I haven’t used an Android phone since 2009 when I used a T-Mobile G1, since then I have used a an iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and HTC HD7. When I first read about Samsung’s Galaxy Note I wasn’t impressed, I thought it was to big for a phone and to small to be a tablet, a kind jack of all but master of none type device. However at CES I actually spent some time playing with one of the devices and it goes to show that you should not judge a device by what you read. I was really impressed with the 5.3″ Android device, I found that since using the HD7 the iPhone’s screen seemed to small and I have found I really like large screens. So when I got back from CES I thought I would give Android and the Galaxy Note at try.
In the box is the phone, Micro USB cable, headphones and charger (in this case a European charger with a UK version in a separate box). The first thing you notice about the phone is how big it is. The 5.3″ Super HD AMOLED display is very nice, the resolution is 1280 x 800 and its really clear and bright. The phone looks like its going to be heavy but in fact its very light (0.46kg) and only 9.7mm thick so it feels nice in the hand, I know for some people its way to big but I like the size and the feel of the Note. I am not really going to use it as a phone, I will probably keep my iPhone as my main device but as a small tablet I can see me using it a lot so my SIM card from the HD7 is now in the Galaxy Note.
Android has certainly grown up since I last used it. The out of box experience is much better, I logged in with my gmail address and I was away. The OS is much slicker than when I last used it but after coming from iOS and Windows Phone it still feels a bit chaotic, I think its down to the flexibly of the OS, its much more like a PC experience than iOS which has its advantages for tweakers but may not be for some. Things like the gmail app is probably the best I have used even better than Windows Phone.
As well as the Android apps there is a Samsung app store which seems to contain some apps from the normal Android Marketplace with some specific Samsung apps. There are quiet a few pre-installed apps some better than others. Having not used Android for a while its hard to work out which are built in Android apps and which are Samsung/3rd Party apps.
I installed my favourite apps that I have on my iPhone like Skype, Evernote, Tripit, DVBLink and Dropbox. All the apps I use are available, there is a much broader range of apps available than on Windows Phone. So far I haven’t really come across anything missing on Android, Windows Phone is getting there but they still have a bit catching up to do.
In use the Note works great, it fast and responsive totally different from the Android of old and so far I haven’t seen a force close message. The 1.4ghz dual core processor makes it feel very snappy and with the combination of the big screen make the phone really nice to use especially something like browsing the web.
One unique feature of the Galaxy Note is the pen. With the pen you can draw, annotate and take handwritten notes. The pen is hidden in the bottom of the phone and works very well, even if you end up touching the screen while using the pen it still works. I am not sure when I would actually use the pen but its nice to have it.
The camera on the phone is 8 mega pixel and produces some good photos, they look very nice on the phone but maybe not as good once downloaded. At the bottom of the post I have some examples taken with the iPhone 4, HTC HD7 and the Note
Because I haven’t used Android for so long I maybe have a better impression of the Note than I would have done if I had just used one of the other recent Android devices but I do really like it Maybe its due to the novelty factor but I am using it more than my iPad at the moment and I have stopped using my Windows Phone all together. I could easily use it as my only device, the size is fine for me. iOS still feel more polished than Android and Windows Phone is a unique experience but I like the flexibility of Android. Whether over time Android will start to irritate me like my old G1 did time will tell but it goes to show that you can’t always judge a device by what you read, its much better to spend time with a device to see if its right for you.
If you have any recommendations for Android apps I should look at let me know, also I could do with some recommendations on the best way to manage podcasts and music Android. I use Zune and iTunes for managing my collections so could do with working out the best way of doing this on the device.
Whats in the box:
My favourite computer taken with Windows Phone (HTC HD7), Apple iPhone 4, Samsung Galaxy Note. In this example the HD7 actually looks a lot better than it normally does, maybe its because its a static object as I find the pictures are normally a little blurred.
Windows Phone HTC HD7
Samsung Galaxy Note