Don’t even think about calling Samsung’s Galaxy Note a “phablet,” a “phone-tablet hybrid” or an ambiguous “device.” To AT&T, the Galaxy Note is a smartphone, launching on Feb. 19 for $300 with a two-year voice and 4G LTE data contract.
The Note’s 5.3-inch display makes it a rare breed among handsets. You can fit it in your pocket — although you’ll feel it with every step — and make phone calls on it, but using it with one hand is out of the question. By trading off that portability, you get a large and rather pretty 720p AMOLED display. The Galaxy Note also includes a stylus (or “S Pen”) for scribbling handwritten notes. An “S Memo” app lets users combine handwriting with pictures, voice recordings and typed text.
Other AT&T Galaxy Note specs include a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor, an 8-megapixel front-facing camera, a 2-megapixel rear facing camera and 1 GB of RAM. AT&T didn’t announce how much storage the Note will have, but I’m guessing 16 GB, plus a microSD card slot, based on the model that shipped overseas last year. It runs Android 2.3, but Samsung has said it will update the Note to Android Ice Cream Sandwich this year.
At CES, I felt mesmerized by the Galaxy Note’s crisp, jumbo-sized display and smooth handling of Android 2.3. But I’m still not sure whether I’d become aggravated by the Note’s huge figure over time.
Still, I think there’s a niche for this type of device, and Samsung may succeed where Dell’s Streak failed two years ago. The Note has a much higher-resolution display to take advantage of the big screen, and it’s running an outdated-but-polished version of Android (the Streak launched with the unrefined Android 1.6). And whereas the Streak flip-flopped between phone and tablet, AT&T has a clear idea of how to sell the Note to customers: “This new breed of smartphone helps consumers accomplish more with a single device than ever before,” Jeff Bradley, AT&T’s senior vice president of devices, said in a statement.
Pre-orders for AT&T’s Galaxy Note begin on Feb. 5. It’ll be available in “carbon blue” and “ceramic white.”
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