Monday, September 03, 2012

Phone review: Samsung Galaxy Note

For all of those that came here for art...this post has very little to do with art- so feel free to stop reading.  Like wise for those of you who came looking to read about crafts...
This is not my typical blog post.  But something that I felt might help someone who is looking to purchase a new phone. 
I read a ton of reviews before I bought my new phone.  And after wrestling with stepping away from an apple product (I've had an Apple iPhone 3Gs for the last 2.5 years)- to an android device, I relied heavily on those reviews.  All of which were written from a technical standpoint.  And lets face it, I'm not very maybe this will dumb it all down for everyone.  I'm going to write this from a view point of someone who loves the iPhone, but needed a new phone and wasn't waiting for the iPhone 5 to maybe get on the market in a few months.

With that said...a few weeks ago, I purchased the Samsung Galaxy Note (about 4 days before the ruling in the case between Samsung and Apple).

  (sorry for the horrible pictures...using a digital camera to take these pics...a 4 year old digital camera)

Let's start on looks.  It's very sleek.  Very slim.  I opted for the white option, instead of the dark blue option that they offer.
It's much much larger than an iPhone (I'll post that picture later).
It's kind of awkward to hold and attempt one handed texting or even calling for that matter.  But it's perfect for two handed texting, which I was doing with the iphone anyway, because it felt more comfortable for me.  This phone, while being very sleek and slim, also feels like a wet bar of soap in your hands- so a case is a must.  I had a little bit of trouble finding one, but that may not be the case for everyone (I'm picky).  That's pretty much it for looks.
As for Functionality of the phone...Here's what I do like:
It has a stylus, that fits neatly into the back of the phone:
(It actually fits snug, but I didn't think you would see it if I didn't have it pulled out a little).  This is what truly sold me on the phone.  I use an app called "Sketchbook Pro" a lot...and on the iPhone I couldn't truly use that app to it's full potential on such a small screen.  With this phone, using that app was like being able to see for the first time-it's the same app, but with it being on a larger screen, the detail I'm able to accomplish is like I have my computer on and I'm using a wacom tablet.  I LOVE THE STYLUS.
I read reviews about how the position of the volume button and the power button is inconvenient, I didn't think that would be a huge problem.  It's not a huge problem, but it is annoying.  If you hold the phone in your left hand and go to turn the volume up with your thumb, the likely-hood of your fingers on the other side of the phone hitting the power button is pretty great. 
The battery on this phone is on par with an iPhone.  Granted it seemed like a lot less power when I first got the phone because I was on it ALL the time.  It was like I had never operated a smart phone before.  Everything was new and exciting...and on SUCH A BIG SCREEN.
The speaker is pretty decent if you are talking to someone on speaker phone (which lets face it, this phone is so large, I'm a little self conscious holding it to my ear to have a conversation, so most of my calls are on speaker)- it really sucks if you listen to music very loud through the speaker.  On a lower volume it sounds good, but I don't really do that very often.  With headphones I think the Note plays music more clearly than my iPhone did...and I'm using the same headphones I've had for the last 5 years. 
Speaking of talking on the phone, it's not awkward to do.  I do have some trouble finding exactly where the speaker is when placing it against my head, but it's easily detected once the other party starts talking.  I think this is just because of the size of the phone.
I mean this is what I'm talking about.  On the right is my old 3GS, on the left is the new Samsung Galaxy Note. 
Let's see what other things are there about this phone?
Oh, the fact that I feel like it is truly smarter than me, made me want to return it the first week.  I'm so used to having the iPhone, and my macbook, that I forgot how ridiculous other technology is.  I feel like I need an IT degree to locate settings on this phone.  Like the volume for instance- if you just turn the volume down with the volume controls on the side of the phone- that only controls the ring volume.  It doesn't control app volume, or have to get into the phones settings to adjust those, and they are all independently controlled.  That is a little annoying.
I do like that if I want to take a screenshot picture, all I have to do is swipe my hand across the screen.  There's YouTube videos of it, it's pretty sweet.  
The alarms on the clock have fun settings, like a slow wake up- where it plays a soothing melody to wake you up before the abrasive alarm sounds (you can select both the alarm and the melody it plays before- there's some good ones, IMO.)
The touch screen on the Note is so much quicker responding than the iPhone, from swiping from screen to screen to selecting apps, it's just more responsive, and that's with a screen protector on.  But that does make it touchy.  If I'm reading a news story and my finger is anywhere close to the screen, it tends to jump to the next screen.  
