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November 17, 2011

Samsung Galaxy Note GT-N7000 Review

When Samsung first unveiled the Galaxy Note, I had mixed feelings with the device. It’s got the genes of an impressive smartphone but a form factor that’s inching towards the tablet category. After having over a week’s time with the Samsung Galaxy Note and I’d like to share my verdict. Check out the full review after the break.

The Galaxy Note sits in between Samsung’s highly popular Galaxy S2 smartphone and its first 7-inch tablet, the Galaxy Tab.

To give you a good idea on how huge a 5.3-inch smartphone is, we placed it side by side the 3.5″ iPhone 4 for size comparison. As you can see, the screen of the galaxy Note is even bigger than the entire body of the iPhone 4.

The power/lock button is found on the top right side of the device while the volume controls are on the left side. The 3.5mm audio jack is found on the top side while the micro-USB port is at the bottom along with the slot for the pen stylus.

At the back, the 8MP camera is found along with the LED flash in the upper middle corner. The entire back panel peels off to reveal the extra-large battery. The cover is so thin it feels like you’d crack or break it every time you take it off to access the battery compartment (where the microSD card slot and SIM card slot are also found).

There seems to be two microphones here — one at the bottom for making calls and another one at the top which is most probably for noise canceling. The speaker grills are a bit small and is found at the back panel.

At the front, the secondary camera and a couple of sensors are situated at the top corner while the large, rounded rectangular home button is at the bottom end. The home button is sandwiched between two backlit touch panels for Back and Menu.

The large Super AMOLED screen is gorgeous, as expected of any AMOLED displays from Samsung. The screen is bright and crisp, has very rich colors, very wide viewing angles, good brightness and high contrast. The capacitive display is very responsive although it feels closer to the responsiveness of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 rather than the S2 (probably because of the higher resolution). Samsung was able to maximize the screen real estate on the Note and made the bezel as thin as possible.

At 5.3″, it’s practically a gigantic smartphone. What Samsung did was take everything that is great with the Galaxy S2 and stretched it an inch wider.

We can look at this and call it a hybrid — a smartphone and tablet in one single device. Samsung wasn’t the first that introduced a device in this category. We already saw Dell pull out a 5-incher with the Dell Streak 5 from a year ago, though they failed to impress the market and finally retiring the device this year.

But what did Samsung do with the Galaxy Note to avoid the same lackluster performance the Dell Streak suffered? For one, Samsung packaged the Galaxy Note with the hardware configuration fit for a tablet, and not just a smartphone.

Second, Samsung banked on the success of the Galaxy S2 and patterned the design and form factor from it. And lastly, the Galaxy Note was ready for ICS and it’s got a screen resolution of a much bigger tablet.

In short, Samsung made the Galaxy Note better than the S2 and Galaxy Tab 10.1 combined — a device worthy of being called a Android hybrid.

Samsung even bothered to include a dedicated stylus and though it’s generally un-necessary, it comes with a few tricks of its own (especially with Google Maps).

The S Memo is a pretty nifty feature. It is a such an integral feature of the Galaxy Note that Samsung placed it in center of the standard menu, beside the Phone, Contacts and Messaging icons. I loved the fact that you can fire up Google Maps, take a screenshot, draw over it and send it via email. As such, the built-in screen capture function works when you press down on the screen and push the little button on the stylus.

The TouchWiz UI is very familiar and similar to the ones we’ve seen in the previous Galaxy line-up. This is on top of the Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread that’s pre-installed on the device out of the box. Samsung also added a few more widgets to the device.

The Social Hub is still there for centralized messaging, SNS updates, contacts synchronization and calendar management. For the heavy readers, the Galaxy Note also has the Readers Hub which is like a library of News (powered by PressDisplay), Books (powered by Kobo) and Magazines (powered by Zinio).

Samsung also added a couple more apps and features on the Galaxy Note including a custom Calendar, Movie Editor, Photo Editor and Voice Talk.

The Video Maker is simple and easy to use and although the functions are limited, it is very usable. The maximum output is only limited to 720p even if your source is 1080p.

Voice Talk is also a nice function and, like most other voice command features like Vlingo, is restricted to a specific command format (at least you can program it to respond to “Hi Siri” to wake up the phone).

Here’s the complete specs of the device although the only variant that will be available in the Philippines is the one with the 16GB internal storage.

