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Samsung GALAXY Note Size Review

Written By: James Rintamaki on January 9, 2012 3 Comments

 

I originally planned to write this review a couple days after I received my Galaxy Note in late October, but I decided to wait.  After using it for the first couple minutes, I didn’t like it as much as I hoped because it’s larger size made it feel a bit awkward to hold and use with one hand (at least, in my hand). It just simply didn’t feel right.  At the same time, however, I was genuinely excited by it’s specs and feature set such as 1280×800 resolution, 1.4GHz dual core Exynos processor, huge battery, stylus, camera, etc.  I didn’t want to not like it.

 

So, I decided to give myself time to try and get accustomed to it and then see how I felt about it after having used it for a while.  After a little over two months of usage now (a little longer than I had originally planned), I’ve really put the Note to use: traveling to France, Germany, and the US, multiple long train/plane rides, many days of using it as a sat nav, using it as a portable media player, extensive web browsing, playing games, etc. 

Note (ha), this review is going to focus on it’s physical size, as that was pretty much the only thing I did not like.  The GPS is fantastic (best from any phone I’ve used), battery life is great, performance is snappy, etc, but it was the fact that it was so big that really put me off. 

 

So, has using it for two months changed my initial impression?  Read on (or watch) to find out!

Video review of the Galaxy Note’s size (size comparison to other devices, jeans pocket test, and more)

 

It’s size:

It’s big.  And that’s just exactly what everyone, friends or strangers, say whenever they see me using it: “Whoa, that’s a big phone!”, “Is that a phone?”, “Dude, does that fit in your pocket?” (yes, it does).  And it’s that which seems to be the main factor that makes people like the Note or not, which makes sense and I agree with, to a point.  Again, it’s big, but with that there’s a question to ask which is: is it a big phone, or a small tablet?  It is indeed too large to be a true one handed device (at least, for my hands), but you need to keep in mind that it’s not necessarily meant to be one.  Every phone you’ve likely been using in the past has been a phone that fits nicely in your hand, so it’s going to be a big change (yes, I know the Dell Streak is of similar size and if coming from that phone, then you already know what it’s like). 

 

As shown in Samsung’s own ad, they too say it’s not just a phone, but also a tablet: 

Is it a phone? is it a tablet?

 

When I first heard about the Note, I thought – this sounds great – it has a huge, high resolution screen unlike other phones (such as the Galaxy S 2, iPhone 4S, etc), so it’ll be awesome for browsing the web and watching videos while still being pocketable – and indeed it is!  I’ve used it now on long haul train and plane rides, while on vacation, at home on the couch and in bed, and it’s wonderful for media and browsing.  I also had the hope that it could be my all-in-one device, meaning, I wouldn’t need to carry around my laptop and/or tablet (either the original 7 or 10.1 Galaxy Tab) in conjunction with my phone when traveling.  Normally, I would take my tablet (or Dell 11.6” 1121) when on vacation or taking long train/plane rides to be my main movie/tv show player and web browsing machine, as well as my phone for maps/gps, music, and games.  I saw the Note as being the opportunity to combine my laptop and phone into one device. 

 

So has it’s size met my expectations and desires?  Yes, but also a bit no.  As mentioned earlier, it’s not necessarily meant to be a one handed device, though I’ll admit that I was expecting (or hoping?) that it would be.  With my Galaxy S 2 (and all other smaller phones), the way I hold a phone is by having the bottom of the phone rest on my pinky, with my other fingers wrapped around to the other side, which then leaves me free to use my thumb to get everywhere on the screen:
holding_galaxys2holding_galaxys2_side

With other (non Galaxy Note) phones, I am able to hold them in my hand and reach my thumb up to swipe down the notifications menu, reach to the top right corner app on the home screen (though just barely on the SGS2), and reach the ‘back’ button in the bottom right corner. 

holding_galaxys22

 

However, on the Galaxy Note, this is not quite possible for me.  Now, I say not quite possible, as opposed to flat out not possible, because I can still reach up and pull the notifications menu, or tap the top right corner app on the home screen, etc – I just can’t do so without having to shuffle it around in my palm or without loosing my firm grip on the phone.

 

For example, here is how I ‘normally’ hold the Note (and any other phone) when just simply using it:
holding_galaxynoteholding_galaxynote_side

However, when I need to reach the top/top right of the Note, I have to slide it down my hand a bit (and therefore no longer have it resting on my pinky) in order to do so:

reaching_galaxynotereaching_galaxynote_side

 

Okay. That all being said, for the first couple days of using the Note, I wasn’t all that happy with needing to adjust the way I’ve always held a ; it didn’t feel right to have to change my ‘phone grip’.  However, after using it for a while, I’ve found my self holding the Note differently without giving it any thought, I simply hold it differently to compensate for it’s size and go back to my ‘old phone grip’ when using any other (smaller) phone.  I simply slide the phone up and down my hand/fingers to reach the places I couldn’t reach with the way I’ve held phones in the past and it has become natural to me.  

 

Is it pocketable?

Yes.   I don’t wear baggy pants, though also not skin tight or skinny jeans, and I don’t have a problem with it.  It easily fits in my pocket, doesn’t restrict movement, and is easily removed from my pocket. 

galaxy note pants

 

It even fits in a shirt pocket:
shirt pocket

 

 

Size comparisons to other devices:

Here are just some simple photos of it next to other devices:

galaxy note vs iphone 4s vs galaxy tab 7
iPhone 4s, Galaxy Note, Galaxy Tab 7

 

iphone 4s vs galaxy note thickness

iPhone 4s vs Galaxy Note thickness

 

Conclusion

Update 20 Jan: Samsung has just released an update which makes the keyboard more one-handed friendly: http://phandroid.com/2012/01/19/new-samsung-galaxy-note-update-brings-better-support-one-handed-typing/

In short, after taking a few days/weeks to really get used to handling a larger phone, I have zero issues with it’s size and now am that much more satisfied with the Note.  Do you have a Note and also had initial reservations with it’s size but now you’re okay with it?  Or perhaps you never got used to it?  Let folks know in the comments below!

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3 Responses to “Samsung GALAXY Note Size Review”

  1. Anonymous on: 11 January 2012 at 3:26 am

    well,

    u kinda stressed the right point, i am that guy who feels the same like you but afraid that i might hate it in the future.

    i know its kinda stupid, u hate the thing that u actually got the phone for, it looks funny.

    i will take ur advice and wait for more time , hoping to adjust.

  2. lolokoko on: 11 January 2012 at 3:27 am

    u kinda stressed the right point, i am that guy who feels the same like you but afraid that i might hate it in the future.

    i know its kinda stupid, u hate the thing that u actually got the phone for, it looks funny.

    i will take ur advice and wait for more time , hoping to adjust.

  3. soapy on: 31 October 2012 at 11:00 am

    I just got the NOTE II from TMobile. So far, love it. A little big but I am already adjusting and use it with one hand. In addition, you can format the screens to either a right handed or left handed person. Cool!

    The screen is amazing. I am coming from a Samsung Galaxy S II, which is also a great phone. Comparing the two, I am happy with the Note II.

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