Samsung Galaxy Note Review: Initial Impressions (Video)

Even if it isn’t my favorite new device, I’m glad to see the Galaxy Note bring something totally different to the mobile table. At first glance you’d think it was a tablet, especially when you set it next to a “regular” phone, but you’d soon realize the Note has a 4G LTE radio tucked inside to let you phone home.

Unfortunately, you might look a little crazy with that huge thing up to your face. I found that it was really difficult to get comfortable with the device, never feeling like I had complete control over it as I would with a smaller phone. On the other hand, the mobile video experience offered by the Note can’t really be beat thanks to that stunning 5.3-inch 1280×800 HD Super AMOLED display.

AT&T’s 4G LTE didn’t give me any trouble in NYC, and I didn’t see any particularly disheartening performance. But I will say that I can’t stand TouchWiz. Samsung makes amazing hardware, and I’ll admit that a few features of its UI are helpful, but in the end TouchWiz really bogs phones down.

To be clear, the Note’s 8-megapixel camera is faster than most Samsung devices, but that doesn’t mean it’ll beat out the iPhone 4S or even certain Moto handsets. Still, it gets the job done.

As far as the S-Pen is concerned, I have mixed feelings. I can see this being useful for anyone who draws or jots down notes a lot, like a graphic artist or a mom perhaps. But past that, it seems like a gimmicky feature that won’t get much use after the first few days — a novelty.

Don’t get me wrong. S-Pen performance was absolutely wonderful. There were a few lags, and missed marks, but it was still a much better stylus experience than I’ve had before. You can tell that a lot of time and energy went into making the S-Pen as functional and smooth as possible. But that doesn’t mean I need it.

As I said, adding a personal touch to photos or sending someone a handwritten note via mobile can be really cool. But that’s it. It won’t change the way I interact with my phone (touch is much more comfortable), and I don’t see myself getting in the habit of taking down notes or doodling. Some people, likely the ones I mentioned before, will see this as a godsend. But to each his own, right?

The Samsung Galaxy Note is already available for pre-order at AT&T, and if you place your pre-order before February 16, your phone will arrive on the 17th. It’s available in Carbon Blue and Ceramic White, and there are plenty of cool carrying cases and accessories that go along with it should you choose to go all in.