Samsung Galaxy Note GT-N7000 specs:
5.3-inch Super AMOLED display @ 1280×800 pixel resolution
Gorilla Glass display
1.4GHz dual-core processor Exynos chip
Mali-400MP GPU
1GB RAM
16GB & 32GB internal storage
up to 32GB via microSD (2GB included)
HSPA+ 21Mbps
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, WiFi Direct
Bluetooth 3.0
8MP rear camera
1080p full HD video recording
2MP front-facing camera
GPS w/ aGPS support
FM Radio tuner
Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread
Samsung TouchWiz UI 4.0
Li-Ion 2500mAh battery

The performance of the Galaxy Note trumps any other smartphone and tablet we’ve seen around. It scored a whopping 4154 in Quadrant (the Galaxy S2 we reviewed only had 2622 while the 1.2GHz variant reached the 3000 mark). That’s the highest Quadrant score we’ve seen on any smartphone fresh out of the box.

The fact that it can record 1080p videos and also play 1080p hi-def movies is already a testament on how powerful this device is (considering the much higher screen resolution). The HTC Sensation XE with its dual 1.5GHz processor only scored 2249 in the same benchmark. The fast internal flash storage certainly helped in here.

The camera on the Galaxy Note is impressive, as great as the one on the Galaxy S2. It’s got a fairly fast shutter speed, an accurate and fast focus that produces clear and crisp images with fairly saturated colors. It can even handle low-light environments pretty well, as shown on the sample photos below.

The Galaxy Note’s camera perform really well under low-light conditions. You will notice minimal amount of noise one some of the darker photos. That’s probably because in Auto Mode, the camera lowers the ISO settings as much as it can — the same reason why some shots look darker than they actually are.

You can view all the collection of photos taken using the Galaxy Note in this gallery.

The full HD 1080p video recording is equally impressive — it’s crisp, has good focus and really high frame rates.

Note: Dont’ forget to tick the 1080p video playback on YouTube to see the raw footages. Notice the stereo audio recording is also very sensitive and clear.

Making calls is a little odd because of the big form factor but if you have huge hands as well, it’s almost natural (not as crazy as holding the 7-inch Galaxy Tab over your ears). Composing text messages and general typical is so easy and comfortable with both hands (almost impossible with one hand) since the virtual keys are equally large.

Call quality is good to great and sound quality is decent but not that very impressive especially on movie playback.

Using the built-in stylus is not necessary except for when you want to do some sketching or photo editing and you can actually use it for general navigation (mind you, this is a capacitive display). There’s also a couple of gesture commands you can execute using the stylus with the pen button as the trigger.

There’s also the WiFi Direct feature but we could use it since there’s no other device to pair it with. It’s a bit curious that despite the integrated Bluetooth 3.0 we’re still recording 2.0 speeds when transferring files to my Macbook Air.

The Li-ion battery is rated at 2500mAh and is really good. I reckon close to two days on regular use with internet on. I was able to use this as a WiFi hotspot when we were in Jakarta earlier this week and it lasted about half a day with 3G and WiFi on (I think it lasted that long because the screen was off most of the time).

The device is targeted to people who are looking for a powerful smartphone and a tablet in one. It’s a bargain if you look at it that way but it might be too much if you’re just into an Android phone or just want to replace your tablet with a smaller one (remember, Samsung also has a much cheaper 5-inch Galaxy S WiFi at Php12k).

The Samsung Galaxy Note has a suggested retail price of Php35,990 (also exclusive with Smart under Plan 2000). It’s one of the most expensive smartphones to date, even more expensive than the tablets Samsung is also promoting (which are all under Php30k). If your coming from the Galaxy S2, this is definitely an upgrade. Whichever way you are coming from, the Galaxy Note is definitely drool-worthy.

Disclosure: Widget City provided us with this review unit. They also sell the Galaxy Note at their online store for only Php31,000. You can check them out here.

Samsung Galaxy Note hitting the Philippines on Nov. 15
Samsung Galaxy Note sale on Nov. 19 for Php35,990

156 Responses to “Samsung Galaxy Note GT-N7000 Review”

  1. galaxy note 1gb 29,700

    we accept CREDIT CARDS…www.facebook.com/onlinestore123

  2. Gams says:

    Wow! What a phone..Samsung is really a kicker!

