CES 2012: Samsung Galaxy Note Smartphone

One of the more intriguing products to come out of the CES was one that has already been released overseas  but hasn’t yet seen the light of day in either the US or Australia. This was the new Samsung phone, the Galaxy Note, a Smartphone that straddles the space between phone and tablet – and does it very well.

For creative types and business people on the go, the Galaxy Note could be the answer to Multiple Device Syndrome.

Sales in the regions where it’s been released has now reached over 1 million units, so it certainly has found success so far in Europe, India and parts of Asia. With the Note expecting to be released early this year in the States and Australia, it was worth visiting the Samsung stands to have a look.

Samsung’s stand was massive at the CES, and a large portion of it was devoted to the Galaxy Note – there must have been over two dozen working units for people to play with. In addition to the stand, Samsung had set up a separate booth in another area of the convention centre where freehand artists were using Galaxy Notes to sketch up caricatures of attendees. I would have loved to have done that just for this article, but the line was unbelievably long.

So what makes this new Samsung phone so different that it has captivated such an audience? To start with, there is no tablet or Smartphone quite like it. From the screen to the stylus, it has managed to position itself away from any direct competition and sell itself on unique propositions.

Depending on how you look at it/use it, it’s either the largest mobile phone in the world, or the world’s smallest tablet. The screen size, at 5.3 inches, actually negates the need for a secondary device when you’re out and about. This is because the actual quality of the display is enhanced by the very first HD Super AMOLED screen on the market.

We had a play with the Galaxy Note at the Samsung stand at the CES and the two things that stood out for me were the physical dimensions of the Note as well as the emphasis on the stylus. The stylus is key to Samsung’s marketing of the Note, and they are building a whole sswap of apps designed specifically to take advantage of the Stylus, which actually hides away in the Note when not in use.

The stylus reintroduces a way of using a phone/tablet that hasn’t been seen since Palm Pilots were all the rage. However, the screen resolutions and applications that are available these days make the Note a compelling product for those you might call “creatively mobile”. That is, those that like to doodle away and design or edit and enjoy these activities even while on the go.

The stylus can be used for many different things, from freehand drawing, word recognition, editing and cropping, and a whole bunch more depending on the app. I can envisage powerful business reasons to use this new Samsung phone with this tool as well – I’d love to be able to highlight images or phrases on a document and visually communicate this to my contacts instead of typing/describing what I need.

Advertising briefs, presentation drafts and proposals can all be shared with better visual understanding of what needs to be achieved. Fit out a marketing team with these and they’ll never look back. So to me, the business potential for the Note is enormous once people understand how to take advantage of the tools, and the apps that are being rolled out.

The only uncertainty factor in my mind is the first thing that struck me when I first laid eyes on one:  would I really carry such a large device around as my main phone all the time? Compared to an iPhone, it’s gigantic, and next to a Galaxy S II it still appears oversized. I can see the benefits of the screen size – for reading documents, browsing the web, even for entertainment such as gaming and video watching, it combines all the features of a Smartphone and a tablet. But would I handle such a large device in my pocket all day, everyday?

That question will have to be left until we get a sample back here in Australia to test and report back. Until then, here are two short videos on the Galaxy Note from the Samsung stand at CES.

This one shows some of the functionality of the Note, particularly using the Stylus:

 

This video shows the video playback of the Galaxy Note:

 

We look forward to a more in depth review when a Note becomes available to us. In the meantime, tell us what you think… would you hand in your small smartphone and large tablet for a mid-sized smartphone that has tablet functionality and other enhanced features?

Comments

  1. Clint says:

    I am really looking forward to seeing the note up close and personal. I have the Galaxy S2 and sometimes I have to show people pictures and video of what I do. I find the Galaxy S2 just a little small and my asus eee slate way too big. While the Eee slate is great for a scheduled meeting, the note would be perfect except while working. I think this year my issues will be solved. I am big on the idea that a device should be bought because of a purpose and not made to fit a purpose. We have too many choices to have a one size fits all.

    • Ritchie says:

      Hi Clint,
      I agree, a product should be fit for a purpose, not the other way around. There are a huge amount of choices, and with a million Notes sold thus far, looks like it has found its gap in the market for people that don’t want a full sized tablet but need something a little bigger than the Galaxy SII.
      Do me a favour and return here when you’ve received your Note and feel free to jot down your further impressions.
      Cheers, Ritchie

  2. Kasper Kyndsberg says:

    I actually switched my Galaxy SII for a Note.

    I really like the Note but had I known then what I know now I wouldn’t have made the switch.
    Simply because the Galaxy SII is an excellent phone and comes with the same specs as the Note besides the bigger screen. At the same time I bought the Note I bought an iPad. And I prefer the iPad over the note as a slate because of the larger screen size on the iPad.

    But had I not purchased an iPad I think that the note would have been an excellent substitute for a tablet.

    BTW: I have the phone with me all the time. Because of my work I have to wear a jacket. I think its a little big for a pocket in the pants – especially if you are looking for a tight fit :)

    • Ritchie says:

      Hey Kasper,
      Thanks for your detailed thoughts. Screen size is very important on tablets, but so is true mobility, which is where the Note seems to have found its niche. I’m looking forward to a “field test” where I have the Note with me at all times :-)

  3. Peter says:

    Would I swap my SGSII for one of these Galaxy Notes? YES! in an instant!
    I am already waiting (im)patiently for the Australian release. A release yesterday would still not be soon enough :)

    I printed out an exact size image to perceive the size and hand holding. I don’t see ANY problem with the physical size of the phone.

    It wasn’t that long ago that many users were happy to carry around a device the size of half a house brick – complete with a 4″ (100mm) aerial poking out the end of it. That device did nothing except phone calls and then only for a limited time before the battery ran out!

    Samsung/Vodafone hurry up and release the Galaxy Note in Australia :)

    Regards

    Peter

    • Ritchie says:

      Hi Peter,
      Actually I remember those days, the antenna would stick all the way up your armpit! Funny how our expectations change over time, although in the case of the Note the additional size is justified through functionality.
      Hopefully have some decent hands-on time soon with the Note. Let us know if there are any particular things you want us to look at or include in our review.
      Cheers,
      Ritchie