Introduction, Design & Performance
Decked in a familiar form factor, the GALAXY Note may seem like it's just another Samsung smartphone, which has the characteristic center Samsung button. Looking closer however, one would begin to realize how it dwarfs palms and fills the pockets due to its sheer size. In a bold move from Samsung, the GALAXY Note is definitely an oddity, seeing how the Dell Streak turned out, but would it be the same story all over again?
It can be said that Samsung has taken the Porsche 911 as a design inspiration for its range-topping smartphones. The GALAXY Note can be mistaken in a thumbnail for its predecessors, the GALAXY S or the GALAXY S II, due to the large similarities in design, much like the silhouette of a 911 over the years. There is little change to the overall form factor and even the materials used – the largely plastic body of the GALAXY Note is reminiscent of the other GALAXY models, and the device itself sports the same three keys (two touch-sensitive and one physical button) on the front of the device. Build quality is great as usual and the device is evenly weighted throughout its length. However, the sheer size of the smartphone also means that users would need two hands to comfortably operate it. The rear casing can be easily pulled apart to access the battery, SIM and microSD slot too. The whole package is surprisingly slim too, making it easier for one-handed use, even when our thumbs do not exactly reach the other end of the screen.
Benchmarking the Samsung GALAXY Note
Although the GALAXY Note is not meant to replace the GALAXY S II, Samsung has imbued the Note with a 200MHz bump in speed, utilizing the same ARM Cortex-A9 dual-core processor found in a large number of devices today and boasting a Mali-400MP graphics accelerator. This not only means that this is the fastest smartphone that Samsung is currently offering, but it should also take the crown off the GALAXY S II, which is the current speed king in terms of Android smartphones.
Two benchmarks will be used for this review, and both are also downloadable for free on the Android Market.
Quadrant: It measures the device's performance based on its CPU, I/O and GPU. Simply put, Quadrant is a benchmark that gives you a general idea of how your device performs against other Android devices.
NeoCore: It is targeted towards the device's GPU performance. This is especially important given how smartphones of today have evolved into an alternative, high-powered device that dabbles in heavy graphical interfaces and gaming.
We were actually expecting that the GALAXY Note would jump to the top of the benchmark leaderboards simply because it offers a faster processor, but it increased its lead only by a mere smidgen. The real surprise came in the NeoCore benchmark results, as the chipset used in all GALAXY devices is known to provide good graphics performance. Although the numbers may vary, the Note itself behaved like a champ throughout the test period, allowing us to experience good frame rates all around, even with memory-hogging widgets populating the home screen on its notoriously intensive TouchWiz UI. Even resource-heavy games and movies were handled like child's play on the Note, and with the additional screen size, the performance bump over other 'regular smartphones' is a bonus.