  3. jorpetz says:

    id rather use this as a tab than a phone. i luv the big screen and the inside power specs! but i will just wait until ICS is unleashed for this beast!

  4. cris says:

    may cash out ba to sa smart??.. and what plan can we it for free?.. help po. thnx

  5. Michael says:

    kelan ba to lalabas sa smart? wala pa kasi sa website nila

  6. Lyndon says:

    I got mine yesterday here in Saudi. It’s probably equivalent to peso 34,000 from the showroom. This is one kickass phone, even better than S2! I’m no expert on phones, but I surely know how to use one. The screen is really stunning, i have not seen quite like it. The video playback is awesome on the 5.3, but I have a little bit of a problem with the sound as I am not crazy about it on this phone, as the speaker is just okay.. Dunno why.. plus the fact that they have this unusual design with the headphones, trying to make it comfortable by having soft inverted funnel shape earpiece that you tend to hear a mono sound, while placing it comfortably on your outer ear. If you want to hear a good bass, then you need to push the earpiece up your ear canal, creating a little vacuum, which makes it quite uncomfortable for me, but I suspect it would be okay for half the users. Well, I just replace it with a good bluetooth headphones of my choosing or until I get used to it. :D

  7. ientlerj says:

    Iba-iba ang pricings ng mga Samsung Stores. They sell it from 35,000 to 39,+++. I’ll suggest buy the Samsung Galaxy Note sa Samsung Store Trinoma. (Likod ng Nike Stadium) They just sell it for P31,000 for cash basis at P32,990 for credit card. (don’t know kung ilang terms ang payment). Nagkwento si Ate Sales Lady na nakabili na yung buyer sa ibang store, nanlumo ng malaman na 31k lang sa Trinoma =] BTW, Its legit.

  8. ientlerj says:

    Go to Samsung Trinoma. Its cheaper there. Around 31K. Other stores sell it for 35K-40K. Cash basis only. BTW, its legit =]

  9. ientlerj says:

    Sorry, I mean for cash its 31K and for credit card (don’t know the terms of payment)it will be P32,990 (SRP Price). The Samsung store is located at the back of Nike Stadium. The sales lady told me that there was a buyer who asked for the price of Samsung Galaxy Note, He bought it for 35K on other Samsung Store. He was like “Nanlumo”. And it’s NTC registered too! =]

  10. Michael says:

    is there a monthly cap for the unlimited data plan P2000? thanks

  11. Francis@BlogsDB
    Twitter: moretablet
    says:

    Samsung Galaxy Note, I’m starting to fall inlove with this hybrid android while reading this one. Great review.

  12. cz says:

    Confirmed, Samasung Trinoma is selling their GN for 31k on cash, 33k Card, while other samsung/mobile store are 34,990 to 36k. Hindi kaya may catch ito. Ung ibang store kasi naka-sealed pa ung unit na ibenebenta na GN pero sa samsung trinoma hindi na daw naka-sealed, meron lang nakapatong na seal ng SEPCO pero ung original seal from factory broken na. At ung warranty replacement is 3 days lang while others can give more than 7 days replacement kung factory defect and one year warranty for parts and services.

    • iam_JAYR says:

      ah ganun ba? damn! balak ko pa naman bumili ng GN cash tomorrow sa Trinoma.. I guess I’ll just wait a little more.. sa SM Marilao kasi 36K.. Too expensive.. salamat sa info pre!

  13. Marius
    Twitter: mdcarlosjr
    says:

    Had mine for 2 weeks now. Nothing like having one of these babies. Get it. You will not regret it. And by the way, Samsung has great customer support. They even have a social media support team at Twitter. I call their toll free line whenever I have specific questions about the unit (better sure than just partly sure) AAAAAND Samsung will be releasing a firmware upgrade for the note in the first quarter of 2012 (confirmed by the Samsung social media support team @ Twitter). Ohyeah!

  14. Richard Dean says:

    is there a white galaxy note in trinoma?

  15. itipiddotcom
    Twitter: itipiddotcom
    says:

    This is truly what i want for xmas

  16. mojacko says:

    So 31k NTC registered w/ samsung 1 year warranty + the official flip case na worth 1.4k ba?

  17. jortz says:

    I luv this phablet! Got mine before xmas and its fun takin pictures of my baby! Luv gaming! The size rules IMO. Metal music fits the media player!