The phone automatically updates the apps (granted that's a setting you can turn off on your phone)- which is handy for me, because on the iPhone I would go weeks with the little number getting bigger and bigger on the apps icon, telling me I needed to update everything.  With the Note, it just does it for me.
Another thing about the apps- the Note is very much like a computer in your hand.  If you click on an app, and realize as it's loading that you really didn't want that app and try to get out of it, you will most likely crash the phone.  I've done this several times.  You have to let the app load before you get out of it.  I do miss the iPhone for that.  I could click on an app and within a few seconds before it was loaded, hit the home button and the phone would be fine.  iPhone is truly idiot proof...which sometimes I definitely need.
If I get a notification on the phone, wither it's a text message, a facebook notification, or an email; it does make a noise first, but if I forget about it, and swipe the screen to wake it up- on the top bar it will let me know what notifications I have, using little icons.  All I have to do is swipe the bar down and it will show more details about all of them.
The reception on this phone is a little weird.  The second day I had the Note, I was in a rural Texas town that my iPhone generally didn't get reception; and I was in the basement of a very old church, and I still had reception to make phone calls; text; and to surf the web.  However with that said, yesterday while sitting on the couch in my house I received a voicemail, without ever having had my phone ring.  But I can get text messages anywhere.  This is probably a provider issue, not a phone issue.
My biggest problem with the phone is the texting.  And this is a personal issue, not a phone issue.  I'm so used to the iPhone and how quickly it adapted to me, I tend to hate how this texting works.  The autocorrect has taken awhile to get used to how I type.  Meaning if there are certain words I use a lot, the iPhone learned after 3 times that I really meant the word I was typing.  This phone, just assumes you are typing incorrectly and will change the word while you type it.  Like "LMAO" because I assumed the Note was smart enough to know common abbreviations like that, I didn't bother to watch the screen while I typed, and would just send the message.  Which was actually being sent as "MAO"...I would love it if autocorrect could be turned off.  I haven't found that setting yet.
And the other big headache for going from an Apple product to an Android...getting my music and movies moved to the phone is the biggest headache on the planet.  If I had known it was going to be such a pain I probably would have stayed with an iPhone and complained a lot.  Any music that I bought thru iTunes in the last 3 years will not convert to MP3.  Apple has made it a pain.  When trying to move my music from iTunes to DoubleTwist (which was recommended to use to do this) I got a notification that if I wanted to move my music, I would have to update my iTunes (which my iTunes says there's no update available); and pay an additional .30 cents for every song that has this .m4v format.  An extra 30 cents for something I already own???  What a racket!  That actually made me mad at Apple.  Had I stayed with Apple, I never would have known about this.  There's ways around this, programs you can download that will rip the coding off the .m4v files to be able to convert them to .mp3, but I haven't had time to do this.  I haven't figured out how to get my movies moved at all.  Which is a little disappointing.  The larger screen on this phone will make watching movies that much more enjoyable.  I don't want to have to buy a new movie just to test this theory. 
I'm sure there's more about this phone that I forgot to mention, but I think this is long enough.

The conclusion?  I do like my Samsung Galaxy Note.  It is definitely smarter than me, because I still don't know where everything is...OOOHHHHHH- the camera on this thing is sick- the features that it is capable of doing, the clarity of the zoom, the clarity of the photos in general are amazing!!!  Great camera for a phone (completely better than my digital camera). 
Anyway, do I miss the iPhone?  Kind of.  I miss the simplicity of it.  The Note is definitely for someone who knows technology and probably hasn't been living in an Apple cave for the last 6 years.  It's been a difficult transition.  But I do love my Note.  It's getting easier and easier to use, and I'm getting more comfortable with it.  Although, if Apple did come out with a larger version of the iPhone, I might consider going back to them.  But that's just a personal preference.  The larger screen and the built in stylus make the Samsung Galaxy Note the phone that I want to have right now.  
I've been teased mercilessly by co-workers for the size of the Note, but I just laugh at them holding their phones so close to their faces to read news stories or play games or text...I don't have to do that anymore, I can see the screen just fine...finally...and I didn't have to buy a tablet to get there.

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