Thanks to its 1.5GHz dual core processor and 1GB of RAM, the Galaxy Note felt very responsive to our requests. During our everyday usage of the phone, the Galaxy Note was quick to respond to our demands of checking email, browsing the web, placing calls, launching apps, etc.
The Galaxy Note features a high resolution 5.3-inch HD Super AMOLED display with WXVGA (1280x800) resolution. This screen is colorful and vibrant and offers excellent viewing angles. When looking at the Galaxy Note's screen under direct sunlight, the display was average—no better and no worse than most displays we've seen on other phones recently.
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The S Pen uses Wacom technology and features 256 levels of pressure sensitivity. Samsung also offers an S Pen Holder Kit ($49.99) that gives you the size and feel of a traditional ink pen. In addition to the S Memo application, Samsung also included a lite version of this app that you can access from any screen by holding the button on the S Pen and tapping the screen twice. This functionality is handy, particularly when we want to make a quick note without switching apps.
In addition to the ability to capture screen shots on the phone using the Power button and the Home button, you can also easily capture screen images using the S Pen – simply press the S Pen button and then press and hold the pen to the screen. The screen will flash briefly and then open the image editor which gives you full access to the drawing tools found in S Memo. Once you're done editing an image, you can share it, save it, or print it.
You can use the S Pen with any Android app, but Samsung includes two apps that are designed with the S Pen in mind: Crayon Physics (a game) and Polaris Office (for editing Office documents). Other apps that support the S Pen such as Skitch (created by Evernote), Omnisketch, and Sketchbook Mobile by AutoDesk are available from the Android Market.
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Overall, we were very impressed by the S Pen and the S Memo app. They are easy to use and offer useful functionality that we don't see very often on phones or tablets.
You'll find 16GB of internal storage in the Galaxy Note. If you need more storage, you can remove the back battery cover and pop in a microSD card up to 32GB in size. You will have to remove the battery in order to insert or remove a microSD card.
The Galaxy Note has an 8MP rear-facing camera with LED flash. Overall, we were satisfied with the images taken with the Galaxy Note's camera. During our tests with the Galaxy Note's camera, some of the indoor shots taken with a flash were slightly blown out. If you turned off the flash in the same scenario, the image was slightly blurry. This is pretty common with camera phones today and certainly not unique to the Galaxy Note.
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We had no complaints or issues with the Galaxy Note while placing and receiving calls other than feeling a bit self-conscious with such a large phone up to our ear. Actual call quality was very good.
Samsung and AT&T claim you should get up to 10 hours of talk time and up to 10.4 days of standby time from the Galaxy Note's 2500 mAh battery. Depending on how much you demand of your phone, you may or may not make it through a day on a single charge. We were able to make it through a day (approximately 8-10 hours) of light to moderate use (checking email, surfing the web, making calls, etc) on the Galaxy Note's battery without needing a charge, but as our battery test shows, if you're demanding a lot from the phone, it's likely to fall short in comparison to some other phones available today.
To better quantify the battery life, we put the Galaxy Note through our standard HotHardware battery test. In this test, we set up a webpage with a mix of graphics and text. The page automatically refreshed itself every three minutes. We set the Galaxy Note's display to 50% brightness and turned off Wi-Fi. When we ran this test, the Galaxy Note lasted for 250 minutes while connected to a 4G HSPA+ network before giving up.