Samsung Galaxy Note: Big phone or tiny tablet?

The ardent Android fan makes room for a smartphone with a 5.3-inch screen. The Gingerbread-based device also comes with a stylus.

Stephen Shankland principal writer
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Stephen Shankland
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Samsung's Galaxy Note
Samsung's Galaxy Note Samsung

BERLIN--With its new Galaxy Note, Samsung is adding another size category to its already broad range of Android devices.

The company already had more conventionally sized Android smartphones with its Galaxy S line, larger tablets such as the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and 8.9, and intermediate ones such as the original 7-inch Galaxy Tab and the new Galaxy Tab 7.7. The Galaxy Note is basically a very large smartphone, though, with a 5.3-inch screen and Android 2.3, aka Gingerbread, which is designed for phones, not tablets.

Samsung announced the Galaxy Note at the IFA electronics show here.

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The size hasn't been a big winner for Dell, which has its Dell Streak Android products. But Samsung believes it's tapping into the thoughts of at least some customers:

"The Galaxy Note is a new category of product, developed through Samsung's deep consumer understanding and insight," Samsung said. "It combines core on-the-go benefits of various mobile devices while maintaining smartphone portability to create a whole new user experience."

One novelty with the Galaxy Note: it comes with a stylus called the S Pen.

Samsung Galaxy Note (photos)

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"The artistic freedom of a paper notebook is coupled with the benefits of Samsung's smartphone technology and services, allowing users to create, edit and share with more style than ever before," said JK Shin, president of Samsung's mobile communications business, in a statement.

The phone comes with an app called S Memo that can store handwritten notes and drawings. It also accommodates pictures, voice recordings, and typed text.

Another nice feature is the ability to take screenshots. That's something that should be standard with Android, as it is with Apple's iOS, but that's unfortunately almost entirely missing. Samsung also added the ability to the Galaxy S II Android phone it announced last week.

Hardware specs include a dual-core 1.4GHz processor, a Super AMOLED screen, an 8-megapixel main camera that can record 1080p video, a 2-megapixel front-facing camera, 802.11 b/g/n support for Wi-Fi, and HSPA+ 21Mbps 850/900/1900/2100 mobile network support.

Samsung didn't detail price or availability. One thing it'll have to reckon with beside the usual matters of component supplies and retail relationships, though, is Apple's patent-related legal actions that are hampering Samsung's Android work.