  18. jeff says:

    I just got my galaxy note.. worth every cent of my hard earned money.. san ba pwede bumili ng capdase casing or any protective casing ng galaxy note? super shiny kasi yung back part nya mas maganda yata kung medyo may texture.. thanks

  19. marius
    Twitter: mdcarlosjr
    says:

    @Jeff congrats on getting the Note :) you’ll get used to the shiny back.. just use the leather flipcase it’s adequate protection already. You can visit Memo Express sa Sm north cyberzone and ask them for other accessories. Authorized service center ang memo express and you can also go there to get your Icecream Sandwich when it’s released 1st quarter of 2012.

  20. JYEAH! R says:

    I got my Galaxy Note last December 9. I bought it for Php28700 lang plus 450shipping to Davao City. Sa widgetcity ako bumili, ok naman sila ka-transact, kakatakot nga lang kasi thru text lang ako nakipag-usap, di ako maka-connect thru landline, it was also my first time to buy an item via bank deposit. I was pretty skird man!

    Then I felt na meron ‘catch’, I mean if u think about the low price! Ah, ang unit ala NTC sticker, which I think is not necessarily a bad thing. I think it’s imported. From Singapore ata. I’m not sure. I got bothered at first and then DANG!!! I realized something which made me laughed at myself—yung last two cellphones ko pala eh galing UK pareho padal ng ate ko at natural di rin Reg. sa ntc but they were both amazing high-end devices. So I decided, ‘the hell with the NTC thing!’ I just prayed that they send me a perfectly functioning device and boy they did! thank God!No issues to this day.

    About the Note, one word: OMG!!!!! Ang galing ng phone, the display is superb. Actually, everything is.

    Bottomline, I think it was a steal when I bought mine. Comparing sa prices as of now, 30k-33k pa, meron pa nga 36k sa isang mall dito.

    • JYEAH! R says:

      28.5k lang pala plus shipping. my bad.

    • Marius
      Twitter: mdcarlosjr
      says:

      Bro, get Blackmart Alpha and Applanet Market. Enjoy :) Don’t forget to install Lookout and Norton Lite hehe, just in case. Kaya naman ng Note parehas, both are light on the RAM

  21. Pinoy Android News
    Twitter: pinoyandroid
    says:

    The Galaxy Note is a nick breaker period! People will stair at you like you did a horrible crime…

  22. Marius
    Twitter: mdcarlosjr
    says:

    @PinoyAndroid You’re right, I get those strange stares all the time when i’m in a cafe or when I’m just walking in the mall, looking at my messages. One time a group of college peepz even started talking about my Note while I was drinking coffee. Hehe. I guess the size of the device gets them every time.

  23. eric says:

    lols thats a “JURASSIC” phone… we pinoys only have a small hands, so that will be humongous on our hands … iphone is still the best… mad sosyal kasi pag naka iphone ka unlike that brand naka samsung ka lang

  24. eric says:

    lols thats a “JURASSIC” phone… we pinoys only have a small hands, so that will be humongous on our hands …

  25. Marius
    Twitter: mdcarlosjr
    says:

    Dear Troll,

    Hindi ko binili ang Galaxy Note para maging sosyal. Binili ko to kasi mahilig ako sa HD games at nagsusulat din ako sa device ko dahil writer ako by trade. Ginagamit ko ang Polaris Office at QuickOffice HD Pro. Nawa ay basbasan ka ng konting IQ para naman maintindihan mo na hindi lahat ng may high end devices e nagpapasosyal lang.

    Kung di mo ito maintindihan, pakamatay ka na lang. Choke on your iPhone. :) (If you have one)

    Sincerely,
    Samsung Galaxy Note User

    • JYEAH! R says:

      Bro,
      Them trolls are everywhere. Too bad they don’t know how over-hyped & overpriced that fruit-phone they love is. Pagnaka-iphone, sosyal? Weh? Where do these people get off man! They are paying for the brand?

      Anyways, salamat sa tips sa market apps. Never heard of them and I am yet to try them. About sa antivirus, ok na ba AVG Pro anti-virus? I think it works. I got it for free sa Samsung Hub app. There, they even supposedly give you a 120pounds-worth voucher to download movies+music which doesn’t work for me. Baka dahil for UK customers only ata. At least naka kuha ako AVG. HEHE

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