Hands-on: Samsung Galaxy Note smartphone

Great screen, but will its battery last through a lot of heavy use?

The Samsung Galaxy Note, with the world's largest smartphone screen at 5.3-in, doesn't really feel all that big at all.

I got a few minutes to play with the new device at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), including some time the new S Pen, a pressure-sensitive stylus used to write on the touchscreen.

Samsung has noted in marketing materials that the device might be confused with a tablet, since it so big, and the stylus helps make the Note a tweener between the smartphone and tablet. AT&T called it a "task master's dream" in a statement, since it "combines the best features of a smartphone with the larger viewing screen of a tablet and the convenience of a notepad."

Pricing and availability of the device have not been announced, although it will run over the AT&T 4G LTE network.

My impressions: I'd probably not use the note-taking ability that much, but the Note is certainly light enough to make it easy to do so. A Las Vegas-based artist at the Samsung table, Kathy Bailey, drew my portrait on her own Note using the special stylus in one hand, while holding the Note in the other through the entire session. She later noted that it works well for an artist using the stylus input.

As an Android 2.3 device, it has plenty of bells and whistles.

But the real question will be battery life, I'd imagine. Lots of drawing and note-taking might make it hard for the Note to last a full day on a single charge.

Still, the 1280-by-800-pixel HD Super Amoled screen is sharp and amazingly clear. Having that screen -- and touchscreen capabilities -- might make up for the need to recharge the device during the day under heavy use.

I put the Note next to an iPhone 4 for comparison purposes and noted its strikingly larger size. Even though it is much bigger than the iPhone, it could work for certain users.

Galaxy Note smartphone
The Galaxy Note smartphone (left) pictured next to an iPhone 4.

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Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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