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HistoryThe Galaxy Note was announced by Samsung during IFA 2011 in Berlin. It was released to the public starting with Germany in late October 2011, with other countries following shortly after that. By the end of November, it was available in most major markets, including East Asia, Europe and India.
In December 2011, Samsung announced that one million Galaxy Notes were shipped in less than two months, and that a North American variant would be available in February 2012. In January 2012, the US version of the Galaxy Note was featured at the 2012 International CES in Las Vegas, allowing press to get an early look at the new device.
As of the first quarter of 2012 from January to March, 5 million have been sold.
Size and constructionGalaxy S II and the Galaxy Tab tablet. PC World Australia opined that Samsung Galaxy Note is too big to be a true mobile phone, citing the difficulty of using it single-handed. Techradar questions Samsung Galaxy Note's marketability as users cannot store it in a small pocket and that users look ungainly when holding it against their faces while conversing. GigaOM hails it as a pioneer in a new market segment, despite the similar but unsuccessful Dell Streak, combining the best features of both device types. Pocket-lint has remarked that Samsung Galaxy Note shows potential as a games console.
Like most recent smartphones and tablets, the device is constructed in the "slate" format (see Slate phone and Slate tablet). The body is built from plastic with a metallised rim. The front panel is Gorilla Glass, a strengthened glass often used for high-end devices such as this.
The front panel houses one physical "home" button (for activating the device and switching to the home screen), two illuminated touch pads ("menu" and "back"), the display, the front-facing camera, and light and proximity sensors. At the back is a thin plastic snap-on panel with an indent for a fingernail to facilitate removal, for access to the 2500mAh battery, SIM card and SD Card. The back panel houses the speaker and main camera and flash. The metallic rim houses several controls: at the top edge is the 4-pole 3.5mm jack socket for connecting the headset (which incorporates in-canal earphones, FM radio aerial, microphone and volume control) and a pinhole microphone; at the bottom is the micro-USB socket for charging and data transfer, another pinhole microphone, and the well for storing the stylus; and the sides house an on-off button and a volume control.
Hardware and software featuresHardware specifications of the device include:
- a dual-core 1.4Ghz Exynos processor or a 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S3 processor (AT&T, SK Telecom, KT, LG U+)
- a 5.3” WXGA (1280 x 800) HD Super AMOLED screen
- an 8-megapixel main camera that can record 1080p video, and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera
- 802.11 b/g/n support for Wi-Fi
- Quad-band HSPA+ 21Mbit/s 850/900/1900/2100 mobile network support, LTE support for the Korean and North American variants
- Global positioning using both the a-GPS and GLONASS systems.
StylusThe Galaxy Note includes a stylus which Samsung calls the "S Pen." The stylus tucks into the bottom panel of the phone and can be used in a variety of apps. It can simply replace the use of a finger in situations where precision is needed, but it is also equipped with a "shift" button, which when pressed enables other functions such as grabbing screenshots (which can then be drawn on using the stylus) or for writing sticky notes with drawing/handwriting, text input, and pictures. The stylus uses a Wacom digitiser system which results in accurate pressure-sensitive input.
Samsung released in late November 2011 an SDK (software development kit) for the stylus so developers can write third-party apps that use it for input. Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich", which is expected to be made available for the Galaxy Note in 2012, also includes support for stylus input.
Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) devices in the 1990s used the stylus as a primary input method. Many other touchscreen smartphones in the 2000s also included styluses, although the Galaxy Note is notable in that it has a capacitive touchscreen and a stylus, where as traditionally styluses could only be supported on pressure sensitive resistive touchscreens. The Galaxy Note stylus implementation has been described as high quality.
SoftwareThe Galaxy Note is equipped with Android 2.3 "Gingerbread", but Samsung have said that they will be releasing an upgrade to Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" in the second quarter of 2012. The standard Android user interface is overlaid with Samsung's TouchWiz 4.0 interface, which includes support for the device's stylus, among other features.
Several application programs are pre-loaded on the device. These include the standard Android applications such as email, web browsing, and media playback, as well as some programs aimed mainly at business users, such as Polaris Office, personal information manager software, a note-taking application, and one game, Crayon Physics Deluxe.
Text inputUsers can enter text into Samsung Galaxy Note with an on-screen keyboard, with handwriting recognition using the stylus, and with Swype.
CamerasThe device features an 8-megapixel (2448 x 3264 pixels) main camera with flash on the back panel, and a 2-megapixel (1200 x 1600 pixels) camera on the front, primarily for video phone calls. The clear lens cover of the main camera lies flush with the back panel, exposing it to the same scratches that the panel might suffer, which has been a source of criticism. However, the quality of images captured with the main camera has been praised. Video recording through the main camera is 1080p ("Full HD") at 30 frames per second. Photo-editing and video-editing software is supplied with the device.
VariantsThe Galaxy Note was initially produced with a black body (dubbed "carbon blue" by Samsung), but a white body was later made available.
The following performance variants of the Galaxy Note have been made available:
- N7000 - The original version, with a dual-core 1.4 GHz Cortex A9 processor
- N7003 - A lower-powered and cheaper version, with a single-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 8255T processor with an S-LCD screen initially available in South Africa.
- LTE version - with higher-speed communications ability, available exclusively in South Korea