Is it a phone? Is it a tablet? As smartphones move to sizes of 4.5 inches and beyond, it's a question we've found ourselves asking more and more. The Samsung Galaxy Note is a new "flagship" product which straddles the line between both categories of device. Technically it's a phone, and you can make calls on it, but the large 5.3-inch 1280x800 display means it's not a million miles away from the Honeycomb-powered Galaxy Tab 7.7 in terms of specs. And the Galaxy Note has another trick up its sleeve, in the form of Samsung's new "S Pen", a pressure-sensitive stylus similar to what we've seen from HTC in the past. Samsung's keen to tout the Galaxy Note as a high-end product for business professionals and creatives alike, and we got to see its note-taking and drawing capabilities at today's Galaxy Note World Tour event.
Join us after the jump for a full video run-through of the new features of the Samsung Galaxy Note, along with our complete write-up.
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Unsurprisingly, the first thing that strikes you about the Samsung Galaxy Note is its sheer size. It's big. Dell Streak big. At 5.3 inches diagonally, the Galaxy Note is the largest device that you could reasonably still call a mobile phone. It follows the same design cues as Samsung's Galaxy S II series, and has the same half-physical, half-capacitive button setup as the European version of that phone. Round the back it's the same story, pretty sparse, except for the 8-megapixel rear camera. Hidden away on the bottom bezel of the Galaxy Note is the slot for the S Pen, which we'll talk about in more detail shortly.
What's most surprising about the Galaxy Note is that it's amazingly thin and light for a 5.3-incher. Even with the gigantic 2500 mAh battery on-board, it doesn't feel excessively heavy, and actually feels lighter in the hand than the HTC Titan, a 4.7-inch device.
Inside the Galaxy Note there's a 1.4 GHz dual-core Exynos chip and 1GB of RAM, along with 16GB of internal storage, which is expandable by adding a micro-SD card. Like the Galaxy Nexus, it sports an HD Super AMOLED display, this time at 1280x800 (WXGA) resolution, and the screen looks just as delicious as it does on the Nexus. The UI's bright colors jump out of the screen, and thanks to the higher resolution, fine details like small text in the browser was easy to make out, too.
Like the rest of Samsung's current high-end line-up, the Galaxy Note runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread with the TouchWiz 4.0 UI. Visually it's almost identical to what's offered on the Galaxy S II, the main differences being a few customizations to take advantage of the pen input and higher resolution screen. For example, you've got space for a few more icons in the dock in the launcher, and the browser has been re-tooled to bring in desktop-style navigation buttons. The phone's keyboard also allows words to be written in using the bundled S Pen, which we found worked surprisingly well on the pre-release demo units at the Galaxy Note World Tour event.
There are a number of unique apps pre-loaded on the Galaxy Note which take advantage of the combination of the S Pen and large high-resolution display. There's a dedicated drawing app, which Samsung showed off with the help of cartoonists and other artists. Like the HTC Flyer, there's also the ability to take full-page screenshots and annotate them, or immediately jump into a note-taking app to jot down your thoughts. Samsung's taken things a bit further in the Galaxy Note software however, by integrating pen input with its photo and video editing software. Sections can be cut out from one image and pasted into another, and videos can even be annotated or doodled on using the built-in video editor, which can handle videos at up to 1080p resolution.
The S Pen itself comes with an optional full-sized pen adapter, which makes it a little easier to grip, or drop into a jacket pocket. Good news for anyone worried about misplacing a tiny plastic stylus.
The Galaxy Note makes its international debut in Germany on October 29, with other European and Asian territories following in November.
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