen sets the Note apart from the competition. It has a think pen that slides into a holder on the back. You can use it to write with, take notes and highlight items on the screen. It’s a clever idea and I like Samsung’s implementation better than HTC on its Flyer tablet. I wish however that Samsung would take the stylus integration further and make the Note completely controllable by stylus. Further on the back you find a 8-megapixel camera that can also record 1080p HD video and on the front there’s a 2-megapixel camera for video calls. Although not the best I’ve seen from a smartphone, the Note takes very good photos as well as video.

Although a very nice device, what troubles me with the Note is the size. I can see that this is the perfect size but only for a small number of people. Most users will think it’s either too small or too big, I think. Although I like a lot about it, I can’t see myself carrying it around.

To me a tablet is best at around 10-inches, like the iPad, and a smartphone is small enough that I can just put it in my pocket and go, and the Note is too large for that. You really need to try the Note to see if it’s right for you. It’s also only if you combine smartphone and tablet in one device that the Note’s Dhs 2,995 price becomes interesting.

Magnus Nystedt, @mnystedt

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