It’s hard to find any fault with the Samsung Note. The super AMOLED 1280 X 800 screen is enough to blow you away with its clear and vibrant images. It really got my attention. Because of the high resolution as compared to iPhone’s 960 X 640, your handwriting will appear so smooth, it’s like pen on paper. If you’re like me who loves to doodle and take notes, you’ll be very impressed with this device.
Size-wise, it sits in between the iPhone and iPad. Here’s a comparison between the Note and my iPhone 4.
It’s quite a fair bit larger than the iPhone but surprisingly not that much heavier at 178g compared to the iPhone’s 140g. But in most cases, the weight plays a less important role than the size. You would either love it or stay away from it.
They say the best camera you’ll have is the one with you all the time. I’m a firm believer of that so how does the 8Mpix camera perform? Specifically in the areas of noise performance and auto white balance. I like the fact that you can customize shortcuts by dragging and dropping the shortcuts to the left bar.
I just wish that I can operate the camera without accessing the app. This is where the iPhone 4S is so handy because the camera can be accessed right from the lock screen.
I would also like to have a dedicated physical shutter button. Especially with the large size, it really becomes awkward trying to hold it steady and using a finger to hit the button. All these features will make it operate more like a point and shoot camera.
So how about white balance? A straight forward outdoor shot like the one below should be easily handled by the camera. Image on the left was taken with Auto White Balance and on the left with Sunny WB. I’m not sure what you see on your screen but the AWB gives a cooler image compared to the warm tones of the Sunny WB.
Indoors, the auto white balance performed fairly well under warm lighting. This is one of the more challenging lighting conditions for cameras. I took this shot with mixed lighting as I’m drafting this post. So we have warm lighting from the LED spots in the background with color temperature close to tungsten and the cool white glow from the Mac in the foreground.
From top left to bottom right:
2. AWB – Auto white balance
Verdict: AWB was really close to the actual lighting condition whereas the incandescent gave the background a neutral tone. Works perfectly well in this example. I’m very impressed with the AWB in this instance.
So what about noise? In the example you’ll be able to see noise in the shadow details. On the left is an image taken at ISO 100 and on the right, ISO 800.
Looking at the shadows, the ISO 100 picture performs well but the ISO 800 image is very noisy, viewing at 100%. The good thing about the noise characteristic is the monochromatic quality (not the red and green dots), which to me makes it a lot more acceptable.
After capturing the image and viewing it in the gallery, the Note makes it very easy to share the picture. I like this a lot especially being able to share the pictures via bluetooth and wifi.
Moving on to data entry, I’m getting used to the S Pen. It fits nicely in a slot at the bottom of the Note. With this, you can easily sketch and draw just like any ordinary pen. You can use the S Pen for data entry with its handwriting recognition and also to write directly on notes. I actually would love something like this for the iPad. Writing notes with fingers seems so unintuitive. I have a few iPad apps for doing this but have stopped using them. Even with a third party stylus, the resolution is just not high enough. So this is one feature that makes the Note so appealing. Another added feature is the button. However, I still have difficulty locating the button with my fingers. Once you’ve done so, it adds another set of shortcuts which makes navigating a far richer experience.
This is an example where I incorporated a picture in the S memo. You also include maps and as before in the camera, share it easily. This is so useful to deliver your ideas and of course give directions to a hopelessly lost person.
Besides the impressive S memo, the Note comes with a few Samsung apps such as Social Hub, S Choice category of apps designed for the S Pen, S Planner to name a few. I like the S Planner. It can sync with Google Calendar which I use a lot. It also syncs which Microsoft Exchange although I have not tried that. The big screen of the Note makes it really useful to have a quick glance at all the appointments in the month screen. I use a third party app for my iPhone to do this but it’s a big plus that this is integrated as a native app into the phone itself. Moving appointments around is just a simple drag and drop.
So this concludes a short review on the Note. What I love is the AMOLED screen, the fast 1.4GHz processor running the Android 2.3 Gingerbread, amazing graphics, S Pen for note taking, media handling, etc. I’m still getting used to the size and pondering whether it’ll be my iPhone replacement. Comments from other users I’ve asked reveal that the strongest point is actually the size. Perhaps that’s where I’ll be gravitating to the more I use it.