Samsung Galaxy Note review: It's a phone, not a tablet

There are a lot of things that AT&T's humongous Samsung Galaxy Note smartphone is, like a digital memo pad, a medium-size reader, and a great photo companion.

Samsung Galaxy Note
Sarah Tew/CNET

Don't let its 5.3-inch size fool you; the Samsung Galaxy Note for AT&T is no tablet.

What it is, is a very large Android 2.3 smartphone firmly rooted in the Galaxy S II family tree. Yet the Note branches off in two places: that huge screen that makes the phone awkward to hold, and the stylus--called the S-Pen--that lets you navigate, write, and doodle in all sorts of apps.

Not everyone's going to like the size; in fact, I suspect it'll be a niche group who does. And yes, some people who are casually considering a tablet might also decide that they'd be happy with a big-screen phone instead. Yet the extra screen size does make watching videos and viewing photos pretty ideal for a smartphone (and annoyingly small for a tablet).

There's also that S-Pen to think about. It surely reopens a long-forgotten world of handwriting notes and doodling images that largely disappeared half a decade ago, but brings with it some potentially problematic lagginess and less-than-faithful reproduction of your pen strokes.

At any rate, the Galaxy Note doesn't skimp on high-end screen, processor, and camera specs, and the phone is 4G LTE-ready.

Watch the video, see the photos, and read all the pros and cons in my full Samsung Galaxy Note review.

About the author

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.


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